NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 310
Submitted by Norman Giller
Remember the ‘good old days’ when we used to gather to watch live football? It all changed, of course, when they let that destructive Chinese striker Coronavirus slip through our defences. Now nothing will ever be the same again.
I want to be my usual flippant and (allegedly) witty self about the situation we find ourselves in, but this is far too serious for levity (or even Levy). Let’s face it, when BBC replace Match of the Day with Mrs Brown’s Boys, we know this is a proper crisis. We’ve hit rock bottom, friends.
There is humour to be found, though, when people say with a straight face that the season should be abandoned without Liverpool being named as champions.
We should stop being one-eyed for just a moment and ask ourselves how we would feel if Tottenham were 25 points – TWENTY-FIVE POINTS – clear into the last knockings and kickings of the season and it was decided we had not done enough to claim the title.
If, as seems likely, the season is cancelled, Liverpool must be presented with the Premier League trophy. It can go down in the record books showing Liverpool as the champions, with an asterisk note reading: Season curtailed after 31 matches because of Coronavirus.
Having no football to write and talk about is as frustrating as trying to play the piano with the lid closed. Some say that is when I am at my best at the keyboard … please let me share with you my latest performance that I guarantee will bring a smile to your face:
Our guru Paul H. Smith and I have put our great minds together and discussed how I can keep my Spurs Odyssey blog going without any current football to analyse and pull apart. We have decided to adopt the wartime slogan, ‘Keep calm and carry on’.
My advice to the BBC would be to dip into their treasure chest of archival football to keep viewers entertained in the weeks/months ahead. Similarly, we at Spurs Odyssey have lots of historical facts and figures we can share to keep alight the Tottenham flame.
The enforced standstill in the season gives us the chance to remember and revere the achievements of our old heroes. So – starting today here on the Spurs Odyssey stage – we are going to serialise my latest book lauding the past performances of our legendary players.
The book is called Shooting Spurs, and focuses on every player in Tottenham’s history since the formation of the club in 1882 who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals.
If you are sitting comfortably, we shall begin … kicking off with the introduction by 159-goal wing legend, Cliff Jones …
"THE moment Norman Giller told me that profits from sales of this book were going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust I was on board. There are many who do not even know of the Trust's existence as they go quietly about helping old Spurs heroes, who in senior years are paying the price for all the hard work on the pitch in their playing days.
I could reel off dozens of instances where the Trust has given money and support to former Tottenham players who have hit tough times and hardship in their old age. These were footballers from the ‘golden age’ who missed the gravy train enjoyed by today‘s enormously well paid stars.
The joke among we veteran players is that we would like to make a brief comeback for just one week’s wages. In many cases it amounts to more than we earned in our entire careers! Now, as our bones creak and joints groan, it is great to know the Trust is around to soften the blow for those who need operations and, in many cases, full-time care.
Another appeal of this book is that I feature in it. I am joking, but it is a matter of great pride to be a member of the Tottenham 100 club, players who scored a ton of goals for the team during our careers. I am amazed that there are only seventeen of us, and you will find it fascinating to read all the background details of the players who reached three figures in the Lilywhite shirt.
You are in safe hands with Norman as the storyteller. He is a member of another exclusive centurion club – author of more than 100 books, several of them devoted to Tottenham Hotspur, which have raised hundreds of pounds for the Tribute Trust. He was there in the great days of the 60s and 70s, chronicling our feats from the Press box in the era when players and journalists socialised.
There was no ‘them’ and ‘us’. We used to have a rule for any pressmen joining our after-match drinks club at the Bell and Hare pub, keep your mouth shut about what you hear and, more important, get a round in. As the great man of granite, Dave Mackay, was usually in the chair, nobody broke the rules.
Norman and my dear recently departed cousin Ken Jones (then a brilliant columnist with Mirror newspapers) were close pals, and we knew we could trust them to keep confidences in an age when reporters travelled with the teams and saw and heard things that were for their eyes and ears only.
Now it seems to me that many of the press and players do not mix with each other, and the only stories of interest come from stilted and staged press conferences. What a change from the old days when Bill Nicholson and other managers used to hold court in the club car park, and it was just a free-for-all.
Norman’s best buddy is Jimmy Greaves, the goal scoring genius we all recognise as the King. They have written twenty books together, and remain close in what are critical times for Jimmy. He is one of the old players grateful for help from the Trust as he fights for an improved quality of life after his paralysing stroke.
I had the privilege of playing many games with Greavsie and have never seen a player to match him for applying the finishing touch. He reminds me very much of today’s master Lionel Messi, the same low centre of gravity, the mesmerising ball control and sudden acceleration and the ability to convince defenders he was going one way when he was actually off in the opposite direction.
Messi is a fantastic footballer, no doubt about it, but could he have been as positive and successful with the likes of ‘Chopper’ Harris and ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter tackling him from behind, and on pitches that were invariably muddy fields compared with today's snooker table surfaces? And, remember, we played with footballs that were not water resistant and weighed twice as much at the end of the match. Today, players can perform wonders with what seem like beach balls!
But I am not here to moan about the past. I would not change a thing about my career and I know most of my old team-mates agree that we enjoyed the best of times even if the financial rewards were nothing like today.
These days I am proud to be a Tottenham Hotspur ambassador, and see as many games as I can as they bring great pleasure and joy to my eighties. The fact that Harry Kane overtook me into fourth place on the all-time Tottenham top goal-scoring list filled me with pride in a brilliant young footballer and fine advertisement for his generation, and he is going to rewrite the record books.
He challenges even Greavsie as the star of our 100 club. Enjoy!"
Thanks, Cliff. I hope that has whetted your appetite for when you meet the first of the exclusive ‘100’ club here next week. It’s enough to make even a great granddad happy!
Stick with Spurs Odyssey. We’re keeping calm and carrying on.
We are carrying on with our weekly Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and hope you continue to take part. Question No 33 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:
Who was born to a German mother, is a member of the Spurs ‘100’ goals club, has played in Switzerland and against which team did he score two goals in the first leg of a UEFA Cup final?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL33@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 at 23 has won 29 caps, joined Spurs from Ajax and for which country did he play all three Group matches in the 2018 World Cup finals?
The answer: Davinson Sanchez of Colombia, a centre back with rich potential who has been a super star in his own land since his teenage years. He cost Tottenham a cool £42m when moving from Ajax in 2017.
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. Carry On Regardless. COYS!
Top of page | Spurs Odyssey Home Page