Consent Preferences Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (6)- How do we solve a problem like Soldado?
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Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey

Submitted by Norman Giller(21.02.14)

How Do We Solve A Problem Like Soldado”

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey I spent half an hour yesterday chatting to birthday boy Jimmy Greaves, and then most of last night wishing I could turn the clock back and slip him into the Spurs shirt he filled with such class, distinction and sheer genius.

Jimmy’s next boast will be his first, so I will make the claim for him. He would have buried the ball into the Dnipro net at least three times as Spurs managed to make an average team look half decent. Even at 74 I would have fancied Greavsie to score against them.

Was I alone in feeling uncomfortable that Dnipro and Spurs went through with this match when just 250 miles away the capital of the Ukraine was burning and dozens of people were being killed in a crisis far removed from the insular world of football?

Would a game have gone ahead at, say, Newcastle if there were similar bloodshed in London. I don’t think so. No, I KNOW so.

Right, having got that old git moan off my chest, some comments on a match that I don’t think should have been played … and no doubt which Tottenham chief coach Tim Sherwood wishes he could wipe off his CV.

This was by some distance the shoddiest Spurs performance since the Sherwood reign started, but at least Tim has the consolation of knowing it is only half-time in the two-leg tie.

Before the second leg I am hoping Spurs get the confidence booster of a victory against Norwich on Sunday, and then Timmy must not be timid but pick his strongest side for the return with Dnipro.

I had the Sound of Music continually invading my mind during last night’s match. The song going round and round in my head was “How Do We Solve A Problem Like Soldado”?

In his La Liga days he could almost score goals blindfold. He was whipping them in right, left and centre. That was why he cost Tottenham a cool £26-million. Blimey, going by that valuation Greavsie at his peak would have been worth £126-million.

Ok, I’m biased because Jim has been a pal for more than 55 years. But anybody who saw him playing for Chelsea, Spurs and England will confirm that he was the greatest English goal scorer of them all, the artful dodger of the penalty area who used to pickpocket goals in the blinking of an eye.

There were 357 old First Division goals and 44 in 57 England appearances to prove I am not exaggerating.

Soldado and his team-mates could have pointed last night to the shocking condition of the Dnipro pitch. But hold on a minute … Greavsie, Gilly, Bobby Smith, Les Allen, Big Chiv, the Duke et al played on those sort of surfaces in every match back in the days when at this time of the year nearly all pitches were mudheaps.

One of the major concerns last night was not so much the form of Andros Townsend but his body language when he was substituted. A stray close-up on camera caught him looking devastated, and a young man who should be at the peak of his ambition seemed like a lost soul. A lot of TLC needed there, methinks.

But back to birthday boy Greavsie and our chat that just skated over modern football times. I use the word ‘skated’ deliberately because we were amused that curling and skiing is getting more airtime than football at the moment.

With his usual biting wit, Jimmy made the point: “If the Jocks select independence, we will have to go back to saying no Englishman has won a Wimbledon title for 77 years and we are still waiting for our first gold in curling.”

Jim and I discussed our health like a couple of old women, and – considering he had a stroke and I had a heart attack in the same week two years ago – we agreed we are not doing too badly compared with many of our peers. The number of old football pros now lost in the fog of dementia is frightening.

Former Tottenham heroes who succumbed to Alzheimer’s include Arthur Rowe, Alf Ramsey, Tommy Harmer, Peter Baker, Ron Henry, Danny Blanchflower and the ‘indestructible’ Dave Mackay. I know of a couple of more recent players who are struggling, but it is a private matter within their worried families.

I had the privilege of chronicling many of their achievements, and I am trying to give something back by writing books that will hopefully raise money for the Tottenham Tribute Trust that helps ex-players who have hit hard times.

You can help by supporting the Trust when they stage a special screening of Julie Welch’s funny and poignant Those Glory Glory Days at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham N15 4RX (kick-off 8pm) on March 18.

All profits from the evening are going to the Trust Fund.

Golden oldies Cliff Jones and Terry Dyson will be among the VIP guests, along with entertaining MC Paul Coyte and ‘Dame’ Julie, one of the finest women writers of any era who led the revolution that opened press box doors to women reporters.

I am giving 150 Bill Nicholson Revisited books to be sold on the evening at discount price, and if you don’t mind them being devalued I will be there to sign them.

You can get full details of the Glory Glory night from Voice of the Lane Daniel Wynne, email: I hope you will support us.

I am currently putting the finishing touches to my 97th book (20 of them with Greavsie), which is a tribute to the greatest of all Tottenham captains, Danny Blanchflower.

I was a member of the This Is Your Life scriptwriting team for 14 years, and my book includes the first-ever published excerpts from the script for the Danny Blanchflower This Is Your Life show that never was. It is, I promise, fascinating stuff and must reading for all those with the spirit of Spurs in their soul.

Profits from the book will be going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, and I hope you will support us when it’s published. It is an exceptional story about an exceptional man. Please email me at if you want me to put you on the order list for the Danny Blanchflower, This WAS His Life book


Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Spurs. I caught quite a few of you out last week when I asked what number shirt Steve Perryman was wearing when he collected the FA Cup at Wembley in 1981. He wore the No 5 shirt in the first match against Manchester City but switched to the No 6 shirt for the replay.

The first name chosen at random from the correct entries is Ron Pelley, of Kettering, who wins a signed copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.

This week’s teaser:

It’s about the one and only Greavsie. Against which team did he score his first goal in a First Division match at White Hart Lane?

A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to

If you are among those unlucky not to win the Bill Nicholson Revisited book, perhaps you will consider ordering a copy from A fiver for every book sold goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help old heroes who have hit hard times.

Thank you for joining me.


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