Danny Blanchflower

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Danny Blanchflower
Aankomst Noordierse elftal op Zestienhoven; trainer Blanchflower en George Best (r).jpg
Blanchflower (left) with George Best in 1976
Personal information
Full nameRobert Dennis Blanchflower
Date of birth(1926-02-10)10 February 1926
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date of death 9 December 1993(1993-12-09) (aged 67)
Place of death London, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Right-half
Youth career
Senior career*
1946–1949 Glentoran 124 (7)
1949–1951 Barnsley 68 (2)
1951–1954 Aston Villa 148 (10)
1954–1964 Tottenham Hotspur 337 (15)
1961Toronto City (loan) 12 (3)
1962 → Boksburg (loan) 4 (1)
1965 Durban City 3 (0)
National team
1949–1963 Northern Ireland 56 (2)
Teams managed
1976–1979 Northern Ireland
1978–1979 Chelsea
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower (10 February 1926 – 9 December 1993) was a former Northern Ireland international footballer who played for and captained Tottenham Hotspur, most notably during its double-winning season of 1960–61. He played as a defensive midfielder at right half and was known particularly for his accurate passing, his ability to dictate the tempo of the game and his inspiring leadership. [1] . After a lengthy playing career, he retired at the age of 38 and became a respected football journalist, and later a football manager.

Northern Ireland national football team mens national association football team representing Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association (IFA). In 1921, the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team remained the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, and used the name Ireland until the 1970s. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Tottenham or Spurs, is a professional football club in Tottenham, London, England, that competes in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been the club's home ground since 2019, replacing their former home of White Hart Lane, which had been demolished to make way for the new stadium on the same site. Their training ground is on Hotspur Way in Bulls Cross in the London Borough of Enfield. Tottenham have played in a first (home) strip of white shirts and navy blue shorts since the 1898–99 season. The club's emblem is a cockerel standing upon a football, with a Latin motto Audere est Facere.


He was ranked as the greatest player ever in Spurs history by The Times in 2009. [2]

<i>The Times</i> British daily compact newspaper owned by News UK

The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.

He made one of the best known quotes on football: "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." [3] [4]

Early years and family

Blanchflower was born on 10 February 1926 in the Bloomfield district of Belfast, the first of five children born to John and Selina Blanchflower. [5] His mother had played as a centre-forward on a women's football team. He was educated at Ravenscroft public elementary school and was awarded a scholarship to Belfast College of Technology. [6]

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is a city in the United Kingdom, the capital city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.

Belfast Metropolitan College

Belfast Metropolitan College is a further and higher education institution in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The college offers both vocational education and academic qualifications. With over 37,000 enrolments and an annual budget in the region of £60 million, it is Northern Ireland's largest college.

He left early to become an apprentice electrician at Gallaher's cigarette factory in Belfast. He also joined the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) and in 1943 lied about his age to join the RAF. As a trainee navigator he was sent on a course to St Andrews University (where he acquired a lifelong love of golf) and in the spring of 1945 was posted to Canada for further training. By 1946, aged 20, he was back in Belfast, back at Gallaher's, and building a reputation as an outstanding footballer. [6] While at St Andrews Blanchflower played for the University College Dundee football team which was coached by former Celtic, Dundee United and Scotland trainer Jack Qusklay. [7]

Gallaher Group is a United Kingdom-based multinational tobacco company. It was traded on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, prior to its April 2007 acquisition by Japan Tobacco.

University of Dundee public research university in Dundee, Scotland

The University of Dundee is a public research university in Dundee, Scotland. Founded in 1881 the institution was, for most of its early existence, a constituent college of the University of St Andrews alongside United College and St Mary's College located in the town of St Andrews itself. Following significant expansion, the University of Dundee gained independent university status in 1967 while retaining much of its ancient heritage and governance structure.

Dundee United F.C. association football club in Scotland

Dundee United Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in the city of Dundee. Formed in 1909, originally as Dundee Hibernian, the club changed to the present name in 1923. United are nicknamed The Terrors or The Tangerines and the supporters are known as Arabs.

His younger brother Jackie (1933–1998) was also a Northern Irish international footballer and played for Manchester United before his playing career was ended by injuries sustained in the Munich air disaster of February 1958. [8]

John "Jackie" Blanchflower was a Northern Irish football player. He graduated from Manchester United's youth system and played for the club on 117 occasions, winning two league titles, before his career was cut short due to injuries sustained in the Munich air disaster. He was also capped 12 times at senior level by Northern Ireland.

Manchester United F.C. Association football club

Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Nicknamed "the Red Devils", the club was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910.

Munich air disaster aviation accident

The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the "Busby Babes", along with supporters and journalists. Twenty of the 44 on the aircraft died at the scene. The injured, some unconscious, were taken to the Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich where three more died, resulting in 23 fatalities with 21 survivors.

Playing career

Blanchflower signed for Glentoran in 1946, before crossing the Irish Sea and signing for Barnsley for £6000 in 1949, at the age of 23. [6] He transferred from Barnsley to Aston Villa for a fee of £15,000, making his debut in March 1951. He made 155 senior appearances for Villa (148 in the League), before being sold during the 1954–55 season. [9]

In 1954 Blanchflower was bought by Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £30,000, and during his ten years at White Hart Lane he made 337 League appearances, [10] and 382 total appearances (scoring 21 goals). [2] The highlight of his time at Spurs came with the 1960–61 season. With Blanchflower as captain Spurs won their first 11 games, a record for the top flight of English football and eventually won the league by 8 points. They then beat Leicester City in the final of the FA Cup to become the first team in the 20th century to win the League and Cup double, not achieved since Aston Villa in 1897.[ citation needed ]

Blanchflower was voted FWA Footballer of the Year in 1958 and 1961.

Blanchflower holding the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup trophy in 1963 after beating Atletico Madrid Spurs team with the Cup Winners' Cup trophy 1963.jpg
Blanchflower holding the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup trophy in 1963 after beating Atlético Madrid

In 1962 he helped Spurs win the FA Cup, scoring a penalty in the final against Burnley. In 1963 he captained his side to victory over Atlético Madrid in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup. [11]

During his time with Spurs he also had a short spell with Toronto City, alongside fellow Football League players Stanley Matthews and Johnny Haynes. [12]

Making his debut in 1949, he earned 56 caps for Northern Ireland, and in 1958 captained his country when they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup. He was the first Irishman to achieve a half century of caps when he played against Wales in 1962. [13]

On 4 December 1957 he captained the Northern Ireland team against Italy in Belfast, in a bad tempered game that came to be known as the "Battle of Belfast"; Blanchflower attempted to keep the peace as the game turned nasty. [14]

He finally announced his retirement as a player of 5 April 1964 at the age of 38, having played nearly 400 games in all competitions for Spurs and captained them to four major trophies. [15]

In 1965, Blanchflower briefly came out of retirement to play for Durban City. Blanchflower played three times for the club in the National Football League. [16]

Career as manager

Following his retirement as a player, Blanchflower coached at Spurs for a number of years, and double-winning manager Bill Nicholson intended for Blanchflower to be his long-term successor. When Nicholson resigned from the club in 1974 however, Blanchflower found himself being passed over in favour of Terry Neill, and subsequently left the club himself. He became manager of Northern Ireland for a brief spell in 1978, and was then appointed as Chelsea boss. However, he won only three of his 15 games in charge and he left them in September 1979. [6]

Off the field

He was one of only a handful of players to have been awarded the title of FWA Footballer of the Year on two occasions, winning in both 1958 and 1961. On 6 February 1961, he also became the first person to turn down the invitation to appear on This Is Your Life , simply walking away from host Eamonn Andrews. Contrary to belief, this incident was not broadcast live on air, but was being recorded to be shown at the beginning of the live transmission. "I consider this programme to be an invasion of privacy", he explained. "Nobody is going to press gang me into anything."

Blanchflower commentated on a match for ITV as early as 3 January 1956 – the final of the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup between West Ham and Chelsea. [17] He also hosted editions of the BBC's Junior Sportsview in 1959. [18] He was the colour commentator for the CBS television network broadcasts of National Professional Soccer League matches in the United States in 1967. [19] His candour about the fledgling league's shortcomings distressed network executives, as he recounted in a 10 June 1968 Sports Illustrated article he authored. [20] In the 1968–69 season he was the regular commentator for Yorkshire Television. [21]

Later life and death

Anton Weinberg's 1985 Channel 4 documentary film The Keller Instinct featured an appearance by Blanchflower, who spoke approvingly of his late friend musicologist Hans Keller's advocacy of inventive, tactically creative football. He retired from his position as a writer for the Sunday Express in 1988. [22]

On 1 May 1990, Tottenham held a testimonial match for him at White Hart Lane, but by this stage he was in the first stages of what would later be diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. [5] He was eventually placed in a Staines nursing home where he died as a result of pneumonia on 9 December 1993, aged 67. [23]

Blanchflower was honoured in his home city of Belfast with an Ulster History Circle plaque recognising his outstanding achievements in the world of sport. The blue plaque is located at 49 Grace Avenue, his childhood home. [24]


Tottenham Hotspur



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  1. "Obituary: Danny Blanchflower". The Independent. London. 10 December 1993. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  2. 1 2 Myers, Phil (17 March 2009). "The 50 greatest Tottenham Hotspur players (Page 12 of 12)". timesonline.co.uk. London. Retrieved 31 July 2010.(subscription required)
  3. "Danny Blanchflower Quote". www.libquotes.com.
  4. Susan Ratcliffe, ed. (11 March 2010). Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Subjects (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN   978-0199567065.
  5. 1 2 spursodyssey.com
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Danny Blanchflower – fact file". mehstg.com. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  7. "Football crazy in the archives ..." Archives records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. University of Dundee . Retrieved 5 June 2015.
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  10. Football League Career Stats at Neil Brown
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  12. Lance Hornby. "All the King's men: Real Madrid makes way to T.O." Slam Sports. slam.canoe.ca. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  13. "Danny Blanchflower". Irish FA. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  14. Malcolm Brodie (5 December 2007). "Down Memory Lane: Battle of Belfast was far from a golden moment". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  15. "Danny Blanchflower". Northern Ireland's Footballing Greats. 10 August 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  16. TV Times, 30 December 1955
  17. BBC Genome
  18. Maule, Tex. "Kickoff For A Babel Of Booters," Sports Illustrated, 24 April 1967.
  19. Blanchflower, Danny. "Just One Truth For Me," Sports Illustrated, 10 June 1968. Archived 16 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Yorkshire ITV Football Highlights 1968–1983
  21. Ivon Ponting (10 December 1993). "Obituary: Danny Blanchflower". The Independent. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  22. "Danny Blanchflower (1926–1993): Footballer and journalist". The Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  23. Amanda Ferguson (27 March 2015). "Spurs legend Danny Blanchflower honoured with plaque at his childhood home". Belfast Telegraph . Retrieved 9 April 2016.