Belfast Telegraph

Plaque unveiled in honour of Northern Ireland international and Tottenham Hotspur football star Danny Blanchflower

By Amanda Ferguson

One of east Belfast's favourite sons has been honoured with a blue plaque celebrating his remarkable sporting achievements.

The Ulster History Circle tribute was unveiled yesterday at the first home of Northern Ireland international and Tottenham Hotspur legend Danny Blanchflower, who died in 1993.

The football hero's daughter Gayle told the Belfast Telegraph she was thrilled his contribution to sport had been recognised in this way.

"It's an honour for dad and for the whole family," she said.

Danny's brother Bill Blanchflower, from Whitehead, added: "It's nice to see sporting people recognised with a blue plaque as they usually go to poets and people in literature, and there is also the Blanchflower Park."

Robert Dennis 'Danny' Blanchflower was a Northern Ireland international footballer, football manager and journalist who captained Spurs during their league and cup double-winning season of 1961.

Where the Ulster History Circle plaque is located marks the player's first home in Grace Avenue, which he wrote about in his later career as a journalist as the place he first kicked a football.

Other memorials to the football star include a lounge at Spurs named after him and a Belfast park.

Following 10 years at White Hart Lane, Blanchflower retired in 1964 aged 38, and went on to manage Northern Ireland and Chelsea.

Former Northern Ireland and Spurs player Pat Jennings said: "With the history of the club we were so proud of him and what he achieved with the Tottenham first team.

"I had the pleasure of joining the club in 1964.

"Unfortunately Danny was just packing up at that time through injury but then, of course, I joined up again through the '70s when he was Northern Ireland manager.

"We had great times together.

"He was passionate about Northern Ireland.

The Newry legend added: "It is nice people have marked where he comes from."

East Belfast MP Naomi Long was among the dignitaries to attend the unveiling of the commemorative plaque.

Mrs Long said: "Danny was one of east Belfast's favourite sons, playing a number of years with Glentoran before moving to England.

"It's always great to see one of our own do so well and Danny was certainly one of the most successful. Any football fan knows the name Blanchflower and he was a hero to many."

Sports broadcaster Jackie Fullerton said Blanchflower was "world-class company" and a private man he remembers "famously refusing to appear on a live This is Your Life programme in the early 1960s".

"He turned Eamonn Andrews down when the genial Irishman surprised him with the big red book," Fullerton said. "He was a wonderful football player but he was world-class company and a superb storyteller.

"I am delighted for Danny and his family and I am also pleased about the plaque as a man who remembers him as a young boy as one of my heroes."

Background

Belfast man Danny Blanchflower played for Glentoran 1945-49, Barnsley 1949-51, Aston Villa 1951-54 and Tottenham Hotspur 1954-64. The highlight of his time at Spurs came in the 1960-61 season when, with Blanchflower as captain, they won their first 11 games, still a record for the top flight in English football, and eventually the league by eight 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. In 1962, Danny again captained the Spurs team to victory in the FA Cup and in 1963 he captained his side to victory over Atletico Madrid in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

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