NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 19
Submitted by Norman Giller
Here I am aboard the awesomely huge P&O cruise ship Arcadia somewhere in the Baltic Sea, thinking what a small world it is and with a warming story to tell for anybody with Spurs in their spirit and soul … anything to get that Arsenal FA Cup final victory out of the system.
My regular Spurs Odyssey reader will know that each week I test you with a Tottenham history question. Arriving within five minutes of each other and answering my last teaser were two emails that each included the sentence: “I first saw Spurs play in September 1964 when the one and only Jimmy Greaves scored his 100th League goal for Tottenham.”
I thought it was the same email that had been sent to me twice, but on closer inspection I realised they were signed by different people. One came from John Cummins in Peterborough, and the other reaching me from Chris Cullinane, who hails from Uxbridge but is currently on holiday in the Bahamas.
It was such a coincidence that the dinosaur journalist in me demanded that I put them in touch with each other, and they have given me permission to share with you their email exchange that may stir memories for fellow Spurs fans of a certain age.
First of all, Chris to John:
What a coincidence that we both went to the same first Spurs game all those years ago. I would be very interested in your memories of the match in which Spurs beat West Brom 1-0. I was 11 when I went with a friend who was a couple of years older. From memory it was 1s 6d to get in and the programme cost 3d. We got to the ground early, not even sure how to get to Tottenham from West Hampstead but we managed it by several buses. There was no Victoria Line, which would be the best option today.
Being honest, the game itself is a bit of a blur. We entered the ground via the Worcester Road Boys entrance and made our way onto the lower shelf terracing behind a stanchion. I was pretty small even for an 11 year old, so as the ground filled up I saw less and less. What I mainly remember is the journey, which was a bit of an adventure for us. Then there was the hustle and bustle outside the ground, the peanut sellers shouting ‘Peanuts 6d a bag’; we used to say don't you mean six-in-a-bag.
The evening papers would do special classified editions for the matches being played in London, and I still have some copies to this day. We looked all around the enterprising souvenir sellers, mainly offering different items, not like the corporate stuff you get in the Spurs shops today.
Of course, I didn’t realise the significance of the day in terms of the only goal, scored of course by the one and only Jimmy Greaves. How privileged to see such a great player get his 100th Spurs League goal in only three seasons at the club.
There was an orange cinder track around the pitch and I remember on wet days players sliding off and getting reddish stains all over their lilywhite shirts. It brought to mind the half-time scoreboard, or should I say alphabet boards, that were on the side of the track. You needed to check in your programme which letter was which match. There was always an air of excitement when the scores were put up one by one for each team, almost like waiting for the score to be read out on the radio. Of course you always hoped that Arsenal were losing!
Since that debut game, I have followed Spurs home and away, including trips to Europe. I have many great memories from thrilling wins, and of course great disappointments when we lost. I went to Ledley’s testimonial on Monday, and it ranks up there with the great nights. A full house roaring its approval of a true Spur. It brought a tear to my eye a couple of times and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand out. This is why I follow the Spurs and it was such a release from the constant media speculation about our now ex-manager.
Nowadays, I mainly go to home games and have had a season ticket for the last 20 years. I have a letter that I kept from the 60’s when – having been on the waiting list – I was given the chance to purchase a season ticket for 19s 6d. This was a fortune in those days to a teenager, so I had no chance of taking it up. My ticket now costs £1,200. That’s inflation for you! I would love to hear any of your memories from that day.
Best wishes, Chris
Ps: thanks Norman for putting us in touch.
This was how John responded:
Hi Chris, Where have those 50 years gone?
I was 9 when I went to that first game in September 1964. I lived in Soham (now unfortunately famous for other things) and went with my Dad and two of his work colleagues. I think you are right about the cost to get in the game. We sat in the Paxton Lane end, and that's where I now have my season ticket. I still have the programme and somewhere the ticket stubs. I always remember the programme as it had a photograph of the Club staff gathered on the pitch remembering John White.
As for the game itself, it was really about two goalkeepers, I think the WBA keeper was called Ray Potter and he had a great game, and I was amazed how far Pat Jennings could kick the ball – of course, Alex Stepney was also amazed a couple of years later!
On entering the ground, I just took in the atmosphere, the orange running track around the pitch stood out and of course there was no warming up in those days. Jimmy was always my hero, and Pat Jennings was a close second.
Outside the ground after the game, I brought a rosette. It's a shame they have gone out of fashion.
I missed Ledley's game on Monday, as I am currently on holiday in the Bahamas. I wonder if I should pop round to Joe Lewis's house and ask him to try and give the next manager a proper chance!
As for next season, I am really hoping that the recent influx of players will benefit from a pre-season with the club. I think we will see Jan move on, as his body language looks like he wants away. Can you imagine Dave Mackay ever being like that?
I enjoy Paul Smith’s posts and Norman's blog, and it's always good to relive the past years. Let’s keep in touch.
Best wishes, John
Thank you, John and Chris, for allowing me to share those special memories with our Spurs Odyssey friends. It is this sort of collective experience that strengthens the bond of Tottenham supporters of all generations. COYS.
I SUFFERED alone through Saturday’s FA Cup final, watching it live on board the Arcadia on a cinema-size screen and with only a handful of my fellow 2,000 passengers interested enough to join me.
Arsenal’s gutsy rather than graceful victory at least silenced that whining Gooner Piers Morgan, who has spent much of the season leading an on-line campaign to get Arsene Wenger removed.
The French professor of football has earned the right to decide when to step down and not be chased out by know-nothings like Morgan, a brilliant news journalist but completely blinded by bias when it comes to football.
Spurs cannot hope to start stepping out of the dark red shadow cast by Wenger until they get some continuity, which means finding a manager and then having faith in him to get it right. It means giving him time to do the job, and full support from EVERYBODY.
That message goes with equal force to Daniel Levy and those fickle fans who have helped chase out Harry Redknapp, AVB and Tim Sherwood in quick succession. Get behind the next manager, not in his way.
When I return from my Baltic cruise I will be concentrating on the promotion of my latest book – Danny Blanchflower, This WAS Your Life, which can now be ordered in time for Father’s Day at www.normangillerbooks.com
Profits are going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, who quietly help the old players who are having difficulties paying medical bills.
I hope YOU will help me help them by ordering the book that tells the remarkable story of a great footballer and writer, and arguably the most influential player ever to pull on the Lilywhite shirt. As well as telling the story Eamonn Andrews could not tell, the book gives the most in-depth recall of the historic Double year you will ever read.
Please support this great cause. This is your captain speaking ?
Thank you. COYS
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who came on as substitute for Ricky Villa in the first match against Manchester City at Wembley in 1981?
Most of you came up with the correct answer in Garry Brooke. It revived glorious memories of Ricky’s ‘goal of the century’ in the replay.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries is Jason Thomas, of Cardiff, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.
This week’s teaser is about a Tottenham golden oldie: Which defender joined Tottenham from Norwich City and won 23 England caps?
A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book (one of the few remaining hardback versions) to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is now available in paperback, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust: www.normangillerbooks.com
Thank you for joining me. Now, I am going back to the deckchair.
What a load of Baltics. COYS!
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