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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 298) (23.12.19)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 298
Submitted by Norman Giller

Martin the Master would have curbed Chelsea

Merry Christmas every one, ho ho ho! I feel like Santa Claus the day after he’s discovered somebody has nicked his sleigh. What a nightmare we suffered yesterday, and to add to our mountain of misery the club is now in danger of being up to its neck in the sinking sand of racism.

Football can be such a cruel mistress. I cheered when I heard Toby had signed a new contract, 48 hours later cried when my old mate Martin Peters succumbed to Alzheimer’s, and then my Christmas was further ruined by the disturbing defeat by arch enemies Chelsea.

I leave it to our guru Paul H. Smith to tell the full story HERE of Tottenham’s surrender to Chelsea on a bleak mid-winter evening when the apprentice Frank Lampard got one over on his old master José Mourinho.

All I will say is there should be a steward’s inquiry, because Chelsea appeared to have more players on the pitch than Tottenham, and that was before Sonny saw red (again!).

As sickening as Tottenham’s capitulation was, there’s never an excuse for anything being thrown at the Chelsea players … physically or verbally. The fact that it was racist in nature means Spurs are going (rightly) to be punished by the authorities, who must stamp out the growing cancer of bigotry in the game.

Yes, it’s a tiny minority of morons who have caused the furore, but it is the sort of unacceptable behaviour we are quick to denounce when it comes from Chelsea or overseas fans. When it happens on our own doorstep we must own up to it and seek out and ban the handful of culprits who are scarring the name and reputation of our great club – built on a foundation of dignity and decency.

Oh how Spurs could have done with a footballer of Martin Peters’ vision and skill to turn yesterday’s game after that woeful first-half performance. The Gentle Executioner stood for everything that was good about the Beautiful Game, and he would have been first to condemn the racist abuse.

I knew Martin better than most. I was sports editor of the local newspaper – the late, lamented Stratford Express – when he signed for West Ham after a two-year apprenticeship at Upton Park.

Like me, he was from an East London family of lightermen – who worked on the barges on the River Thames – and we used to laugh with relief together over how we had both escaped a life of hard graft on the water.

I was learning to dot the i’s and cross the t’s' as a journalist as Martin joined Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst on the first rung of the football ladder.

What a time for us all to be learning our professions. The three Hammers became my buddies as we moved towards our Everest, for me a chief football reporter’s role in Fleet Street and for them, historically, helping England win the World Cup in 1966.

Martin, the quieter, more intense and introvert of the three, was never satisfied living in the shade of the more publicly acclaimed Moore and Hurst, and finally got his way to escape their shadow when he joined Spurs as the first £200,000 footballer on transfer deadline day, March 1970.

Sadly for him he was not as welcomed to Tottenham as he deserved to be, because going in the opposite direction as a £54,000 makeweight was Jimmy Greaves, arguably the greatest British goalscorer in the history of the game and a Spurs god. Even Peters idolised him from the day he watched from the touchline as Jimmy’s school team beat his school team 13-0. Jimmy scored 11 of the goals!

It took a long time for Martin to win over all the White Hart Lane supporters, who were mourning Greavsie’s departure, but gradually the more discerning among them began to appreciate his intelligent positioning and silky smooth skill. He was a simply magnificent footballer who graced the game with his ability and his attitude.

Always elegant and a gentleman on and off the pitch, he became an inspiring captain at Norwich before an abortive spell as player-manager at Sheffield United. He was far too nice to succeed in management, and switched to an executive role in insurance in harness with his pal and old playing partner Sir Geoff Hurst.

Martin later kept in touch with the game as a VIP greeter at Tottenham and West Ham, where he was briefly a director. Married to Kathy for more than 50 years, Alzheimer’s claimed him suddenly and it was a release when he left us last week.

Alf Ramsey hung a “ten years before his time” label on Peters that weighed on him like a sack of coal. There were always sneers and snide comments if ever he failed to come up to expectations, but good judges in the game understood that Alf recognised his stunning, ahead-of-its-time technique.

Before his time? He would have fitted in perfectly with today’s less physical and more cerebral approach, and he would have thrived on the challenge against a Chelsea side that won yesterday’s game far more comfortably than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.

Tottenham must now get maximum points from these next three games or consider the Christmas programme a car-crash for any hopes of finishing in the promised land of the top four …


Boxing Day       v Brighton (home, 12.30pm)
Saturday Dec 28  v Norwich City (away, 5.30pm)
New Year’s Day   v Southampton  (away, 3.00pm)

Then into 2020 with the start of the FA Cup adventure against Middlesbrough before a fairly challenging home Premier League match against runaway leaders and World Club Champions Liverpool.

On behalf of Paul H. Smith and I, compliments of the season to all our Spurs Odyssey readers and we wish you (and Spurs) a New Year of perfect Martin Peters-style 2020 vision.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 21 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Who joined Tottenham from his local club Leeds, won a League Cup final against Chelsea, played 21 times for England and which club did he move to from White Hart Lane?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL21@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 SOQL question: Who scored an FA cup final goal for Spurs, won one international cap and played for Tottenham and Arsenal, From which club did he arrive at White Hart Lane in 1964?

The answer: Jimmy Robertson, who joined Spurs from St Mirren. Those who have always criticised Bill Nicholson for swapping the feisty Scot with the less talented David Jenkins did not realise that the Spurs manager was trying to repair a fractured dressing-room.

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!

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