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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 282) (02.09.19)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 282
Submitted by Norman Giller

Spurs hero Rowe and shooting of another kind

Historians among you will know that yesterday’s dramatic North London Derby coincided with the 80th anniversary of the day Germany invaded Poland to trigger the Second World War. I mention it here out of respect for the memory of all those who sacrificed their lives in the senseless conflict, and I bow the knee to the first Spurs team I watched back in the Push-and-Run championship season of 1950-51.

They could have been called the khaki champions. Every one of them except Channel Islander Len Duquemin served their country before returning to football duties in 1946, including manager Arthur Rowe, pictured below. He was just about to be named Hungary’s coach when Neville Chamberlain made his ‘We are at war with Germany’ declaration on September 3, 1939.

So from football pitches off they went to battlefields: Ted Ditchburn, Alf Ramsey, Arthur Willis, Charlie Withers, Bill Nicholson, Harry Clarke, Ron Burgess, Sonny Walters, Les Bennett, Eddie Baily and Les Medley.

Then – after the war was over – they continued their football careers, none of them moaning and groaning that the hostilities had taken away their peak playing years. They were a breed apart. Thanks, chaps.

Arthur Rowe, the player and the soldier

Arthur Rowe, the player and the soldier

An attendance of 64,638 saw Tottenham play Arsenal at Highbury on August 26 1950. And, you’ve guessed it, the game finished 2-2, just like yesterday’s exciting encounter at the Emirates.

So many positives to take from the dramatic North London Derby draw. I was particularly excited by the cameo performance from late substitute Giovani Lo Celso, and it was easy to see why Mauricio Pochettino is hoping his countryman makes permanent his loan transfer from Real Betis.

There is a style and composure about Lo Celso that suggests he is going to grow into a key man for Tottenham. He has a presence and control that reminds me of another of his fellow Argentines, the legend that is Osvaldo Ardiles.

It was reassuring to find Jan Vertonghen back at the heart of the defence, and one thing we learned in the shuffling of the defensive pack is that Davinson Sanchez is not a right-back. Those long legs of his were getting tangled as Arsenal’s impressive front runners made him a target for their attacks.

Hugo Lloris, who made his usual procession of magnificent saves, managed to give us all nervous jitters with his dithering clearances, He should quickly abandon the daft idea of having two defenders either side of him so he can find them with short, telegraphed deadball kicks.

Those who claim that Lloris is Totenham’s greatest ever goalkeeper clearly did not see Ted Ditchburn, Ray Clemence or, the king, Pat Jennings, who were all masters of distribution.

On the major talking point of whether Harry Kane dived in an attempt to steal a late penalty, I thought there was sufficient pushing in his back to cause his downfall. He definitely tried his best to make it look as dramatic as possible, but that has been going on since time immoral. I defy anybody to keep their feet if being shoved from behind by a 13-stone defender. Harry is not a diver so much as somebody who will let the referee know if he has been the victim of GBH.

The 2-2 draw – reported here by our guru Paul H. Smith – was just about right, and it has blown away the poison of pessimism that descended on the club after the Newcastle defeat. The signs that chief attack architect Christian Eriksen will remain at Tottenham until at least January gives Pochettino reason to smile after what he has described as his worst spell at Spurs.

A point at the Etihad and a point at the Emirates. Crisis, what crisis?


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 5 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Which former defender studied at the London School of Economics, played in the 1975 FA Cup final, and from which club did he join Spurs in 1978?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL5@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.

The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact.

Last week’s third SOQL question of the new season: Who started his career with Leeds United, won 59 caps and from which Midlands club did he join Tottenham in 1979?

The answer: Terry Yorath, who joined Tottenham from Coventry City after enjoying his peak years with Don Revie’s competitive Leeds United. He is the father, of course, of BBCtv’s sports presenter Gabby Logan.

This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.

You will be better informed if you buy my SHOOTING SPURS book that features every player who has scored 50 or more goals for Tottenham since the club was formed in 1882, with special in-depth features on Jimmy Greaves and Harry Kane, plus focus on exceptional managers John Cameron, Arthur Rowe, Bill Nicholson and current master, Mauricio Pochettino.

Cliff ‘159 goals’ Jones has provided the introduction, and profits go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who missed the gravy train and now have to pay medical and care bills.

It costs just £9.99 and I will send a signed copy to anybody buying direct from me at www.normangillerbooks.com. There is also a screen version for £4.99.

I hope you will support this great cause.

See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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