This is the second part of our tribute to Martin Peters, who sadly passed away last weekend. The first part covered his West Ham career, his World Cup-winning performance, and his early Spurs career.
Most of the obituaries I read about him focus on the World Cup win and his West Ham career. They gave mention to his Spurs career without really covering it in general. So I’ve decided to expand on it. He has already won the League Cup and UEFA Cup with them. We resume the story at the start of the 1972-73 season.
With Alan Mullery leaving White Hart Lane to return to Fulham, Peters was installed as club captain. He was in good form for the start of the next season when he scored both goals in the opening win over Coventry City. Four days later he scored the only goal of the game to win at West Brom, and then scored in the defeat at Wolves. Three games in, Spurs had scored five goals, Peters had four of them.
Spurs began the defence of their UEFA Cup with an easy tie against Lyn Oslo. They won 12-3 on aggregate. Peters missed the second leg. They then eased past Olympiakos in the next round.
Meanwhile, at home they were making progress in the League Cup, although they needed three attempts to get past Middlesbrough. Peters scored one of the goals which helped beat Millwall in the fourth round, which meant they’d reached yet another Quarter-Final.
At the end of October, Peters had the best game of his career, in terms of goals, when they arrived at Old Trafford. They were up against a Man Utd side which still included Law, Best and Charlton. Peters scored all four goals in a 4-1 win. He was playing in a more forward position, partnering Chivers up front. He benefitted from United concentrating on Chivers, as his first goal was through a long ball from left-back Cyril Knowles. Buchan tried to challenge Chivers but both missed the ball and Peters was through on goal against Stepney. The United keeper came out, made a half-hearted attempt to foil Peters, but not enough to halt his progress and Peters put it into the empty net. His second was a volley from the six-yard box as United again couldn’t deal with the ball in the box. By half-time he’d completed his hat-trick, arriving at the back post to convert a cross from the left. He scored a fourth in the second half, heading in another left-wing cross. United may have had their three famous stars but they weren’t the side of old, sitting second from bottom in the table and looking porous at the back.
November and December saw them beat Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Cup to reach the Quarter-Finals of that competition again. Then they had to play league leaders, Liverpool, three times in 11 days. Firstly, they lost at home in the league and then they travelled to Anfield for a League Cup tie. Peters scored in a 1-1 draw, which meant another fixture two days later at White Hart Lane for the replay. Spurs won 3-1 to reach the Semi-Finals, where they would be up against the side they beat in the UEFA Cup Final, Wolves.
With all these cup fixtures their league form had dropped off. The Christmas period saw them take on Wolves in the League Cup Semi-Final. Peters scored in both legs as Spurs went through 4-3 on aggregate, to yet another Final. He was also on target against his old club, West Ham on Boxing Day.
At the start of 1973, they were 5th in the league, in the League Cup Final, in the UEFA Cup Quarter-Final and still had the FA Cup to come.
Peters entered his 30th year in his 12th season as a professional. He was an integral part of a Spurs side who were one of the best cup sides around. Their FA Cup campaign began at non-league Margate. Peters scored in a 6-0 win. But their next round would be far more of a challenge, up against league champions Derby County. It went to a replay which Derby won 5-3 at White Hart Lane. For the first time in a long while, Spurs had gone out before reaching the Quarter-Finals of a cup competition.
They didn’t have time to dwell on it as they had another final to contend with. Early March saw Martin Peters lead his team out at Wembley for his fourth Final there. They were up against Norwich City, who had Ron Saunders in charge.
The game was a tight affair, full of spirit and determination. The only goal of the game came from substitute Ralph Coates with 18 minutes remaining. His was a low shot from just outside the area, through a crowd of players. Spurs became the first club to win the League Cup twice.
For Peters, it was his fifth winners’ medal, and his last. How fitting then he should be captain.
They were straight from Wembley into a UEFA Cup tie against Vitoria Setubal. This was a tough challenge and it took a goal in Portugal from Martin Chivers to see them through on away goals. They were now into another Semi-Final in the UEFA Cup. As with the Final the previous year they would be up against English opposition. Such was English dominance of the competition those days they would be up against Liverpool.
The first leg was at Anfield and an unlikely scorer, Alec Lindsay got the only goal of the game to take to North London for the return leg.
Martin Peters put his side ahead just five minutes after the break, converting a left-wing cross from inside the six yard box. But then Liverpool scored the crucial away goal as Keegan raced clear on the left to play in Heighway who scored. Spurs now needed to score twice. They pressed and Peters got his second of the game when arriving late in the area, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Liverpool progressed on away goals to beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the Final. Spurs hold on the trophy was over and the season caught up with them in the league too as they finished 8th.
For Peters, it had been a successful season in terms of goals. 24 in all competitions, which matched his best season at West Ham (1968-69).
With such a busy season domestically, it was a good job England weren’t needing to call on him. There were only four international fixtures in the season before May. Peters was only selected in one of those, a famous 5-0 win at Hampden Park and Bobby Moore’s 100th cap.
In the Home International Championships, Peters was selected for all three matches. He scored in a 3-0 win at home to Wales, and then got the only goal of the game against Scotland. This was his 20th and final goal for his country. How fitting it was that it should be another goal where he arrived late at the back post to head in a free-kick from Alan Ball.
After a friendly in Czechoslovakia, it was off to Chorzow for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Poland. Drawn in a group with only three teams, these away games would ultimately decide the winner.
On a disappointing night for England, where little went right, they effectively ruined their chances of qualifying for the 1974 World Cup. They’d been held by Wales at Wembley earlier in the campaign, so a win here was vital. Seven minutes in and the home side were in front. Poland were awarded a dubious free-kick on the left. Gadocha took it right-footed and curled it into the near post. Banas got in front of Bobby Moore and turned it in. Then early in the second period, Moore was again too slow to react as Lubanski robbed him in his own half and raced away to beat Shilton.
England finished the season with a couple of friendlies both of which Peters played in.
The Final Cut
Peters was still club captain at Spurs. The season began badly with three defeats from their opening four games. The one they won was at Birmingham where Peters scored both goals.
He was also on target at Burnley before they were again in UEFA Cup action. The First Round saw them take on Grasshoppers Zurich. They won the first leg 5-1 away from home, making the home leg a formality. Peters scored twice as Spurs won 4-0 to ease into the next round, where they would be up against Aberdeen.
Spurs were struggling to find any rhythm in the league. Peters scored in a defeat at Anfield as they’d lost five of nine already, and there were only five clubs below them in the league.
Internationally he was still in Ramsey’s plans. So much so he was given the captain’s armband for the friendly against Austria at Wembley. It worked wonders as they thrashed their opponents, 7-0.
This set them up for the vital World Cup qualifier against Poland at Wembley. Anything other than a win would see the Poles go to West Germany. Peters was again captain and the only survivor from the 1966 team.
On one of the blackest nights in English football, England mounted wave after wave of attacks on the Polish goal. But goalkeeper, Tomaszewski, called ‘a clown’ by Brian Clough, was in inspired form and saved everything. Then just before the hour, Norman Hunter was caught in possession on the left-wing. The counter-attack was swift and lead to Domarski’s shot going through Shilton’s legs. England now needed to score twice. Soon after, Peters was brought down on the edge of the area and Allan Clarke converted the penalty. Despite numerous attempts, England just couldn’t break through and just over seven years after being crowned World Champions, they’d failed to qualify for the finals.
A month later, things continued to spiral as Italy arrived at Wembley and won through a Fabio Capello goal. Bobby Moore captained the side in what turned out to be his last appearance for his country.
Back at Spurs, fears the spark wasn’t quite there were demonstrated when QPR knocked them out of the League Cup in the first round. But they were still progressing in the UEFA Cup as they eased past Aberdeen. Peters scored in the second leg in a 4-1 win. They were then up against Georgian side, Dinamo Tbilisi. Peters scored twice in the second leg in a 5-1 win, this time.
Meanwhile in the league back-to-back defeats to Man City and Derby County had them just three points off a relegation place at Christmas.
1974 started off with them crashing out of the FA Cup at the first attempt, as they had done in the League Cup. Leicester City beat them and suddenly the UEFA Cup was their only hope of silverware, whereas for the past couple of seasons they had been fighting on two or three fronts.
They reacted by going on an unbeaten run of five matches, including victory over Coventry City where Peters scored both goals. This set them up for their UEFA Cup Quarter-Final tie against FC Cologne. Peters scored in the first leg in West Germany to give them a 2-1 advantage to take back to North London. Two weeks later they saw off their opponents easily in a 3-0 win. Peters scored the third, another typical headed goal when arriving late in the area. Another Semi-Final beckoned.
By April they were still only four points ahead of the drop in the league, but they had their minds on a fixture against East German side, Lokomotiv Leipzig. As with every other round they were away in the first leg. Peters was again on the scoresheet as they won 2-1. A 2-0 win at home had them back into the UEFA Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.
Before the Leipzig tie, Peters was in the starting eleven for an international friendly in Portugal. Ramsey handed six new caps out, including Trevor Brooking and Stan Bowles. Peters was captain again, but England could still not find the net in a goalless draw. This was the final act of Ramsey’s play. The FA decided to dispense with his services. It was very much the end of an era. Some couldn’t get past the recent form and the failure to qualify for the 1974 finals. Others blamed the lack of quality in players being produced by English clubs. Either way, Ramsey was gone and Peters must’ve worried for his future too.
England appointed former Manchester City manager, Joe Mercer, on a caretaker basis for the Home International Championships. Peters was in the squad but not selected for the Irish or Welsh matches. He did make the team for the trip to Hampden Park. He wasn’t captain, that honour was given to Emlyn Hughes. England lost 0-2 and so capped a miserable seven months for Peters with no wins from four matches. He would never pull on an England jersey again.
So ended an international career which had the ultimate accolade within it. 67 caps, 20 goals in an eight-year period. There’s no question he’d served his country with great distinction.
The UEFA Cup Final would be against Feyenoord, with Spurs at home in the first leg this time. The league season had finished with them in 11th place, much higher than had been feared earlier in the season.
In the home leg Spurs were twice in front, but twice pegged back by the Dutch and the tie ended 2-2. Spurs would have to go to Rotterdam and win to retain their title. They couldn’t manage it and the Dutch won 2-0 to lift the trophy. The match was marred by violence on the terraces and it was a blow for Peters and Spurs who had won three successive finals, and now had to settle for runners-up medals.
The previous season had begun badly, this one was worse. They lost their opening four matches, then five of their first six, including a 2-5 defeat at Anfield. Worse was to follow. They were dumped out of the League Cup in the First Round by Middlesbrough, 0-4 at White Hart Lane. This prompted a change of manager at White Hart Lane. The legendary Bill Nicholson stepped down, complaining of burn out after 17 years. Despite his wish to have Danny Blanchflower installed, the club appointed former Northern Ireland international, Terry Neill.
Under Neill they won their first two matches but then lost at home to Middlesbrough. By then they’d already lost six and were one of four clubs locked on just six points at the foot of the table. Remarkably, two of the others were reigning champions, Leeds United and Arsenal, who were champions just four years earlier. Of course Leeds United were experiencing the turbulent reign of Brian Clough.
With no European football, for the first time for three years, and battling to stay above the drop in the league, Spurs looked forward to the FA Cup in January. They were up against Nottingham Forest, now a Second Division club. Forest had just appointed a new manager. Brian Clough.
The first game, at the City Ground, ended 1-1. Then in the replay, Neil Martin scored the only goal of the game and Forest had beaten Spurs on their own ground. Peters was subbed by Jimmy Neighbour and there was a definite feeling of his career coming to an end.
Clearly Neill felt Peters had his best days behind him. He would make just seven more appearances for Spurs, where they picked up just one point, before Neill accepted an offer of £40,000 from Norwich City. Peters had played 260 times for Spurs, scoring 76 goals. He’d won four trophies, two League Cups, one UEFA Cup and one Anglo-Italian Cup. He’d performed with grace and distinction during one of the club’s most successful periods.
He moved to Carrow Road to be managed by John Bond, who was in the West Ham side when he first broke into the side.
The Canaries were pushing for promotion from the Second Division in a season when Manchester United were one of their opponents. In fact, Peters’ debut came at Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw.
Wearing the number 11 shirt, Peters played in all ten games to the end of the season. His first goal came towards the end in a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest. He then scored in the next game, another 3-0 win, this time against Portsmouth. Norwich were back in top three and had secured promotion back to the First Division.
Into his early thirties, he was still remarkably fit. He played every game in the league for the next two seasons, winning the club’s Player of the Season award two years running. In 1978 he was awarded an MBE for services to football.
In all he played 207 times in just over five seasons with Norwich, scoring 44 goals. He missed just 11 games in this time, a testament to his fitness and durability.
In July 1980 he left Carrow Road for Brammall Lane as player-coach of Sheffield United. Harry Haslam was still in charge of United but just six months into the season Peters took over as manager. With just 16 matches of the season left, Peters was unable to halt the decline in the club’s fortunes and for the first time in their history, they were relegated to the Fourth Division. Peters resigned and there ended his active relationship with English football.
When he retired as a player in January 1981 he had made 882 appearances in total, scoring 220 goals in a career spanning 19 seasons.
In 1998 he joined the board at Spurs as a non-executive director, where he remained for four years. He then worked in the club’s hospitality suites at White Hart Lane as well as doing the same at Upton Park for West Ham.
In 2016 it was announced he had Alzheimer’s. A particularly cruel condition for a man who had so much worth remembering.
His death was announced on Saturday evening. “It is with profound sadness that we announce that Martin passed away peacefully in his sleep at 4.00am this morning,” a statement from his family read.
“A beloved husband, dad and grandad, and a kind, gentle and private man, we are devastated by his loss but so very proud of all that he achieved and comforted by the many happy memories we shared. We will be making no further comment and kindly ask that the privacy of our family is respected at this extremely difficult time.”
He is survived by wife Kathleen, daughter Leeann and son Grant.
1964-65 European Cup-Winners’ Cup, winner (West Ham)
1965-66 League Cup, runner-up (West Ham), World Cup, winner (England)
1967-68 European Championships, third place (England)
1970-71 League Cup, winner (Tottenham)
1971 -72 UEFA Cup, winner (Tottenham), Anglo Italian Cup, winner (Tottenham)
1972-73 Football League Cup, winner (Tottenham)
1973-74 UEFA Cup, runner-up (Tottenham)
Personally, I think Peters is one of the most important players to have played the game in this country. His influence, without fanfare or ego, was for all to see for West Ham, Tottenham and England. He made those around him play better, and his legacy meant those who have played the game since have been better players.
There are now just six members of the ’66 team still alive. When I started watching football it was during the 1975-76 season. Martin Peters was playing in the First Division for Norwich City, Alan Ball for Arsenal and Bobby Moore was playing for Fulham in the Second Division. They were the only three members of that side still playing professional football. Now it’s the end of 2019 and all three have gone. Seems particularly sad to me.