Nothing stirs the emotions of mothers up and down the country than seeing a young lad get thrown into the action against older men. Before twenty-two year old Paul Gascoigne melted their hearts with his tears in Turin in 1990, and before seventeen year old Paul Allen was cruelly scythed down by Willie Young when through on goal in the 1980 FA Cup Final, there was an eighteen year old who had the task of keeping out the might of Tottenham in a Second Division match.
The date was Saturday 22nd October 1977 and Tottenham were taking on Bristol Rovers in the old Second Division. Spurs had been relegated from Division One the previous season and looked determined to bounce straight back. They’d already beaten Sheffield United 4-2 and Oldham 5-1 at home and had won all five matches. Rovers were yet to win away and had picked up just one point from their five games.
Rovers had begun the season with their first choice keeper, Martin Thomas, but after nine matches he was injured. So the trip to Turf Moor against Burnley saw manager Bobby Campbell throw in Glyn Jones for his debut. Born in Newport, South Wales in March 1959, the eighteen year old also had to do without the experienced centre-back Stuart Taylor in front of him. His replacement? Tony Pulis. Burnley won 3-1 yet Jones did enough to convince his manager he should be in the team for the following week’s home game against Blackburn Rovers, where they won 4-1. And so it was off to White Hart Lane to meet Tottenham.
When you consider there were fewer than 6,500 at Eastville for the Blackburn match it was easily the biggest crowd young Jones had ever played in front of.
In the Spurs side that day were long-serving skipper, Steve Perryman, future England managers, Glenn Hoddle and Peter Taylor and also a young twenty year old making his debut for the club. Earlier in the week Tottenham manager, Keith Burkinshaw had paid Torquay United £60,000 for Colin Lee and with Chris Jones and Martin Robinson injured, Lee was given his first outing.
Jones had made a couple of good saves early on in the match as the home side dominated, but then on 21 minutes Hoddle’s right-wing cross was headed down by Ian Moores and Lee pounced to knock the ball past Jones for the opening goal
TOTTENHAM 1 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Four minutes later, Neil McNab picked the ball up on the right-wing just inside the Rovers half then cut inside firing a left foot shot from about thirty yards out and Jones tipped it brilliantly over the bar to receive warm applause from the home crowd. The resulting corner on the left was swung in right-footed by John Pratt and Colin Lee got up and powered his header into the net. What a start.
TOTTENHAM 2 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Rovers had a great chance to get back in the game when Bobby Gould put the ball wide when unmarked in the area, and then just before the break Hoddle crossed from deep down the right and Peter Taylor headed in at the near post for 3-0
TOTTENHAM 3 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 2, Taylor
In the second half Spurs continued to pile on the pressure and Jones was called upon to make further saves from Moores and Taylor. Then ten minutes into the second period and Taylor did well down the right and his ball into the area was missed by Lee at the near post, Pratt in the six-yard area and finally Moores arrived at the far post to turn the ball in.
TOTTENHAM 4 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 2, Taylor, Moores
With fifteen minutes to go Peter Taylor took a corner on the right, left-footed and Pratt nodded it on at the near post for Lee to again get up above the defender and head the ball past Jones for his hat-trick.
TOTTENHAM 5 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 3, Taylor, Moores
Jones then pulled off another good save when Taylor was able to shoot from outside the area to the keepers left and Jones parried it away. Within minutes, though, Spurs inevitably added to their tally. Hoddle flicked the ball forward to Taylor on the edge of the area and he turned it on for Moores to run ahead of Bater. He then clipped the ball past Jones as the keeper came out. Jones really wasn’t helped by his defence as Tottenham turned on the style
TOTTENHAM 6 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 3, Moores 2, Taylor
Soon after Moores also completed his hat-trick. Nick Holmes played a long ball down the left where Lee was free and his ball into the box found Moores unmarked. Moores stretched his leg out and let the ball hit his foot to wrong-foot Jones.
TOTTENHAM 7 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 3, Moores 3, Taylor
Two minutes from time and Spurs surged forward again as Hoddle found Pratt just inside his own half on the left. He booted the ball down the wing and ran onto it but his cross was wayward and curled away from the area where Taylor latched onto it from outside the ‘d’. His shot hit Bater and bounced to Lee who stabbed it home for his fourth goal of an astonishing day.
TOTTENHAM 8 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 4, Moores 3, Taylor
Then just before the final whistle Spurs had another corner on the right which Taylor took. He curled it to the edge of the area where Rovers substitute, Paul Hendrie, inadvertently headed the ball to Moores on the left. Moores looked up then floated a ball back to the far post where Hoddle, who looked a mile offside, slipped in and made it 9-0.
TOTTENHAM 9 - 0 BRISTOL ROVERS
Lee 4, Moores 3
Bristol Rovers: Jones, Bater, Taylor A, Day, Taylor S, Prince (Hendrie), Williams, Aitken, Gould, Staniforth, Evans
Tottenham looked odds-on for the title and an immediate return to the First Division, but they lost three in four towards the end of the season and had to battle out a 0-0 draw at Southampton just to go up on goal difference. Ironically their goal difference was nine goals better than Brighton and their performance on this day clearly made all the difference.
Bristol Rovers ended the season in 18th, one point above the relegation zone. Unbelievably they were one of seven clubs to finish just one point above the relegation places.
Colin Lee managed to secure a regular starting place and ended up with 11 goals for the season. Ian Moores struggled to find a place ahead of John Duncan or Gerry Armstrong and only scored once more.
As for Glyn Jones, he received plaudits for his performance as many observed he’d been let down by his defence. Jones didn’t make the starting line-up again until the beginning of January when he played against Cardiff at home (3-2) and Fulham away (1-1). He was back in the reserves a week later and guess where his next match was? Yes that’s right, at White Hart Lane albeit in front of a much smaller crowd than he’d witnessed that day.
The following season he only made four appearances before moving to Shrewsbury Town the following year. In 1981 he moved to Shrewsbury but still struggled to find a regular starting place. By the following season he was out of league football when he moved to Gloucester City. He had further spells at Yeovil, Bath City and Newport County before finishing his career at Newport County.
He then moved into coaching and in 1997 he was appointed Director of the youth academy at Newport County and continued there until May 2014. In October 2014 he was appointed goalkeeper coach at Forest Green Rovers.
In these days of footballers living in a goldfish bowl then the following days would've been full of footage of the teenager who had to pick the ball out of the net nine times in one match. They'd interview his mum, his mates, his former school teacher and probably the newsagent who sold him panini stickers. But Jones, despite appearing on Match of the Day, escaped without a great deal of fuss and was able to go through a coaching career where perhaps only a few knew of his 'fame'.