The Hotspur Football Club from September 1882 was formed from a cricket club by the name of Hotspur Cricket Club, founded two years earlier. Most of the members were schoolboys of St John’s Presbyterian School and Tottenham Grammar School. They set up their headquarters at the Red House, 748 High Road, in a building that until this very day still serves as the club’s headquarters!
They played at the Tottenham Marshes, a patch of flat land somewhere in the vicinity of where the Victoria Line depot is located at Northumberland Park. The Marshes were entirely public property and the club had no control over it. When, in 1884, they unintentionally received letters addressed to another and older Hotspur FC, they decided to add the prefix Tottenham to their name to distinguish themselves from their namesakes based in West London.
After having played at a proper enclosed ground at Northumberland Park from 1888, Tottenham Hotspur moved to a vacant site behind the White Hart public house on Tottenham High Road, in May 1899. They took the old main stand from Northumberland Park with them. The site had previously been a neglected nursery and market garden and evidence of this was still apparent long after the business had been forgotten. It was known simply as the High Road Ground. Some readers of a local newspaper wanted to call the place Percy Park after Sir Henry Percy, the illustrious Harry Hotspur himself, but gradually, this ground became known with the more popular name White Hart Lane, encouraged by supporters.
Spurs original strip was all blue from 1882-1885 and changed in favour of light blue and white halves as a tribute to FA Cup winners Blackburn Rovers. Red tops and blue shorts were worn from 1890-1896, at the time the same strip as their counterparts at Arsenal. So Tottenham changed to delicate chocolate and gold striped shirts, chocolate shorts and socks in 1896. The now familiar white shirts and navy blue shorts were adopted in 1898 in respect to Preston North End and stuck ever since.
Why Hotspur? The name was proposed at the inaugural meeting by the members, full of admiration for the prowess of that noble Sir Henry Percy, nicknamed Hotspur. The founders wanted to see their team emulating this hero’s fame. Sir Percy was a fourteenth century ancestor of the Northumberland family, a man with a fiery reputation who became noted for his valour in battle and enthusiasm when leading the troops, back in the Middle Ages. This gained him the nickname Hotspur and the admiration of the founder members. After all, they had been playing cricket for two years on a piece of land which was owned by the Northumberland family.
Finally, what’s that cockerel doing in the present crest of Tottenham Hotspur? Again we have to refer to the Spurs part of the above story. Fighting cockerels wear “spurs”, so the somewhat fearsome appearance of a cockerel was an obvious choice for the crest.
The previous badge also contains the cockerel. However, a few more interested details are featured. In the top left corner of the old badge you can see Bruce Castle, not a medieval entertainer, but a 16th century building which currently houses the local history collection of the London Borough of Haringey. The cockerel and ball first appeared in 1909 when a former player, one W.J. Scott, cast a copper centrepiece to perch on the new West Stand. In the top right corner are the seven trees planted at Page Green by the seven sisters of Tottenham, from which the district became known as Seven Sisters. The two lions rampant are taken from the crest of the Northumberland family who feature heavily in the history of the local area. They lived at the Black House – later renamed Percy House – situated on the High Road opposite White Hart Lane. The motto “Audere est facere” is Latin for ‘to dare is to do’, fitting perhaps for a club named after a hero renowned for his “derring-do”.