When I made my Spurs debut in 1958 v the Arsenal at Highbury, my football boots, or more specifically, the state of them, led to my first dressing down from Bill Nick. In those days, players tended to have one pair of boots and if you were doing well whilst wearing them, you were reluctant to use another pair. Subsequently my boots at that time had seen me in the best form of my career at my home town club Swansea and also reach the World Cup quarter final with Wales. Now following my big money move to Tottenham I was hoping to get one more season out of my ” lucky boots ”. They were a typical 1950s boot with heavy leather and the studs were effectively nails covered in leather which were hammered into the sole of the boot. Unfortunately my boots had been on the anvil too many times and refused to accept a full set of studs. When Bill saw them he suggested I wear another pair from the kit man, but I was having none of it and convinced him they would be alright. During the game I received the ball on the wing, cut inside the fullback, sprinted into the box and as I was about to put the ball past the Arsenal keeper, I slipped over! The game finished 4-4 and waiting for me as I entered the dressing room was Bill. ” What did I tell you about those boots Jonesey” he said shaking his head. I knew not to reply and accepted that would be the last time I saw my ” lucky boots” again.
Over the next couple of seasons the design and manufacture of the football boot improved considerably. They became lighter, better fitting and now had screw in studs. A German company Adidas led the way and soon all our team was wearing them. Not that we got them for nothing, we had to buy our own boots, but did get a discount from ‘ Elseys ‘ the sports shop in the High Road. We even took part in a Adidas advert prior to the 1962 cup final.
The boots were now resembling the boots of today.
The new design helped my game tremendously, as I felt quicker and had better control of the ball at my feet. We still had to contend with the muddy pitches and the water sodden ball, but you can’t have everything!
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the new training facility at ‘ Hotspur Way ‘ It is without doubt the best in the country and every aspect of helping the players improve is catered for. The first team dressing room is huge with each player allocated a space, with bespoke units for their clothes to hang. I noticed every player has about 8 pairs of new boots in their alcove, all different shades and colours. My fellow countryman Ben Davies had this Adidas pair, which were personalised with his name. They were a nice lightweight boot, which would have been a joy to wear. The football boot has come a long way, I am sure Bill would have approved….. well maybe!!