NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 200
Submitted by Norman Giller
Please stifle yawns while I tell you this is the 200th Spurs Odyssey blog with which I have mostly bored, but just occasionally enlightened you. And in one of my early visits here I advised you to watch out for a strapping young defender called Eric Dier, the then relatively unknown boy from Lisbon via Cheltenham.
Eric has grown hugely in stature and confidence this season, and I thought he was exceptional in the historic dismantling of Real Madrid, and – as our guru Paul H. Smith reports here – did not put a foot wrong in yesterday’s damp-squib Fireworks Day 1-0 win against spirited Crystal Palace.
Excuse me for repeating myself when I tell you I have a special bond with Eric, whose granddad Ted Croker was a good companion in the days when he was a fire-fighting Football Association supremo.
Ted was a real man’s man, a war hero who won a gallantry medal after crawling a half mile from a crashed bomber with broken ankles to get help for his injured crew mates. He recovered to continue his football career after the war at Charlton with his brother Peter, and later became a hugely successful businessman when starting an earthmoving equipment company in Gloucestershire.
He was head-hunted to become the voice of the FA at a difficult time in the 1980s, and almost certainly cost himself a knighthood when he had the guts to tell Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to her face: “Don’t blame hooliganism on football. It’s your society you need to get sorted out.”
Eric – son of former professional tennis player and later high-powered sports agent, Jeremy Dier – was born a year after his Granddad died, and I have been able to tell him to his face that Ted would be enormously proud of what he is achieving in the game.
Eric and his four siblings moved to Portugal at the age of seven when his mother – Ted Croker’s daughter – landed the job of helping organise the hospitality for the 2004 Euro championships, and as well as becoming bi-lingual he developed as a utility defender with Sporting CP in Lisbon.
With every Sporting team from youth through to the seniors he eventually became captain. He is a born leader, and I would not be surprised to find him following Hugo Lloris as Spurs skipper, and also one day taking over the England captain’s armband.
He admits the club he supported as a kid was Manchester United, and he has had loan spell experience with Everton, but it is Spurs that has now claimed his heart.
I thought he was outstanding yesterday as Palace did their best to strangle the life out of Spurs. What a pity, I thought, that Roy Hodgson did not show such good tactical nous when England played Iceland!
Of course, there is a player ahead of Dier in the queue for likely Spurs and England skipper: Our Harry Kane. But I think Aitch has got enough on his plate trying to find the net at a rate not seen since the golden days of Jimmy Greaves.
I prefer the job to go to somebody involved in the engine room, with a full view of the action. Eric can do it all, ride shotgun in midfield, shore up in the middle of the back line, or play in one of the full-back roles.
Watch the way he barks orders to team-mates when the pressure is on; reminiscent of Captain Marvel Dave Mackay. Yes, a born leader just like his granddad.
How lucky is Gareth Southgate to inherit so many Tottenham youngsters. who have developed through the Spurs system, where the fitness-first-do-the-simple-things-well philosophy of Professor Pochettino prepares them for international honours.
I just wonder how many of them are going to be fit enough to report for England duty in the upcoming friendlies following the demanding spurt of tough Spurs’ matches? Dele Alli (hamstring) is already a casualty, and there is concern over the fitness of the two Harrys, Kane and Winks.
One thing’s for certain: Eric Dier, born leader, is ready to answer his club and country’s call.
WEEK 13 of the Sports Odyssey Quiz League 2017-18. The rules are simple: I ask one Tottenham-related question for which a right answer earns you two points, and then a related teaser that can bring you an extra point.
The questions are always easy, provided you know the answers!
The winner this season will get a framed certificate proclaiming him (or her) the Spurs Odyssey Quiz Champion, plus a no-longer-in-print autographed GOALS book by Spurs idol Jimmy Greaves and another collectors’ item from my Greavsie collection: Football’s Greatest Entertainers, signed by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman.
Now here comes the 13th question of the 2017-18 SOQL season:
Who was an FA Cup winner during 12 seasons with Tottenham before joining Southampton? What number shirt did he wear in the 1991 final against Nottingham Forest?
Please email your answers by Friday’s midnight deadline to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep a check on your points score, because I can never rely on my server that often loses emails in the ether.
I test you with Spurs questions until the last few weeks of the season, when I introduce the dreaded tiebreaker teasers that call for your opinion as much as your knowledge.
But please remember, we are all in this just for fun, with the common bond of admiring all things Tottenham.
Answer to last week’s question was golden oldie Maurice Norman, who arrived at White Hart Lane from Norwich City. Big Mo, who would have been favourite to the Engkand’s 1966 World Cup centre-half until breaking a thigh bone in a meaningless friendly in 1965, is still with us at 83. A greatly loved Spurs servant.
First name drawn from the correct answers is Tom Daly, from Dublin who has been a Spurs supporter since the early 1980s. I will send Tom a screen version of my Spurs ’67 book (I have now sold all copies, and the book raised £4,000 for the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes Thank you all those Spurs Odyssey followers who gave their support. Have you thought of writing a book yourself? My latest book, ‘How to SELF Publish’ has now gone to press. `it is the perfect present for that person you know has a book in them, perhaps you! Full details at http://www.normangillerbooks.com.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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