NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 103
Submitted by Norman Giller
A Likely (Lad) story
My Saturday was spent like one of the Likely Lads. Remember that episode when they ducked and dived to avoid finding out the result of a football match they were going to watch in highlights form on television later in the evening? A family Christmas gathering meant I could not watch or listen to the game at Southampton live, and I stayed off line and shut my ears and eyes to all radio and TV news broadcasts.
I was in the Southampton vicinity and tried hard not to read the faces of people who might have been coming from St Mary’s. That man in the red and white scarf, is that a sad face or a bad case of wind? Must look away from those Spurs fans walking towards me. Are they laughs of triumph or the customary putting a brave face on things?
Finally, having had near nervous breakdowns evading and sidestepping anybody who might know the result, I was able to sit in front of my wall screen and watch Match of the Day. I was gripped by an anxiety known only to true Tottenham supporters fed for too many years on a diet of disappointment.
I counted where Southampton/Spurs sat on the BBC menu. Mmmm, about halfway down. Sounds like a low-scoring draw. Man United/Norwich up first. Must mean a six goal drubbing for the Canaries. Saints on their own territory. Going to be tough, and extra pressure on Pochettino and Alderweireld returning to their old hunting ground.
First of all, a eulogy to the unique Jimmy Hill, an old pal of mine going back to the early 1960s when I was reporting his battle to break down the maximum wage barrier. Nobody has given greater service to the game. I remember that when I scripted his This Is Your Life tribute we had problems shoehorning everything he had achieved into the 30-minute slot. Last time I met Jimmy, six years back, he could not remember who I was (I’m easily forgotten), and I guessed he was in trouble. He once headed five goals for Fulham in one match, and now he was paying the price with Alzheimers. He did well to get to 87.
I then watched the dismantling of Man United, and started to fret that this was a day for the major teams to be taken apart. At last it was time for the Saints/Spurs highlights, by which time I was reduced to a pessimistic wreck.
As if I needed worry! The moment Our Harry scored after seven minutes (this was the BBC’s concertinaed version) I knew we would be all right. His beautifully taken goal was like watching a combination of the bullocking runs of Bobby Smith and then the precise finishing of dear old Greavsie.
A blink of an eye later in this highlights package it was 2-0, Southampton giving their old boss Mauricio Pochettino an early Christmas present by allowing Dele Alli the freedom of the penalty area to convert Kyle Walker’s cross into a goal.
I later read Paul Smith’s balanced report here on Spurs Odyssey to get a full picture of how well Spurs had played to move into fourth place, with a Champions’ League place beckoning.
Even from the filleted version, it was obvious that Dembele’s return had strengthened the midfield. If only, if only he had been fit for the match against Newcastle I am sure we would have been three points closer to table-topping Leicester, with whom we have vital League and Cup arguments to settle early in the New Year.
I am from the generation that recalls Christmas Day football, but we can enjoy our turkey and Christmas pudding smug in the knowledge that we are sitting above the likes of Man United, Liverpool and Chelski.
We must be on our toes against Norwich City at the Lane on Boxing Day. They proved with their win at Old Trafford that they are nobody’s pushover. Then it’s Liverpool’s cock-a-hoop conquerors Watford at the Vicarage Ground on December 28 to hopefully send us into 2016 with smiles on our faces, looking like Likely Lads for Europe.
One last call to any of you who may like my 100th book (Headlines Deadlines All My Life) in your Christmas stocking, so drop big hints now and point people towards Amazon or www.normangillerbooks.com.
If you order today (Monday) I can still get it to you for Christmas, provided you are in the UK and not up in space with Tim Peake.
SPURS ODYSSEY QUIZ LEAGUE, Week 20
Week TWENTY of our Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and most of you were correct with last week’s teaser: “I scored 48 goals in 125 League games for Spurs, and netted an equalizing goal for them in an FA Cup final.”
It was, of course, the articulate Garth Crooks, who wore the No 11 shirt in those two memorable matches with Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup final. His equalising goal became rather submerged under the euphoria that greeted Ricky Villa’s ‘Goal of the Century.’
This week’s teaser: “I scored two goals in my full Spurs debut in a Boxing Day match at White Hart Lane that finished 4-4. Who am I, and which club did I join from Tottenham in 1985?”
You get two points for identifying the player, and a bonus point for naming the club he joined from Spurs.
Keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a huge, personally autographed photograph of Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves, plus a signed, framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2015-16 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion.
Email your answers, please, to SOQL20@normangillerbooks.com Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Closing date for entries: midnight this Friday.(Christmas Day!)
First name drawn at random from the correct answers last week is Ivor Marks, of Ilfracombe, North Devon. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Ivor, who has been a Spurs supporter for 40 years aince his schooldays in Hertfordshire.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. From Paul Smith and all of us at Spurs Odyssey we wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and a happy New Year, with many points coming Tottenham’s way throughout 2016. COYS!
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