Tottenham’s Longest Serving Player
Steve Perryman MBE
50 Years in Football
Born in December 1951 in Ealing, Steve is the youngest of three brothers. He grew up in Northolt, Middlesex and attended Gifford Junior School and Eliots Green Grammar School with elder brothers Ted and Bill. As a youngster Steve enjoyed many sports but it was football where he excelled. He became a regular member of the Ealing schools’ F.A. XI, Middlesex S.F.A. and he also played for the London Schools’ F.A.
Steve joined Tottenham Hotspur as an apprentice in July 1967 and progressed through the youth scheme at White Hart Lane. He was upgraded to full professional in January 1969. He broke into the Spurs first team at the age of 17, in 1969, and made his league debut against Sunderland in September of that year. Steve was also being recognized at England Youth level, achieving 4 schoolboy caps and 4 England youth caps. He also received 17 caps for England Under -23’s (a record).
Steve became a League Cup Winner in 1971 when Spurs beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Wembley. A year later in 1972, Steve played in his first UEFA Cup Final Vs Wolves. Played over two legs, the first saw Spurs win 2-1 away and the second leg was drawn one all at White Hart Lane
Steve was back at Wembley in 1973 becoming a League Cup winner for the second time when Spurs beat Norwich City 1-0. Steve played in his second UEFA Cup Final in 1974 against Dutch side Feyenoord. Played over two legs, Spurs were eventually defeated 4-2 after a two all draw at home, and a 2-0 defeat away.
Steve won the F.A.Cup in 1981 when Spurs met Manchester City at Wembley. After a 1-1 draw in the first meeting the game was replayed in a thrilling evening game at Wembley. Spurs went on to win 3-2 with goals from Garth Crooks (1) and Ricky Villa (2) whose winning goal will always be remembered in Cup Final History.
Tottenham returned to Wembley a year later meeting QPR in the 1982 F.A.Cup Final. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Glenn Hoddle scoring from the penalty spot. The replay at Wembley saw Hoddle scoring a second penalty for Spurs which won them the cup for the second year running. Lifting the cup for the second year running was a proud moment for Steve who became only the third man in history to lift the F.A. Cup for two consecutive years.
This was a tremendous period in Steve’s career and his excellent form at right back earned him an England call up at the age of thirty. Steve was included in the initial 1982 World Cup squad and won his first full England cap in a warm up game, coming on as substitute against Iceland in Reykjavik in 1982. In the same year Steve was awarded “Footballer of Year” by the Football Writers Association.
In 1984 Steve was awarded an MBE for his services to football. After a long and distinguished playing career the 85-86 season would become Steve’s last for Spurs. After an illustrious Spurs career Steve enjoyed a brief spell at Oxford United, making a handful of appearances, before joining third division Brentford as a player/assistant manager.Steve became manager after only a few months at the club and together with assistant Phil Holder, the club was largely reshaped with a vibrant youth policy.
Steve managed Brentford between 1986-1990 and although Steve felt that the objective of promotion was important, he took great pleasure in seeing the youth team develop and felt that it was important to build the club from the bottom. In 1989 Brentford reached the sixth round of the F.A. Cup beating second division Manchester City & Blackburn Rovers along the way.
Brentford were drawn away against Liverpool in the sixth round and although they lost at Anfield it was a great occasion for the club in its centenary year. The club also enjoyed a great league season in which they finished one spot off the play-off places, in 7th, in a season which included a run of 15 matches without defeat.
Over this period, Steve continued to play whenever needed and was still playing at the age of thirty seven. His last professional game came in the 1989-90 season, making a playing career spanning twenty years with a total of 950 appearances.
Steve’s next managerial position came at 2nd division Watford, who had made a disastrous start to the season and were bottom, 7 points adrift. It was a mammoth task to turn Watford’s fortunes around and avoid relegation, a task Steve relished. Steve said on joining “It is a perilous position, but if I didn’t think the team was capable of second division status next season, I wouldn’t have taken the job.” Steve brought in former Spurs manager Peter Shreeves as his assistant. Results began to improve immediately and in the next eight games, Watford were unbeaten, drawing 5 and winning 3.
The season’s turning point came with a crucial 2-1 away win at Middlesborough, which was part of an end of season run, in which Watford won 7 of their last 10 games. An away victory at Oxford Utd, secured 2nd division survival. It was testament to Watford’s survival that fellow strugglers West Brom went 10 games unbeaten at the end of the season and were still relegated.
The following seasons were seen as a chance to rebuild and get the club back on track. Changes were made to the squad and after Peter Shreeves departure, Steve brought in former Spurs colleague Peter Taylor as his assistant. The season brought some mixed results but a great end of season run saw the club finish in 10th place. The following season again was one of rebuilding, the highlight was a magnificent cup victory against Leeds Utd, and a marvellous home win against league leaders Newcastle Utd. The season finished with Watford in mid-table safety.
Steve resigned from Watford at the end of the season, and rejoined Spurs, becoming assistant manager to former Spurs team mate Ossie Ardiles. The chance to rejoin his boyhood club was one that Steve felt he could not turn down. The club was in turmoil and problems off the field hampered Ardiles time as manager.
Chairman Alan Sugar was involved in legal battles with former manager Terry Venables and the day to day running of the club was being questioned by many involved. The season started promisingly and Ossie’s attacking style was very much in Tottenham’s tradition. It was to be an unlucky season with injuries to influential players like Mabbutt & Sheringham and Spurs eventually finished in the bottom half.
The start of the 94′ season brought much promise with the signing of Jurgen Klinsmann. The German international arrived after the 94 World Cup along with Romanian midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu. The new arrivals formed what was branded the ‘famous five’, in midfield & attack. Spurs started with a victory at Sheffield Wednesday, with Klinsmann scoring on his debut. Spurs continued their early good form but eventually results began to go against the team & good performances were often not rewarded with points.
Ossie was dismissed midway through the season & Steve acted as caretaker for the game at Blackburn Rovers . After one game in charge Steve was also released, it was a disappointing end to Steve’s connection with the club. It left a sour taste for Steve who felt that problems off the field were too prominent during Ossie’s time as manager. Steve said “The managers job is hard enough. You have problems coping with the players and supporters, so you don’t need the inner squabbles we had to cope with, we had to spend more of our time behind the scenes solving extra troubles.”
After Spurs, Steve had a brief spell in Norway managing Start, before teaming up with Ossie Ardiles in Japan. Steve joined Shimizu S-Pulse in 1996 as assistant manager to Ardiles. They arrived just after the initial honeymoon period of the J.League was over. S-Pulse won the Nabisco Cup (the Japanese equivalent of the League Cup) in September, beating Verdy Kawasaki. It was the clubs first honors and a great triumph for the new management team.
Steve became manager of S-Pulse in 1999 after Ossie left to join Croatia Zagreb. S-Pulse lost out in the final of the Emperors Cup but the new 1999 league season saw S-Pulse finish 3rd in the 1st stage of the championship. In the cup competitions S-Pulse reached the quarter finals of both the Emperors and the Nabisco Cup. A great performance in the 2nd stage of the championship saw S-Pulse win their 1st ever league championship, a truly great achievement for Steve, his 1st championship as player or manager.
Because in Japan the league season is split in 2 stages, a championship-deciding game between the winners of both stages is played over 2 legs. S-Pulse met rivals Jubilo Iwata in the Championship Final Play-off. S-Pulse had proven that they were the best team in Japan in 1999, finishing 3rd and 1st in the respective league stages. Jubilo had won the1st stage, but played badly in the 2nd, ending 4th from bottom. When the 2 stages were put together, S-Pulse finished top, 8 points ahead of Kashiwa Reysol and over the whole season, Jubilo were 16 points behind in 6th place.
S-Pulse lost the first leg away in Iwata 2 -1 but the overtime win meant that if S-Pulse beat Jubilo in 90 minutes in the 2nd leg, S-Pulse would win the championship. The 2nd leg, played at S-Pulse’s Nihondaira stadium, provided the home fans with a dramatic end of season game. After 90 minutes it was level at 1-1 although S-Pulse were reduced to ten men. The drama continued in extra time with S-Pulse’s substitute Fabinho scoring and winning the match. S-Pulse had won, but like Jubilo in extra time, which meant that the 2 stage championship was now tied. The season now rested on a penalty shoot out which Jubilo won.
Although S-Pulse had lost, they came through the regular season as moral victors. After the game Steve described being beaten on penalties after a 9 month long season as “a tragedy”. He said after the dramatic game “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so many emotions before, as during that ninety-nine minutes and the penalty shoot-out”. He said of the league campaign “Overall we played with more heart, more spirit, more fight, more organization and more goals. Over a series of games we’re almost unbeatable. It was a historic season in which S-Pulse could be proud of winning their 1st ever championship.
Steve won Manager of the Year 1999 at the J.League awards in which he paid tribute to Ossie’s influence on the team. S-Pulse’s Brazilian born Alex was voted Player of The Year and six S-Pulse players were named in the J.League’s best XI. Steve was chosen as manger of the International Selection for the 1999 Jomo Cup. In the same year he was head coach for Japan West Vs Japan East and voted Asian Coach of the Month for September.
S-Pulse’s excellent form continued in 2000, winning the Asian Cup Winners Cup, which saw them beat some of Asia’s best teams. S-Pulse continued their league form in 2000 finishing 3rd in the 1st stage championship.
Steve’s record in his time as manager of S-Pulse was impressive, in 7 competitions the club had two- 1st place, one – 2nd, and two 3rd place finishes. After winning the Asian Cup Winners Cup, S-Pulse met Asian Club Champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, in the Asian Super Cup. It would have been another great achievement for S-Pulse to reach the World Club Championship but unfortunately S-Pulse lost over 2 legs in what was Steve’s last game in charge of the club.
In early 2001, Steve returned to England to help out at 3rd division Exeter City in their bid to avoid relegation from the football league. With no official title, Steve helped out manager Noel Blake and achieved survival with one game remaining. Steve only received expenses as he was still keen to talk to other clubs, a situation that Exeter were happy with, and after securing football league survival, Steve received many offers from various clubs.
He eventually returned to Japan to manage J.League side Kashiwa Reysol in mid 2001. This relatively short time in Japan ended in December 2002, where Steve returned to the UK.
In 2003, Steve returned to England where he became Director of Football at Exeter City FC. The club was in financial difficulties after relegation to the conference, which saw manager Eamon Dolan leave Exeter City in 2004. Steve took up the helm as caretaker manager before Paul Tisdale was hired as manager in 2006.
The pair shared a close working relationship for over 11 years, fostering many players who have gone onto play football at the Premier League & Championship level. When Steve retired 15 years on, Exeter City had been transformed from a struggling club to a successful, financially stable institution.