Ajax Connections and The Last of The First

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

In 2012, we were fortunate, in that, the then Ajax captain, one Jan Vertonghen, was desperate to join us and did so, in July of that year. He had been voted Dutch Player Of The Year in March 2012.

To this, he would add Premier League PFA Team Of The Year award in 2012-2013 and Premier League Player Of The Month, in March 2013.

What a player he has turned out to be, for us!

This year, we hired another Ajax player, the great Dane, Christian Eriksen and, of course, there is the connection again through Maarten Cornelis Jol, our
manager from 2004-2007, who, after he left, managed Ajax for a year, before taking the hot-seat at our London neighbours Fulham.

However, our connections with Ajax go back over a century, when former player Jack Kirwan, took over the management reins there, between 1910 and 1915.

Kirwan was born in 1878, in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

He first played Gaelic football, for Dublin and was verysuccessful.

When he began playing soccer, with Southport Central in the Lancashire League, he attracted the scouts of both Blackburn Rovers and Everton. Kirwan was a speedy, gifted, outside left.

He joined Everton in 1898 and was used to replace John Cameron,
who had signed on at Tottenham.

Jack spent one season with Everton, making 24 appearances, scoring 5 goals. He then followed Cameron to Spurs, who was by this time, player-manager of the side.

His maiden season would be the first played at White Hart Lane.

At Spurs, he played for six seasons, playing alongside John Brearley and Vivian Woodward. Kirwan made 347 appearances, scoring 97 goals.

He helped us win the Southern League, in 1900 and the FA Cup, the following year, Spurs being the first team to win this, playing outside of the English League.

In 1905, he joined Chelsea, where he made 76 appearances, scoring 16 goals. He would finish his career at Leyton Orient, in 1910.

He relocated to The Netherlands in 1910, to become the first professional coach at Ajax. In 1911, he led them to the Dutch Second Class title, and victory in a
play-off, thus guiding the club into the Dutch top flight for the first time.

Ajax Chairman, Chris Holst, had decided to raise his team’s profile and began to raise funds, invest in players and hire a British manager. On a tour of England in 1910, he became aware of Kirwan, an FA Cup winner and international player. He was hired.

During the First World War, Jack (1915) made his way back to London.

Later, he would successfully coach Bohemians, in his home country and spent a year afterwards, at A.S. Livorno, before settling again, in the London area.

Jack kept the ball from the 1901 FA Cup final in his home, until his death in January 1959. The ball, with some other historical possessions, would later be donated to the Tottenham Hotspur museum, by his family.

When Jack died, he was the last remaining member of the first Spurs team to win the coveted FA Cup.

Jack Henry Kirwan – 9 February 1878 to 9 January 1959. The Last of the First.

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