NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 51
Submitted by Norman Giller
Lady Luck riding shotgun for Spurs
So, my friends, we go into 2015 with Lady Luck riding shotgun for Spurs as we prepare to take on Chelsea at the Lane on New Year’s Day. Let’s be honest. Leicester City rightfully felt robbed last week, and Manchester United should have been two goals clear at half-time yesterday.
But you cannot call yourself a true Tottenham fan unless you wear your optimism like a badge of honour. Those of us who carry the scars of seasons of dashed hopes found something in the second-half to raise our expectations ahead of Thursday’s momentous match against the stand-out team in the land.
I don’t know what Mauricio Pochettino found to say to the players at half-time with his limited English, but whatever it was he should bottle it and sell it to any manager looking to revive his team.
United monopolised the first-half and only the usual heroics from Hugo ‘Boss’ Lloris saved Spurs from a spanking.
Excuse the cliché, but this really was a game of two halves. Spurs came out after the interval with new zip and zest, and suddenly it was United who were on the back foot and scrambling to save the game.
Where United had dictated in midfield, Spurs were now in the ascendancy and calling the tune, which was a swinging affair accompanied by the inspiring Tottenham choir. Where there had been hesitancy there was hunger, where there had been panic there was now passion, and where there had been immobility there was bold movement on and off the ball.
The only thing missing, as in the first-half, was that vital final finishing touch that makes the difference between good and great teams. This is a good Tottenham team. Greatness possibly awaits around the corner, particularly if they can coax a couple of class acts to join the squad during the January transfer window.
Can we start the New Year with a victory over easily the best team in the Premier League? My honest answer to that has to be: “I don’t think so.”
Against the likes of Costa, Hazard, Fabregas, Matic, Oscar and (the one that got away) Willian – along with the powerhouse Drogba probably coming off the bench – I find it hard to make out a case for Tottenham getting a point.
But then that traditional Spurs optimism kicks in and I start to think of ways we could win. John Terry is not getting any younger and Harry Kane will chase all day to try to get the better of him, and the Dainty Dane, Christian Eriksen, can pass the ball as well as anybody in the Chelsea side.
And at the back we have in Hugo Lloris a keeper who could use his hands to wipe that smug smile off Jose Mourinho’s face.
Yes, I am fearing the worst on Thursday, but hope for the best. What a start that would be to a New Year that both Spurs Odyssey chief Paul Smith and I hope is wonderful for you and yours … and for Mighty Spurs. Enjoy!
I admit to goosebumps at the warmth of the applause yesterday for the memory of Ron Henry, who passed on to the great football stadium in the sky this Christmas at the age of 80. His passing was a release after a long battle against ill health, and that ex-footballers’ nightmare of dementia that has hit so many of our old heroes.
It is why I share all profits from my Spurs books with the Tottenham Tribute Trust, that quietly helps the old Spurs players who have hit difficult times. Ron was among those assisted by the Trust. Please buy any of my books at email@example.com to support this great cause.
You have to be of a certain age to have watched Ron at his peak with the Double side of 60-61, when his mixture of elegance and energy at left-back was an important factor in the Bill Nicholson master plan to monopolise the major competitions.
He was a sporting competitor, but his gentlemanly approach did not prevent him from putting in the tough tackles that full-backs had to unleash back in the days when football was a game of physical contact. He tried to put many a winger into row Z, but always had a handshake for his opponent at the final whistle.
Ron was unlucky that his only England cap came in Alf Ramsey’s first match as manager. It was the night that goalkeeper Ron Springett kept losing sight of the ball under appalling floodlights and England were beaten 5-1 by France in Paris. It was our Ron who carried the can as Alf showed his steel, despite having partnered Henry in the Spurs defence in the 1950s.
King Henry served Spurs for more than 50 years as player and youth coach, and combined coaching with running a 14-acre market garden near his home in Redbourne, Hertfordshire, where he followed his hobby of keeping homing pigeons.
He was deeply proud when his grandson, Ronnie – a one-time Spurs youth prospect – became the first captain to lift a trophy at the new Wembley Stadium while playing for Stevenage.
Despite having an educated and powerful left foot, Ron scored only one goal for Spurs throughout his career. It was against Manchester United, and he was so popular with his team-mates they celebrated as if he had scored an FA Cup winning goal.
A cheeky, chirpy Cockney character from Shoreditch, Ron always had a quip to share and was a lovely bloke that many were proud and pleased to call a good pal. RIP old friend.
THE GILLER TEASER
Last week I asked: Who scored a Boxing Day hat-trick for Spurs at Villa Park, has won 48 international caps and netted 42 goals for Tottenham in 146 League matches?
Yes, you nearly all go it right, Gareth Bale, who brightened our Christmas with a second-half hat-trick against Aston Villa on Boxing Day 2012. How we could do with his sort of finishing now!
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Phil Thomas, of Hackney, who wins the autographed copy of Lane of Dreams.
This week’s teaser: Which future Tottenham player and manager was in Alf Ramsey’s original squad of 40 players for the 1966 World Cup finals. He won two England caps before joining Spurs.
I have the very last copy of my best-selling Lane of Dreams book – including the autographs of Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman – for the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week I will tell you about a new Teaser challenge. Think you’re going to like it!
Thanks for your company. Happy New Year. COYS!
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