NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 64
Submitted by Norman Giller
Vote Dave mackay into the ultimate Spurs team!
On the day before Tottenham braveheart Dave Mackay is laid to rest I must make a public protest on behalf of all those of us lucky enough to have seen the great man play. I am determined that his memory will not be smudged by ignorance.
The website masquerading as the official mouthpiece of our club is running ‘An Ultimate Tottenham Team’ ballot.
In the vote for the midfield Mackay is not in the top five! This the man Bill Nicholson described as “my greatest signing … a rival to Ron Burgess as the finest player ever to wear the Spurs shirt.”
Burgess, captain of the magnificent Push and Run team, does not get a look in. Neither does Double captain Danny Blanchflower, nor the Ghost of White Hart Lane John White.
But it is the omission of Mackay from the team that has made my Lilywhite blood boil. It completely devalues the entire project. The vote should be renamed ‘The Ultimate Tottenham Team for Under-40s Who Do Not Know Their Club History.’
I don’t want to hear any nonsense about “I did not see him play.” I was not around when the Duke of Wellington was beating Napoleon, but I know he was our greatest general.
It is no excuse for voters to say they were not alive when Mackay was monopolising the midfield with a mixture of ferocity and finesse rarely matched before or since. Any true fan should know their history and vote with a responsibility that the players they are judging deserve.
And to add fuel to my anger those who are voting have managed to put Hugo Lloris ahead of the master Pat Jennings as goalkeeper in this ‘Ultimate Team’. He would not even get in my top three, with Pat No 1, Push and Run ‘keeper Ted Ditchburn two and Double season hero Bill Brown three.
Hugo is an exceptional goalkeeper, but he has only been at the club for five minutes in comparision with Jennings, Ditchburn and Brown.
The organisers of the poll should have laid down the criteria that only players who have appeared in more than 200 matches for the club should be considered. Hugo has so far played in 83 League matches, and the blinkered people voting have decided that wipes out the 591 games that Pat played at the back of the Spurs defence.
I have seen every top flight-post post-war goalkeeper from Swift to Shilton and Bartram to Banks, and Pat is without question the best of them all. But he can’t even get into an ‘Ultimate’ Tottenham team. What a joke.
Ask anybody from the Spurs golden era of the 60s and into the 70s to name their ‘Ultimate Tottenham Team’ and I can virtually guarantee the first three names they will say will be Jennings, Mackay, Greaves.
They have not yet had the striker vote, but you can bet your boots that Greavsie will be one of them. People will vote for him because his goals record makes him one of the Untouchables.
Jennings and Dave Mackay are in the same golden bracket, but too many people are voting from a platform of obliviousness.
One more moan from this old git determined to stand up for his generation … there is a walkaway candidate for the No 2 Spurs shirt and he appears not to have any support at all. I give you Alf Ramsey, the most stylish and sturdy right-back I ever saw playing for Tottenham. He won 32 England caps in the days when there were only half a dozen internationals a year.
But the biggest omission is the great Dave Mackay. On the day of his funeral tomorrow I will tell everybody in listening distance that he was one of the greatest players ever to walk on to a football field. I will not add that he cannot even get into an ‘Ultimate’ Spurs side, because all those who saw him play will just never believe me.
If it’s not too late, get on to that official website and vote for the Real Mackay. Anybody with a sense of Spurs history knows that I am right.
I am gathering evidence against Spurs, ready to sue them for putting years on me, and I know many of you out there will be happy to act as witnesses. Even an easy-on-paper home match against Leicester City deteriorated into a heart-pounding will-they-won’t-they cling-on finale.
Take away Our Harry’s goals since November and it has hardly been a vintage season. And talking of taking away goals, I hope the ‘suspect goals’ committee allow Harry to keep the second in his hat-trick. It took a huge deflection, and I fear it might be reassigned as an own goal.
Something that made me feel sick to the pit of my stomach was the Nacer Chadli Tom Daley impersonation that brought him a booking. Cheating is not and never should be the Tottenham way. I would like to see the club take action against him in a stand against diving. It is becoming a cancer in the game. Let Spurs show the way. If nothing else, we have always stood for dignity and sportsmanship.
You would never have seen that sort of cheating behavior from the Real Mackay.
Now it’s a breather from the Premier League battle as a cluster of our players take off for international duty, including of course, Our Harry, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend and Danny Rose, who shut up at least some of his critics with a sound performance against Leicester. His contribution included a couple of vital goal-saving tackles and a huge part in two of the goals.
When they return from their international assignments they face the following run-in to the end of the season:
April 5: Burnley (a)
April 11: Aston Villa (h)
April 19: Newcastle (a)
April 25: Southampton (a)
May 2: Man City (h)
May 9: Stoke City (a)
May 16: Hull City (h)
May 24: Everton (a)
They must not drop any points and just hope their rivals for a top four place run out of steam. At the moment you would need to be a supreme optimist to back them to finish better than sixth in the table.
You know what that means, another diet of Thursday night football and the Europa League. Hoh hum.
My friends on Facebook, Twitter and here at Spurs Odyssey have so far helped raise just over £900 in memory of the indomitable Mackay. All the money goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes pay their medical bills. Please help take the total up to £1,000.
These were the former players who gave us our Glory-Glory years, and few of them enjoyed many seasons earning more than £20 a week. It was not until 1961 that the maximum wage was kicked out and the players released from their ‘soccer slave’ shackles.
Tottenham were champions and Cup holders when the wage barrier was lifted, and for that first season all regular first-team players were put on a £65-a-week contract. Now there are plenty of players in the Premier League who are taking home £65,000+ a week. Yes, the world has gone barmy.
What would the likes of Dave Mackay command today?
You can leave a message in praise of Dave when making a donation of any amount to the https://www.justgiving.com/thettt.
I am particularly grateful for a generous donation from Spurs Odyssey regular Ken Wiggall, a Cornishman with a Masters degree in chemistry who works on vital research projects in the GlaxoSmithKline laboratories in Philadelphia.
Ken has been a Spurs disciple since the golden days of the 60s, and wrote in tribute to Dave Mackay: “To a proud, brave and honest man who fought all the way. You were truly special and are sadly missed.”
That captured Dave perfectly. He would always get my vote as The Master.
THE SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE
We are now into our TWELFTH week of the League. The winner at the end of the season will get a huge, personally autographed photograph of Jimmy Greaves holding the FA Cup in 1967, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing you (if you’re the winner) as the inaugural Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
Terry Baker, entrepreneurial manager of Jimmy Greaves, is kindly providing the exclusive signed photograph, and reminds me that Jimmy will be appearing with Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks at a special legends event next month. Full details here:
Many of you are on a maximum 50 points for the questions asked to date, but don’t worry because there will be a tiebreaker introduced next month that will stretch your minds and knowledge.
Most of you were again correct with the answers to last week’s questions: For three points, who started his career as a winger with Spurs, later scored 37 goals in 262 games for Leicester and won four England caps? And for a bonus point, with which club did he collect a European Cup Winners’ Cup medal in 1971?
Yes, it was Keith Weller who was a member of the Chelsea team that won the 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup and who had his peak performances with Leicester City. Keith was a lovely man who sadly left us all too early at the age of 58 after battling through seven cancer ops in the United States, where he settled at the end of his Football League career.
First name drawn from the senders of the correct answers is Colin Arlow, of Chingford, who has been following the fortunes of Spurs since way back in the Push and Run era of 1950. I will be emailing him a screen version of my Bill Nicholson Revisited book.
This week’s challenge is triggered by the coming international break: For three points, who started his career with Chelsea and scored 13 goals in 15 England appearances while with Spurs, and for a bonus point name the club he joined from Tottenham.
Email your answers please to SOQL12@normangillerbooks.com Add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will do my best to respond.
A screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first correct answers drawn at random.
If you wish to support the Tottenham Tribute Trust by buying one of my books (all profits to the Trust to help our old heroes), please go here: www.normangillerbooks.com
Thanks for your company. COYS
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