Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Norman Giller's Blog (No. 304 - 03.02.20)
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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 304) (03.02.20)

Submitted by Norman Giller

Bergwijn takes Greavsie-style Spurs bow

Whisper it, my friends, but if Spurs overcome Southampton in the FA Cup on Wednesday we can have a re-evaluation of this season and admit it’s not been half bad after all. That will silence all those critics who have been writing Tottenham off as a spent force since the sudden departure of the much-admired Mauricio Pochettino.

A victory over the Saints would put Spurs into a winnable fifth round FA Cup challenge against relegation-haunted Norwich, four steps from an FA Cup final at Wembley. Tottenham are still in the Champions’ League, and the reward for yesterday’s dramatic 2-0 victory over champions Manchester City was a huge stride up to an encouraging fifth place in the Premier League table.

None of this looked remotely possible when José Mourinho controversially took over in November. The team was languishing in 14th place and there had been a complete loss of confidence and cohesion among the players, some of whom were playing with their minds elsewhere.

But, as our guru Paul H. Smith reports HERE, every player pulled his weight yesterday in a full-blooded thriller against City. There were no passengers and you could warm your hands on the team spirit, particularly when Flying Dutchman Steven Bergwijn scored the sort of spectacular debut goal of which legends are made.

The way he chested the ball down, swivelled and shot all in the same sweet movement triggered memories for those of us who saw Jimmy Greaves score a stunning goal on his first appearance for Tottenham back in 1961. Please don’t interpret that as me saying he’s another Greavsie. I am just placing on record that the likeable man from Amsterdam scored a goal to remember.

VAR raised its ugly head again with a Pythonesque first-half incident when it took more than two minutes to decide that Aurier had fouled Aguero in the penalty area. I’d grown a moustache by the time the video ref arrived at the penalty decision while the game continued at full pelt. Just suppose Spurs had scored during that delay? What then? Football is fast losing itself in a maze of its own making.

The same VAR referee strangely decided that a reckless tackle on Dele by Raheem Sterling did not warrant a red card. This enraged Mourinho on the touchline, while the delayed penalty award reduced him to the sort of laughter a patient releases while being locked in a straitjacket. It was definitely a case for the men in the white coats.

Football is managing to make itself a laughing stock. Soon, the peasants (okay, the spectators) will rise in protest. The Beautiful Game is in danger of being reduced to farce.

The realistic ones among us will have recognised that City might easily have been two goals clear before Spurs clicked into gear, but we welcome the football gods being on our side. Mourinho’s ‘special’ gift is that he builds teams that ride their luck.

A rare day yesterday for palindrome fans: 02022020 And Spurs 2-0. Unique whichever way you look at it, but some faint-hearted fans recently lost faith in tottering Tottenham following a succession of under-par performances, turning their anger and frustration on chairman Daniel Levy.

I have had to point out on Twitter that I know of an alleged Spurs supporter who has at least a dozen aliases and keeps up a non-stop bombardment on Levy, deliberately ignoring any good that he does (such as a £billion stadium, and bringing in one of football’s most successful managers in Mourinho).

FaIr-minded people would agree that Tottenham are now one of the world’s best run clubs, and a certain juicy target for a take over when zillionaire owner Joe Lewis decides to hang up his general’s baton. That could be on the horizon because old Joe, a fellow East Ender of mine, is 83 on Wednesday. An FA Cup victory over Southampton would be a welcome present. Happy birthday, Joe.

It’s been my privilege to play a part in a tribute being paid to the one and only Jimmy Greaves by BT Sport to mark the upcoming 80th birthday of the goal master on February 20. It is an emotional rollercoaster and includes many of his greatest goals.

I will be among the guests at a premier of the documentary at the sky-scraping BT Tower on Thursday, and Jimmy’s old road show side-kick Terry Baker is organising a special showing at Stevenage on the great man’s birthday. All proceeds will go to Jimmy to help with his medical costs, which includes four visits every day by carers. You can get full details from

Meantime, I have composed a song in a personal tribute to my old mate, a close friend for more than half a century with whom I have written 20 books. The song is my revenge on Jim for always telling people that my piano playing suggested I went to the Les Dawson School of Music. As usual, he was bang on target. You can see and hear what he means here:

Apologies to music lovers everywhere. Yes, it’s a funny old game.

Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 27 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Who has won 97 caps, helped his country qualify for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals and from which English club did Harry Redknapp sign him in 2009?

Please email your answer to me at 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: Which East Ender scored 89 goals in 236 matches for Tottenham, scored his penalty in a Uefa Cup final shootout and which eventual England manager signed him from Spurs in 1986?

The answer: Mark Falco, Bethnal Green-born striker who was signed for Watford by the much-mourned Graham Taylor. These days Mark is a popular match-day ambassador at the new Lane and always prepared to cheerfully talk about his footballing days. He remains Tottenham through and through.

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.

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

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