NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 207
Submitted by Norman Giller
Welcome to 2018, and what Harry Kane and all Tottenham disciples hope will become the Year of the Cockerel. Spurs fans will be delaying New Year’s celebrations until we see how the land lies come next Sunday. You wait ages for a match and then three turn up in six days, starting with the visit to Swansea tomorrow.
Saturday and Sunday went by as if we Spurs supporters were looking on at a party to which we had not been invited. All our rivals were in action with mixed fortunes, and now we must make sure we do not slip up at Swansea, or against West Ham at Wembley on Thursday – a game that was switched from New Year’s eve because of crowd congestion concerns.
All eyes are on Harry Kane’s temperature as he battles winter blues. It would be wisest to rest him tomorrow, but we are all greedy for him to maintain his astonishing goal-scoring run.
It has been mentioned elsewhere on this Spurs Odyssey website, but it can never be purred over too many times …
39 Premier League goals from 36 matches in the calendar year, emphatically eclipsing Alan Shearer’s 1995 record with Blackburn Rovers. His 56 for club and country since last January 1 has made him the leading scorer in Europe, ahead of no less than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (54) and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (53).
What I love about Our Harry is that rather than bask in the praise and plaudits being showered on him, he is the first to point out that it is team honours that count louder even than goals.
“I’ve always said that team trophies are what I want to achieve,” he said after his Boxing Day hat-trick against Southampton. “We’ve got the FA Cup to look at, a competition we’ve got a good chance to win. In the Champions League we’ve shown we can beat the best, and we’ve just got to see how far we can go in that. In the Premier League we’ve got to fight for the top four and see how high we can get. For me, it’s about winning trophies – that’s always the aim.”
I never thought I would see a player match the hat-trick hurricanes of Jimmy Greaves, but the eight Aitch has collected this year and 11 in his career so far show that he can even keep pace with the greatest British goalscorer I ever clapped eyes on.
It is not easy communicating with Jimmy these days because of the after-effects of his violent stroke, but when he and I had an emotional call-over during Christmas he managed to say: “Harry is a bloody good footballer and a lovely bloke.”
Harry went out of his way to meet Jim when he was a recent guest at the sumptuous new Tottenham training headquarters, and Greavsie was impressed by his friendly nature and his knowledge of Spurs history.
I told The Master that he has his goals in the bank, while Harry still has it all to do to match Jimmy’s 220 League goals for Spurs. But the way he’s going he just might be the one to catch the mighty Greaves.
Harry, a fine role model for any young footballer, is suitably modest. He knows he still has it all to do. “When you look at names like Messi and Ronaldo, I’ve still got a long way to go before I can be compared to them,” he admits. “But this is a start and, hopefully, I can keep on improving and be up there one day. It’s always been the goal to be up there with the best players in the world.
“To nick ahead of Messi and Ronaldo this year is something I’m proud of and it’s just the start. I want to be doing it year in, year out. That’s what they’ve done for seven, eight, nine years. I will do my best.”
Points are important against Swansea and West Ham, but what in a way is more vital is that we have Harry fit and well for the start of the FA Cup challenge against Wimbledon on Sunday. That was once one of our favourite competitions, and to win it in 2018 would bring delight beyond measure.
Here’s wishing us all – and in particular Harry and his team-mates – a happy 2018 with a silverware lining. Yes, let’s make it the Year of the Cockerel and hopefully have something to crow about.
My dear old mate Steve Perryman, the greatest servant in Spurs history (854 games to prove it), has announced he is retiring from football this season after a distinguished 50-year career.
He is currently Director of football at Exeter City, where he has been a magnificent motivating force for 17 years, bringing stability and pride to a club that was bankrupt and on its knees until rescued by supporters.
There was general all-round approval when, in the summer of ’93, Ossie Ardiles returned to White Hart Lane, this time in the role of manager and with Steve in harness with him as assistant manager. They boldly flourished the ‘Famous Five’: Teddy Sheringham and dynamic German import Ju¨rgen Klinsmann up front, Nick Barmby in a support striker role just behind them, with Darren Anderton and Ilie Dumitrescu attacking from the right and left flanks.
It was enjoyable to watch, particularly with Klinsmann bombing in for spectacular goals that made him a huge hero at the Lane. But the defence leaked goals like a sabotaged sieve, and by November 1994 dear old Ossie was ‘Tangoed’ and told to vamoosh.
Steve had one game in charge as caretaker manager before he, too, was shown the door. “I was very disappointed,” Steve told me. “Ossie and I were not given a proper chance to get things right because there was so much turmoil affecting the club off the pitch. We were there for football, not politics. I felt very sour about the whole thing. It was not the club I had known and loved as a young player.”
Steve and Ossie went off to Japan, where they were both successful managing and coaching top Japanese teams.
Having survived a heart attack and a life-threatening blood disorder, 66-year-old Steve – still with that mischievous baby face – wants to spend more time with his gorgeous wife Kim and their grandchildren. He still has Tottenham blue blood and was recently welcomed to the Tottenham Hall of Fame.
I know he will get a deserved hero’s welcome whenever he visits Wembley and the new stadium. He gave blood, sweat and tears to the club, and I am sure his exploits as a player and two-time Cup lifting skipper will feature in the museum.
They don’t make loyalists like Steve Perryman anymore.
Steve’s retirement underlined that there is a generation growing up that thinks football started with the Premier League, and I think it important for those of us old enough to remember earlier days to educate the youngsters about the history of our great club; otherwise many golden oldie heroes are going to be forgotten.
I made the point in an online debate that my test of a true supporter’s knowledge is to ask him to name ‘The Three Johns’ who were closely associated with Tottenham’s early days.
Many can come up with the Bible-bashing John Ripsher, who kept the club going in the early years with his energy and enthusiasm …. and John Cameron, the player-manager who led Spurs to the FA Cup in 1901, when they were a Southern League side.
But most struggle to name John Over. He was the man who laid the first ever Test match pitch at The Oval and was chief groundsman at White Hart Lane for 40 years, followed by his son. He prided himself on producing the best pitch in football, and suited to the Scottish on-the-ground passing that John Cameron introduced as a fore-runner of push-and-run. Most English teams at the time concentrated on hoof-and-hope aerial bombardments.
A knowledgeable Spurs fan (“Hotspur Sam”) thought I had made a literal error and meant John Oliver, who was a businessman whose loan helped the club turn professional before the move to White Hart Lane.
Just to show I put action where my mouth is, I have just made my latest donation to the Tottenham Tribute Trust at Just Giving to help our old heroes, who have hit difficult times. Don't forget they missed the gravy train, and are now paying the price for all their footballing activity with mushrooming medical bills. The Trust does its best to quietly help them.
If you can spare a few bob, you can make a donation at https://www.justgiving.com/thettt.
Thank you on behalf of the golden oldies.
WEEK 20 of the Sports Odyssey Quiz League 2017-18. The rules are simple: I ask one Tottenham-related question for which a right answer earns you two points, and then a related teaser that can bring you an extra point.
The questions are always easy, provided you know the answers!
The winner this season will get a framed certificate proclaiming him (or her) the Spurs Odyssey Quiz Champion, plus a no-longer-in-print autographed GOALS book by Spurs idol Jimmy Greaves and another collectors’ item from my Greavsie collection: Football’s Greatest Entertainers, signed by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman.
Now here comes the 20th question of the 2017-18 SOQL season:
Who played 115 international matches, was signed by Ossie Ardiles and scored in a 1-0 day-after-New-Year’s-Day victory against the Arsenal at White Hart Lane? Which club did he move on to in 1995?
Please email your answers by Friday’s midnight deadline to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep a check on your points score, because I can never rely on my server that often loses emails in the ether.
I test you with Spurs questions until the last few weeks of the season, when I introduce the dreaded tiebreaker teasers that call for your opinion as much as your knowledge.
But please remember, we are all in this just for fun, with the common bond of admiring all things Tottenham.
Answer to question 19 was beefy Bobby Smith, who moved to Brighton in 1964 after banging in 176 League goals for Spurs, including being top marksman in the 1960-61 Double season.
First name drawn from the correct answers: Geoff Tyler, Edmonton-born but now retired to Majorca, and a Spurs fan since the 1950s. I will send Geoff a screen version of my Spurs ’67 book (I have now sold all copies, and the book raised £4,000 for the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes Thank you all those Spurs Odyssey followers who gave their support).
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. Happy New Year! COYS!
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