NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 124
Submitted by Norman Giller
Greet our new Quiz League Winner!
Here’s something to lift the gloom after Nightmare On Sunday Street: meet and greet our new Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion Glen Scarcliffe, a lawyer from Hampstead and a Spurs sufferer, sorry, supporter since 1966. Fifty years of pain and pleasure in equal measure and like all true Tottenham fans he would not swap a moment of it.
Mind you, yesterday’s debacle was hard to swallow for the toughest and most resolute of us. I refused to take part in the public stoning of our lads. They were tortured enough on the pitch at Tyneside. What was that Gazza song, Flogged on the Tyne?
It took me an hour last night to block more than a hundred Gooners who gleefully invaded my Twitter space with retweets of venomous posts by Spurs fans – repeat, by Spurs fans – savaging the Tottenham performance.
What sort of support is that? Anybody with any balance at all could quickly assess that was a freak result against a Newcastle side free of any pressure or expectations.
At 2-1 Spurs were looking good for the draw that would have clinched runners-up spot. Then came that appalling penalty decision that would have risked a riot had it been awarded at The Lane. Suddenly 3-1 and we entered the mad world of headless chickens.
Twenty minutes of humiliation followed, and but for three magnificent saves by the unprotected Hugo Lloris it might easily have been an eight-goal drubbing.
Then the sickening sight and sound of Spurs fans turning on their own team that has given them their most exciting and successful season for years. If they hate our boys that much, move down the road and support that other lot. I promise they would not get anything like the satisfaction we enjoy from watching what has recently been the best footballing side in the land.
Our Harry Kane finishes with the Golden Boot as Premier League top marksman, Dele Alli rewards us with the Match of the Day goal of the season, and the team finishes third while clinching a place in the Champions’ League. We have the most admired young manager in Europe and a team fit for the state-of-the-art stadium that is around the corner. Yet to read the criticism on line and hear the moaning on phone-ins you would think Spurs supporters considered our young players their worst enemies. For goodness sake save your vile bile for the opposition.
It is not our team that should be ashamed of itself; it is a moronic minority of our supporters who change their moods with the wind. They do not deserve the magical side that Mauricio Pochettino is putting together, five of whom – Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Our Harry – we will be watching in the European championships this summer.
Meantime, the Poch will get on with improving the team by bringing in a goal-plundering partner for Harry and an experienced midfielder, who will run the engine room without losing his head under pressure. I have been going on for ages about having a captain who can rule from the bridge rather than at the rear. Lloris literally has his hands full guarding his goal, and we need a wise Blanchflower/Mackay/Perryman style skipper to steady the ship when, as happened yesterday, the rudder comes loose.
My end of term report would read: an excellent all-round improvement with much promise for the future. Well done everybody (apart from those supporters who lost their dignity and decorum).
We are in on the start of something very special. Stop the moaning and groaning and sit back and enjoy the journey.
In Generalissimo Pochettino we trust.
Now to a summary of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League tie-breaking round, in which Glen Scarcliffe came through to pinch the title from last year’s champion David Guthrie. More than 50 of you took part and only Glen agreed with the exact order of my selection of the five players and substitute from the following shortlist of 20:
Several of you protested about players I had left out, including the likes of Bobby Smith, Alan Gilzean, Mike England and Clive Allen. But it was hard enough giving you a cross-section of 20 players. You would have preferred 100?
This was – in order – my selection:
1. Dave Mackay. I had no doubt whatever about making him my first choice, not only for his all-round footballing ability but his qualities as a leader and motivator of players. Untouchable.
2. Jimmy Greaves. Simply the greatest goalscorer ever to pull on a Lilywhite shirt. He would be even more successful in today’s game with the loose off-side law and the outlawing of the tackle from behind.
3. Pat Jennings. The finest British goalkeeper of all time, even a fingertip ahead of Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. But as you will learn below he would not have picked himself!
4. Glen Hoddle. The master passer, who would have made Greavsie an
even more dangerous penalty area poacher. Together they would have had a ball, and the opposition would not have got it back!
5. Ledley King. No better and more dependable defender has ever tackled for Tottenham. He would bring order and backbone to any defence, and would do it all with elegance and flair.
Sub: Gareth Bale. I had no hesitation in plumping for the Welsh Wizard, one of the few truly world class British footballers of recent years. Many Spurs fans turned against him because he left for foreign fields, but I was grateful that he spent time in a Tottenham shirt.
Several of you agreed with my selection, but only Glen Scarcliffe of the front runners scored the maximum 20 points by agreeing with the exact order.
Glen wins a framed certificate and – courtesy of Terry Baker of A1 Sporting Speakers – a large autographed photograph of the one and only Jimmy Greaves.
I asked Glen his Tottenham background. “I grew up in Lincoln, so not exactly local to White Hart Lane,” he told me, “but I spent about one year aged 8 supporting the greatest goalie ever (Big Pat) and the greatest goal scorer ever (Greavsie) and then morphed in to supporting the team they both played for from 1966 onwards. As my local team Lincoln City routinely applied for re-election to the Football League at the time there was nothing to thrill me there. Fortunately my dad was willing to take me to away games until I was able to travel by myself. I am delighted to win the title this year after narrowly losing out to David Guthrie the first time around. It compensates for us missing out on the Premier League crown this season!”
Glen’s title win is verified by me and Spurs Odyssey founder Paul H. Smith, who deserves our collective thanks for keeping us informed and interested in all things Tottenham.
Thank you everybody who competed in the second season of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League. There were about 200, many from overseas. Most flitted in and out and about 60 of you faithfully took part each week. It’s just for fun to keep us out of mischief between Tottenham matches.
By public demand (!), I will continue with a weekly teaser until the third Spurs Odyssey Quiz League kicks off at the start of next season. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first correct answer drawn to the following teaser:
Which Tottenham player made his one and only international appearance in Alf Ramsey’s first match as manager, and who was in charge at White Hart Lane when he first signed for Spurs?
Please email your answer by midnight on Friday to SOQLTeaser@normangillerbooks.com You will receive an automated acknowledgement.
Don’t forget to add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs.
You can purchase any of my books from me at www.normangillerbooks.com, including No 101 out this month: July 30 1966, Football’s Longest Day, the full inside story of the day England won the World Cup. I was there, and was the only journalist to get into the dressing-room after the final. All profits from my Tottenham-themed books go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help any of our old heroes who have hit difficult times.
I attended the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year dinner last Thursday, where we small handful of survivors from those who reported the 1966 World Cup final were honoured guests … and look who I bumped into, my old mate Pat Jennings.
I said to Pat: “I wish you could give Hugo Lloris some lessons in distribution.”
Big Pat, who I have known since his Watford days and one of the nicest and most modest sportsmen ever to cross my path, said: “Me give HIM lessons? He could teach me a lot about goalkeeping. I could never play the game the way he does. He is a true sweeper and is a magnificent player. Every time I see him he produces saves out of this world. Tottenham are very lucky to have him, and he is an extremely likeable man without a shred of arrogance. Definitely a better all-round goalkeeper than me.”
Typical Pat. Well I refuse to go along with his assessment. Lloris is a wonderful player, but I will always hold Jennings up as the king of goalkeepers.
I was at Anfield the day he saved two penalties, one against Kevin Keegan and another from Tommy Smith. When I interviewed the legendary Bill Shankly afterwards he told me with that punctured bagpipe voice of his: “Aye, that man should be outlawed. Have you seen his hands? They’re the size of bloody spades. Shouldnae be allowed.”
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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