NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 11
Submitted by Norman Giller (25 March 2014)
WARNING. This is a deeply personal blog that you may prefer to avoid. I am writing on remote control, so excuse me if you find it upsetting. It comes from the sole of my boots and my inner soul.
There is no way I will ever forget the day Tottenham came from two goals down to beat Southampton 3-2 with an injury-time winning goal at White Hart Lane on Sunday. During the game – unknown to me at the time – my big brother, George, passed on.
Sorry to be so startling, but I can only tell it as it is. Two hours after celebrating the victory on line with rapturous Spurs fans, I got a call from my niece, Karen, to tell me her Dad – brother, George – had been found dead in his car on the A10.
He had been driving home for lunch at his Cambridge home, and pulled into a lay-by for what were to prove his final moments. It must have been quick because he did not use his mobile, and police say that getting off the road saved what could have been a much worse scenario.
Their feeling is that his police training came into play when he started feeling ill. He was 33 years a City of London policeman, and we called him the black sheep of the family. He was 78 but acted more like 58, which is why his sudden passing came as such a shock.
He will not mind me writing about him here because he enjoyed being the centre of attention, and he would not want me to just ignore what was a dramatic departure.
Just to add to my pain on Sunday, George’s passing came just hours after the death of my old friend Mickey Duff, the larger-than-life boxing matchmaker for whom I worked as a PR for many years.
He had Spurs leanings, and was close friends with Lane legend Morris Keston, the SuperFan who has watched Tottenham play live more than 3,000 times.
I wish I could pass ‘big bruv’ George off as a Spurs fan to give more credence to writing about him here, but he was a Rugby Union man with a life-long passing interest in Millwall, the closest club to our East End home when we were growing up in war-blitzed London.
George was the oldest of four Giller brothers. Now I am the last one standing, and I apologise for bringing my grief here to the wonderful Spurs Odyssey website. But I think you’ll agree I could not have written about the match against Southampton without mention of such a momentous event in my life.
Thank you for listening.
NOW all eyes switch to Anfield. We go there with some trepidation against the Suarez-Sturridge double act. Spurs will get murdered by Liverpool if they play that high defensive line that was consistently exposed in the first 30 minutes against Southampton.
But I have confidence that Tim Sherwood will come up with tactics designed to throttle the threat of Suarez, for my money one of the greatest strikers ever to step foot in the Premier League.
I hope his critics are beginning to wake up to the fact that Tim has personality and passion that he passes on to his players, who are beginning to fear his version of the hair-dryer treatment.
I was at Anfield on 31 March 1973 – a Grand National morning match – when Pat Jennings virtually played them on his own as Spurs stole a point from championship-chasing Liverpool with a 1-1 draw.
Master manager Bill Shankly described it as one of the greatest goalkeeping displays he ever saw, and I quoted him in my Daily Express report as saying: “Did you ever see the likes of that? Did you ever see anything so incredible? Jennings became Superman!"
Liverpool players – Peter Cormack, Kevin Keegan, Brian Hall, and Tommy Smith especially – were left pulling their hair out as goal-bound shots or headers were turned round the posts, flicked over the crossbar, deflected, diverted, smothered, or blocked.
I recall Pat once out-jumping Cormack and heading the ball into touch!
The icing on the cake was not one but TWO penalty saves.
Keegan was first to be put to the sword, Jennings diving to his right to palm his spot-kick away. Tommy Smith put the next one to Pat’s left, and the big Irishman flew across his goal to push the ball off target.
The disbelieving Smith sunk to his knees, hammering the ground with both fists in rage and frustration.
Alan Gilzean had given Spurs the lead, and it was Keegan who eventually put the ball past the miracle man Jennings with a mishit, deflected shot.
Liverpool went on to win the title, and the Uefa Cup – having beaten holders Spurs on away goals in April's two-legged semi-final, Jennings unable to perform quite the same heroics as in the League match.
This weekend it is the turn of Hugo Lloris to face the Liverpool firing squad. Let’s wish the Frenchman a touch of the Pat Jennings 1973 form.
Can I please remind you that my Bill Nicholson Revisited book is now available in paperback. It will set you back just £9.99, with a donation for every book sold being paid to the Tottenham Tribute Trust .
I hope Spurs Odyssey followers – discerning Tottenham fans – will support this great cause. The Tribute Trust helps those former Spurs players who have hit difficult times.
My book on the greatest manager in the history of Tottenham will help YOU put something back to help our old heroes. Full details at www.normangillerbooks.com
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Spurs. Most of you were correct with last week’s answer to the question: Which player was sold to Southampton as a makeweight when Martin Chivers joined Tottenham from the Saints?
It was, of course, Frank Saul, a faithful servant to Tottenham and unlucky to have to live in the shadow of Lane legends like Greavsie and Gilly.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries is Bill Harrington, of Eastbourne, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This week’s teaser, with the League game against Liverpool in mind: Who joined Tottenham from Liverpool in 1988 and scored 19 goals in 128 League games for the Lilywhites?
A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book (one of the few remaining hardback versions) to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for joining me. And RIP big bruv George.
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