NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 367
Submitted by Norman Giller
Basking in the unexpected glory of yesterday’s victory at Leicester, I am happy to announce that we have a new Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion … arise Peter ‘The Great’ Lawton, London-born, Israel-based, self-confessed Tottenham fanatic.
Of 44 people who contested the grand tie-break challenge, he is the only one whose ‘Super Spurs’ selection exactly matched mine. He made his choice in extraordinary circumstances, with hundreds of Hamas rockets being fired into Israel as he considered which players to pick, and harder, which to ignore. ‘I was pleased to have the distraction,’ Peter coolly unformed me following the ceasefire, ‘even though it hurt me having to discard so many of my heroes.’
These were the suffocating rules of the competition …
I listed five great Tottenham teams from the past, and contestants had to select a side taking just two players from each team. I picked the goalkeeper (of course, Pat Jennings). Then they needed to pick a side in 3-4-3 formation, plus five balanced outfield substitutes, one from each of the teams. These were the famous teams:
1961 Double side
1967 FA Cup winners
1981 FA Cup winners
1991 FA Cup winners
2019 European Cup runners-up
I also asked them to name their captain – which would only be taken into account if there was a dead heat. There were three points for every selection that agreed with a player in my team, plus three points each for picking the same five substitutes as me. That’s 45 points in total.
What’s difficult about that?!
Many of you told me in no uncertain terms that playing my selecting game had driven you close to nervous breakdowns. You were expecting a hill climb. I gave you Mount Everest.
This was the team that Peter Lawton and I agreed upon, with Double skipper Danny Blanchflower as our captain
Goalkeeper:- Pat Jennings
Defenders:- Steve Perryman(81) Mike England(67) Gary Mabbutt(91)
Midfield: Danny Blanchflower(61) Paul Gascoigne(91) Glenn Hoddle(81) Dave Mackay(61)
Strikers:- Jimmy Greaves(67) Harry Kane(2019) Heung-min Son(2019)
Jan Vertonghen (2019), Gary Lineker (1991), Ossie Ardiles (1981), Alan Mullery (1967), John White (1961)
Several of you asked why a back line of three. I promise you would have found it even harder if I had asked you to name two full-backs, then having to ditch more old favourites.
There will be many of you spitting blood as you read the selection because you got so close. Included among those who were just shy of the same team as me were former champions Graham Eyre (New South Wales), last year’s Queen Emily Hadjinicolaou (Surrey) and fount-of-all-Spurs-knowledge David Guthrie (Wokingham), who was one selection away from completing a glorious hat-trick. Sorry DG!
But I know you will all agree that Peter Is a worthy champion in his sixth attempt to lift the title. This was the first time he got more than 50% correct in the tiebreak challenge.
My modus operandi was first of all to put down the name of Jimmy Greaves. I would never pick an all-time Spurs team without him. Next I selected Our (at the moment) Harry Kane, because next to Greavsie he is the most dynamic striker ever to wear the Lilywhite shirt. I then considered Welsh wing wizard Cliffie Jones, but felt I needed Son as one of my 2019 representatives and reluctantly sacrificed the magnificent Jones boy, So that was my front three, with Gary Lineker as a fairly useful substitute.
I next decided I needed leaders, and so it was easy to select four of the greatest skippers the club has ever had in Steve Perryman, Gary Mabbutt, Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay.
I have not seen a better Tottenham centre-half than Mike England, who had Jan Vertonghen covering for him on the bench.
Could there be a more magical coupling at the heart of the team than Glenn Hoddle and the peerless Paul Gascoigne? John ‘The Ghost’ White and Ossie Ardiles were easy choices as substitute midfielders, with Alan ‘The Tank’ Mullery ready to bring his power play at a moment’s notice.
Only new champion Peter Lawton agreed with every one of my selections, in what the Duke of Wellington would have called ‘a damn close run thing.’ Many had Cliff Jones where I selected Sonny, who I picked as a partner for Kane and mainly because it was not easy finding three stand-out players from the 2019 squad. Toby Alderweireld appeared in several teams, as did Maurice Norman, Bobby Smith, Alan Gilzean and Cyril Knowles.
Thanks everybody for having a go in what is essentially a fun competition, and here’s good news – none of you were humiliated by scoring null point!
I will publish full reactions from our new SOQL King, Peter Lawton, next week. But here’s a bit of trivia that you will find fascinating: What does Peter have in common with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy?
Answer: Both were awarded degrees at Cambridge University.
More next week, meantime I will be organising the postage of Peter’s prizes to Israel: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo, two books from my Greavsie collection with auto-graphs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing Peter as SOQL champion 2021. PLUS a signed copy of My 70 Years of Spurs book.
I know you will want to reward me for all my organising work on the Quiz over the last seven years by ordering a signed copy of the book direct from me at https://normangillerbooks.com/blank-page. I am sharing profits with the Tottenham Tribute Trust that quietly looks after our old heroes, who missed the gravy train. Please give us your support, thank you.
I leave the anthem of acclaim for yesterday’s helter-skelter triumph at Leicester to our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith HERE. As he watched the match, I bet Paul was half hoping that Tottenham would miss that seventh place in the table that clinched a berth in the new consolation Euro Conference League.
This will entail travel to little-known football outposts in far-off Eastern European venues, and sounds a competition too far to me. Surely Tottenham will use it to blood their young Academy footballers. Let’s look for more Harry Kanes on our doorstep.
The thrilling victory over Leicester was a double edged sword. Spurs kept Arsenal down in no man’s land in eighth place but opened the door to the Champions’ League for Chelsea.
We now face a nervous summer of wondering who is coming in and, more interesting, who is going out. I am assured by people who should know that Our Harry will be one of the departures, with Manchester City favourites to sign him. Mauricio Pochettino, Harry’s old manager and close friend, is watching the situation closely from his seat of power in Paris at PSG.
Kane signs off with another Golden Boot and a price on his head of £150 million.
Thank you, Aitch, for the most devastating finishing since the goal-gorged days of Jimmy Greaves. As a Greavsie disciple, at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing the master’s club record is safe for many years. But I would much rather Harry stayed and beat the great man’s record.
Then there’s Heung-min Son. Can a new manager convince him there’s life at Tottenham without his side-kick Harry? The way Kane, Sonny and Dele hugged at the end – an emotional triangle – their body language screamed that parting is such sweet sorrow.
We shall see.
Here’s a Tottenham Trivia Teaser just for fun, answer next week:-
Which 30-cap Tottenham forward was selected by five different managers for his last five matches with England, all while a Spurs player? Two of his managers used to play for Tottenham.
See you back here same time, same place next week. Carry On Regardless. COYS!
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