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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 414) (26.09.22)

NORMAN GILLERíS SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 414
Submitted by Norman Giller

Arteta and Conte wait to count walking wounded

Managers Antonio Conte and Mikel Arteta will be anxiously counting their players back from international duty this week in the hope each can field their strongest side for a North London Derby that carries not only prestige but the prize of topping the Premier League.

I bet Conte cussed at the screen when he saw Harry Kane flattened and bleeding in Friday's mediocre match against Italy at the San Siro on Friday. I for one would be very happy to see Our Harry rested against Germany this evening.

We had an earlier scare in Thursday's match between Croatia and Denmark when Ivan Perisic was left limping after he collided with Spurs team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Ivan, master of the cross, has quickly become a key man for Spurs since his arrival from Inter Milan and Conte will want him totally fit for Saturday.

This North London Derby is, I suggest, the most crucial local feud since the 1970-71 showdown, when Arsenal clinched the League title on their way to equalling Tottenham's Double feat of ten years before.

I was on reporting duty for the Daily Express that May Monday evening at White Hart Lane and recall describing the atmosphere as being like a boiling cauldron that could have been heated up at the Colosseum (yes, I have always been addicted to hyperbole).

Perhaps you were among the more than 50,000 spectators who were locked out when the gates were shut long before kick-off in the days when all-ticket matches were non-existent. Nearly 52,000 fans were jammed into the Lane (Ed:-I was there!)and saw Arsenal win a tense, neurotic match 1-0 (a Ray Kennedy header) to take the League championship five days before beating Liverpool to lift the FA Cup at Wembley.

Those were the days when Arsenal were painting the town red, and I am often asked which was the better of the Double teams. Putting all my Spurs bias to one side I never have any hesitation in selecting Bill Nicholson's Tottenham ahead of Bertie Mee's Gunners.

Arsenal were methodical, Tottenham magical. Cliff Jones, one of four survivors along with Maurice Norman, Terry Dyson and Les Allen from the Spurs side, told me just recently: 'That Tottenham Double side was one of the greatest teams of all time. Not a single weakness. I was pig sick when Arsenal equalled us by winning the Double but we would have beaten them every day of the week.'

This all gives me the chance to mention somebody who was in the Spurs Double squad but had to wait until the following year to collect an FA Cup final winners' medal: Terry Medwin, team-mate of Cliff for club and country. He celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday and is the oldest of the surviving members of the Double squad.

An accomplished Welsh football master, Terry was a perfectionist of a player, at his most dangerous on the right wing. He and his Swansea compatriot Cliff Jones were superbly balanced for club and country and he had a long running and friendly rivalry at Tottenham with Terry Dyson, who is also still with us and was the last player to score a Tottenham hat-trick in an NLD in that Double season of 1960-61.

Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith will review the Derby here at Spurs Odyssey later this week. It promises to be akin to a Cup final and even at 12.30 in the afternoon will be like that cauldron in the Colosseum! The spirit of the losers will drop quicker than the pound.

Royal footnote: For those of you who recall my boasts in my last blog here, my Good Companion Joyce and I managed the near-14 hour queue to pay our respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II. We have 172 years between us. It's called putting your feet where your mouths are. Let's hope the men of Tottenham can do the same thing against Arsenal on Saturday and make up for that tanking of the Spurs women at the Emirates.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League 2022-23

Week eight of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:

Who won 21 England caps, played 364 times for Tottenham in all competitions and what number shirt did he wear in a League Cup final victory over Chelsea?

Please email your answer to me at soqleague@gmail.com with Quiz Week 8 as the subject heading. Deadline midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.

The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake Ė 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. Thatís when I lose the few friends that I have. But, hey, it's fun. Please join in.

This yearís prizes for the champion will be announced later in the season, but most important of all, they will include a framed certificate announcing the winner as 2023 SOQL champion.

Last week Ö Question 7: Who is the only Tottenham player to have received the FA Cup from Queen Elizabeth II and from which club did he join Spurs?

Yes, Danny Blanchflower who collected the FA Cup from Her Majesty in 1962. He joined Spurs from Aston Villa at the age of 28 in 1954.

See you back here next Monday, same time, same place. COYS!

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