NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 276
Submitted by Norman Giller
As we wait nervously for Wednesday’s Champions’ League semi-final showdown against Ajax in Amsterdam, let’s bow the knee to our 2019 Spurs Odyssey Quiz King.
The title has gone Down Under to Broxbourne-born, New South Wales-based Graham Eyre.
He was the only one of more than sixty Spurs Odyssey Quiz League competitors who agreed man-for-man with my selection of a team of overseas-born players who have appeared for the Lilywhites since the start of the Millennium.
Many of you were within one or two players to forcing a play-off, but only Graham agreed with this winning selection, in 4-4-2 formation:
Chimbonda Alderweireld Vertonghen Assou-Ekotto
Van der Vaart Modric Eriksen Dembele
Berbatov Son Heung-min
Three British-born substitutes:
Harry Kane, Gareth Bale, Ledley King
It was the full-back positions where many of you disagreed with me, and Graham was one of the few who went along with Pascal Chimbonda and Benoit Assou-Ekotto as ideal partners.
In midfield, I preferred Moussa Dembele to David Ginola, who had his peak years in the 1990s and – in my view – tended to decorate rather than decide matches with his sublime skill that often went uncorked. For me, Dembele was a one-off talent whose improvised running gave Tottenham an unpredictability that has been missing since he moved to China.
I appreciate that my team does not have a true midfield anchorman. I considered Wanyama, Sandro and Wilson Palacios, but in the end I went for flair and entertainment the Tottenham way.
Our winner is a recently retired, 67-year-old former boilermaker and elevator engineer who has been “a Spurs fanatic” since his season-ticket holding father used to take him to White Hart Lane in the late 1950s. Graham emigrated to Australia from Hoddesdon in 1970, but has kept studiously following Spurs and makes pilgrimages to watch his heroes. He is a walking record book on the club’s history, as his facts-bombarded partner, Kerry, will confirm. They live together in North Nowra, NSW, after moving from Sydney two years ago.
Graham also agreed with my choice of Jan Vertonghen as captain. I have never been a fan of goalkeepers wearing the captain’s armband – despite Hugo leading France to the World Cup in 2018. An outfield captain might have managed to get Sonny’s temper under control on Saturday. Goalkeepers have their hands full without the extra burden of captaincy.
At the final count it was Graham who was the only contestant to score a maximum 151 points for the season. He wins a framed certificate proclaiming him 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, including a signed card by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman, and, courtesy of Terry Baker’s A1 celebrity team, a framed, autographed Harry Kane photograph.
Two-times champion David Guthrie and 2017 title holder Edward Benson were among the runners-up, along with the only prominent female contestant, Emily Hadjinicolaou. I know most of you will be shaking your heads in disagreement over my selection, but it’s opinion that makes the football world go round. Thanks for sticking with the SOQL all season and I hope you will come back for more.
This week’s totally trivial question, just for fun:
Which Spurs legend is the nephew of an international footballer who was just as famous at (ssshhh) Arsenal?
Please email your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: midnight this Friday. No prize, just the satisfaction of being right!
You will have noticed that I have made little reference to Saturday’s calamity at Bournemouth. I leave the gruesome details to our guru Paul H. Smith here. We desperately need a mood of positivity going into the games against Ajax and Sunday's final Premier League encounter with Everton. The match at Bournemouth was a disaster, but it’s no good crying over spilt points.
The two matches coming up demand tunnel vision and total concentration. They are arguably the most vital games for Tottenham of modern times. Let’s all get behind the team, not in its way. And after yesterday’s results (thank you Chris Hughton) it is going to have to be something very freakish to stop Spurs qualifying for next season’s Champions’ League with a hugely satisfying top 4 position. That will shut up the pessimists, defeatists and moaners and groaners. Plus, perhaps Ajax is not an unconquerable mountain. Positivity.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. I wonder what sort of mood we will be in? Hopefully not wanting to emigrate to join our 2019 SOQL champion!
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