John White tragically lost his life on 21st July, 1964 after being struck by lightning on Crews Hill Golf Course in Enfield. John had been part of Tottenham’s great double winning side of 1960-61 and had made 33 appearances for Scotland from 1959-64. Six months later there was memorial match played between Spurs and a Scotland XI to pay tribute to John who like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and others lost his life at the age of 27.
If you turned up at White Hart Lane on November 10th, 1964 expecting to see the John White Memorial Match; then you wouldn’t have seen much as it was a foggy night in old London town and indeed for most of the country and so the game was postponed for twenty four hours.
The Scotland line up which was managed by Ian McColl would comprise of Jim Cruickshank (Hearts), Alex Hamilton (Dundee), Jim Kennedy (Celtic), John Greig (Rangers), Ron Yeats (Liverpool), Jim Baxter (Rangers), Neil Martin (Hibs), Alan Gilzean (Dundee), Willie Wallace (Hearts), Ian St. John (Liverpool) and Davie Wilson (Rangers).
Among the Spurs players was Scotland’s Bill Brown in goals, Alan Mullery, Jimmy Greaves and John’s brother Tommy White of Hearts upfront.
Apparently it was a great game played in the right spirit with a great deal of skill displayed. Tommy White had put Spurs in front early on with Davie Wilson then cancelling it out in the 11th minute. Alan Gilzean put the Scots in front in 63 minutes with Marchi of Spurs soon cancelling it out. Bill Brown of the Evening Times then described what happened next. “And in one of the most astounding bursts of power we have seen on an English ground for many a long day they hit the back of the net four times in seven minutes. This was the schedule – Martin (75 and 79), Wallace (80) and Gilzean (82).”
The reporter goes on describe some of the Scottish players as such; “Greig and Yeats were their usual capable, rather stolid selves. The build of these lads is against poetry in motion.” Can’t argue there. He then goes on to describe the team captain that night; “But Jim Baxter’s smooth acceleration, the fluid lines of his communications, the instant reading of, and acting upon events that are his contribution to football, had the 30,000 crowd oohing and aahing in pleasurable alarm.”
Further on, “Alan Gilzean, in the shadows lately, convinced the local fans that he is a must for the Spurs ranks. Tall, solid, hard to shake off the ball, and gliding one in with his head in 63 minutes to make his tally for the evening two, the Dundonian had Bill Nicholson chewing a reflective nail.”
As for the programme it has tributes from many of White’s Scotland colleagues including the likes of Denis Law, Jim Baxter and Billy McNeill. There are also some photos of him in his Scotland as well as Spurs days.