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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 71) (11.05.15)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 71
Submitted by Norman Giller

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey

Latest news on Jimmy Greaves

What a bloody horrible week since we last met here in my Spurs Odyssey home. It kicked off with Irene Greaves phoning me at home to tell me that husband Jimmy had suffered a severe stroke, terrible news that we shared with the world as I joined his agent Terry Baker in protecting the family from media invasion. Full story here: http://www.sportsjournalists.co.uk/the-giller-memorandum/greavsie-was-the-best-ive-seen-before-messi/

Everything else, of course, became lost in a fog of misery, and I was deep down in the dumps as I watched my party, the LibDems, almost wiped off the political map. I share this with you because devoted Tory Jimmy had told me just a few weeks back that is exactly what would happen. He will be greatly amused when he can get his head round it. Funny old game, Jim.

As a member of the Michael Fish School of forecasters, I predicted a LibLab pact. I am considering hiring myself out as a rare specimen, a dinosaur called LastOfTheLibDemsosaurus.

While the election results were just starting to come in I got a call from P&O to tell me that the cruise liner on which I was scheduled to leave for the Med on Friday had developed mechanical problems. We did not depart until yesterday, meaning I was still on shore to share in the misery of that appalling performance at Stoke on Saturday.

I will leave it to our Chief Guru Paul Smith to wade through the sorry facts and figures of a best-forgotten trip to the Potteries. Perhaps fittingly, the Spurs defence looked made of delicate china. We need a lot of it swapped during the summer for something unbreakable.

The one bright thing about the match at Stoke was the heart-warming applause from Stoke and Spurs fans when Jimmy’s name was mentioned. I told Irene about it, and she asked for her thanks to be relayed to all people who have surrounded the family with their love, support and respect for their privacy during a difficult time.

As I write, Jimmy has started the fight back. He has been allowed an accompanied short time out of bed, and is in the hands of the finest possible experts who will help him as best they can to combat the effects of the stroke.

From at first worrying us that he was not going to beat it, Jimmy is now starting the battle to regain movement and speech, and that applause at Stoke captured the warmth that has come Jimmy’s way since it first became known that he was in trouble. At the last count Terry Baker had monitored more than 50,000 messages of good luck.

I know I speak for Spurs Odyssey followers when I say that we all love Greavsie, and we are willing him to make as full a recovery as possible.


Here I am somewhere off the Bay of Biscay aboard the good ship Azura. I thought it a good idea to be out of the country as I name in 5-4-3-2-1 order my five top Spurs managers since 1984, the third of our tiebreakers to break the logjam in the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League.

Again, just one of you agreed with my exact selection, plus – for five bonus points – the player-manager. If you’re sitting comfortably, here they come:-

5. MARTIN JOL, the affable Dutchman who even smiled when Daniel Levy’s axe fell after he had won the hearts of most Spurs fans.

4. GEORGE GRAHAM, whose blood was too red for the taste of many and this blinded them to the fact he was a master tactician.

3. DAVID PLEAT, Mr Reliable, whose 1986-87 side played the Spurs way and gave us a sizzling season.

2. TERRY VENABLES, whose ugly power struggle with Alan Sugar overshadowed the fact that his 1991 FA Cup winning Spurs side was sheer class.

1. HARRY REDKNAPP, whose 4-5-4 finishes clinched this first place and was the manager who gave us a brief taste of the Champions League.

The choice of a player-manager had you all torn between a procession of Lane favourites including Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and ‘he who shall not be named’ Sol Campbell. Big-hearted Gary Mabbutt was another Spurs loyalist who got many mentions.

The majority of you agreed with my choice: Ledley King, a magnificent defender who would have motivated the players around him with his inspiring performances (even on one knee).

The one contestant who agreed exactly with my order was Berkshire Lilywhite David Guthrie, a devoted supporter since the 1960s who collects the full 20 points. This puts him on 115 points, and into first place in the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, with two weeks to go.

Sharing second place on 113 points are last week’s joint leaders, New York-based Edward Benson, and Ian Landeryou, of Basildon.

Ian was among several who selected Glenn Hoddle among the top five managers. As much as I admired him as a player he just never got near the same heights in the hot seat at White Hart Lane.

Tim Sherwood, AVB and present incumbent Mauricio Pochettino popped up in some selections, and there was also support for Peter Shreeves and Gerry Francis.

If I had made this a vote rather than a competition, the most popular 1-2-3-4-5 order was:

Harry Redknapp
David Pleat
Martin Jol
Terry Venables
Mauricio Pochettino

George Graham was next, but most of you could not forgive his Highbury history. I have never allowed myself to be blinded by that rivalry, maybe because when I first started supporting Spurs the Arsenal had recently been using White Hart Lane as their home ground on alternate Saturdays and included my all-time hero Denis Compton in their ranks.

One other thing for those of you who think you should try to read my mind rather than come up with your own opinions, George and I are close buddies and I ghosted his Glory and the Grief autobiography. So I bow to those of you accusing me of bias, but you can’t get me because I am far away here at sea with the sun blistering down on our cabin balcony. Cruel, moi?

Ledley was well ahead of second placed Teddy Sheringham for the ‘dream’ player-manager role.

Now how can I torture you this week while I am enjoying a life of luxury on board the Azura? There are many of you bunched on 107 points and still in range of League leader David Guthrie.

Here’s the penultimate challenge: Name in 1-2-3-4-5 order of merit Tottenham’s top five captains since the Premier League started in 1992. You will get three points for each one that agrees with mine (in the correct order). For the five point bonus select your ‘dream’ Spurs captain from all the overseas players who have appeared for Tottenham in the Premier League but have not officially worn the captain’s armband. Good luck! (And don’t try to read my mind because it’s empty and on holiday at the moment).

Email your 1-2-3-4-5 captains and your dream skipper, please, to SOQL19@normangillerbooks.com Don’t forget to add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. Also, tell me how many points you have collected to date. I have your points on record, but want to make sure you agree with my tally. Most regulars are on at least 100 points.

I apologise that you had to make do with automated replies last week, but I was the victim of circumstances. It will again be an automated reply this time, acknowledging receipt of your entry. You would not want me to interrupt my cruise to take your insults, would you? (Paul Smith is among those nodding … just because he had to make do with Stoke while I was heading for Barcelona).

The closing time for entries is midnight on Friday, May 15. I will give an analysis of your selections on Monday and set the final challenge of this inaugural Spurs Quiz League.

Remember, the final decision on all matters to do with the SOQL is mine and regardless of any arguments you might put up I will not change my mind! Let’s keep this friendly. It’s a fun game, not war.

The eventual winner of the League will get a huge, personally autographed photograph of the one and only 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.

Jimmy’s manager, the entrepreneurial Terry Baker, is kindly providing the exclusive signed photograph.

He is quite a man, our Terry. He (helped non-stop by business and life partner Freda) has been handling all the press enquiries about Jimmy’s health while himself lying in a hospital bed preparing for major facial operations. I bow to his bravery and devotion to duty. Jim will be proud of him.


You will remember my mention last week of John Cameron, player-manager of the 1901 FA Cup winning Tottenham team. It prompted this message from India-based Spurs supporter Keith Harrison: “John Cameron was a wonderful man. Having nominated and led a campaign for Double team goalkeeping hero Bill Brown to be inducted into the Scottish Hall of Fame last season, I have this year started another campaign via the India Spurs Supporters Club to get Cameron inducted. Please advise your Spurs Odyssey followers that they can support his nomination at http://www.scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk/.”

Over to you friends. I will tell the remarkable John Cameron story in a future blog here. Watch this space.

Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!

Now then, where’s the steward with that caviar and chips I ordered?

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

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