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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Derby, 15.10.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published October, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson

We have only one previous meeting with Derby County in the Football League Cup (I refuse to acknowledge it in its sponsored incarnation.) That previous meeting was in 1993-94 when a Nick Barmby goal was sufficient to see us through to a home tie against Blackburn Rovers.

Previous to that encounter, we had not played Derby in a cup tie since 1972-73 when we were drawn away to Derby County in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. I saw both games. The match at Derby was played out on a very heavy pitch which resembled a paddy field of rice rather than a football pitch. It was impossible to play top quality football on it. It must have been difficult for any neutral fans to identify the players who were soon covered in mud. Inevitably, it was Chivers who put us ahead but very late in the game, Derby equalised to drag us back to a replay at Tottenham.

No one who saw that match will ever forget it. Chivers and Gilzean gave us an early lead before Derby pulled one back. With ten minutes left, Mike England put us 3-1 ahead and people started to drift away, convinced that Tottenham had won. But suddenly the ungainly clumsy figure of Roger Davies inspired Derby into forcing extra time and Tottenham conceded a further two goals in extra time. I remember Bill Nicholson was furious with this display, blaming some of the players for being complacent after going 3-1 ahead with 10 minutes to go.

Davies was a very ungainly player. He had a very curious run in that he looked as though he was leaning backwards as he ran. But he was agile enough to evade sliding tackles and man-to-man marking. As I recall, he only had a short career at Derby before drifting out of the game. Perhaps he suffered injuries or a loss of confidence but I cannot remember hearing much of him after the mid-1970s.

Looking back over the years, I seem to recall very few games in the League Cup that have stood out in my memory. I have always disliked the competition as I think it only adds to the number of games played each season. There has been the carrot of a gateway to the UEFA Cup to the winners but UEFA appear to have decided that will no longer be a route to the UEFA Cup unless the Premiership reduces its membership from 20 to 18 clubs or lower.

I remember Peter Collins, deputising for an injured Mike England, heading the only goal of a tie against Southampton in October 1968. The game was drifting to a goal-less draw and a replay at the Dell when Spurs won a corner and Collins thumped the ball home.

I remember both the Semi-Final games against Chelsea in season 1971-72. We were holders at the time. The outstanding memory of the First Leg was Terry Naylor's well deserved goal that put us ahead early on but if I correctly recall it was Naylor who conceded the penalty that led to our 3-2 defeat in that match, which was played a couple of days before Christmas 1971.

The return game was played a few days after the turn of the year. We were winning 1-0 and looked sure to be returning to Wembley. The referee was looking at his watch when Spurs conceded a free kick. The referee had his arm in the air to indicate it would be an indirect free kick. Hudson took the free kick and fired straight at the goal. Knowles was perfectly placed to boot the ball just about anywhere he liked but inexplicably did not do so and the ball trickled into the goal. We all thought the goal would be disallowed because the free kick had clearly been signalled as an indirect one. But the referee surprisingly gave a goal. Even the normally placid Pat Jennings joined the stunned Spurs team in protesting about the illegality of the goal but the referee was having none of it, refusing to acknowledge he had made a mistake. I've tried to remember who the referee was but haven't recalled who it was. I have a feeling it *may* have been Clive 'The Book' Thomas.

Whilst the 1973 Final was undoubtedly the worst ever final Spurs have played in, it took us nine games to reach Wembley including three games against Middlesbrough. The second replay was played only two nights before a home tie against Millwall. Circumstances have changed so much as a result of Hillsborough that it is unlikely we will ever see something like that happening again. For the record, we drew 1-1 at Ayresome Park, endured a boring two goalless draw in the replay and won 2-1 after extra time in the second replay. The first goal in that second replay came with only ninety seconds on the clock, if I correctly recall.

No one who saw the goal will ever forget it. We were at home in the first leg of the Second Round tie against Manchester United in August 1979. We were awarded a free kick, wide on the right. Yorath tapped the ball to Ardiles who killed it. Hoddle then swept the ball towards the goal where it struck the far post and billowed the net behind Bailey. So often in the next few years we saw that tactic with Perryman replacing Yorath as the third man ..........

My next memory is the final against Liverpool in March 1982. We were leading 1-0 with only a few minutes left to play. Archibald had put us ahead. The Spurs fans were singing "WE'LL TAKE MORE CARE OF YOU, ARCHIE! ARCHIE! ARCHI-IIIIIIII-BALD!" Archibald broke clear and shot on the run. Grobbelaar was stranded and could do nothing as the ball trickled towards the goal and .......... hit the post. Archibald sunk to his knees in despair. Liverpool broke away and equalised and Spurs were beaten by two Whelan goals in extra time.

But it was not all sweetness. I remember a tie against Burnley at Tottenham in January 1983. We were awful that night and collapsed after Terry Gibson had given us the lead. I remember that most of the crowd had left before the final whistle.

A similar story occurred the following season in December of the same year. We were drawn at home to Sunderland. Again we made most of the early running but committed suicide. Roberts scored from the penalty spot to give us hope but I have to say Sunderland were deservedly winners that night.

The following season, we played Portsmouth three times. The first two games both ended as 0-0 draws. The first match was at Tottenham. The fare was awful and I remember leaving the ground, totally pessimistic about our chances at Fratton Park. The replay went to extra time, again 0-0. Neither side apparently looked like scoring. The second replay saw Portsmouth grab the only goal of the game.

In recent years, our progress in the competition has been blocked by Nottingham Forest at different stages of the competition. No one who went to Tottenham for our Semi Final against Forest in March 1992 will forget it as we were forced to stand in the rain for about an hour outside the ground because of an IRA bomb hoax. We lost 2-1 in extra time so I imagine it must have been very late that some people arrived home.

But we have also endured some humilating reverses in recent years. We have lost 3-0 at Notts County, a result that precipitated Ossie Ardiles' dismissal as manager and 6-1 at Bolton last season. That was an evening when we had a very rare glimpse of a shy footballer we call Sicknote ....

And on Wednesday? Much will depend on who plays up front with Armstrong. Mahorn, for all his inexperience and likely to fail to make the grade, would at least have the weight to distract the Derby defenders. I would certainly prefer to see him rather than Ginola or Dominguez played in that role as neither are strikers by nature. I would prefer to see Dominguez than Ginola for this match. I also want to see Campbell retained as captain even if Howells returns to the side.

And my forecast? I will shed no tears if we lose but I have a sneaking feeling we may well nick a draw. Derby are no mugs these days and have some lively players. If my arm is twisted, I would hope to see the back of the League Cup as I see it as a distraction from the League as I dislike midweek matches.

Cheers, Brian

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