NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 141
Submitted by Norman Giller
Just as many sceptics were dragging up old doubts and delusions about Our Harry Kane, he has found his shooting boots in time for Wednesday’s history-making Champions’ League match against Monaco at Wembley.
Okay, my old granny could have scored his goal against Stoke that took him to his 50th Premier League goal in the blink of an eye. But watch what it does for his confidence. We are raising Kane ready for the Euro challenge.
What I love about Harry is that whenever he hits a goal famine (as all strikers do) he continues to run his legs off for the team. Never once has he tried to hide, and he refuses to lose belief in himself.
I bow the knee to the 80,000-plus people who have bought tickets for Wednesday’s showdown. My worry was that a half full Wembley would lack the atmosphere of a Glory-Glory night at White Hart Lane, and so take away home-tie advantage..
But the spirit of Spurs is going to be transferred the 12 miles around the North Circular to the national home of the Beautiful Game.
It will set a new Tottenham record home attendance, that cannot even be beaten when the new ground is completed. Plus it will also create a highest crowd for a Champions’ League home game featuring any club in Britain.
As chairman Daniel Levy said: "The response from our fans has been fantastic and is testament to just how big this football club is. This is going to be the best attended Champions’ League home game in Britain ever - what a way for us to mark our return to the competition.”
You can almost reach out and feel the buoyancy and bounce coming from Tottenham, and you can warm your hands on the report by our webmaster Paul Smith of the Groundhog Day demolition of Stoke on Saturday.
He invites you to name the man of the match. Despite the decisive two goal input from Heung-Min Son, my personal vote would go to Christian Eriksen, who celebrated the signing of his new £75,000-a-week contract with a polished performance that shut up the couch coaches who were calling for his head a short time ago.
It was his passing and navigating that gave Spurs shape against a Stoke team that had a defence of headless chickens. Unless they tighten up at the back, Mark Hughes could be the first manager collecting his cards this season – and they will not be the Christmas greetings kind.
Our generalissimo Mauricio Pochettino suddenly has an embarrassment of riches, and it will be fascinating to see what team he decides to field on Wednesday. I doubt that he will start with £30-million Sissoko, because he has not had time to bed him in properly, and everything points to Spurs having a bench that will be the envy of all their rivals.
What exciting times these are to be a Tottenham supporter, with a state of the art stadium going up before our very eyes. I wonder how many of Daniel Levy’s army of critics will at last grudgingly give him credit for the way he has steered the club towards being a major force on the world football map.
People who would not be able to organise the building of a loft extension have been sneering and sniping at him, but even they must surely doff their cap to a man who has had the vision, the drive and the energy to plan the super stadium that is waiting for us (literally) around the corner.
Meantime, it’s off to Wembley for what we all hope will be a return to the Glory-Glory nights. It’s going to be a tearful time for those of us who were around for the original European Cup nights, gulp, 55 years ago.
And the Spurs, we hope, go marching on.
If you are in the mood to help a hungry writer, I am offering two books for the price of one: July 30 1966 Football’s Longest Day and Headlines Deadlines All My Life, my 100th book and the story of my life as a sportswriter. They are now both available post-free and for the price of one at http://www.normangillerbooks.com/july-30-1966/4591562026.
Ends commercial. Thank you.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 5
This week’s mystery player:
“I am captain of my national team and have won 42 caps, and so far have played 87 Premier League matches. Who am I and which unusual number shirt did I wear while playing for Celtic?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL5@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. Deadline is midnight on Friday.
Please keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2016-17 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. And the first three in the final table will win an autographed, hardback copy of my Bill Nicholson Revisited tribute book, PLUS a souvenir card signed by Spurs legends Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman.
The fourth teaser was:
“I played 32 times for my country and during 15 years on Tottenham’s books lifted the Second and First Division trophies as captain. Who am I and which number shirt did I usually wear for Spurs?”
Quite a few of you came up with Alf Ramsey as your first choice but then corrected it to the man Bill Nicholson described as “the greatest player ever to wear the Spurs shirt” … Ron Burgess, the Welsh dragon who breathed fire into the Push and Run team. He wore the number six shirt, and was the first to wear it when the Football League introduced numbered shirts in the truncated 1939-40 season that was cut short because of the outbreak of World War II. Ron lost six years to the war, and then drove Tottenham to the Second and First Division titles in successive years and also won 32 caps for his beloved Wales. I am privileged to spotlight him here because too many people fail to mention him when the subject comes up of all-time great Tottenham players. Please bring his name to the attention of the younger generation supporters, who should find out as much as they can about their club history.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Wayne Sutton from Cardiff, who has been a Spurs supporter since the FA Cup winning year of 1967. I will be emailing Wayne a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the League table is decided on facts up until the final weeks of the season. Then I introduce tie breaks based on opinions, which is when I lose friends and fail to influence people with my views.
But please remember, it is just for fun and helps us all refresh our knowledge on the history and the heroes of our great club.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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