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Full Cup Record - Spurs v Portsmouth
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Season Rd H/A Result Scorers
1936-37 3 A 5-0 Morrison (3)
1966-67 4 H 3-1 Greaves, Gilzean (2)
1990-91 5 A 2-1 Gascoigne (2)
1985-86 4 H 0-0
4r A 0-0
4r2 A 0-1
Remember to thank Ginola!
When you are on your way up Wembley Way this Sunday, or settling down in front of a TV screen somewhere, don't forget to give a cheer for Spurs legend David Ginola, who may be remembered as much as any current player for his part in Spurs path (hopefully) to the FA Cup Final this year. It was Ginola who pulled Chelsea's name out of the hat to play Aston Villa in the semi-final draw to ensure we would face strife-torn Portsmouth. I certainly gave a whoop of delight! Not that I am taking success for granted, but Spurs will be very strong favourites for this game, which will be Spurs' 18th FA Cup semi-final, and Portsmouth's seventh such appearance.
Spurs have previously won the FA Cup 8 times, whilst Pompey have won it just twice. Most recently, of course, under Harry Redknapp's leadership, Portsmouth beat Cardiff in 2008, with a goal by Kanu, who might play in Sunday's match, despite his apparent difficulty these days to even train fully. It is interesting to note Portsmouth's team for that Final, which was James; Johnson, Hreidarsson, Diarra, Campbell, Distin, Utaka (sub Nugent), Mendes (sub Diop), Kranjcar, Kanu (sub Baros) and Muntari. Very few of that team survive of course, and even fewer stand a chance of playing on Sunday. (Well, one of them will be in the Spurs side!) David James is still recovering from the injury he sustained at Spurs two weeks ago. Papa Diop is still recovering from a knee injury, and Hreidarsson is out for 7 months with that serious achilles injury also sustained at Tottenham. Despite all the publicity, Jamie O'Hara will not be allowed to play against his own club. To add to their woes, Anthony Vanden Borre got himself sent off for a second yellow card last week, and will be suspended for Sunday's game.
The two teams have rarely met in major cup competition, but Spurs have happy memories of every encounter in the FA Cup, winning the competition on the last two occasions we beat Portsmouth.
In the 1936-37 season, Spurs were stuck in Division Two, whilst Portsmouth were a highly fancied Division One side. Portsmouth were in the top flight between 1927 and 1959, during which time they won the league in successive seasons in 1948-49 and 49-50, and the FA Cup in 1939. In the 1936-37 season, Pompey finished a creditable 9th in the league table, whilst Spurs were tenth in Division Two. The two sides met in the Third Round at Fratton Park, and Pompey were strong favourites to win. Julian Holland's History of Tottenham Hotspur (1956) tells how there was a bigger crowd than usual at White Hart Lane that day for a reserve game, who could hardly believe the regular score updates on the touchline. It was Pompey's biggest crowd of the season (32,665) and their side was 3-0 down at half-time. Centre-forward Johnny Morrison had a prolific goal scoring record for Spurs and that season scored 35 goals in 37 league and cup appearances. He got a hat-trick against Portsmouth. Andy Duncan and Les Miller scored the other two goals. Spurs made it to the quarter-finals that year, when they lost to Preston North End.
Spurs' scorers in our subsequent FA Cup meetings were also true Tottenham Legends. On these occasions the status of the teams was reversed, with Spurs the top dogs, and Portsmouth in Division Two. Jimmy Greaves and Alan Gilzean(2) scored in our 3-1 win on 18th February 1967 in a 4th Round game. Spurs went on to conquer Chelsea in the all London Final of course. This could be the best omen of all this year!
In 1991, Paul Gascoigne was of course the Spurs hero in our run all the way to the Final, scoring in 4 of our 6 games, two of which came at Fratton Park. Talking of omens, Gazza scored on St. Hotspur Day (14th April, 1991) against the team we meet next Wednesday night on the anniversary of that great semi-final victory. The story of what happened to the lovable, and superbly skilful Gascoigne in the Final against Nottingham Forest does not need re-telling here!
Many people are against the idea of the FA Cup semi-final being hosted at Wembley, but for Spurs that holds special memories (forgetting 1993 of course!), whilst for Portsmouth it will be a big day out for a side with nothing to lose except their pride, which will be to the fore in the minds of the players and their fans.
We've heard that Aaron Lennon was backc in full training this week, and I understand he may be involved on Sunday. I would suspect from the bench at most, as if he is apprroaching match fitness, we will need him more next Wednesday and Saturday. Spurs Odyssey understands that Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and Vedran Corluka could be fit to play in this game. Provided Huddlestone is fit, he will play instead of Wilson Palacios who would be held back for the Arsenal game to remove any fears of that dreaded 10th booking. Once the semi-final is negotiated, Wilson can relax, unless he manages to reach 15 bookings before the end of the season!
Despite any possible absentees for Spurs, failure against Portsmouth would be unforgiveable, especially with our grasp on a Champions League spot slipping. I don't think Harry will be as gentle with his old team as he was two weeks ago in the Premier League game, and take Spurs to win by three goals. I'll go for a 3-0.
Did you know? (Thanks to Declan Mulcahy)
What have the following 15 teams in common Arsenal, Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Newcastle United, Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Sunderland and West Ham United?
All of these teams have played in an FA Cup final since Spurs last did in 1991. Indeed Manchester United have played in seven finals since then, Arsenal and Chelsea six and Liverpool four.
Spurs have lost their last four semi finals, 1993 Arsenal, 1995 Everton, 1999 Newcastle United and 2001 Arsenal. In the case of the last two, the last league game before the semi final had been against the same team. At least that is not the case this time.
A certain former player whose name inexplicably escapes me played a prominent part in the last two semi finals. In 1999 against Newcastle in extra time he handled the ball and conceded the penalty which set Newcastle on their way.
In 2001 Spurs gambled on his fitness and selected him for the match. In the event he aggravated his ankle injury and had to be replaced by Ledley King after 38 minutes. It was the last time he ever wore a Spurs shirt. At the end of the season he departed to obscurity with the Plumstead Nomads. (He could even be back next Wednesday!)
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