"There was a bit of a swagger about him; he was just a fun player to watch"
Leeds’ reputation was brutal, but on this day in April, Conn took the mickey out of them in front of 50,000 people at White Hart Lane when he found time to sit on the ball in the heat of battle. Tottenham were 3-0 up and the crowd lapped up this moment of theatre. They needed something to cheer about, didn’t they?
Admittedly, Bremner and co. were seething, but football in the 1970s was bustling with this sort of style and flamboyance. Players such as Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh and George Best are the more celebrated rock 'n' roll footballers, but Conn deserves his place in that hall of fame, too.
As a 16-year-old he was actually on the verge of joining Leeds in 1967, but then Rangers made their interest known and there was only one place he wanted to be after that.
He grew up as a Rangers fan and was desperate to pull on that famous blue top meaning his dad, Alfie senior, a Hearts legend with more than 300 appearances for the club, had the unenviable task of phoning Elland Road supremo Don Revie to ask to have his contract cancelled. Thankfully, Revie understood what playing for his boyhood club meant to the teenager and immediately tore up the agreement, which he was eternally grateful for.
And pretty soon he was playing in the Rangers first team, replacing Alex Ferguson to make his debut in 1968 during an Inter City Fairs game against Dundalk. His finest hour, though, came at the Camp Nou in 1972.
This is where Rangers made history by beating Dynamo Moscow 3-2 to win the Cup Winners Cup final; the first and only European honour for the club. On two previous occasions they’d ended as runners-up, but they finally crossed the line having beaten Sporting, Torino and Bayern en route.
Conn had just turned 20 and believed he’d be on the bench for the game, but when he found out he was a late addition to the starting line-up, he ran to the loo and was promptly sick. “It was that big of a surprise,” he later said of a whirlwind 24 hours.
Along with the Cup Winners Cup, Conn collected a League Cup and Scottish Cup, but he’d have to wait until his controversial transfer to Celtic to be called a league champion.
“According to Bill Nicholson at the time they'd actually been watching me for three years. We'd played down at Tottenham in a friendly and I must have made a wee bit of an impression,” he later told the Spurs website.
However, injury hampered his time in England, as did Nicholson’s resignation during the season after 16 years in charge. He didn’t see eye to eye with his replacement, Terry Neil and became part of the team’s second string until Pat Jennings and Cyril Knowles had a word in Neil’s ear.
The well respected and senior duo told the manager they believed Conn was too good to play in the reserves and it was advice Neil took on board because, with relegation looking increasingly likely, he gave the Scot his first league start in January 1975. It was an inspired decision, as Spurs thrashed Newcastle 5-2 at St James’ Park and Conn scored a hat-trick.
All of a sudden there was hope relegation could be avoided, although they had to wait until the final game against Leeds to beat the drop.
Tottenham were eventually relegated in 1977 under Keith Burkinshaw, but Conn had gone by then. His reign lasted just 49 games, bringing 10 goals and when news of Celtic's £65,000 offer surfaced, it is said the offices at White Hart Lane were inundated with calls from fans begging the club not to sell a player they’d fallen in love with.
“He was a bit of a terrace cult hero,” Tottenham fan and talkSPORT presenter Paul Hawksbee explains.
“A lot of players in those days had long hair and Alfie pushed it to the nth degree. There was a bit of a swagger about him when he played and he seemed to be in the style of a Tottenham player. He played good football and had a little bit of edge about him as well.
"He was just a fun player to watch.”
The love was reciprocated and the player revealed that had circumstances been different he probably wouldn’t have left. "I loved it down south and had Bill Nicholson stayed on as manager for another couple of years, I don't think I'd have come back to Scotland."
Rangers’ fans, meanwhile, were not exactly thrilled to see their former star pupil – a ‘Barca Bear’ no less – don the green and white, especially when it was rumoured the club were keen to have him back.
But what choice did Conn have? He was playing reserve football when Jock Stein talked him into becoming a Celt. In his words, signing for a man of Stein’s standing was a no-brainer. “Religion-wise, I’m neither one thing or the other. I made a pure football decision to go to Celtic. I didn’t want to leave Rangers, don’t forget.”
From Celtic’s point of view, the fact they got one over their big rivals was no bad thing.
He reportedly took a sizeable pay cut to swap Spurs for Celtic, but if he was playing today, he could fully expect to earn in the region of £100,000-a-week. Easy.
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