NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 155
Submitted by Norman Giller
Tottenham did what they had to do yesterday with a deserved but at times jittery 2-1 victory over Burnley, and now comes an unusually long break taking us through the Christmas period.
As our webmaster Paul Smith reports here, it was a superb strike from Danny Rose that clinched victory and underlined the fact that he and Kyle Walker are not only the best but also most adventurous full-back partners in the Premier League.
For me, the best present coming into Christmas is the unwrapping of Harry Winks as a genuinely gifted player, who I predict during 2017 will develop into a midfield marshall not only for Tottenham but also for England.
He has been brought up the Spurs way, doing the simple things well and as his confidence grows I expect him to unfurl the tricks I have seen him producing in training sessions. The best is yet to come from Harry ‘Forty’ Winks, who is rarely caught napping. They should surely give him 40 as his shirt number.
A telepathic understanding has already started to develop between Winks and the Great Dane Christen Eriksen, and I am sure Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to bring this to the boil as the business end of the season approaches.
Harry from Hemel Hempstead is like ‘the other Harry’ (Kane) born to play for Tottenham. I don’t want to put the pressure of expectancy on the boy’s young shoulders but at 20 he has the world at his feet and I am expecting him to pass with honours.
I am from the generation for whom Christmas football was part and parcel of the soccer calendar, and it will be strange tucking into the turkey without wondering and worrying about how Spurs are doing.
As I sit down to a pre-Christmas lunch with my family, I will bore the grandkids with stories of how I used to have to arrange Christmas Day around reporting a football match. They will then go back to their chat about the latest Wii games, leaving grumpy Granddad to his memories, ignoring my stories about how good I was at tuppeny-halfpenny table football – the main game of my childhood.
The last Christmas Day game I reported was at Upton Park in 1958, when West Ham beat Tottenham 2-1. They then hammered Spurs 4-1 in the Boxing Day match at White Hart Lane. I was Sports Editor of the local West Ham paper at the time, so those were difficult reports to write.
For the record, the last Christmas Day games played in England were in 1959, when Ronnie Clayton-captained Blackburn beat Stanley Matthews-motivated Blackpool 1-0 in the old First Division, and Coventry walloped Wrexham 5-3 at Highfield Road in a Third Division match.
Any reporters/supporters from my old hack generation will recall the astonishing Boxing Day results of 1963. Imagine listening to Sports Report and hearing the distinctive tones of actor-turned-broadcaster John Webster as he read out the following First Division scorelines:
Blackpool 1, Chelsea 5
Burnley 6, Manchester United 1
Fulham 10, Ipswich 1
Leicester City 2, Everton 0
Liverpool 6, Stoke City 1
Nottingham Forest 3, Sheffield United 3
West Bromwich Albion 4, Tottenham Hotspur 4
Sheffield Wednesday 3, Bolton Wanderers 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Aston Villa 3
West Ham United 2, Blackburn Rovers 8
In total, 66 goals were scored in the ten matches at the top table, while across all four divisions there were 160 netted, with seven players bagging hat-tricks and four men sent off.
When I asked Ipswich Town’s wonderfully eccentric Old Etonian chairman John Cobbold what went wrong in the 10-1 drubbing at Fulham, he replied: “Our goalkeeper was the only sober player in our team.”
I am nipping off to the Channel Islands for a few days over Christmas, so this will be my last Spurs Odyssey blog until the New Year. Let me take this opportunity to wish Tottenhamites everywhere a Christmas of peace and goodwill, and a New Year that brings you personal happiness and, hopefully, silverware for Spurs.
With the new stadium literally now on the horizon, there are exciting times ahead. Enjoy!
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 19
This week’s mystery player:
“My middle name is Harcourt and I had a German mother. I made my League debut for Spurs in 1968 and scored 13 goals in 24 international appearances. Which Swiss club did I join when leaving Tottenham?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL19@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 week.
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 18th teaser was:
“I started my career with Reading, and have since won 48 international caps. With which German side did I play before joining Tottenham in 2012?”
Yes, the ice-cool Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played for Hoffenheim 1899 after Reading. Almost everybody who sent the correct answer added that they wished Spurs had not sold him to Swansea, where despite all his skilful input it looks as if they are heading for the Championship. It will be interesting to see where he is playing next season.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Jim Thompson, who lives in Carlisle and has been a Spurs supporter his schooldays in Tottenham in the 1950s. I will be emailing Jim a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the SOQL 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 Monday week, January 2. Merry Christmas and astonishing good luck throughout 2017. COYS!
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