MATT BARLOW: Sportsmail’s campaign to honour Greaves received a response like no other such was his popularity… but the MBE was too little, too late and not enough – it should have been Sir Jimmy
- Sportsmail launched a campaign for Jimmy Greaves to receive an honour
- It received a unique response, with letters and emails from around the world
- While regarded by many as the greatest, lasting tributes to Greaves are lacking
- He was inducted into Tottenham’s hall of fame in 2016, but he didn’t like a fuss
The magic of Jimmy Greaves was in the north London air. It was February 19 2020, the great man’s 80th birthday and Tottenham were paying a tribute ahead of their Champions League tie against RB Leipzig.
His image dominated the match-day programme, his family were in the stands and Sportsmail had been outside, canvassing support from fans for a campaign to see him acknowledged by honours system.
How honours managed to elude him for so long remains a mystery. Greaves deserved recognition and everyone seemed to agree. The response to this campaign was like no other.
Sportsmail launched a campaign to get Greaves recognition in the British honours system
Tottenham and football legend Jimmy Greaves passed away at the age of 81 on Sunday
Letters and emails flooded in from across the world. Former team-mates called, eager to back the idea. Cliff Jones recalled their days together in Bill Nicholson’s glorious team of the 60s, and the time Jimmy saved his life, by convincing him to follow his lead and give up drinking.
Sir Geoff Hurst spoke of their England careers, forever entwined by what happened in 1966, and their reunion at West Ham, where Greaves scored the last of his 366 goals in the top flight.
Even long-standing rivals and opponents, such as Frank McLintock. They all hailed Greavsie as the best without hesitation. And yet any lasting tributes are surprisingly hard to find.
Such was Greaves’ popularity that Sportsmail’s campaign received responses like no other
Many of the most famous football grounds in England are decorated with statues in honours of their finest players. Stands, streets, bridges, lounges and gateways carry their names but there is nothing for Greaves at Tottenham.
Five years ago, he was inducted into their Hall of Fame but the club insist the delay was as much to do with his own reticence.
Greaves never enjoyed a fuss about his achievements and disliked the way football had moved away from the working man to become a business above all else.
Perhaps his natural anti-establishment view of life and determination to say what he really thought were among the reasons why no honours were bestowed upon him until the MBE arrived in January this year.
Greaves’ MBE arrived in January but it was too little, too late – he should have been Sir Jimmy
His family were thrilled even though his wife Irene told me he was worth more. It was too little, too late in her eyes and she was right.
It really should have been Sir Jimmy they rose to salute at White Hart Lane yesterday but the reaction of the Chelsea and Spurs fans to the news of his death at the age of 81 would have meant so much more.
Greavsie was a man of the people and the magic will live on in the north London air whenever Tottenham play at home.
The magic of Greaves will live on in the north London air whenever Tottenham play at home