I never knew Bill Nicholson. He died two years before I became a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, and I only came to know him through voluntary readings on Spurs history and club culture. But I recognized his greatness.
"Bill Nick" was a Tottenham man from his schoolboy days through his managerial career, and even into the 1990s when he became Club President, a span that lasted over sixty years. He embodied the club and is responsible for some of the greatest moments in Spurs history. Under Bill's management the club was the first to complete "the double," winning the Football League Championship and the FA Cup in 1961. Two years later, Nicholson's 1963 team also made history as the first English club to win a major international trophy, winning the European Cup Winner's Cup, one of the progenitors to today's Champions League and the dominant European tournament of the time.
Nicholson's philosophy about football is literally written across the inside of White Hart Lane. His was one about always striving to do better today than you did yesterday, and to give everything you have for the club. "It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low," he said "And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory." Never has a quote so captured the essence of a club.
Bill Nicholson died ten years ago today, and the club is honoring his life and legacy on the Tottenham Hotspur official website, as well as on Twitter under the hashtag #OneBillNick. Tottenham Hotspur will also celebrate his life before Sunday's match against Newcastle. It's not hard to find former players reminiscing online or on Twitter about football under Bill, remembering key matches, or anecdotes about life at the club under his leadership.
I feel vastly underqualified to write a suitable memorial for Nicholson, but his contributions to the club are part of what endeared me to Spurs to begin with. Spurs are a club that consistently strive to achieve something more, and better. We're not content with standing still. We're not content with just being mid-table and competing in the Premier League. We want it all. We want glory. But it's more than just about winning, it's about winning the right way. "It's no use just winning," Nicholson said, "we've got to win well." That resonates with me. That philosophy makes me proud to be a Spurs fan, and ensures that I'll be a Hotspur for the rest of my days.
Thank you, Bill. For everything.