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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 65) (30.03.15)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 65
Submitted by Norman Giller

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey

A collection of "Dannyisms"!

As we wait for the phenomenon that is Our Harry Kane to face his Italian Job tomorrow, let’s pause for a minute and consider what could be around the corner for we Spurs disciples.

Every major club in the world is now monitoring Harry’s progress. He is no longer the best-kept secret, and there will be a jamboree of scouts putting him under the microscope and reporting back to their billionaire paymasters.

The whole football world is agog at the impact he has made since just last November. Is this his peak or is he just building the foundation to a (dare I say) Greavsie-type goal-gorged career?

None of us know. But what is certain is that if he continues at this rate he could easily become the first £100-million footballer. Sorry to be a sensationalist, but that’s the sort of money they will be talking if he’s banging in goals at his current rate this time next season.

Or, to quote omniscient Spurs Odyssey regular David Guthrie: “Bill Nicholson would have made him the first £999,999 footballer.” And if you don’t know what that means, you must study your Spurs history (it was Bill Nick who paid £99,999 to bring Jimmy Greaves to Tottenham rather than lumber him with the pressure of being the first £100k footballer).

Two mega-rich men who will be watching even closer than the owners of the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelski, Man City and United are Spurs pistons Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy.

They have already shown when letting Luka Modric and Gareth Bale move to the richer pastures of Madrid that they will do business if the money is right.

With £400m-plus needed for the new ground, they are hardly likely to turn down silly money for our Harry when they know it would cover the cost of a quarter of the new super stadium.

But this is all supposition. Let’s sit back and watch Harry’s journey, with hope in our hearts and wonder in our eyes.

If he can score against Italy tomorrow, it will add to the conjecture about his future. Let’s enjoy him while we’ve got him. After all, he’s One Of Our Own.


There was a moving ceremony in Belfast last week when Pat Jennings led the dignitaries at a Blue Plaque unveiling at the house where Danny Blanchflower spent his childhood. After George Best, Danny was arguably the greatest footballer ever produced in Ulster and certainly the most intelligent and artistic.

While Dave Mackay was the heart of the Double team and John White the eyes, Danny was the brains and also the poet. He was the master of the witty, sometimes whimsical and often withering quote.

The following collection of Dannyisms is from my Danny Blanchflower file collated over more than 30 years and featuring in my This WAS His Life book. We kick off with a quote from 1963 that has been wrongly attributed to Bill Nicholson, even by the club who have it printed on one of the White Hart Lane walls:

“It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.”

Other Blanchflower gems include:

“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

“Bill Nicholson is a very wise man. He does not ask us to do the impossible. Just the possible. And so that makes anything possible, even the impossible.”

“Everything in our favour was against us.”

“How about we let everybody in for free, and charge them to get out of the ground?”

“If we’ve got the ball, they can’t score.”

“Football is a simple game made complicated by people who strike me as being simple. Just concentrate on doing the basics properly and let the rest flow naturally.”

“We aim to equalise before the other team score. We will get our retaliation in first.”

“If we don’t know what we’re going to do, how can the other side? They will be as confused as we are, so let’s try to confuse them. Confused? You soon will be.”

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

“Ideas are very funny things. They never work unless you do.”

Duchess of Kent, to Danny while being introduced to the teams before the start of the 1961 FA Cup final: “Why do the Leicester players have their names on their tracksuits and Tottenham don’t?” Danny to the Duchess: “Ah well, you see, ma’am, we all know each other!”

“I have discovered over the years that football becomes an easier game if you pass to a player wearing the same colour shirt.”

“Let’s start games with a penalty shoot out, and if level at the end of it decide the winners with a game of football.”

“The accusation has been made that Glenn Hoddle is a luxury. No, it’s the bad players who are a luxury.”

“The simple trick is to do the simple things simply. Simple.”

“There is talk of widening the goal. That is a nonsense. Surely the answer is to pick shorter, narrower goalkeepers.”

“A Jimmy Greaves goal was something on which you could warm your hands. For those on the receiving end, it was like an icicle to the heart.”

“I do not condone the corrupt practice of footballers taking backhanders when they change clubs, but even more corrupt are the directors and chairmen who pay out the backhanders. They are so stupid they will probably consider this a backhanded compliment.”

“It always amuses me to see the fan standing on the terraces – invariably overweight, fag in hand, a heavy drinker who has not kicked a ball since schooldays – telling highly trained, fit-as-fiddle, skillful footballers how to play the game. That’s true democracy for you.”

“If there has been a better team sport than football invented, then I have not had the pleasure to either play it or see it.”

“Playing the game should be a pleasure not a chore. Then the players will convey their enjoyment to the spectators, who will go home in a good mood. Everybody will be happy.”

“Watching the Brazilians in the 1958 World Cup opened my eyes to the fact that there was a far better way to play the game. I discussed it with Bill Nicholson and he agreed with my view. The outcome was the team that became the Double-winning side.”

“Cheating players are a disgrace to the Beautiful Game. Football belongs to the people and should be played with honesty and with a respect for its history. By breaking the rules on the pitch or with corruption off the field of play they are destroying the very foundations on which they stand and eventually they will fall into the hole that they are creating. Cheats must not be allowed to prosper.”

“My message to footballers everywhere – at all levels of playing the game – is it is the best thing you will ever do. It is the summertime of your life. Enjoy every second. Suddenly the light goes out and you realise that nothing will ever be quite as good again.”

“Skippering the Spurs Double team was the greatest privilege a footballer could have. It was the perfect mix of players both in ability and personality, and in Bill Nicholson we were fortunate to have a manager who wanted to win, yes, but it had to be in style. We called it winning the Tottenham way.”

This is just a tiny sample from my Danny Blanchflower book. You can order it NOW from www.normangillerbooks.com ALL profits go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who have hit difficult times. Please support this great cause. Thank you.


THE SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE

We are now into week 13 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:
http://jimmygreaves.net/2014/09/meet-three-footballing-legends-sir-geoff-hurst-jimmy-greaves-and-gordon-banks/

Many of you are on a maximum 54 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 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.

Yes, it was bulldozing Bobby Smith, who stood just 5ft 9in tall but made a giant impact. He was the leading marksman who fired Spurs to the historic Double in 1960-61 and was a self-confessed physical wreck by the time he joined Brighton in 1964.

First name drawn from the senders of the correct answers is Stephen Walker, originally from Hertfordshire but now based in Northern Ireland. He has been following Tottenham since the late 1950s. I will be emailing him a screen version of my Bill Nicholson Revisited book.

This week’s challenge is triggered by Sunday’s visit to relegation-haunted Burnley: For three points, which former Burnley player scored a winning goal for Spurs in a League Cup final at Wembley, and for a bonus point name the Football League club he joined from Tottenham.

Email your answers please to SOQL13@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

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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