NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 21
Submitted by Norman Giller
I wonder if serial sacker Daniel Levy sleeps soundly? He has a growing chain of victims on his conscience as he plots the Tottenham course on behalf of ENIC and chief shareholder Joe Lewis.
Let’s do a head count of managers who have been ‘Levy-ed’ out of the Lane:
No 1, George Graham (1998-2001), who was kicked out for alleged breach of contract. His crime: talking too much to the media about his budget restrictions. George’s blood was always too red for many Spurs supporters, who did not mourn his departure. I wrote ‘The Glory and The Grief’ book with George, and know better than most about the shabby way the Tottenham hire-and-fire hierarchy treated him.
No 2, Glenn Hoddle (2001-03), sacked by Levy while the chairman was on his honeymoon. Idolised as an exceptional Spurs player, Glenn had a lot of baggage by the time he arrived back at The Lane as manager. It proved an unhappy marriage, and the divorce came after just four points had been collected from the opening half dozen games of the 2003-04 season.
No 3, Jacques Santini (2004), who departed under his own steam after just thirteen matches amid rumours of back-stage political punch-ups.
No 4, Martin Jol (2004-07), a favourite with the fans who was heartlessly dismissed by Levy after a nightmare start to the 2006-07 season that harvested one victory in the first 10 League games.
No 5. Juande Ramos (2007-08), who lasted just one year. Spurs were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League when he took the Levy bullet and a bag of gold.
No 6, Harry Redknapp (2008-12), famously took over when Spurs had collected just two points from eight matches and proceeded to steer them to fourth-fifth-fourth finishes. But this was not good enough for Levy, irritated by Harry’s off-the-pitch shenanigans and caustic comments. Off with his head!
No 7, André Villas-Boas (2012-13), who was sunk by a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City and a 5-0 home drubbing from Liverpool, despite winning all six of the Europa League matches. Not good enough for Levy and Lewis.
No 8, Tim Sherwood (2013-14), Levy-ed out after five months, despite setting a record for highest win percentage for Spurs in the Premier League. Tim tripped over his tongue, like George Graham and Harry Redknapp before him. Perhaps it would have paid them not to speak English.
Now it’s over to Mauricio Pochettino, who should be warned that the joke going the rounds is that Levy is already looking for his successor. He will get my full support. I hope the same can be said of the fickle fans and the quick-on-the-draw Levy.
IN this special anniversary week – 70 years since the D-Day Landings – it seems fitting to remember the great Spurs Push and Run team that won the Second and First Division titles in the back-to-back seasons of 1949-50 and 1950-51.
Every one of the regulars in that magnificent team served through the war:
Ted Ditchburn, RAF physical training instructor.
Alf Ramsey, a PTI with the 6th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Arthur Willis, aircraft manufacturing.
Charlie Withers, made the D-Day Landings with the Royal Artillery.
Bill Nicholson, a PTI with the Durham Light Infantry.
Harry Clarke, RAF for five years after serving as a civilian fireman.
Ron Burgess, PTI with the RAF after working in the mines.
Sonny Walters, served in the Army from 1945 to 1947.
Les Bennett, fought in Burma, India and Egypt with the Devon Regiment.
Len Duquemin, who was hidden by monks in a Channel Islands monastery during the German occupation of his native Guernsey.
Eddie Baily, saw active service in Belgium, Holland and Germany while serving with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Les Medley, served with the RAF in Canada, where he met his wife and later set up home.
Manager Arthur Rowe was on the point of being named manager of the Hungarian national team when war was declared, and he returned home to serve in the Army.
Eddie Baily had a dramatic war. He served his country with distinction with the Royal Scots Fusiliers after signing with Spurs as an amateur in 1939.
While he was fighting abroad, it was reported to Tottenham that he had been killed in action, and his name was removed from their books. On his demob he signed with Chelsea, but once the mistake had been pointed out he was allowed to rejoin his first-choice club Tottenham in February 1946. It is difficult to imagine Arthur Rowe’s Push and Run tactics being so successful without the precise Baily passes to make the team tick.
He was reunited with Bill Nicholson as coach at Tottenham in 1963 after Bill’s assistant, Harry Evans, had been cruelly lost to cancer at the age of 43. Harry was father-in-law to John White, so the family was ripped apart by two appalling tragedies in just a couple of years.
Baily was the perfect foil and balance to the quieter, more thoughtful and constructive Nicholson. The ‘bad cop’ to the ‘good cop.’ Eddie could hardly get a sentence out without decorating it with swear words, while Bill rarely turned to obscenities to make his point.
Eddie rarely forgot his Army days and was always using wartime phrases. He invariably sent the team out on to the field with the instruction: “Fix bayonets, chaps, time to go over the top.”
Like all his Push and Run team-mates, he sacrificed his peak playing years to the war, and with D-Day in mind it is a good time to remember what they did for their country.
Danny Blanchflower lied about his age to get into the RAF and had finished his navigator training in Canada when peace was announced. You can read about Danny’s wartime and football experiences in my latest book: Danny Blanchflower, This WAS His Life. All profits to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who have hit troubled times.
Please order the book direct from me at www.normangillerbooks.com It is not for sale anywhere else.
Thank you on behalf of myself and the Tottenham Tribute Trust for your support. We know all true Spurs supporters will want to get behind this great cause.
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Which defender joined Tottenham from Middlesbrough and took over the shirt worn for so long by Ron Henry?
Of course, everybody came up with the correct answer: Cyril Knowles, and few of you could resist adding ‘Nice One, Cyril’. He was not only an exceptional (and eccentric) player, but a lovely man who amused and bemused in equal measure with his continual jesting. He was unlucky to be around at the same time as outstanding left-backs Ray Wilson and Terry Cooper, otherwise he would have won many more than his four England caps.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries Ray Humphries, of Romsey, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This week’s teaser is about another Tottenham golden oldie: Who joined Spurs from Chelsea in part exchange for Johnny Brooks and later played for QPR?
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
The book is now available in paperback, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust: www.normangillerbooks.com
Thank you for joining me. COYS!
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