NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 405
Submitted by Norman Giller
As we celebrate Tottenham brilliantly clinching a place in next season's Champions League we should also raise a glass in the direction of our new Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. Arise 'King David' Matthews, a Spurs disciple of more than 60 years who comes from the Hotspur hotbed territory of Cheshunt in Hertfordshire.
I leave it to our guru Paul H. Smith's ace statistician friend Declan Mulcahy to describe the fantastic five-star, five-goal finale at Norwich yesterday HERE, while I concentrate on trying to console all those participants in our quiz who finished in 'King David's' wake. (Allow me to just say that Delia now has a recipe for stuffed canaries, cooked Sonny side up of course).
Let me remind readers of the 'simple' challenge I set:
Select your idea of the ten top overseas players in 1-2-3 order who have worn the Lilywhite shirt. The twist is you are allowed only one player each country. Then name your five top UK-born players, also in 1-2-3 order. Each of your choices must have played for Spurs in Premier League matches.
From the biting comments that accompanied your selections, none of you found it as simple as I jokingly suggested. It was that 'one player each country' rule that tripped most of you up.
So many of you fell at the Belgian barrier. You had the compelling choice of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele. My heart wanted Dembele, who had the best close ball control since the days of Gazza. But my head ruled and I chose 'SuperJan' Vertonghen, Mr Consistency who brought composure and control to the heart of the Tottenham defence.
'King David' agreed with me, and he was in accord with every one of my 10 overseas choices but not necessarily (as Eric used to say) in the right order. He was also the only one who mirrored my five UK choices. I was surprised at how few of you considered Kyle Walker worthy of a place. For me he has been Tottenham's finest right-back since Alf Ramsey in the 50s.
Several contestants named Gazza and Gary Lineker in their 'five', forgetting that neither played for Spurs in the Premier League. And golden oldies Pat Jennings and Ossie Ardiles found their way into some selections.
David Matthews, 68, a retired City stockmarket trader born into a Spurs-loving family in Shoreditch, was the only participant to get more than 50 points from the 60 available. This was how I rated the players:
1. Son Heung-min (South Korea)
Only overseas player to score more than 100 goals for Spurs (selected pre-Golden Boot award)
2. Luka Modric (Croatia)
The master passer who controlled the midfield with an assurance that spread confidence.
3. Christian Eriksen (Denmark)
Our Danish prince was almost in the Modric class for passing, and an expert at dead ball delivery.
4. Hugo Lloris (France)
A magnificent last line of defence who none other than Pat Jennings describes as 'simply the best.'
5. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
One of a trio of Belgians who have bolstered and brightened the modern Spurs
6. Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria)
Like watching a replay of Alan Gilzean in the penalty area. No higher praise.
7. Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)
An always lively Irish fox in the box, who was dynamic given a half chance.
8. Rafael van der Vaart (Netherlands)
This ball artist would have been much farther up my list but for those troublesome hamstrings.
9. Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany)
Gave us two brief but brilliant cameo exhibitions of his world-class ability anywhere near goal.
10. Lucas Moura (Brazil).
A 100 per center who always gives his all. Oh yes, and Ajax, Ajax, Ajax!
I was torn between Erik Lamela and Moura for the tenth spot, but it was Amsterdam that swung it for the little bombshell from Brazil. Several slipped in Cristian Romero, a definite star of tomorrow but not quite ready for this elite company, and the gifted David Ginola did not make my list because he was too much of a show pony for my (and George Graham's) taste.
My five best UK-born players who have represented Spurs in Premier League matches were:
1. Harry Kane
'One of Our Own,' his phenomenal goal-scoring output says it all.
2. Gareth Bale
The Welsh wizard and one of the most inventive forwards ever produced in the British Isles.
3. Ledley King
But for those dodgy knees, would have collected a century of England caps
4. Teddy Sheringham
Class from top to toe, whether as a schemer or a scorer.
5. Kyle Walker
Arguably the greatest of all England right-backs. What an athlete. Stamina and speed of a horse.
If it had gone to a tie, my three Premier League Tottenham managers were:
1. Mauricio Pochettino
2. Antonio Conte
3. Harry Redknapp.
So many of you were on the heels of David Matthews and will be spitting blood as you read my list. Runners-up Included former champions Graham Eyre, hat-trick-aiming David Guthrie, 2020 Queen Emily Hadjinicolaou and last year's winner Peter Lawton.
And just to add to your misery, these were among a pack of players who got within shooting distance of the title:-
Ian Banfield, Bob Reilly, Eric Church, Roy Davies, Graeme Chandler, Mark Edwards, Alex Gaffarena, Jonathan Fellows, Tony Nightingill, John Saunders, Rolf Erstad, Roger Turner, Brian Seal, Jim Sherring, Clifton Melvin, Jim Logan, Andy Tyzzer, Leslie Sullivan, Robert Rockett, David Rushton, Michael McDowell, Naushad 'Shuban' Ali, Trevor Dawson, David Pope.
I asked new champion David Matthews – crowned on the same day that Sonny shared the Golden Boot with Mo Salah – to give me a potted history of himself:
"I am writing this from a very restful Yorkshire Dales to where I have come for a brief break. A little bit of background:
I am 68 years old and now live in Cheshunt with my wife and two children in their twenties. Where’s that time gone?
I was born in Shoreditch in 1953 and attended Daneford Secondary Modern School in Bethnal Green. I worked in the City of London and Canary Wharf from the age of sixteen as a Stockmarket trader before taking an early retirement after forty odd years. This has given me time to indulge my fondness for the written word, and has led to a couple of publications relating to London History and Crime Fiction.
My first-ever visit to White Hart Lane was in October 1962 to witness a thrilling but ultimately disappointing 4-4 draw with Arsenal after Spurs had thrown away a three goal lead. I attended the game with my Grandad and Dad, who were both Tottenham born and bred.
Grandad witnessed in the flesh Tottenham's 1921 FA Cup win, when Spurs legend Arthur Grimsdell lifted the Cup and Jimmy Dimmock scored a scorching goal in the rain and mud of Stamford Bridge against Wolves.
The East End family on my mum's side were equally Spurs fanatics so there was never going to be the remotest chance of me not being a Lilywhite.
As you well know, Billy Wright was the manager of Arsenal at the time of my first visit, and I can remember looking across to the old West Stand from my seat high in the East Stand at the three Beverley Sisters sitting near the directors box dressed in bright Arsenal red.
It’s safe to say that I was totally hooked after that game and was to be rewarded five years later when I saw my first FA Cup final at Wembley, Spurs bringing the cocky young Chelsea team down a peg.
Since then – like every other Spurs fan – I have rolled with the punches and strapped myself into the rollercoaster experience that inevitably comes with following this great club called Tottenham Hotspur.
Being a supporter for so long, I would find it almost impossible to name one particular favourite Spurs player. At a stretch I could narrow it down to three:
As a schoolboy it has to be the great James Peter Greaves. Way back in October 1965 I had a terrific view of that famous goal against Man Utd. It was the first time I had seen supporters momentarily stunned into disbelieving silence at the genius they had just witnessed, followed by tumultuous applause, even from the Man U spectators and players.
As a young adult it has to be that elegant pass master Glenn Hoddle, who seemed to epitomise all that a Spurs playmaker should be.
Finally, as an old pensioner, it’s got to be King Harry Kane. The entertainment and goals he has provided Spurs fans over the last eight years has been phenomenal.
It has been a privilege watching and supporting them, and winning this quiz competition is the cherry on the cake. Thank you. COYS!'
I will now wrap and post this year’s prizes for the champion: A rare out-of-print book from my now very special Greavsie collection with autographs from the late, great Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay and Steve Perryman, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing David as SOQL champion 2022. Plus a signed copy of My 70 Years of Spurs book AND a special bonus prize, the Eighty At Eighty book that I have written in harness with Sir Geoff Hurst, still the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick (short listed for the Sunday Times Entertainment Sports Book of the Year, I'll have you know … awards show at The Oval on Thursday).
And I am adding a signed copy of my One and Only Jimmy Greaves biography, although I would much rather you bought it direct from me at www.normangillerbooks.com.
I am making a donation for each book sold to the Tottenham Tribute Trust that quietly looks after our old heroes, who missed the gravy train. Please give us your support, thank you.
Once again, I take this opportunity on behalf of all of us to thank Paul H. Smith for his efforts in keeping this website going. We must never take him for granted. It is a labour of love and I want him to know we appreciate his dedication and endeavour. There is a PayPal button at the top of this page where we can show our appreciation. I am inserting this paragraph without Paul’s permission. Let’s all support him.
So that's it for another season. Please remember that my SOQL competition is purely for fun and dwell on what modern Olympics founder Baron de Coubertin said: "The important thing is not winning but taking part …"
I am now going to take a summer break, concentrating on selling my books! See you back here next August for the resumption of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League Year No 9, and, oh yes, the Champions League :-)
Don't know about you, but I've already got a buzz about next season! As 'King David' would tell his subjects, the future's bright. The future's Sonny.
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