Football legend Maurice celebrating at the double

TRIMLEY: When football legend Maurice Norman talks, the famous names just tumble from his lips.

Virtually every name he mentions is from football’s hall of fame – and he had the pleasure of playing alongside them, and winning some of the biggest honours in the game.

Maurice, who now lives quietly in a cottage in Trimley St Martin, has a coveted title medal, two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup medal, and 23 England caps – including playing in a World Cup – and only a broken leg prevented him from possibly claiming the greatest prize of all in 1966.

This season the former professional is celebrating the 50th anniversary of being part of the first English team to win “the double” – when Spurs won both the league and FA Cup with a team including Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay, Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones.

“It was a magical time,” said Maurice, now 76, who lives with his wife Jacqueline, 70, tucked away in a lane just off the High Road.

“I can’t believe it was 50 years ago. They were some fantastic players and it was a real joy to line up alongside them and be part of that team.

“Our manager Bill Nicholson knew the team he wanted and he built it slowly, as players and money became available, over a number of years and we could see it happening as players and knew that peak was coming.

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“The year we won the league and FA Cup was fantastic, and the following year we thought we could do the double again but Ipswich won the league and we had to settle for the cup. We got to the semi-finals of the European Cup, too, but were beaten by Benfica.”

Maurice, originally from Norfolk, who joined Spurs from Norwich City for �18,000, is looking forward to two special dinners, including one at White Hart Lane, to celebrate the double anniversary.

He said: “I keep in touch with lots of them still, including players like Tom Finney, but we have lost a lot in recent years.

“Bobby Robson was a great friend and a real gentleman and lovely to play alongside in an England shirt.”

Maurice, who suffered a bruised arm in a recent car crash not far from his home, doesn’t enjoy the game as much today.

“The players today are probably fitter than we were and eat properly but seem more prone to injuries.

“We used to kick lumps out of each other on terrible muddy pitches and come off laughing and chatting.

“It’s too serious today – I don’t begrudge them the money because their careers can end in the next game – as mine did – but it’s not the same today.”

n Give us your views – write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters @eveningstar.co.uk

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