This weekend sees the renewal of one of English football’s greatest rivalries, as Arsenal make the short, four-mile trip to neighbours Tottenham Hotspur, for what will be their final meeting at the current White Hart Lane. As anticipation builds for this crunch collision in the capital, Kitbag.com remembers some of the brave players to have turned out for both sides of the derby - from the Olympian to the goalkeeping legend to a number of modern day favourites.
An amateur star who featured at the 1960 Olympics, Laurie Brown made over 100 appearances for Arsenal, before making a the rare move to Tottenham Hostpur in February 1964. As fate would have it, Brown’s debut for Spurs would come in the North London derby, a fixture fell the very day after he signed. Having served as a defender at Arsenal, Tottenham manager Bill Nicholson took the interesting step of playing Brown up front against his former club. The gamble paid off and Brown played a part in all three Tottenham goals, as Spurs bounded to a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane. Only denied a debut goal by the width of a post, Brown however would struggle to replicate the fine form of his first appearance and would eventually return to a defensive role, before leaving North London for Norwich City in 1967.
October 1968 saw the two North London neighbours arrange a highly-unusual trade, with winger David Jenkins leaving Highbury for White Hart Lane and striker Jimmy Robertson heading in the opposite direction. Neither would be involved in November’s two-legged League Cup tie between the teams, nor the subsequent First Division meeting in March of 1969. Nevertheless, the transfer did prove a historically-significant one, with ‘Flying Scotsman’ Robertson netting that September at Highbury to become the first player in the history of the North London derby to score for both sides. The Glaswegian had previously hit the net for Tottenham in October 1964, in their second 3-1 victory over Arsenal that year.
Scottish defender Willie Young landed at White Hart Lane at the mid-point of the 1970s, making more than 50 starts for Spurs over two seasons, including clean sheets in two of his three appearances against the Gunners. Crossing over to Arsenal in 1977, Young would later enjoy three successive FA Cup Final appearances while representing the red side of town. In his first North London derby since making the switch, Young helped Arsenal to a trademark 1-0 victory over Spurs in April 1967; a result that left his former side marooned in the bottom three. With Tottenham relegated at the end of the campaign, Young would not line up against them again until 1978-79, when Arsenal ran out convincing 5-0 victors at White Hart Lane. Two more consecutive 1-0 wins at Highbury then extended his run of derby shut-outs.
With 13 years at Tottenham and a further eight with Arsenal, Pat Jennings is a rare breed, the former England goalkeeper held in the highest esteem in both North London camps. Jennings kept goal more than 20 times for Spurs against the Gunners, before exiting White Hart Lane in 1977. Legend has it Jennings’ departure came as the result of a managerial misfire from Spurs coach Keith Burkinshaw, who considered Jennings’ finest years to be behind him. As it proved, the Northern Irish international would be part of the top flight furniture for almost another full decade, keeping his former Spurs colleagues at bay on five different occasions and eventually bowing out from top tier football at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
One of the most controversial transfers in English football history, Sol Campbell’s move from Spurs to Arsenal in 2001 still stokes the fire of Tottenham fans to this day. Campbell had been a fixture at White Hart Lane since his days as a youth player, appearing over 250 times for the first team and captaining Spurs to League Cup honours in 1999. During this period, centre-back Campbell kept no less than five clean sheets in the North London derby, before his final derby appearance in Tottenham colours came at Old Trafford in the 2001 FA Cup semi-final. Later that summer, Campbell was unveiled as Arsenal’s newest defensive recruit, to the furore of the Tottenham contingent, who had previously offered the England star a bank-busting deal to remain at the Lane. Citing his will to play UEFA Champions League football, Campbell would go on to highlight a successful Gunners career by scoring in the 2006 final, helping Arsenal to two Premier League titles and a hat-trick of FA Cups along the way.
Frenchman William Gallas made his name in English football with Chelsea, winning a pair of Premier League titles in his five years at Stamford Bridge, before moving to Arsenal as part of the transfer that brought Ashley Cole to west London. Handed the number 10 shirt previously worn by Dennis Bergkamp, Gallas would become Arsenal’s captain in 2007, leading his Gunners into battle against Spurs on three occasions, including the famous 4-4 draw of October 2008. However, an explosive internal row saw the defender stripped of his armband unceremoniously the next month. After Gallas’ Arsenal contract expired in 2010, the Frenchman found himself lured to White Hart Lane, where he would quickly line up on the opposite side of the derby. Notably, in his first derby outing against the Gunners, Gallas helped orchestrate a memorable 3-2 win; Tottenham’s first at Arsenal in 17 years of trying.
Finally, after opening his derby account in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory of December 2006, Togo international Emanuel Adebayor grabbed a particularly crucial goal the following month, as the Gunners shot down Spurs to reach the 2007 League Cup Final. Adebayor’s hot streak continued with another in April’s 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane, while the following season saw the striker score three times, across the teams’ two Premier League meetings. Adebayor also hit the target in two of the most high-scoring derbies ever; grabbing a second-half consolation in Arsenal’s 5-1 capitulation of January 2008 and another goal in October’s exhilarating 4-4 draw. Then, after rolling up at Spurs in 2011, Adebayor became only the second man in history to score for both clubs in the North London derby; converting from the penalty spot at his old Emirates stomping ground, on what was the Togolese forward’s 28th birthday. AC
- Pat Jennings by Action Images
- Sol Campbell by Corey Ross, Action Images
- William Gallas by Tony O’ Brien, Action Images
- Emmanuel Adebayor by Alan Walter, Action Images
- Etihad Stadium by Andrew Couldridge, Reuters/Action Images