NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 166
Submitted by Norman Giller
As the Lions of Millwall were trounced and tamed at White Hart Lane yesterday, the most heart-warming moment was the reaction to Vincent Janssen’s long-awaited first goal for Spurs in open play.
It was a delirious response that epitomised the team spirit that Mauricio Pochettino has encouraged and engineered among his squad. There was genuine delight as every player rushed to congratulate the likeable Flying Dutchman, who has managed to maintain his popularity with team-mates and fans during his frustrating goal famine.
This may be the dam buster for Vincent as we come to the business end of the season. Finding his goal touch could prove crucial for a Tottenham team once again having to go into battle without main marksman Harry Kane.
We wait anxiously for a definite assessment of Kane’s injury, but the way his ankle twisted in his seventh minute collision raised instant fears that he could be doomed to another long lay-off.
The likelihood is that Harry will miss England’s international matches against Germany and Lithuania (stop cheering at the back there), and – more worryingly for Spurs fans – next month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against favourites Chelsea, a repeat of the 1967 final 50 years ago.
The match against runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea will throw huge responsibility on the narrow shoulders of yesterday’s hat-trick hero Son Heung-min, and Pochettino may have the confidence to start matches with Janssen now that – hopefully – he has opened the floodgates.
Our webmaster Paul Smith describes the dismantling of Millwall here, and he might easily have been reporting at least another four goals in the rout of gallant but outgunned opponents.
It was a magnificent team performance, but what impressed me most of all was the way Christian Eriksen and Harry Winks shared scheming duties. It was their conveyor belt of precise passes that set up an avalanche of attacks, and better defences than Millwall’s would have struggled to contain them.
I don’t mind admitting to a little dampness around my eyes as the final whistle signalled the end of the last FA Cup tie ever to be played at old White Hart Lane.
My thoughts were of ghosts from the past who have paraded on that well-worn patch of green. I have memories that go back to the 40s and 50s, when the Push and Run Spurs twice fell at the heartbreak hurdle of the FA Cup semi-finals.
Then forward to the Double masters, and Danny Blanchflower collecting the Cup in back to back finals, the glory that was Dave Mackay’s in 1967, and then the Stevie Perryman climb up the famous 39 steps in 1981 and 1982.
In 1991 it was the turn of the great Gary Mabbutt to accept the Cup at Wembley, but it is now 26 long years since an FA Cup final appearance.
I can hear the soft, lilting Irish voice of Danny Blanchflower: “Time to put that right.”
Danny’s Cup exploits were on my mind as the players came off to thunderous applause yesterday …
DANNY BOY LAMENT
Oh, Danny Boy, the Lane, the Lane is calling
From stand to stand, and down the High Road
The season’s gone, and all the cheers are dying
Tis you who on that pitch so elegantly strode.
But come ye back when the Lane is in shadow
Or when the ground’s hushed and lilywhite with snow
We’ll see you once again on the turf so hallowed
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, we love you so.
Oh Danny Boy, the playing fields are awaiting
Across Belfast and throughout the emerald isle
On that lush green grass you were always creating
Playing the game with such dignity, such style.
Now you are gone but we are left with memories
Of glory-glory days when you made us all aglow
They linger on like fondly remembered melodies
Oh, Danny boy, oh Danny boy, we love you so
Sorry to go all sentimental on you, but that’s what the old Lane does to you. Just let’s hope they can retain the very special Lane atmosphere in the new ground that we are all aghast to hear is now going to cost more than £800m, £350m above the original estimate – and much of the increase because of Brexit. As a Remainer I blame Nigel Farage for the crippling debt.
Just let’s hope club owners ENIC do not think of selling our best players to help pay for the ground. The vultures are circling, with eyes on the likes of Lloris, Kane, Alli and Toby Alderweireld, who has yet to sign a new contract.
Fascinating and perhaps frustrating days ahead. Let’s just hope it is as FA Cup winners 2017 after clambering over the blue mountain that is Chelsea.
Last call if you want a personalised signed copy of my Spurs ’67 book, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who have hit difficult times. We go to Press tomorrow.
Please order a signed copy here http://www.normangillerbooks.com/spurs-67/4554925859. You will be helping a great cause. It is the perfect present for Dads and (definitely) Granddads who remember the days when Spurs were FA Cup kings.
Their victory over Tommy Docherty’s elegant but unpredictable Chelsea side was the third time that Bill Nicholson led out a winning team at Wembley in those Swinging Sixties.
Good Omens: Spurs beat Millwall and thumped Birmingham City 6-0 in a quarter-final replay at the Lane on the way to Wembley and victory in 1967.
Fifty years on, could history be about to repeat itself? Everything crossed.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 30
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 30
This week’s mystery player:
“I am a Yorkshireman who has won 21 international caps, and I was a League Cup final winner at Wembley in 2008. Who am I and which Tottenham manager signed me from Leeds?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL30@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 29th teaser was:
“Born in Newcastle, I scored 48 goals in 141 League appearances for Spurs after joining them from Crystal Palace in 1995. Who am I and with which non-English club did I start my League career?“
A maximum three points in the SOQL table to those who answered Chris Armstrong, who started and finished his career with Wrexham. He was a very capable striker but unable to escape the shadow of his immediate predecessors Jurgen Klinsmann and Teddy Sheringham.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is John Rodgers, from Great Yarmouth, who has been a Spurs supporter since his 1960s schooldays in Tottenham. I will be emailing John 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 same time, same place next week. COYS!
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