NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 341
Submitted by Norman Giller
I am expecting Harry Kane to arrive at my side at any time to help compile this blog. Let’s face it, he did everything else against Manchester City on Saturday, inspiring a magnificent team performance and a view from the top of the Premier League mountain.
We are all running out of superlatives to describe Harry’s contribution to a Jose Mourinho side that is surpassing even all the good things that the much-loved Mauricio Pochettino achieved. Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith joins the anthem of acclaim in his all-embracing match report HERE.
Ashley Collie – Welsh-born, Canadian-raised, Los Angeles-based Spurs fanatic and exceptional journalist – asked me on my Facebook page how I would compare Harry’s football brain with previous White Hart Lane greats Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Glenn Hoddle.
This was after I had described Aitch as having the heart of a lion and a football brain the size of Mars.
I responded: ‘Danny was an intellectual. Dave a warrior. Hoddle an artist. Harry has a bit of all of them, but in many ways is unique. I have rarely known a footballing master work harder.’
His output against City was prodigious, tackling back like a demon and tormenting the life out of the Blues central defence by cleverly dropping deep to draw them out of position. And remember I am talking about the man who has scored 200 goals as a front man.
David Guthrie, well known in these parts for twice winning the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League title, joined the Facebook debate, adding: ‘Although for a number of reasons I am not a fan of making direct comparison across players from very different eras, I would add to Unc's excellent description – and having seen quite a bit of film of John White of late – that Harry's ability to find space and hit that telling pass is on a par with "The Ghost". Hopefully Daniel will be planning another new contract for HK, since he is probably our biggest asset since Greavsie!’
It’s not even Christmas yet, so it is a bit early to start taking about title challenges but there is so much confidence in the air that perhaps we should wear protective masks!
All those doubts people had when Jose Mourinho took over the reins at Tottenham are being kicked into touch like a Toby Alderweireld clearance (let’s hope his injury is not as serious as it appeared).
Everywhere you looked on the pitch on Saturday there was a Tottenham hero. To play Jose’s contain-and-counter tactics you cannot afford any shirkers and all the players ran themselves into the ground in the team cause.
You have to be very one-eyed not to accept Tottenham were flattered by their 1-0 half-time lead, but in the second-half they earned their victory by a mixture of hard work, stunning blocking and cunning running. The blank sheet was a fitting memorial to the great Ray Clemence.
I singled Eric Dier out as the top man after Our Harry. My regular readers (okay, reader) will know the story I always trot out when I am talking about Eric, and I make no apologies for repeating it again here, because I want to keep alive the memory off his granddad Ted Croker – a good companion in the days when he was the fire-fighting Football Association supremo.
Ted was a real man’s man, a war hero who won a gallantry medal after crawling a half mile from a crashed bomber with broken ankles to get help for his injured crew mates. He recovered to continue his football career after the war at Charlton with his brother Peter, and later became a hugely successful businessman when starting an earthmoving equipment company in Gloucestershire.
He was head-hunted to become the voice of the FA at a difficult time in the 1980s, and almost certainly cost himself a knighthood when he had the guts to tell Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to her face: “Don’t blame hooliganism on football. It’s your society you need to get sorted out.”
Eric – son of former professional tennis player and later high-powered sports agent, Jeremy Dier – was born a year after his Granddad died, and I have been able to tell him to his face that Ted would be enormously proud of what he is achieving in the game.
Here I am with Eric. He’s the tall one
Eric and his four siblings moved to Portugal at the age of seven when his mother – Ted Croker’s daughter – landed the job of helping organise the hospitality for the 2004 Euro championships, and as well as becoming bi-lingual he developed as a utility defender with Sporting CP in Lisbon.
He admits the club he supported as a kid was Manchester United, and he has had loan spell experience with Everton, but it is Spurs that has now claimed his heart. I thought he was outstanding against City alongside Toby. It was a really promising partnership, but now he has to become accustomed to the pace and face of Joe Rodon. The Welshman is a likely lad who must grow up overnight if Toby is sidelined for weeks. He has the physique and looks of the mighty Mike England. What a coup if he can play as well as him!
Eric Dier is the perfect player to protect Big Joe at the start of his Tottenham career.
Watch the way he barks orders to team-mates when the pressure is on; reminiscent of Captain Marvel Dave Mackay. Yes, a born leader just like his granddad.
Many of you comment on how you like to see the upcoming fixtures listed here (I know, better than my waffling words) … so I will repeat them here every week as we tick off the matches on the way (fingers crossed) to silverware in what is the Centenary of the 1921 FA Cup win, the Platinum celebration of the 1951 Push and Run title, the Diamond Jubilee of the the 1961 Double Year, and, of course, Pearl anniversary of the last time Spurs won the FA Cup in 1991.
This is the mountain of fixtures facing Spurs to the end of this surreal year:
Thur 26 Nov Ludogrets (home, 8.00, Europa League)
Sun 29 Nov Chelsea (away, 4.30, Premier League)
Thur 3 Dec Lask (away, 5.55, Europa League)
Sat 5 Dec Arsenal (home, TBD, Premier League)
Thur 10 Dec Antwerp (home, 8.00, Europa League)
Sat 12 Dec C. Palace (home, 3.00, Premier League)
Wed 16 Dec Liverpool (away, 8.00, Premier League)
Sat 19 Dec Leicester (home, 3.00 Premier League)
Wed 23 Dec Stoke (away, 5.30, League Cup quarter-final)
Sat 26 Dec Wolves (away, 3.00, Premier League)
Mon 28 Dec Fulham (home, 3.00, Premier League)
Wonder if Spurs will still be top of the tree after this little lot? If so, we can then start actually having title dreams. Stay safe. COYS!
The 12th week of season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:
The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake – two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact.
This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo two, books from my Greavsie 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.
Last week’s SOQL question: Who joined Tottenham from Dundee, scored more than 50 goals and which manager sold him to Derby County in 1979?
The answer: John Duncan, who was sold to Derby County by Keith Burkinshaw after a run of injuries had prevented him making more of an impact at Tottenham.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!