NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 327
Submitted by Norman Giller
Hopefully the narrow victory over the Gooners in yesterday’s taut and tense North London Derby will shut up the ‘enemy within’ who have been poisoning the atmosphere at Tottenham. Toby’s headed goal from Sonny’s spot-on corner restored some pride and positivity. It was not a pretty sight but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and as wins go it was in my view as glorious as it gets.
In my 70+ years following the team, I have rarely known such spite and sheer hatred aimed at the team in general and the chairman Daniel Levy in particular. And that from Tottenham’s own supporters.
What do they think they are achieving by their negativity and pessimism that drags everybody down into a morose mood? They honestly think this comes under the heading of ‘supporting’ the club?
It’s all down to Daniel Levy, of course. What a slander. The recent poor performances had nothing to do with the chastised chairman, just as yesterday’s victory was not down to him. Those who were ready to pay for a plane to fly a ‘Levy Out’ banner over an empty ground have more money than sense.
I got involved online with dumbos who were agreeing with a thread that claimed Tottenham are dying. I made the point that the club will be here long after we have all left this mortal coil. They need some of the Bobby Buckle spirit, but I would think few of them know exactly who he is (you can find out all about him here https://ijbookstore.com/?key=e86f19d585aa94e9ec43beb59cfe2c4f7ae808c969ebe53b7400eafae01f027b )
They said such nice things online as telling me I should go back to my care home, and accusing me of stupidity and idiocy just for sticking up for the team we are all supposed to support. Most of the really vicious keyboard warriors hide behind a shield of anonymity. They destroy Levy, the man who had the vision to build the great new stadium. Most of his critics would not know how to organise a loft conversion.
A lot of them carry the permanent hashtag ‘ENIC OUT.’ They have never ever hidden the fact they are a commercial company out to make profit.
So how many potential owners are there who could afford to buy Spurs? You want murdering Saudis? Corrupt Qataris? A Trump-style American? A Russian oligarch? Just stop and think things through. Better the Devil you know. ENIC are far from perfect but I can think of far worse.
Jose Mourinho got a lot of stick leading into the match, many calling for his departure. In a sane world, he will be given a full season to do things his way and with players that he brings to the club. The much-mourned Pochettino continually casts a shadow over him, but let’s not be blind to the fact that Poch had lost it in his last few months and his body language from the first match of last season could easily be translated as him not being happy in his job.
Fortune favours the brave and Tottenham dug deep for yesterday’s much-needed win, captured HERE by our Spurs guru Paul H. Smith. Despite what the moaners and groaners had been saying, there was still fight and belief in the Spurs squad.
The Lacazette Exocet was one of the most spectacular goals scored at the new Lane and could easily have knocked the stuffing out of Spurs. But after Sonny had been gifted an almost instant equaliser they played with fire and spirit and Toby’s header gave them a hard-earned victory that at least briefly silences ‘the enemy within.’
I’ll say it for the umpteenth time, get behind the team not in its way. Just three games to go and they must all be won to clinch a place in next season’s Uefa League. Many turn their nose up at it but are clearly not running Tottenham’s finances. The "Thursday League" brings in vital cash and there is still a lot of prestige in the tournament. Better to take part than look on. If Spurs qualify, I would not bet against Jose winning it again. After all, there will be a ‘one’ in the year.
The final flourish …
Wednesday July 15: Newcastle (away, 6.00pm)
Sunday July 19: Leicester City (home, 4.00pm)
Sunday July 26: Crystal Palace (home, 4.00pm)
Keep the faith. COYS!
As we we are virtually 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 one of the most skilful players ever to pull on the Lilywhite shirt … it’s Hod the God …
Our own Uncle Norman with Hod the God, a photo taken by Steve Perryman earlier this year, more than 45 years since our resident columnist first saw him playing at Cheshunt as a Spurs apprentice
Born Hayes, Middlesex 27 October 1957
Playing career span with Spurs: 1975-1987
Goals in 490 matches: 110
GLENN HODDLE lit up the Spurs firmament with some of the most spectacular goals ever scored by a player wearing the Lilywhite shirt. For an essentially midfield player his scoring output was just phenomenal, and Tottenham supporters to this day warm themselves on memories of his classic contributions.
Come with me to Tottenham’s old training ground at Cheshunt. It’s the summer of 1973 and I am standing alongside veteran manager Bill Nicholson as he watches his youth squad being put through their paces. I am there in my role as chief football reporter for the Daily Express.
A gangling young lad effortlessly traps the ball on his right thigh, lets it run down his leg and then sends a glorious chipped pass direct to the feet of a team-mate 30 yards away.
“Very nice,” shouts notoriously hard-to-please Bill, “but remember you’re a footballer not a circus performer.”
Bill keeps his all-knowing eye on the 15-year-old youngster as he tells me: “That’s Glenn Hoddle, from your neck of the woods in Essex. He’s been with us since he was ten and we’ve high hopes for him. We’ve just got to get some tactical nous into him to go with his natural skill.”
From that day on I was a Hoddle disciple and this first view of Glenn came sharply into focus on Saturday October 27 2018, his 61st birthday, when I got a call from an old television colleague to tell me the Spurs and England legend had collapsed with a heart attack in the BT studio.
I was one of the first to share the news on social media, because I knew how much love and respect there is out there for one of the greatest footballers of his generation. He needed all our thoughts and prayers, and as I write this Tottenham tribute book Glenn is recovering from his life-saving bypass operation and has resumed his TV pundit duties. (note from Norm: I have seen Glenn since publication and he is looking the picture of good heath).
“It was shocking to witness it,” my old mate Harry Redknapp reported, still reeling from being just feet away from Glenn when he suddenly collapsed. “If it hadn’t been for BT sound man Simon Daniels who knew first aid and how to use a defibrillator we could have lost him. A few moments earlier he’d been showing all his old skill playing keepy uppy. He’s a smashing bloke and everybody in the game will be rooting for him.”
This is not the time or place to bring out old skeletons, but I have never forgiven some of my former Fleet Street colleagues for the way they mangled him after he had allowed strictly private thoughts to become public when England manager. Each to his own. Let’s judge him purely as a football man and he goes right to the top of the tree.
It would need a book rather than a chapter to catalogue Glenn’s life and times. Nutshelled, Glenn won the FA Cup (twice) and Uefa Cup with Tottenham and also had spells with Monaco (under Arsene Wenger), Swindon and Chelsea.
He began his managerial career as player-manager at Swindon before taking over at Chelsea, for whom he signed Dutch icon Ruud Gullit.
From there he managed England for two-and-a-half years, taking them to the 1998 World Cup finals, but his reign ended in controversy when he admitted a “serious error of judgement” after suggesting disabled people were being made to pay for the sins of past lives.
He went on to manage with limited success Southampton, Tottenham and Wolves, before embarking on a career as a TV pundit and regular co-commentator, when his grasp of tactics was always on the ball and instructional to viewers.
It was at Tottenham that he had his peak years as a player, and we bask in the recollections of perfectly placed passes made with a touch of arrogance, and chipped shots delivered with a delicious accuracy that baffled a procession of goalkeepers.
I always remember skipper Steve Perryman once telling me: “If Glenn was on song, then the team was on song. He was that influential. A sheer genius.”
Glenn was ‘on song’ from the moment of his first full League game at Stoke on 21 February 1976 when he struck the sweetest of shots past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to register his first goal for Tottenham that lifted them to a 2-1 victory.
The Hoddle road show was up and running.
Glenn revealed he could not sleep that night for the excitement that he knew he had found his personal paradise. “The style of football Tottenham played was made for me and I was made for Tottenham,” he said, not boasting but just brimming with anticipation. “The club wanted players coming through who were Spurs lads. I had blue and white blood.” The Kane way.
The Legend of Lane Legends, Glenn Hoddle. Sketch © Art Turner
Away from White Hart Lane, the polished and at times peerless performances from Hoddle were mocked by envious rivals as being a luxury. Those of us watching through Tottenham eyes were excited to be witnessing the best thoroughbred football since the glory-glory sixties. Hoddle, never frightened to speak his mind, countered his critics with the comment: “A luxury player is the one who keeps giving the ball away and doesn’t use it.”
He bristled when people called him lazy. His imaginative passes and innovative positioning shouted in reply that his contribution should be measured not by sweat but by skill.
Each season club mates queued up to praise Hoddle’s elegance. Ossie Ardiles described his midfield partner as “Maradona without pace”, adding: “He was the most gifted English footballer I played with, the greatest passer of a ball, a magnificent talent who could win a game with just one flash of brilliance.”
Skipper Steve Perryman said: “Glenn is the greatest natural footballer I ever played with. I can never understand people who criticise him. He is class from top to toe. Some of the things he does with the ball are just unbelievable.”
Keith Burkinshaw, manager of the Hoddle-inspired team that won back-to-back FA Cups, said: “I’d pay to watch Glenn play. England would have been much more successful had they built their team around him. He should have won twice as many as his 53 caps. I’ve never known a better technical player.”
Who will ever forget the 1983 Uefa Cup tie against Johan Cruyff’s Feyenoord when he steered Spurs to 6–2 win on aggregate. He managed to outshine the legendary Cruyff over both legs, and the Dutchman came into the Tottenham dressing-room to present Glenn with his autographed shirt, a sign of respect from one master to another.
Hoddle stepped out of character to sing his way into the Top 20 in harmony with Tottenham team-mate Chris Waddle, but it was the music he made on the pitch that grabbed the attention and it was like losing a best friend when he ended his Spurs career.
There was the same kind of mourning when Hoddle moved to Monaco that followed the exit of Jimmy Greaves for West Ham, but there was not the consolation of getting Martin Peters in part-exchange. Glenn’s silken skill had the Monaco fans purring, and his manager Arsene Wenger persuaded him to think about a switch to management.
As player-manager at Swindon, he was like a mother hen with chicks that he coached and cajoled to a place in the Premier League. He was poached by Chelsea and then – when fellow ex-Spur Terry Venables had fallen out with the FA ahead of Euro 96 – Hoddle was the popular replacement as England manager.
He was a hero when he plotted the goalless draw in Rome which earned England a place in the France 98 finals, but Glenn was scorched under the microscopic scrutiny of the media. His controversial religious views were brought into focus, and he perished on the altar of belief when he went public with his view that disabled people were suffering for sins committed in a previous life.
Hoddle was a football genius, but he too often seemed frustrated and intimidated by man-management decisions. He fell out with Tottenham favourites Paul Gascoigne and Teddy Sheringham, and many considered he got it wrong when he dropped ‘Golden Boy’ David Beckham. It seemed the great individualist could not handle great individualists.
After his self-harming cost him the England job, he reinvented himself as Southampton manager before he found the call of Spurs too strong. Right man, wrong time. He arrived with the club lost in a maze of its own making and he was unable to give it the direction he had on the pitch as one of the finest players ever to pull on the Spurs shirt.
Hoddle later reflected: “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse because Spurs will always be in my blood. But I let my heart rule my head and lost out to the sort of club politics that are just not part of my make-up. I so badly wanted to succeed but it wasn’t to be. I should never have gone back at that time, but 20/20 hindsight is easy.”
After an unsuccessful spell in charge at Wolves, he opened a hugely successful soccer academy in Spain, and right up until that frightening heart attack has been one of the most sought-after of all football pundits.
Glenn talks a game nearly as well as he played it, which means he is like a football professor. Of all Tottenham’s centurions, few were in the Hoddle class for finishing finesse.
He was simply the Legend of Lane Legends.
Next week, the artistry of Teddy Sheringham.
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 52 caps, started his managerial career with Swindon and what number shirt did he wear in a World Cup winning team?
Last week’s question: 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?
The answer: Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth. When Harry answered Bobby Moore’s call to come home from the United States to join him as his right hand man at Oxford, he thought he was joining Oxford United … but found himself at non-League Oxford City!
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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