NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 320
Submitted by Norman Giller
There is a light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of Our Harry Kane. He posted this video on line (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmaQSEJaz6I) to reveal he has lost none of his shooting power and accuracy, whether from left or right foot.
My sympathy is with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who must feel he is facing a one-man firing squad. Hugo, of course, had covid-19 in mind when he said: “Gardex dos distances, mon ami.” (“Keep your distance, my friend.’).
At least seeing Harry back in shooting action gives us some hope that football will return one day. We’ll meet again at the new Lane, don’t know when but, believe me, we WILL meet again some sunny day.
I am sure you can feel my frustration but also, I hope, my optimism. This video of Harry showing his old power and precision is coupled with news that Sonny is back from his military duties in South Korea. He is raring to go … yes, some Sonny day.
I understand the Premier League is a step closer as players return to training, and there's been a boost after ‘only’ two more positive tests have been reported. Out of 996 tests conducted last week, just a couple of people from two different clubs were reported to have the virus. It was all clear at Tottenham.
Meanwhile, La Liga is setting a much quicker pace and has pencilled in June 12 for the first fixture back - Sevilla vs Betis.
I understand there are still many players anxious about rushing back too quickly, and the Professional Footballers' Association has asked for more research to be conducted into the remaining risks of coronavirus. The Premier League meets on Wednesday and Thursday, hoping to be able to name a June re-start date. But the Government will have the final say. Don’t hold your breath.
My concern remains that we must not come back for the sake of it, but that all health barriers have been cleared. Not a single life must be put at risk for us to get our football fix.
Meanwhile, Aitch, Carry On Shooting. We’ll cheer again. 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 as the Flying Welsh Wizard, who has kindly written the introduction to the book …
Born Swansea 7 February 1935
Playing career span with Spurs: 1958-1968
Goals in 378 matches: 159
CLIFF JONES was equally efficient and explosive on either wing, as is shown in his astonishing goals output. He is right up there with the great Welsh Wizards from Billy Meredith, through Ryan Giggs to the modern master, Gareth Bale. Defenders were always kept guessing as to which Jones they were facing. He could make direct, touchline-hugging runs climaxing with orthodox crosses, dribbling forays and then sudden diagonal assaults, or there was the incisive cut in and fierce shot with either foot. His signature move was to sprint towards the packed goalmouth for a beyond-brave diving header that made we witnesses not only wince but question his sanity.
Football was like religion in the Jones family, and he followed in the fleet footsteps of the famous Jones brothers Ivor, his Dad, and Bryn, both pre-war stars. Uncle Bryn set what was then a world record transfer fee of £14,000 when he joined the Arsenal from Wolves. The world, they said, is going mad.
After laying the foundation to his career at his local club Swansea, Cliff joined Spurs for a then record £35,000 on February 6 1958, the day of the Munich air crash in which eight Busby Babes died, including his best pal when doing his National Service, Duncan Edwards. The young coach at White Hart Lane at the time was Bill Nicholson, and when he became manager later that year Cliff was a key man in his plans to rule the Football League.
Cliff, who played a prominent part in helping Wales reach the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals, was an exceptional individualist who was always happy to put the needs of the team first. There were no official stats in those days, but plenty of the goals powered into the net by ex-Chelsea side-kicks Bobby Smith and Les Allen in the Double season had made-by-Jones written on them. He also piled in himself with 19 goals as his contribution to the historic lifting of the League title and FA Cup.
The Jones boy added to his medals collection by helping Spurs beat Burnley 3-1 in the 1962 FA Cup final, and was a constant threat to the Atletico Madrid defence in the 1963 European Cup WInners’ Cup final when Tottenham became the first British club to capture a major European prize.
Jimmy Greaves and his close pal Cliff at the door of No 10 Downing Street when they were in their prime. This was in 1965, and Harold Wilson was waiting to greet them. It was at a launch for plans to the staging of the 1966 Word Cup finals.
Cliff was into the veteran stage by the time Spurs reached the 1967 FA Cup final, and he made a little bit of history by becoming (along with Chelsea’s Joe Kirkup) the first substitute named for an FA Cup final. He did not make an appearance in the days when subs could only be used as replacements for injured players. But he collected a prized medal.
There was a wind-down spell at Fulham and some non-League action at King’s Lynn before he reluctantly left the stage aged 36. He had been a joy to the eye throughout his years with Spurs and when wearing the red of Wales in 59 international matches.
Like so many old pros, he struggled to adapt to a life without football. He tried his hand at being a butcher, quietly won a battle with the bottle, coached successfully at North London schools, and concentrated on enjoying a full family life with loyal, loving wife Joan, four children and nine grandchildren. One of his grandkids, Matt Wells, is a respected coach who was on the Spurs staff and followed Scott Parker to Fulham.
Now 85, fitness fanatic Cliff is still doing daily exercises, determined to fight the recent diagnosis of early signs of dementia. He is a huge favourite of the crowd when he makes his regular home appearances as a Tottenham ambassador.
Cliff remains Spurs through and through and refers to the club as his ‘family.’ He is warmed by memories of that Double year, which is the focus of our walk down Memory White Hart Lane next week.
For those of you who missed last week’s announcement, we now have a new Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion, and it’s our first Quiz Queen. Take a bow Emily Hadjinicolaou … from now on known as Queen Emily!
Actually an actuary from Surrey, Queen Emily will be defending her title when quiz season number seven kicks off. Don’t know when, but it will be here some sunny day when the new Premier League starts.
Meantime, I shall continue with a weekly teaser just for fun and to keep you all on your Tottenham toes. By all means send me your answer to SOQLTeaser@normangillerbooks.com but only for satisfaction, not points. I will, as usual, reply if I possibly can. This week’s off-beat Teaser:
Which former Spurs manager conceded a match-deciding penalty in a World Cup finals match against England, and on which club’s books was he at the time?
Last week’s question: Which former Spurs manager played nine times for England and for which County team did he score more than 8,000 runs and take 89 wickets?
The answer: Joe Hulme, a magnificent winger for … the Arsenal, and a run machine for Middlesex, where he often partnered Gunners team-mate Denis Compton and former Spurs forward Bill Edrich. Joe, who later became a press box colleague of mine, was far too red blooded to manage Spurs (a la Terry Neill and George Graham) and handed the reins over to the blue-blooded Arthur Rowe. The rest, as they say, is history.
Thank you everybody who has taken part in the SOQL quiz and I hope you join me for year seven when the new season kicks off. As it will.
See you back here same time, same place next week. Carry On Regardless and Stay Alert. Queen Emily commands it. COYS!
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