NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 326
Submitted by Norman Giller
All Tottenham thoughts will be on the North London Derby on Sunday, even though there is first of all a visit to Bournemouth on Thursday. The on-fire Gooners will be grinning at the prospect, and I just hope Spurs are not left groaning. It is the most crucial NLD for several seasons, with even more pride and prestige at stake than usual.
The scrappy 1-0 win against Everton did nothing to build confidence and the lack of cohesion must be of huge concern to manager Jose Mourinho, particularly after the appalling performance against Sheffield United.
About the only time Spurs showed much-needed passion in the lack-lustre game with Everton was at the half-time whistle, Skipper Hugo Lloris, towed by temper, went dashing after the usually much-loved Son Heung-min.
Team-mates had to pull Lloris away as he tried to remonstrate with Sonny for not tracking back to prevent Richarlison from taking a pot shot that nearly brought Everton an equaliser.
Lloris was seen briefly cuddling Son as they came out for the second-half, so the damage to team spirit was quickly repaired. And they hugged with smiles at the final whistle. All’s well that ends well.
Who knows, perhaps this is the spark that could help Spurs re-discover their fire.
The nitty gritty of the match is in the capable hands HERE of our guru Paul H. Smith (report here), and I did not envy him having to report a game lacking in drive and rhythm. Even the Tottenham goal was nothing to write home about, a self-inflicted deflection from a Lo Celso shot that looked to be going off target.
So now there are just five matches to go, with Tottenham having to win them all just to scrape into the Europa ‘Thursday’ League.
Thursday July 9: Bournemouth (away, 6.00pm)
Sunday July 12: Arsenal (home, 4.30pm)
Wednesday July 15: Newcastle (away, 8.00pm)
Saturday July 18: Leicester City (home, 3.00pm)
Sunday July 26: Crystal Palace (home, 3.00pm)
Patience, friends, we are on the last lap of a best-forgotten season.
Without Bobby Buckle, there would probably have been no Tottenham Hotspur. He was one of the founder members, the first captain, first registered goal scorer, later an influential board member and he can comfortably carry the title of ‘Father of Spurs’.
Christopher South, veteran author and broadcaster of ‘Grunty Fen’ fame, has written a fascinating and revealing biography, with the support and encouragement of Phil Nyman, Barry Middleton, Bobby Buckle’s grandsons - Michael, Robert and Richard Mackman - and three great-grandchildren - Philip, Anthony and Laurence. They represent a group calling themselves the ‘Bobby Buckle Matters Partnership’.
The book and the club’s history are in safe hands with Christopher South, who saw his first match at White Hart Lane in 1947. His grandfather, Samuel South, owned a pottery in White Hart Lane and was a close friend of Bobby, whose family lived at 7 White Hart Lane, the famous White Cottage that served as the first headquarters for Spurs from the foundation year of 1882.
The objective is to get a Blue Plaque placed at the still-standing White Cottage to underline Bobby’s intoxicating influence on the history of Tottenham Hotspur.
You can pre-order the £10 book here https://ij-book-store.myshopify.com/?key=e86f19d585aa94e9ec43beb59cfe2c4f7ae808c969ebe53b7400eafae01f027b It is must reading for anybody with the spirit and soul of Spurs in their DNA.
Steve ‘Skip’ Perryman has written the introduction to the book, and appreciates just what Bobby did to build the foundations for Tottenham Hotspur. He says: ‘Without Bobby Buckle, it is no exaggeration to say there would have been no career at Spurs for me to enjoy and reflect on. There would have been no Tottenham Hotspur full stop. It’s astonishing what he did for the club in those early days, and every one of we players who have followed should bow the knee to him.’
Yes, Bobby Buckle Matters.
As we come out of the lockdown, here at Spurs Odyssey we continue with the serialisation of my story of Tottenham’s goal scorers. 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 spotlights every player in Tottenham’s history who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals since the formation of the club in 1882.
You can get the book for your Spurs collection here: www.normangillerbooks.com
Today we focus on the gentle giant who for several seasons was the most accomplished centre-forward in Europe…
Big Chiv, a gentle giant on the charge. Sketch © Art Turner
Born Southampton, 27 April 1945
Playing career span with Spurs: 1968-1976
Goals in 377 matches: 174
MARTIN CHIVERS had many critics during his Tottenham career, whom he continually silenced with the fairly conclusive argument-settling response of scoring goals. Built like a Greek statue, he sometimes seemed just as immobile but would then make you eat your words by thumping the ball into the net with a power that even Harry Kane would envy.
How times change. In my reporting role for the Daily Express I met ‘Big Chiv’ at Waterloo Station on the day he was transferred from Southampton in January of 1968 and travelled with him by tube to Liverpool Street and then on to Tottenham as he prepared to start his new life at The Lane.
These days, reporters cannot get near the prima donna players, who invariably arrive at their new clubs in chauffeur-driven limos with dark-tinted windows and an agent handing out second-hand quotes. To be honest, I think this sort of ‘royal’ treatment would have been more to Martin’s taste. He was suited to the big stage.
Martin, a Grammar school boy educated at the highly regarded Taunton’s School in Hampshire, spent the train journey from Southampton to Waterloo tackling The Times crossword. He was different to most footballers I knew, who preferred Page 3 of The Sun.
He told me on the way to The Lane: “This is like a dream for me. I have always been an admirer of the way Spurs play, and it’s going to be a thrill as well as a challenge to play alongside Jimmy Greaves.”
His fee (including Frank Saul as a makeweight) was a then British record of £125,000. It was a fortune at the time, and for a long while it sat on Martin’s shoulders like a sack of coal.
Sadly, an appalling knee injury early in his Spurs career stopped him showing his best alongside Greavsie. He later flourished with the silken Alan Gilzean as his side-kick, but there were always sniping comments being made about Martin’s perceived lack of determination and commitment whenever the going got tough.
I had watched him in his early days at Southampton alongside the young Mike Channon, and I knew his apparent casual approach was deceptive. He had the physique of a heavyweight boxer, but to many spectators he seemed too often to have punchless penalty area presence.
I recall helping Martin move into a smart new home in Epping with his first wife, and he seemed like a young man with the world at his feet. “I’ve made a slow start,” he said, “but I know I will start to give the fans the goals they want once I have settled into playing with Greavsie, who has a style of his own and it will take me time to get on his wavelength.”
But all his plans and ambitions nose dived in a home match against Nottingham Forest in September 1968 when he felt a shooting pain in his knee and sank to the ground with his leg locked. It was even painful to watch from the press box, and it signalled a nine month lay-off that made Martin morose and moody.
He was still not firing on all cylinders when he made his comeback in August 1969, and there was obvious tension in the Tottenham camp. Manager Bill Nicholson got so frustrated with him that he once gave him a ticket to go and watch Geoff Hurst play for West Ham. “I felt quite insulted,” Martin said. “But I did what I was told and later thanked Bill, because by watching Geoff’s positional play I learned a lot.”
He was always having battles with Bill Nick about his game, but even more so with Cockney coach Eddie Baily. They had a continual war of words, and I was witness to two classic cases of Martin making Eddie hold up his hands in surrender.
The first time was in Romania in 1971 when Tottenham were playing Rapid Bucharest in the Uefa Cup, a second leg tie that has gone down in the Tottenham hall of shame as the Battle of Bucharest. I reported in the Express that ‘Spurs were hacked and kicked about like rag dolls.’
Bill Nick went on record with the view that Rapid were the dirtiest side he had seen in more than thirty years in football.
The dressing-room at the end of the match, won 2-0 by Spurs, was like a casualty clearing station, with six Spurs players nursing injuries caused by tackles that belonged in the house of horrors rather than on a football pitch.
I noticed that throughout the game assistant manager Baily had been bawling at Martin Chivers from the touchline bench, calling him every name to which he could put his merciless tongue. You could not help but hear the insults being aimed at the Ambling Alp of Spurs because the huge stadium was barely a third full. Big Chiv finally silenced Baily by scoring a superb goal, and you did not have to be a lip reader to know that Martin responded by shouting obscenities back at his nemesis.
We flew straight back to London after the match, and I took careful note that Baily and Chivers completely ignored each other at the airport and on the flight. Later that week I saw Bill Nick privately and told him I was thinking of writing a story about the obvious enmity between his right hand man Baily and his most productive forward, Chivers.
Bill looked as pained as if I was telling him I was putting down his pet dog. “I can’t tell you what and what not to write,” he said, “but let me just say that you’ll not be doing me any favours. Off the record, we’re having problems with Martin. He is a strong-minded young man who thinks he knows it all. His attitude drives Eddie bananas, but you know Eddie – he often shouts things in the heat of a match that he doesn’t really mean. I’m trying to make the peace between them, and any story about them will only make matters worse.”
At Bill’s request, I refrained from writing about the feud, and it was forgotten as Chivers hit such a rich vein of goal-scoring form that I wrote a feature in the Express suggesting he had become as powerful an England centre-forward as legends of the game like Tommy Lawton, Ted Drake and Jackie Milburn (headline scanned from my cuttings book, below
A frothing-at-the-mouth Eddie Baily went out of his way to confront me about the story, and said: “You have insulted truly great players. Chivers is not fit to carry their jock straps.”
That’s how angry Martin used to make Eddie, but he was forced to bow the knee to him again after the first leg of the 1972 Uefa Cup final against Wolves at Molineux. Before the game both Bill Nick and Eddie had nagged Martin so much about his expected contribution that he snapped and walked out on to the pitch to get away from them.
During the game, with Baily bellowing from the touchline, Chivers conjured two magical goals that virtually clinched victory, with skipper Alan Mullery making sure of the trophy with a crucial goal in the second leg at White Hart Lane.
After Martin’s phenomenal first-leg performance, a contrite Eddie Baily came into the dressing-room and bowed down in front of the giant centre-forward. and mimed as if to kiss his feet “Here you are,” he said in his loud Alf Garnett-style voice, “walk all over me. You’ve won me outright.”
In those early ’70s, Chivers was as potent and productive as any centre-forward in the League. Powerfully built and as wide as a door, Chiv had a deceptively lethargic-looking bearing, but if a possible goal beckoned he would suddenly fire on all cylinders and leave surprised defenders in his wake as he accelerated. He preferred the ball on his right foot, and had a rocketing shot that brought him many of his 118 League goals. He also netted 13 times in 24 England games, and might have plundered many more goals but for a recurring knee injury.
The 1970–71 season was the launch of Martin’s peak years, for both club and country. He played in all 58 League and cup games and scored 34 times, including both goals in the League Cup final against Aston Villa, and 21 goals in the First Division as Spurs finished the season in third place. The bad news was that Arsenal finished top and completed the League and FA Cup double on the tenth anniversary of Tottenham’s historic achievement.
Chivers also notched his first goal for England in a 3-0 win over Greece at Wembley in April 1971 to put the icing on the cake of his resurgence.
It was in the following season that Chivers went into overdrive, netting 44 times in 64 first-team appearances. His seven goals in as many League Cup ties lifted Spurs to the semi-finals where they eventually lost to Chelsea. Where have you read that before?
Free of worries about his troublesome knee, the rampaging Hampshire giant saved his most impressive form for the UEFA Cup, scoring eight times in 11 matches, including a hat-trick in a 9–0 annihilation of Icelandic side Keflavik ÍF, and that superb brace against Wolverhampton Wanderers that brought Eddie Baily to his knees. In the First Division, he found the net 25 times in 39 appearances.
Even the bullish Baily had to concede that perhaps my article putting Chivers up at the top of the mountain with greats of his playing days was in no way an exaggeration.
The Tottenham victory over Wolves – 3-2 on aggregate – was a personal triumph for Bill Nicholson. Since taking charge of the club in 1958 he had steered Spurs to three FA Cup finals, one League Cup final, one European Cup Winners’ Cup final and the Uefa Cup final. And they had won the lot!
Bill Nick gave his usual level-headed and fair assessment after his latest conquest:
‘We won the cup at Molineux with two marvellous goals by Martin Chivers. Give Wolves full credit for the way they came back at us. They were the better team for much of the second leg. The two matches were a fine advertisement for English football, and I wonder what the rest of Europe think of the fact that this is the fifth successive year that the Uefa Cup has been won by an English club.’
Martin – with the middle name Harcourt, after his German mother – continued his career in Switzerland with Servette and then had brief appearances with Norwich, Brighton and non-League Dorchester and Barnet, and also tried his luck in Norway and Australia.
He has owned a hotel and restaurant in Hertfordshire, dabbled with club management, is a popular matchday host at Tottenham home games and had a spell as the National Development Manager to the FA.
Mellowed after all the shooting and shouting was over, he recalled that his career turned round when he started finding the net in 1970-71. “It was all about confidence,” he said. “I honestly feared my career was over with that knee injury against Forest. But I began to believe in myself again when I started scoring.”
Remarkably, after he had taken his final shots, he became best of friends with Bill Nicholson, the manager with whom he had a long-running battle over wages, tactics and attitudes. Darkie, Billy’s long-suffering wife, used to fume over the sleepless nights he gave her husband, but once she got to know Martin during his many visits to their home she was moved to say: “How on earth could Bill have got so upset about a proper gentleman like Martin?” Bill looked to the ceiling.
Big Chiv accepts that he had been awkward. He always thought Bill was too miserly with the club’s money in an era when footballer’s wages were just beginning to take off. “Everything Bill did was in the interests of the club,” Martin said. “He always had my full respect. We got to like each other a lot. And Darkie was a wonderful lady.”
Martin Chivers. Enigmatic, but on his day as explosive as they come. At his absolute peak, as good a centre-forward as ever bred on the playing fields of England.
Next week, it's God ... yes, join us here for a chapter on the one and only Glenn Hoddle....
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 started his managerial career as assistant to Bobby Moore at Oxford, and which club did he manage immediately before taking over at Tottenham?
Last week’s question: Which former Spurs manager followed his father as a professional footballer, won 12 international caps and which London club did he manage either side of Tottenham?
The answer: Gerry Francis, who sandwiched his Spurs management between two spells at QPR. His father Roy had been a good-class professional. As he departed the Tottenham hot seat he said: “This is THE impossible job.” I could produce a procession of ex-Spurs managers who would second that.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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