Following my transfer from Torquay United to Spurs on Wednesday, October 19 1977, I was told on the Friday I would be starting the League game the following day verses Bristol Rovers (Saturday, October 22, 1977).
Unknown to me the game would feature on Match of the Day presented by Jimmy Hill.
On the Wednesday I had taken my wife, who was seven months pregnant with our daughter Emma, to her parents’ house in Bristol, ironically a stone’s throw away from Eastville Stadium, home of Bristol Rovers, and caught the train to Paddington where I was met by Bill Nicholson.
The night before my debut, John Duncan, who was injured at the time, called me and invited me to his house to welcome me to the club, meet his wife and have a chat.
John made me feel welcome and it was his way of helping me deal with the pressures of making my debut the following day. He insisted we had a glass of wine which was something I didn’t do 48 hours before a match but John knew it would help me relax and we toasted me joining Spurs.
We then played a friendly game of cards which became very competitive, which took my mind away from the match ahead. I will always be grateful to John and his wife for that evening which helped me relax before one of the biggest games of my career.
On Saturday morning, Don Mc Allister picked me up from the hotel and took me to White Hart Lane. As we approached the stadium, the crowds were already gathering and the atmosphere was building.
Manager Keith Burkinshaw was away so in charge was Pat Welton, assistant manager and reserve team manager Peter Shreeves. Just before we went out for the warm-up, Peter Taylor, the joker in the changing room, came over to wish me all the best. As I shook his hand, a false thumb dropped off which was followed by Peter entering into his Norman Wisdom impersonation which relieved the pressure in the room and took away some of the nerves I was feeling.
We went into the game Spurs having lost the previous two away games at Hull City and Charlton Athletic, Spurs giving a poor performance in the local derby losing 1-4. With injuries to John Duncan, Chris Jones and Gerry Armstrong, partnering me up front was the late Ian Moores. I wasn’t 100 per cent fit with an Achilles tendon problem but nothing was going to stop me from playing.
Team - Daines, Naylor, Holmes, Hoddle, McAllister, Perryman, Pratt, McNab, Moores, Lee, Taylor.
As we came out of the tunnel, the atmosphere created by the 26,311 crowd was electric. I can remember the thumping sound when running and the noise being generated but being focused and concentrated, you couldn’t hear individual calls or chants.
After 21 minutes, I swept home Glenn Hoddle’s cross and four minutes later I headed home a corner from John Pratt, just before half time Hoddle was the provider again when his cross was met by Peter Taylor to make it 3-0 HT.
The second half we simply over-ran Bristol Rovers, Ian Moores made it 4-0 on 56 minutes. I scored again in the 75th to complete my hat-trick and two goals in as many minutes from Ian Moores saw him complete his treble to make it 7-0. Two minutes from time, I tapped home my fourth. The final goal came from Hoddle, who completed the win which sealed Spurs record League victory 9-0.
The final whistle went and the crowd erupted and flooded onto the pitch. It was something I had never experienced. I was trapped and being lifted off the pitch. It was quite scary but eventually I found my way down the tunnel and into the changing room, exhausted but elated.
The dressing room was buzzing and it seemed like a dream, four goals on my debut and an Ian Moores’ hat-trick – did this really happen?
After a few words from Pat Welton, I was presented with the match day ball and Ian was given another ball we used on the day.
After showering I was escorted to be interviewed on Match of the Day by Jimmy Hill, something I wasn’t expecting and another experience I wasn’t prepared for. The game got top billing on ‘Match of the Day’ and showed Spurs at their very best.
When I got on the train back to Bristol with the match ball under my arm, there were Bristol Rovers fans on the train. I was quickly recognised but the fans were really good.
On the Sunday morning, we drove back home to Teignmouth. When we arrived home we were greeted by the paparazzi – was this really happening to a boy from Buckfastleigh?