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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 322) (08.06.20)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 322
Submitted by Norman Giller

Jose must be a super salesman to keep Harry

So now we can say for certain that football (but not as we know it) comes back for Spurs fans against Manchester United at the new Lane on Friday June 19. Kick-off is at 8.15 and will be on SKY TV.

The game will be behind closed doors, and followed by a home showdown with West Ham four days later and then on to Sheffield United for a 6 o’clock kick-off on Tuesday July 2.

Victory will be vital in all three games if Spurs are to maintain any hope of a top five finish. You might recall (everything seems so long ago) that Man City are out of the running for a Champions’ League place because of financial irregularities.

Just to remind you that Spurs had slipped to a disappointing eighth place in the table before the covid-19 cloud dropped on our lives. Here’s how the top of the table looks, and see if like me you shudder when you note which team is immediately on our heels, with a game in hand …

Premier League Table

I am still in the school that believes football is rushing back too quickly, but I will be very happy to see 1) no virus outbreaks following the games, and 2) Spurs getting their winning mojo back.

It will be fascinating to see the form in which Harry Kane returns to the game after his extra lay-off, having fully recovered from the injury that had sidelined him long before we all went into lockdown.

All the gossip and conjecture is that Harry will be moving on to Manchester United in the summer. The coronavirus has taught us that you never know what is around the corner in this life, so I think we can expect footballers to cash in on their talent even quicker than in the past

I believe much of the talk about Harry considering a move for medals and trophies is accurate. He is an ambitious young man, and why not? We are looking to Jose Mourinho to convince him that he can get silverware with Spurs.

But while we are down in eighth place that is going to take some super salesmanship by the Special One. Meantime a likely £200m fee will be tempting to Daniel Levy as football reels from the losses caused by the lockdown.

Thank goodness very soon we will have some football to talk about, which will hopefully stop us all from being like old gossips nattering over the garden fence.

Let’s get the show back on the road. But sensibly, please.


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 I take a second dip back into the Double season of 1960-61 and have out an assessment of every player in that greatest of Tottenham sides by the man who was about to join them … the one and only Jimmy Greaves …

Here a Who’s Who of Tottenham’s team composed back in the 90s in partnership with my then writing partner Greavsie, who was top First Division scorer in the 1960-61 season with 41 goals – uh, for Chelsea ...

BILL BROWN

Born Dundee October 8 1931. Tottenham goalkeeper in 222 League matches between 1959 and 1965 after joining them from his local Dundee club during Bill Nicholson’s first season as manager. He was capped 28 times by Scotland, and wound down his career with Northampton Town. Throughout his career he worked part-time on building up a printing business, eventually emigrating to Canada where he passed on in 2004.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “As is well known, I rarely have a good word to say about Scottish goalkeepers, but Bill was an exception. He had a good pair of hands, was very agile, and had the courage of a lion. There were few to match him on his day, but he was known to have his dodgy moments, particularly dealing with crosses when he sometimes got caught in two minds as to whether to leave his goal-line. He had a good rapport with centre-half Maurice Norman, and between them they usually managed to clear the danger. I remember that he was often preferred to Pat Jennings when the big feller first joined us from Watford. Pat was struggling to conquer his nerves in those early days before he became one of the all-time great goalkeepers. Bill Brown rarely let Spurs down, and was always reliable at the back of the Scotland defence.”

PETER BAKER

Born Hampstead, December 10 1931. Died 2016. Played 299 League games for Spurs, and scored three goals. Signed for Tottenham from Enfield in 1952 at the age of 20, during the Arthur Rowe era and served the club for nearly 14 years. After eventually losing his place in defence to Cyril Knowles (who was more comfortable on the left), he wound down his career in South Africa with Durban City. Educated in Arsenal territory at Southgate County School, he became a regular in the Bill Nicholson Double side and was the only player in the defence not rewarded with an international cap.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “Peter was very much under-estimated. His hard, uncompromising style balanced perfectly with the more skilled approach of his partner Ron Henry. I can never recall a winger giving him a roasting, and this was in an era when every team carried two wingers playing wide on the flanks. He could be tough to the point of brutal when necessary and covered for Danny with perfectly-timed tackles. Fair haired and very upright, Peter had been well schooled in the Push and Run methods and always tried to use the ball positively by finding a better placed team-mate.”

RON HENRY

Born Shoreditch, August 17 1934. Died 2014. Played 247 League matches for Tottenham between 1954 and 1965 before becoming a highly regarded youth coach. He was at left-back in all 42 of Tottenham’s League matches in the 1960- 61 season. Early in his career with Redbourne he had been a skilful left winger, and then switched to wing-half and later, on turning professional with Tottenham, settled down at left back. He made his League debut at centre-half against Huddersfield in 1955, but it was not until the 1959-60 season that he took over the No 3 shirt from Welsh international Mel Hopkins. Capped once by England in Alf Ramsey’s first match as England manager. He had played with Alf in his early days at Tottenham.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “I would rate Ron among the top six left-backs I have played with or against, and that includes my international experience. Ron would always use the ball intelligently and was a master of positional play. He and Peter Baker went together like bacon and eggs. It was a pity that Ron got his one and only cap in Alf Ramsey’s nightmare opening match. We got trounced 5-2 by France, and Ron was unlucky to be one of the players who carried the can. He deserved a longer run with the England team.”

DANNY BLANCHFLOWER

Born Belfast, February 10 1926. Died 1993. Played 337 League games for Tottenham between 1954 and 1963 after service with Glentoran, Barnsley and Aston Villa. One of the most creative and authoritative players ever to set foot on a football pitch, he was a born leader who, as well as skippering Spurs through their ‘glory-glory’ years, also captained the Northern Ireland team that reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup. Danny was twice voted the Footballer of the Year before a recurring knee injury forced his retirement in 1963. He became a respected broadcaster and journalist with an acid wit and something fresh to say on every subject. He managed the Northern Ireland team and had a brief but rarely satisfactory reign as Chelsea manager. His Sunday Express columns were always readable and perceptive.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “Danny was the poet of Spurs. He gave the team style and was a captain in every sense of the word, inspiring the players around him with his almost arrogant performances and lifting them with words of wisdom. His contribution to the team was as important as Bill Nick’s, with an influence that went much farther and deeper than his performances on the pitch. He was the dressing-room tactician, the training ground theorist, the man who talked up for players during moments of crisis and misunderstanding. And what a beautiful player. He rivalled even my old England team-mate Johnny Haynes for firing a pass through the heart of a defence. He was a great reader of the game, and had an in-built radar system that guided him to the right places at the right times. He could lift and motivate players before vital matches with Churchillian-class rallying speeches and had a wit that was as sharp as a razorblade. He was a class act and one of my favourite footballers of all time, and Godfather to my son, Danny.”

MAURICE NORMAN

Born Mulbarton, Norfolk, May 8 1934. Played 357 League matches for Spurs between 1955 and 1965, following one full season with his local club, Norwich City. He was Eng-land’s centre-half in 23 matches and was shortlisted for World Cup duty in 1966 when his career was finished by a broken leg received in a Spurs friendly against the Hungarian national team at White Hart Lane. At 6ft 1in and 13 stone, he stood like an immovable mountain in the middle of the Spurs defence. He had joined Tottenham as a full-back, but it was his switch to centre-half that established him as one of the most reliable of defend-ers . Made his international debut against Peru in 1962 and was England centre-half throughout the 1962 World Cup finals.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “We used to call him ‘Big Monty’ or ‘Mighty Mo’. He was an ox of a man. Big in build, big in heart and big in personality, with a lovely slow ‘have-you-got-a-loight-boy’ drawl. Strangely enough he was not that commanding in the air, but he was so tall that he usually got to the high balls before rival forwards had started jumping. He helped make goalkeeper Bill Brown’s job easier with his expert covering and support play. On those occasions when the usually dependable Brown made a mess of a cross you would usually find Big Mo thumping the ball away. There have been more polished and skilful centre-halves than Maurice, but I have yet to come across one as physically strong as the likeable Swede-basher from deepest Norfolk. But for tragically breaking a leg in a meaningless friendly match I am sure he would have been England’s centre-half in the 1966 World Cup finals and Jack Charlton might never have got his chance. That’s football for you. Full of cruel twists and lucky breaks.”

DAVE MACKAY

Born Edinburgh, November 14 1934. Died 2015. Scored 42 goals in 268 League appearances for Tottenham after joining them from Hearts for £30,000 in March 1959. His entire career in football was about winning. He was capped at schoolboy, under-23 and full international level by Scotland; while with Hearts he won Scottish League Cup, Scottish Cup and Scottish League championship medals; then with Spurs he collected three FA Cup winners’ medals, a League Championship medal and a European Cup Winners’ Cup medal, although missing the final because of injury. Later, with Derby County, he won a Second Division Championship medal; and as manager he steered Derby to the First Division title in 1974-75. He also managed Swindon, Nottingham Forest and Walsall before becoming a successful coach in the Middle East. His greatest victory was over adversity. He twice made comebacks after breaking a leg. Not for nothing was he known as the ‘Miracle Man’ of football.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “If somebody put a knife to my throat and insisted that I name the greatest player in that marvellous Spurs side it would have to be Dave Mackay. He had just about everything: power, skill, drive, stamina, the sort of heroism that would have won medals in wartime, and – above all – infectious enthusiasm. Power? I used to shudder at some of his tackles on rival players, and he used to go in just as hard after twice breaking a leg. I often offered up a silent prayer of thanks that he was with me and not against me. He also had delicate skills to go with his enormous strength. Bobby Moore was one of the few defenders I could think of who could rival him for ball control in a tight situation. Dave was the king of the first-time pass, drilling the ball through to a team-mate as accurately and casually as if in a training session, despite being under pressure from an opponent. Dave took over from Danny as Spurs captain, and I can safely say that I played under the two greatest skippers that ever carried a ball on to the pitch. I have never known anybody have such physical presence on a football field as the Great Mackay. You could almost hear the skirl of the pipes as he stuck out his barrel chest and led his team into battle. There were times when he frightened me to death with his take-no-prisoners attitude, and I was on his side! There will never be another like him.”

Jimmy Greaves and Dave Mackay

One of my favourite photos of Dave and Jimmy, buddies on and off the pitch

TERRY MEDWIN

Born Swansea, September 25 1932. Scored 65 goals in 197 League matches for Spurs between 1956 and 1962, after establishing himself as a Welsh international winger while with his hometown club, Swansea. He was capped 30 times by Wales and might have played many more games for Spurs but for a succession of injuries that finally forced his premature retirement after he had helped Tottenham retain the FA Cup at Wembley in 1962. Played 14 League games during the ‘Double’ campaign. He later became a top-flight coach, notably with Fulham.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “Terry Medwin came out of that marvellous Swansea finishing school that also produced players of the calibre of the Allchurch brothers, Mel Charles, Mel Nurse and, of course, my old mate Cliffie Jones. Terry was a very correct player, a student of the game who did everything with care and accuracy. His ball skill was of the highest order; he was always a menace to defences with his quick changes of pace, and he used to get up well to head the ball. It is a measure of the strength in depth of that Spurs squad that he was not a regular first-team player, yet was an automatic choice for Wales.”

TERRY DYSON

Born Malton, North Yorkshire, November 29 1934. Played 184 League games for Spurs and scored 41 goals. The son of famous jockey ‘Ginger’ Dyson, he came to White Hart Lane from non-League Scarborough in 1955. He was a member of the first-team squad until 1965 when he moved on to Fulham and then Colchester and Guildford City. A regular in the Double-winning side, he scored two goals that clinched victory in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1963. In 1961 he became the first Spurs player to score a hat-trick in the derby against Arsenal (Spurs won 4-3). He later became an assessor of schoolboy footballers for the Football Association.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “The two Terrys, Dyson and Medwin, used to play musical chairs with the winger’s shirt. Both were determined competitors who never let the side down, but I think Dyson’s grit and whole-hearted endeavour just gave him the edge over Medwin, who was desperately unlucky with injuries. Terry D. would run his legs off for the team, and often popped up with vital winning goals. He had the most memorable match of his career in the Cup Winners’ Cup final. He continually had the Atletico Madrid defence in disarray with his thrusting runs, and his two goals turned the match. He was big enough to admit he did not have the skill of some of those tremendous players around him, but he more than made up for it with his effort. Terry was equally effective on either wing, and often wore the No 11 shirt, with Cliffie Jones switching to the right.”

JOHN WHITE

Born Musselburgh, Lothian, April 28 1937. Died 1963. Scored 40 goals in 183 League games for Spurs after joining them from Falkirk in 1959 for a bargain price £20,000. He was capped 22 times by Scotland and was an ‘ever present’ for Spurs during the Double season. In his youth he had been turned down by both Glasgow Rangers and Middlesbrough as being too small, but he quickly showed that his frail appearance was misleading when starting his career with Alloa Athletic and then Falkirk. Bill Nicholson bought him on the advice of both Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower, who had seen him in action for Scotland. He took time to settle to the pace of English League football, but once attuned he became one of the finest schemers in the game. The year after helping Spurs capture the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963 he was struck down and killed by a bolt of lightning while sheltering under a tree during a solo round of golf.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “John was a great, great player when he died, and I am convinced he was going to get better. He was so aptly nicknamed ‘The Ghost of White Hart Lane.’ It was his ability off the ball that made him such a phenomenal player. He would pop up from out of nowhere just when he was needed most to make a pass or collect the ball. Like Danny Blanchflower, he had the gift of being able to give the exact weight to a pass, so that the ball would arrive where and when you wanted it. John had the energy to run all day and could cut a defence in half with just one cunningly placed ball. He was an enthusiastic cross country runner, and it showed with the way he was still going at full pace in the 90th minute. With White together in midfield with Blanchflower and Mackay Spurs just could not go wrong. I felt privileged to have John providing me with passes that made my life so much easier.”

BOBBY SMITH

Born Lingdale, February 22 1933. Died 2010. Scored 176 goals in 271 League matches for Spurs after joining them from Chelsea in 1955. Wound down his League career with Brighton, his 18 goals in 31 matches helping them win the Fourth Division Championship in 1965. He scored 13 goals in 15 appearances as England centre-forward, all but one of them in partnership with Jimmy Greaves. In the Double season he was top First Division marksman for Spurs with 28 goals and he netted in each of the successive FA Cup final victories.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “Bobby was one of my favourite centre-forward partners, along with Alan Gilzean who followed him at the Lane. Bobby was never given the credit he deserved for his high level of skill. People seemed to think he was all brute force. Strength certainly played an important part in his game, and he used to make full use of his heavyweight physique. But he also had subtle touches and could lay off delicate passes. I fed off him at Spurs and with England and I am pleased to acknowledge the part he played in my goals accumulation. He used to win the ball for me in the air, removing a defender or two with the sheer force of his challenge, and I was left with the relatively simple job of netting with a tap shot. Smithy did not think he was in the game until he had let the goalkeeper know he was on the pitch by hammering into him at the earliest opportunity. This was in the days when forwards were allowed to make physical contact with goalkeepers. I think Bobby would feel redundant in a match if he were playing in the modern game. Mind you, he would survive on skill alone – but he would not be the same old Smithy without letting everybody know who was boss by a show of a strength.”

LES ALLEN

Born Dagenham, Essex, September 4 1937. Scored 47 goals in 119 League matches for Spurs. Started his career as an amateur with Briggs Sports while working as an apprentice with the local Ford factory. Signed for Chelsea in 1954 and netted 11 goals in 44 League appearances before joining Tottenham in December 1959. Making way for the arrival of Jimmy Greaves, he joined Queen’s Park Rangers and helped them become the first Third Division side to win the League Cup at Wembley. He scored 55 goals in 128 League games for QPR before starting a management career during which he was in charge at Loftus Road and at Swindon, and then in Salonika, Greece. He later became a skilled model maker, and in retirement shared his time between his homes in Essex and Cyprus.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “The Allen family are famous for their footballing feats in the Dagenham manor where I grew up. There was Les and his brother Dennis, and then Les’s sons Clive and Bradley and nephews Martin and Paul all became professionals. Before I arrived on the scene at Spurs Bobby Smith had a prolific partnership with Les, and together they played a major part in clinching the League and Cup double triumph. Les was alongside me when I made my League debut for Chelsea in 1957, and again when I played my first match for Spurs. He was a neat, constructive centre-forward or inside-forward with a fine turn of speed, an accurate right foot shot, and excellent positional sense. He was unlucky not to get international recognition.”

CLIFF JONES

Born Swansea February 7 1935. Scored 135 goals in 318 League matches for Spurs after joining them from Swansea for £35,000 in February 1958. He won a then record 59 Welsh international caps and had the final shots of his career with Fulham, for whom he signed in 1968 after collecting a string of honours with Spurs. He stood 5ft 7in tall, weighed just over 10 stone, and moved like a whippet along either wing for Spurs and Wales. Football was in his blood. He was the son of pre-war Welsh international Ivor Jones, and the nephew of former Arsenal and Wales inside-forward Bryn, and the brother of long-serving League professional Bryn Jnr. His cousin, Ken Jones, was an ex-pro who became one of the country’s leading sports columnists.

GREAVSIE ASSESSMENT: “At his peak, Cliffie was without doubt one of the world’s greatest wingers. When he was in full flight I doubt if there was a more dangerous forward on the ball. He used to run with the pace, determination and bravery of a Welsh wing three-quarter. He was brave to the point of madness in the penalty area. Cliffie used to rise like a salmon at the far post to head spectacular goals that were remarkable when you realize he was a smallish bloke with a slim frame. When you talk about great wingers like Matthews, Finney and Best you can mention Jonesie in the same breath. He was as effective as any of them, and on either wing.”

These, then, were the players who collectively achieved the greatest season in Tottenham’s history. But there were a lot of golden moments still to come during Bill Nicholson’s reign at White Hart Lane, and they kicked off with the arrival of a player who cost one pound under £100,000. Enter Greavsie. That’s next week’s instalment. Not to be missed.


Spurs Odyssey Trivia Quiz League

Each week before we start season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, I am asking you a trivial question just to keep you 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 won three international caps as a midfielder and for which two Midlands clubs did he play in the 1980s?

Last week’s question: Which former Spurs manager won two England caps and against which team was he sent off at White Hart Lane in 1967?

The answer: Yes, of course, Terry Venables, who in a rare loss of temper got involved in fisticuffs with Fulham defender Fred Callaghan, an old Dagenham neighbour of El Tel’s. It was just after the famous fight in which Muhammad Ali kept asking Ernier Terrell ‘What’s mah name?’. A comedian in the White Hart Lane crowd shouted as Venners and Fred threw punches at each other: ‘For f—-’s sake tell him your name, Tel!’ Happy days.

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

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