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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 318) (11.05.20)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 318
Submitted by Norman Giller

Who will be the SOQL champion No 6?

No coronavirus is going to stop us completing our season-long hunt for the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion! We have battled through the last 40 weeks, and my searching questions have failed to knock many of you off the trail to try to become SOQL title holder No 6.

Just to remind you, the previous winners – featured left to right in the heading above – have been:

Graham Eyre (New South Wales, Australia) 2019
David Guthrie (Wokingham) 2015 and 2018
Glenn Scarcliffe (Hampstead) 2016
Edward Benson (New York) 2017

The competition continues to have an international flavour, with contestants firing in their answers from far and wide, including Hawaii, California, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Holland, South Africa, Hungary and Cyprus.

As regulars will know, this is when we fall out, because it is really only my opinion that matters in this tiebreak challenge. You become manager for the day to play the selecting game, and all you have to do is just try to agree with my line-up to take the esteemed SOQL title. Easy!

Many of you are on a maximum 120 points. I had computer problems midway through the season and failed to receive some entries, so I am going to allow all those with 105 points or more to start this last test on level terms with the leaders. Please address any complaints to the Ombudsman.

Included among the usual suspects in the running for the title this year are reigning champion Graham Eyre, two-times winner David Guthrie and – yet again – the only woman in with a chance of the title, Emily Hadjinicolaou, BSc FIA, from Reigate in Surrey. Omniscient Emily has taken over the Tottenham-supporting baton from her father, who used to follow Spurs in the 1950s from his homeland of Cyprus.

Spurs Odyssey web master Paul H. Smith and I would like to thank Emily and all you other grand people who regularly compete in our weekly challenge. Without you, I’d be talking to myself (true, nothing new).

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 2020.

To try to separate you all and come up with the 2020 champion we arrive at the dreaded tiebreak teaser:

Select a team from players who have appeared for Spurs in at least 100 Premier League matches since and including the year 2000. And here’s the vital rule: Each of your teams must be made up of five British and five foreign-born players (I will give you Hugo Lloris as goalkeeper).

Please select your ten players in 4-4-2 formation, plus THREE outfield substitutes (two foreign, one British) who have played 100 Premier League games for Spurs since 2000. Also, please name your captain (not Lloris) – which will only be taken into account if there is a dead heat.

You get three points for every selection that agrees with a player in my team, plus three points each for picking the same three substitutes as me. That’s 39 points in total.

The contestant with most points who gets closest to my team plus choice of substitutes takes the crown. If more than one agrees with me – and also choice of captain – then we would have another tie-breaker if their points tally is equal.

Just to repeat, you are selecting five British and five overseas-born players who have appeared in at least 100 Premier League matches for Tottenham since and including 2000, plus two foreign and one British-born player as substitutes. Formation is 4-4-2 and name your captain.

You have until midnight on Friday to get your choices to me. Email your selections, please, to SOQL2020@normangillerbooks.com. Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. Good luck!

I am the sole adjudicator, and will not enter into correspondence with anybody who wants to dispute my selection (now I know how Putin feels. Wow, power!).

Enjoy it. This is just for fun, while cementing the shared love and admiration for all things Tottenham. And it will help the lockdown go a little quicker.

I am taking this opportunity on behalf of all of us to thank Paul H. Smith for his efforts in keeping this website going. We must never take him for granted. It is a labour of love and I want him to know we appreciate his dedication and endeavour, particularly in what have become dark days for the Beautiful Game (and for all walks of life). There is a PayPal button at the top of this page where we can show our appreciation. I am inserting this paragraph without Paul’s permission. Let’s all support him. ( Ed:- I am humbled and grateful Norman)

I will announce the winner in my next Spurs Odyssey blog … hopefully when we have a clearer picture of football’s return. Personally, I trust it will not be too soon. The football bosses meeting today must act responsibly. Let’s be sensible.

Last week’s question:-

Who followed David Pleat from Luton to Tottenham, and which number Spurs shirt did he wear in an FA Cup final at Wembley? As all the front-runners agreed, Mitchell Thomas who wore the No 3 left-back shirt against Coventry in THAT 1987 FA Cup final against Coventry City.

Now, on with the selecting game. Good luck.

COYS!


Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith and I have decided the only safe and rewarding place to exist at the moment is in a pleasant past where we remember our old heroes who brought us all together as Tottenham disciples.

The enforced standstill in the season gives us the chance to remember and revere the achievements of Lane Legends. So – continuing today here on the Spurs Odyssey stage – we serialise my latest book lauding the past performances of our goal-grabbing players.

The book is called Shooting Spurs, with all profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust (actually, I’ve passed some of the income on to the NHS, sure nobody will mind). It focuses on every player in Tottenham’s history who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals since the formation of the club in 1882. Today we spotlight the Lane Legend known to one and all as The Duke …

Len Duquemin

LEN DUQUEMIN
Born Guernsey, Channel Islands, 17 July 1924
Died Buckhurst Hill 20 April 2003
Playing career span with Spurs: 1946-1958
Goals in 307 matches: 134

LEN DUQUEMIN had a pugnacious face that mirrored the way he played the game, with a physical presence that brought muscle to the method of Push and Run. In the days that ‘The Duke’ operated in the No 9 Spurs shirt, centre-forwards had to be bold, brave and a little bit barmy as they took on the challenges of hefty defenders who believed in the principle of ‘get your retaliation in first.’

Duquemin was a battering ram of a player, with a cannonball shot in either foot and powerful heading ability that also made him a menace in the air. Just like Harry Kane, he always gave 100 per cent to the team effort and was adored by the Tottenham fans. As well as being dubbed The Duke, he was also known – particularly by his team-mates – as ‘Reliable Len.’ They always knew where to find him on the pitch, and there was a consistency to his play that spoke volumes about him as a person.

His life story would make a great television drama or cinema film. He was born in Guernsey, and when the Nazis invaded the Channel Islands monks hid him in a Catholic monastery to save him being shipped to a slave labour camp in Eastern Europe, the fate of many Channel Islanders.

The surprise to meet Len off the pitch is that he was a quiet, gentle, generous soul and nothing like the warrior who battled his heart out for Spurs. He had clearly been influenced in his behaviour by the time he spent with the monks. They only spoke French, and he became fluent in the language to such an extent that he toyed with the idea of playing his football in France.

Sixth of ten children with a father who worked in one of the many tomato nurseries on Guernsey, he became famous on the island for his schoolboy football feats. He was not the only Duquemin who could play the game. Five of his brothers appeared with him for Vauxbolets Old Boys.

But it was Len who stood out and after one try-out game with Colchester United he signed for a Spurs side languishing in the Second Division. Three decades later four LeTissier brothers emerged on the playing fields of Guernsey, with Matt making it to the mainland and fame with Southampton and England. But the Duquemins won the numbers game.

Early in his career with Tottenham, Len was rocked by a family tragedy when one of his brothers, Frank Duquemin, was drowned during a freak storm while sailing to England from Guernsey to watch his brother play for Spurs. He considered packing up and going home, but his parents insisted that his brother would want him to continue to try to make the breakthrough as a Tottenham player.

It was the arrival of Arthur Rowe as manager in 1949 that ignited The Duke, who thrived on the responsibility of spearheading an attack fed by the paralysing passes of Eddie Baily, Ron Burgess and Bill Nicholson, and he was the perfect magnet for the crosses of flying wingers Sonny Walters and Les Medley. He often played in tandem with the lively Les Bennett, and in the back to back title seasons they were too much of a handful for even the tightest defences.

Len had the full confidence of Rowe from day one because the fabled manager had often talked to him about his one-touch football philosophy when in charge of Chelmsford, for whom Duquemin played several games on loan from Spurs.

Scanned from my scrapbook, the Duke in action at The Lane

Scanned from my scrapbook, the Duke in action at The Lane

He rewarded Arthur’s faith by plundering 134 goals in 307 games for Tottenham, 16 of them in the Second Division title-winning season of 1949-50, and then 15 in the following campaign when Spurs lifted the cherished League championship.

The Duke dropped the curtain on his Tottenham career when Bobby Smith arrived from Chelsea to take over his beloved No 9 shirt, and in 1958 he moved into less demanding non-League football with Bedford Town, Hastings United and, finally, Romford.

He ran a newsagent’s shop in Tottenham’s Northumberland Park before becoming mine host at the Lord Nelson pub in Barnet and then the Haunch of Venison close to the old Spurs training ground in Cheshunt.

Len used to hold court in his pub surrounded by Tottenham fans and joke: “If it wasn’t for her (pointing at his wife, June) I’d be living on my treasure island of Guernsey. My fault for going and falling in love with a London girl.”

He talked with warmth to his patrons – many of them Tottenham fans visiting his pub just to meet their hero – about his goal scoring days at White Hart Lane:

“I’d never swap anything about my career. I played with the greatest side of the day. What a team that was. We did not have a single weakness. When the Boss, Arthur Rowe, talked football with the likes of Bill Nicholson, Eddie Baily, Ron Burgess and, of course, ‘The General’ Alf Ramsey it was like being at a university for footballers. I felt the luckiest man alive to be in that squad. We lived and breathed the game, and during the two seasons when we were beating every team in sight it was like being on top of the world. There were lots of brains in that team, and Les and I were the brawn. Arthur Rowe’ s secret was keeping everything simple. He used to have lots of little sayings, like ‘when not in possession get into position’ ... and ‘it’s better to run to the ball than chase after it.’ People are always asking me if we could have beaten the Double side. I usually tell them you can only be the best of your time, and under Arthur Rowe we were easily the best. And to think we got paid to do it. Every day was a joy. I’m proud to have been the first Channel Islander to make an impact on the Football League. There are a load of outstanding youngsters on the islands. Just watch out for them. I think back to when I was living with the monks and wonder what they would make of what I’ve done with my life. Who knows what would have happened if the Nazis had dragged me off to Poland. I’ve been a very lucky boy.”

In retirement, Len lived within a 10 minute walk of the White Hart Lane ground where he had so often stoked the roar of the crowd, and his old team-mate Bill Nicholson always used to make sure he had a seat of honour on his regular visits before cancer claimed him at the age of 78.

June, his wife of 50 years, said: “He was the sweetest man who ever lived.” And he couldn’t half play football. The Duke.

Next week: The mighty Bobby Smith

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

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