"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published October, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson
Sunday, October 19th 1997
FA Carling Premiership
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3) 3, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (0) 2
Sheffield Wednesday scorers:-
Di Canio, 84
Referee : Mr J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)
Attendance : 25,097
Tottenham Hotspur : Walker; Carr (sub Calderwood, 63), Campbell, Vega,
Edinburgh; Fox, Howells, Sinton, Ginola, Dominguez (sub Fenn 20, sub
Anderton 85); Armstrong.
Substitutes *NOT* used : Baardsen, Nielsen.
Sheff. Wed: Pressman; Nolan, Walker, Newsome, Stefanovic (sub Collins,
45); Rudi (sub Whittingham, 45), Briscoe (sub Donaldson, 86), Magilton,
Pembridge; Di Canio, Carbone.
Substitutes *NOT* used : Grobbelaar, Nicol.
Booked : Pembridge, Stefanovic, Briscoe.
If the title had not already been used for the Michael Caine/Sylvester
Stallone film ESCAPE TO VICTORY, this would have been the snappiest way
to encapsculate this match. For it was, to coin another phrase, very much
"a game of two halves, Brian".
This was a game Tottenham *HAD* to win to appease the Tottenham faithful
who must be masochists after so many disappointments after the last three
years. If they could not beat Sheffield Wednesday, there was likely to be
an increase in the vocal demands for a change in management of the club.
Travelling on a Sunday is always a difficult exercise but now I have to
make a much longer journey to Tottenham, careful scrutiny of the
timetable is necessary. But even after much hanging about at railway
stations and queueing for buses, I finally arrived at Tottenham. As I
took my seat, high in the West Stand, I could not believe what my eyes
were telling me. The sight of Darren Anderton warming up on the pitch
with the rest of the squad has been so unfamiliar that I had to check it
against the programme to make sure that it really was Anderton and not a
clone to deceive the Tottenham faithful.
The mood in the stand around me was that Tottenham had to pull some
rabbits out of the hat quickly. Watching the replay of the previous
Wednesday evening's debacle, there were animated exchanges of opinions
when a mistake was spotted.
Tottenham emerged from the dressing room, keyed-up and ready to go. They
quickly grabbed the initiative and never lost it for the remainder of the
first half. It helped, of course, they quickly took the lead.
Pressman was completely to blame for Tottenham's goal. He made a hash of
a goal-kick which was intercepted by Andy Sinton, who was playing against
one of his former clubs. Sinton quickly pushed the ball to Dominguez, who
let fly from 30 yards. Pressman gathered the ball and then, amazingly,
allowed it to squirm under his body and over the goal line.
Soon afterwards, Pembridge flattened Dominguez, rightfully being booked
for the tackle. Dominguez had lengthy treatment but was eventually taken
off. Neale Fenn came on as his replacement and quickly made some
intelligent contributions to the match.
Had it not been for some superb 'keeping from Pressman and some awful
finishing by Armstrong, Spurs might have been leading by a cricket score
with five minutes left to play. The Tottenham faithful were feeling a bit
edgy as half-time approached, knowing how brittle Tottenham can be with
only a 1-0 advantage at half-time.
Indeed, Armstrong, when one on one with Pressman, could only allow the
rotund goalkeeper to divert the ball for a corner to howls of disgust from
the Tottenham faithful. But from the corner, Campbell headed the ball
down to Armstrong, who made no mistake this time.
And Spurs then started to play the ball around, a bit carelessly at
times, but Wednesday were so demoralised they had given up competing for
the ball. With the amiable Jeff Winter looking at his watch, Ginola
curled a shot from some twenty yards into the top left hand corner of
The contrast between the two dressing rooms must have been seismic. I can
visualise Pleat tearing into his anemic bunch of footballers, accusing
them of a lack of guts, whilst Francis was probably saying "Well done,
lads, keep it up!".
Whatever was said in the sancticity of the dressing rooms, it came as a
rude shock to see Wednesday play with more fire. Two substitutions may
have helped but, like Count Dracula, Sheffield Wednesday may only have
red blood in their veins after darkness has fallen. Whatever the reason,
Spurs were soon hanging on for dear life. Campbell plugged every gap he
spotted. Once, a very shy young man, Campbell now spat orders at every
misdemeanour. But even Campbell could not plug every gap.
I could not understand why Spurs pulled off Carr and sent Calderwood on
in his place unless Carr was injured. He had been, in my opinion, playing
quite well. If anything, I would have taken Fox off, which is intended to
be no criticism of Fox, to allow Anderton a good twenty minutes play as
part of his come-back. As always when Calderwood comes on, the defence
began to have more holes than a colander. It came as no surprise when Wednesday
eventually pulled a goal back.
There were so many errors in the build-up to the goal that it owed more
to the Keystone Kops than a football match. The ball pinged about in a
packed goalmouth as if it was in a pin-ball machine. Finally, Briscoe
prodded the ball to Collins, whose outstretched foot reached the ball
first before either Campbell or Walker could react and the ball trickled
over the line in slow motion.
Fenn could have restored Tottenham's three goal advantage but lost the
chance, probably through inexperience. The ball went upfield. Pembridge
centred the ball, Edinburgh failed to cut it out and Di Canio made no
mistake, being completely unmarked. At that point, Fenn was called off
and Anderton sent on for the last five minutes.
But Sheffield Wednesday then had a chance to equalise. Di Canio and
Edinburgh tangled for the ball in the Tottenham penalty area and Justin
appeared to upend Di Canio but neither the linesman nor the amiable Jeff
Winter saw anything amiss and waved the appealing Sheffield Wednesday
Tottenham broke away. The ball came over from the wing. Armstrong killed
the ball and fired it home only to see Nolan clear the ball off the line.
After the match, David Pleat quipped, "I'll give myself two more weeks of
this and then I'll walk out!" But there was no denying that Pleat was
bitterly disappointed with the fact his team had lost to a team that
should have been the ideal team against whom Wednesday should have won an
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