NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 267
Submitted by Norman Giller
Okay everybody, straighten up, eyes front, focus, time to be single minded. The North London Derby draw – and its two penalty controversies – is consigned to the dustbin of history. Only one game matters now and must be at the forefront of all thought and energy – tomorrow’s visit to Dortmund.
If Spurs can come home with a Champions’ League quarter-final spot, it will mean no matter how you weigh it this has been a successful season. There are three goals in the bank, and – let’s be honest – it will be devastating not to clinch a last-eight place.
Kick all negative thoughts into touch. We must not even contemplate those three goals not being enough to see Spurs through against the leaders of the Bundesliga.
I stressed after the first memorable leg at Wembley that Mauricio Pochettino will not allow complacency to set in. He knows better than anybody that Dortmund can be dynamic at home, and in Sancho they have a 24-carat talent who could turn the tie inside out with a couple of moments of individual magic.
It will be fascinating to see Pochettino’s tactics to ‘take care’ of Sancho. Eric Dier would be the perfect choice to keep his German-based England team-mate under lock and key, but his recent tonsillitis means a late decision on his fitness.
Since that first leg, of course, Spurs have hit two bumps in the Premier League road against Burnley and Chelsea, and as our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith reports here Tottenham were fortunate to share the spoils with the Gooners on Saturday.
We must be positive about tomorrow’s trip, and go into the game thinking of scoring goals to make the mountain too high to climb for the Germans.
Politics alert: I am a passionate Remainer and there’s no way I want Spurs to come out of Europe. We are definitely not ready for a Tottenham Brexit. COYS!
I want to see Spurs adopt the Gordon Banks 1966 we-can-beat-anybody spirit. I mention the goalkeeping legend here because I will be at the great man’s invitation-only funeral in Stoke today.
Gordon was one of my favourite people, and we collaborated together on two books: his autobiography Banks of England and, in harness with his agent Terry Baker, Banks v Pele, which told the tale of THAT save in the 1970 World Cup finals.
My cherished Gordon story with a Spurs connection was the one he told when he, Jimmy Greaves and I were lunching together to flesh out a chapter on Jimmy that we included in the Banks of England book. This is a snatch of their conversation:
Greavsie: “How about that penalty I scored against you at White Hart Lane …”
Banksie: “ It was the craziest penalty goal ever allowed. There was hardly any grass around and I had gone to the back of the net to wipe all the mud off my gloves ready to face the penalty …”
Greavsie: “For a laugh, I side footed the ball from the spot into the other side of the net while you were bending down with your back to me …”
Banksie: “And the twit of a referee went and gave a goal. What made it worse was that instead of telling the ref he was wrong, even my Leicester team-mates were falling about laughing.”
Greavsie: “You chased the referee all the way back to the centre circle and all you got for your trouble was a booking in the days before yellow and red cards.”
Banksie: “He wrote my name down in his little black book, and I told him where to stick it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry on a football pitch, but I’ve done nothing but laugh about it since. It was hilarious … but not at the time.”
That’s how we should remember Gordon, with a smile on his face. It was a smile he put on the face of football.
Gordon Banks. Great goalkeeper. Great gentleman. They don’t make them like him anymore. RIP Banksie.
Question No 29 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Which Essex-born winger won four England caps, and from which London club did he join Tottenham in 1976?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL29@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
This year’s prizes for the champion: A framed Harry Kane autographed picture, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and (most precious of all) a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
Last week I asked: Who scored 21 goals in 51 international appearances and to which city did he return from Tottenham in 2012 ?
Yes, the enigmatic Russian Roman Pavlyuchenko, who joined Spurs from Spartak Moscow in 2008 and moved to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2012.
Please keep a check on your scores. I will be trusting you to count your points as I do not have faith in my email server.
Thank you for taking part. See you back here same time, same place next week. Keep the faith. COYS!
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