MATT BARLOW: Sportsmail’s campaign in honor of Greaves got a response like no other, so popular was his popularity…but the MBE was too little, too late and not enough – it should have been Sir Jimmy
- Sports post launched a campaign for Jimmy Greaves to receive an honor
- It got a unique response, with letters and emails from all over the world
- Though considered by many to be the greatest, lasting tributes to Greaves are lacking
- He was inducted into Tottenham’s Hall of Fame in 2016, but he didn’t like the fuss
The magic of Jimmy Greaves was in the air of North London. It was February 19, 2020, the great man’s 80th birthday and Tottenham paid tribute to their Champions League game against RB Leipzig.
His image dominated the match day programme, his family sat in the stands and Sports post had been out to solicit fan support for a campaign to see him recognized by the honors system.
How the honor managed to escape 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 gain Greaves recognition in the UK honors system
Tottenham and football legend Jimmy Greaves passed away on Sunday at age 81
Letters and emails poured in from all over the world. Former teammates called, eager to support the idea. Cliff Jones recalled their days together on Bill Nicholson’s glorious team of the 60s, and the time Jimmy saved his life by convincing him to follow suit and stop drinking.
Sir Geoff Hurst spoke about their career in England, forever intertwined with what happened in 1966, and their reunion at West Ham, where Greaves scored the last of his 366 goals in the Premier League.
Even long-standing rivals and adversaries, such as Frank McLintock. They all praised Greavsie as the best without hesitation. And yet lasting tributes are surprisingly hard to come by.
The popularity of Greaves was so great that Sportsmail’s campaign got reactions like no other
Many of the most famous football pitches in England are decorated with statues honoring their best players. Stands, streets, bridges, lounges and gates bear their name, but there is nothing for Greaves at Tottenham.
He was inducted into their Hall of Fame five years ago, but the club insists the delay was as much due to his own reticence.
Greaves never liked to make a fuss about his achievements and hated the way football had turned away from the working man to become a business above all else.
Perhaps his naturally anti-establishment outlook on life and determination to say what he really thought was one of the reasons why he was not awarded any honors until the MBE arrived in January of this year.
Greaves’ MBE arrived in January but it was too little, too late – he should have been Sir Jimmy
His family was delighted, although 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 who came to salute them at White Hart Lane yesterday, but the reaction of 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 air of north London when Tottenham play at home.
The magic of Greaves will live on in the North London air when Tottenham play at home