The Hotspur was a British boys' paper published by D. C. Thomson & Co. From 1933 to 1959, it was a boys' story paper; it was relaunched as a comic in 1959, initially called the New Hotspur, and ceased publication in January 1981. D C Thompson still publish the Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor in 2017.
As a young boy, born in 1942, I was a regular reader of The Hotspur and its title had magical qualities for me so maybe it was no surprise that in 1949, aged 7, I turned my attention to Tottenham Hotspur who had an equally magical centre forward called Len Duquemin, who was known as “The Duke”. Len was born in Guernsey and between 1946 and 1957 he made 307 appearances for Spurs scoring 134 goals. Known as “Reliable Len” for his hard work rather than for being a stylish player his value to the team was seen in his ability to create space for some of his more renowned colleagues. He became a key member of Arthur Rowe’s famous “Push & Run” side which transformed the style of football played in the years after WWII.
In season 1949-50 Spurs were in the Second Division having been relegated from Division One in 1934-35. In 1934-35 Spurs had made a profit of £8,776 and were widely regarded as the richest football club in the country but having just built the East Stand the directors were reluctant to invest in new players as they still owed £7,000 for the new stand. But in 1949 everything changed when Tottenham appointed Arthur Rowe as manager. Rowe was born in Tottenham and began his career at Tottenham’s nursery club Northfleet United in 1923 before becoming a professional with Spurs in 1929. He was a Tottenham player for eight years, after making his debut in 1931 but was forced to retire in 1939 due to a cartilage injury.
After finishing his career as a player Rowe took a coaching job in Hungary although this was halted due to the outbreak of World War II. Rowe’s task was to gain promotion and this was achieved by becoming Champions and the following season the First Division Championship was won as well. These back-to-back championships made Spurs the first post-war team to win back-to-back titles. This was achieved through the use of 'Push and Run' football, a style of play that Bill Nicholson would take forward into the 1960s and develop even more. Arthur Rowe was forced to resign as Tottenham manager in 1955 due to health issues but his magnificent contribution to Spurs is impossible to quantify.
So, simply from reading a children’s comic was born a lifelong devotion to a football club, a decision that in the following eight decades I have never regretted but it should also be noted that in those early years I was also a devoted follower of Caton United and never missed a game, home or away.