RIP Arthur 'Push & Run' Rowe, Manager 1951 Title Winners

RIP Arthur Rowe who died today in 1993. He was the manager of our first First Division Championship in 1951 inventing the 'Push and Run' or 'One-Two' style of play.

Arthur Rowe Spurs ManagerArthur was born in Tottenham and joined Spurs in 1921 as a schoolboy. He signed as an amateur at the age of 17 in 1923 and as a professional in 1929. He played 201 games winning his only England cap while with us but in 1939 was forced to retire with a cartilage injury.

In the 1920's Spurs coach Peter McWilliam made an arrangement with Northfleet United to send our players there to gain experience and learn to play the Spurs Way. A forerunner of today's loan system.

In 1949 Rowe returned to Tottenham when we were in the Second Division, which would be the Championship today. He won the Second Division title that year and followed it up with the First Division Championship the following year, a rare feat, indeed that was yet feat we were the first to achieve.

Spurs were thus the first post war team to win back to back titles but Rowe's ill health meant his spell with us only lasted until 1955 when he resigned after not recovering from a breakdown the previous year.

He recovered sufficiently to take over at Crystal Palace in 1960 immediately bringing them promotion but after 2 seasons his health wouldn't let him continue.

Arthur Rowe is one of the greats of Tottenham history indeed he is one of football's greats but you would be hard pressed to find people who know it in today's younger generation of supporters. He developed the 'Push and Run' style of play that Bill Nicholson used to accomplish probably the greatest feat in English football, the impossible double in 1961, so called because it was considered impossible in the 20th century. Spurs win changed all that and showed it was possible and teams have followed in our footsteps.

Spurs of course then went on and conquered Europe becoming the first British club to win a major European trophy and all with the style of football invented by Arthur Rowe.

Push and Run is the forerunner of today's game. You will be more familiar with it as one-two or give and go. It was the wall pass, just as you see our centre-backs bounce the ball off a defensive midfielder to the other centre-back today.

In Arthur's time this type of pass was revolutionary in English football. The FA refused to entertain anything that might be foreign so this style, the style Hungary went on to become famous for simply wasn't played. This new style meant you played the ball to a teammate, ran past the opponent and collected a return pass. Sounds simple but it was a unique style for the day.

Of course there was a little more to it than that, creating space and shape, playing angle and incision passes, flexibility and interchangeability, keeping the ball on the ground and making it do the work. It is how football is played today, Spain, Barcelona for instance both basically play push and run football.
Arthur Rowe football boot
Not everyone has a football boot named after them

But Rowe didn't just affect English football. Vic Buckingham saw Rowe as his mentor and went into management, having played alongside Arthur, with his encouragement. Rowe continued to encourage his ideas and in 1959 Buckingham went to Ajax. He laid the foundation for 'Total Football' the famed Dutch style of the 70's. Buckingham discovered and nurtured a young talent, Johan Cruyff.

Between Rowe retiring as a player and becoming a manager he went on a lecture tour of Hungary with his footballing ideas. Laszlo Feleki heard Rowe speak, he was a writer for the well-regarded Nemzeti Sport magazine. He wrote to English FA chairman Stanley Rous thanking him for recommending Rowe.

The Hungarians were so impressed they wanted to employ Rowe as 'football professor of the first Hungarian course for football trainers' and to 'prepare the Amateur International team for the 1940 Olympics in Helsinki.' The outbreak of war meant Rowe was unfortunately unable to accept the Hungarian posts, instead he ended up managing the Army team.

Reg Drury of the Independent wrote an obituary in 1993 saying Rowe was 'one of the sharpest soccer brains the English game has ever known.'

Arthur Rowe was a genuine visionary who changed English football from refusing to accept anything foreign to combining styles and showing the way forward. Football owes him a huge debt of gratitude.

RIP Arthur Rowe.



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