NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 268
Submitted by Norman Giller
Supporting Spurs is like falling in love with a beautiful woman you can’t quite trust. While you get tremendous pleasure from her, there are always going to be times when she lets you down and tests your commitment.
So it was at Southampton on Saturday when Tottenham were quite clearly the superior side, yet they frittered away a vital three points. It was like watching the Carry On Cleo film, and Spurs did not know whether they were on their asp or their elbow in a joke of a second-half.
They lost with a carelessness that roused the keyboard warriors to flood the social media with their frustration and wrath. For those of us who bear old scars, we have learned to give Spurs our unconditional love.
But there is a generation growing up who have not learned our patience, understanding and forgiveness. They were brutal in their condemnation of Tottenham’s surrender at St Mary’s, forgetting that just four days earlier they had been celebrating one of the greatest European nights since the glory-glory 60s.
The defeat of Dortmund was an achievement that rates with all those of Danny and the Boys back in 1963. Hugo and his defenders were just magnificent, and Our Harry came up with his inevitable club record 24th European goal. He was at it again at Southampton on Saturday … and then the wheels came off. The love of our life threw one of her moods.
Even Mauricio Pochettino, confined to a spectator’s role in the stands, did not like what he saw, and found Tottenham’s second-half performance inexplicable. He did not pull his punches in the after-match press conference, and I think most of his words were aimed for the ears of chairman Daniel Levy:
“If you want to be a real contender, we cannot arrive here with the arrogance of a Champions League quarter-finalist. I am so, so, so disappointed. It's about complacency, and arrogance.
“That game shows that to be in the last level, you need more effort and quality and increase your capacity for commitment. If you want to play at the top level and be one of the best clubs in the world, you need to increase everything.
“The key is to be consistent every time. We need time for that. And we have a lot of decisions to make to be contender in the future.
“We showed a lack of aggression and the hunger you need to kill the game. You cannot compete for only 45 minutes and then say: ‘Finished.’
“I am so critical with myself and with the team because if you want to be a real contender, in the top four or fight for big things, we cannot arrive here with arrogance. We played the first half like one of the top eight teams in Europe, in the second half it was the opposite.
“You use the first half as an example of arrogance playing with intention, focus and concentration. We match them in everything and were much better. The second half was arrogance in a bad way.”
I am not going to point fingers at individuals, but Spurs are now going to have to go down to the wire to guarantee a top four place. It is going to take everyone firing on all cylinders. There’s a new stadium waiting to be filled.
I will leave our heavily scarred guru Paul H. Smith to describe the second-half collapse at Southampton HERE, as I take refuge in a final tribute to Gordon Banks. I owe it to his memory to share with you the most moving moments of his funeral to which I was a privileged invited observer …
The football family gathered to say a final fond farewell to the goalkeeping genius Gordon Banks. Everywhere you looked in the vast Stoke Minster church there was a football face, with goalkeepers galore. Look there, Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton, over there Ray Clemence and David Seaman, and here come – carrying the great man’s coffin in an achingly poignant procession – current ‘keepers Joe Hart. Kasper Schmeichel , Jack Butland, and Joe Anyon of Chesterfield, where Gordon started his League career more than 60 years ago.
People outside the game do not realise that the football world is really just a large village, where everybody knows – and mostly respects – everybody else. Over there the Charlton brothers, both frail now but determined to be present at the farewell of their old team-mate, with whom they tasted the ultimate of all glories, winning the World Cup in 1966.
The Golden Boys of ’66 are also represented by Roger Hunt – carrying his 80 years with upright dignity – and squad members Norman Hunter, Ian Callaghan and, flying in from his South African home, the ‘nimble as a thimble’ George Eastham, who shared with Gordon the Man of the Match honours when Stoke won the League Cup 47 years to the day in 1972.
Footballing master Alan Hudson was there along with a host of former and present Stoke City players, including Garth Crooks who later decorated White Hart Lane with his energy and expertise.
Speaking for us all, Sir Geoff Hurst talked of Gordon being a Superman on the pitch – “There is photographic proof that he could actually fly” – and a super guy off the pitch, without airs and graces, and always looking to share a joke. A wonderful human being, and his personality reflected in the quiet, warm dignity shown by his widow Ursula, son Robert and daughters Julia and Wendy, and a myriad of grandchildren and great grandchildren. A full life, well lived.
We sang our hearts out for Banksie on Abide with Me and Jerusalem, and the disembodied voice of Frank Sinatra accompanied the coffin out of the church with one of Gordon’s anthems, My Way.
Gordon’s popularity went far beyond the touchlines and the terraces, and this was reflected by the number of survivors from the 1966 Wembley Press Box who made it to Stoke Minster to pay their respects. I was thrilled to be reunited with old buddies like David Miller, Jeff Powell, Steve Curry, James Mossop, Colin Malam, Brian Scovell, Bob Harris, Paddy Barclay, and many more who were there as proud members of the football family chroniclers.
The PFA was represented by Gordon Taylor. I used to write about him in his wing-along days with the Bs of the game, Bolton, Birmingham City, Blackburn and Bury. He summed it all up by saying on behalf of the football family: “What a great ambassador Gordon was, not only for our game but the human race.”
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. One of his best friends was the king of goal scorers Jimmy Greaves, who often put the ball past his mate into the net and would then jokingly apologise!
Jimmy was represented at the funeral by his spitting-image son, Andy, who told me: “Dad is too unwell to be here but he is with Gordon in spirit. They loved each other, y’know. It was laughter all the time when they were together.”
Banksie, Greavsie … I am of the generation lucky enough to have seen them play at their peak and even more lucky to have reported on their greatest moments. They don’t make them like that any more.
Thank you, Gordon. Life’s race well run, life’s duty well done, life’s victory won, now cometh rest.
RIP Gordon Banks OBE 1937-2019
Question No 30 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Which defender has won 43 caps, and for which Danish team did he play before joining Spurs in 2014?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL30@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: Which Essex-born winger won four England caps, and from which London club did he join Tottenham in 1976?
You were all on the ball with Peter Taylor and Crystal Palace, which means more than 60 of you remain locked together at the top of the SOQL table and with a bunch on your heels. The tie-break challenge at the end of the season is going to be interesting! I might need a crow bar to separate you.
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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