Today Terry Dyson, one of North Yorkshire's most successful footballers, celebrates his 80th birthday. Deputy sports editor TONY KELLY tracks down the Tottenham Hotspur titan...

GREATNESS is an over-used word in sport, but the description applies vigorously to Malton-born winger Terry Dyson.

He was an integral component of the Tottenham Hotspur team of the early 1960s which dominated English football for almost five years - much as Liverpool in the late 1970s and entire 1980s and Manchester United in the 1990s and noughties.

In that push and run Spurs side that mixed panache with pace fired by the mantra of manager Bill Nicholson to win in style, Dyson was the right-wing scourge of rival defences both domestically and in Europe.

He was on target in the FA Cup final conquest of Leicester City on May 6, 1961 just 19 days after Spurs had landed the First Division Championship (now the Premiership) to become the first team to achieve such a double in 64 years.

Two years later Dyson and his left-wing ally, Welshman Cliff Jones, were to terrorise Spanish outfit Athletic Madrid 5-1 in Rotterdam, where Spurs were crowned European Cup-Winners' Cup champions - notching the distinction of the first English team to win a European trophy.

"That was my best ever game," recalled Dyson and, as he celebrated his 80th birthday, he added: "For four to five years we were the best.

"I remember in 1961 we won our first 11 League games, which was then a record, and we knew we were ready to go.

"As Liverpool were and Manchester United after them, that Spurs team were by far the best team around. We created history."

"We were led by a manager in Bill Nicholson, who was a frightening figure, but who always wanted us to play in an entertaining way. How Bill was never knighted I'll never know."

That Spurs' hold on supremacy did not endure as long as the two Lancashire outfits' decades of dominance was due to misfortune capped by tragedy.

Striker John White was killed by lightning on a golf course in 1964 and around the same time Spurs playmaker Danny Blanchflower was forced to retire with a cartilage injury, while totemic skipper Dave Mackay suffered a badly broken leg.

"Losing such influential players was always going to hit us and with some of us growing older together the side broke up."

After a decade at White Hart Lane Dyson, who amazingly, was the only non-international in that all-conquering Spurs team, moved on to Fulham and then stints at Colchester United, Guildford and Wealdstone before he hung up his boots.

While plying his trade along the wing is way behind him - much like the defenders he regularly left trailing in his wake - Dyson is still a vibrant student of football, though today's game does not always fill him with admiration.

Insistent that the game is flooded with too many foreign players, Dyson believes that has eroded affinity for any particular club.

"There does not seem to be as much passion for you club as we had," said the ace who went on to have a successful career as a teacher of maths and games at a special needs school in Hertfordshire.

"You have to have that special feel for the club like we all had for Tottenham.

"There's also so much money in football that it's said to be a success now if you finish fourth because that gets you into Europe. A big prize for finishing fourth - in our day you had to win and we always tried to do that at Spurs with style."

For all modern-day flaws football, indeed most sport, runs deep in the veins of the newly-arrived octogenarian. That's hardly surprising given he is the oldest surviving member of a derring-do Dyson dynasty.

His father Ginger Dyson was a successful jockey in Malton, where Terry was born.

Terry's younger brother John, who lives in York's Huntington, was on the books of Middlesbrough before playing for York City and Scarborough, while his son, and Terry's nephew, is Simon Dyson, one of Europe's leading professional golfers.

And once a winner, always a winner, an early birthday present for the glory glory Hotspur was notched in horse-racing.

Always wanting to get into sport Dyson senior is now part of Dyson Racing - a mini-syndicate also including his wife Kay, sons Neil and Barry and a friend of the latter.

Just a few weeks ago their horse Miss Van Gogh, which was sourced for them by Robin O'Ryan, the assistant to Malton trainer Richard Fahey, triumphed at Leicester.

Said Dyson: "We were all there and it was a great win, our first win. It was a grand day."

Here's to a grand day today Terry...and many more.

1961 - year of the Double and...

  • John F Kennedy was inaugurated as president of the United States of America.
  • Russia's Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
  • Building work started on the Berlin Wall.
  • The farthing coin - in circulation since the 13th century - was withdrawn.
  • Britain applied to join the Common Market.
  • Nicolaus Silver won the Grand National - the first grey horse to so do.
  • The Apartment won the Oscar for best film.
  • The E-type Jaguar was launched.
  • The best selling record was Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley.
  • The average price of a house in Britain was £2,770.
  • The Duke of Kent married Katherine Worsley in York Minster.