NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 420
Submitted by Norman Giller
Spurs have become a halfway excellent team. The mystery that coach Antonio Conte has to solve is why they are so listless and lethargic in the first-half of matches.
It's not often that I come out of a Tottenham defeat in buoyant mood, but Spurs underlined with their second-half assault on Liverpool yesterday that they are a team of character and determination.
They deserved to take at least a point from the match, but must stop giving first-half goals away like a registered charity. As our Spurs Odyssey reporter Declan Mulcahy reports HERE, Eric Dier – reliable all season – handed Mo Salah his second goal on a plate.
The Egyptian maestros's first goal was a thing of beauty, right out of the Jimmy Greaves finishing school.
The second-half (yet again) belonged to Tottenham and the enterprising Perisic twice hit the woodwork before Our Harry Kane scored to move within just seven goals of the all-time club record held by the same Greavsie that Salah impersonated. And Harry might have added to his tally from the penalty spot had VAR not malfunctioned in Liverpool’s favour yet again. But it’s no good crying over spilt points.
Once we've got the distraction of the World Cup out of the way I am honestly confident that Spurs will go all the way in one of the cup competitions. Come on, let's be positive and optimistic.
Eliminating Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday will be a good start, and with Kululevski back after injury I am sure we will have the fire power to start the march to Wembley.
Then it's unpredictable Leeds at home in the Premier League on Saturday before the shut down for the World Cup. Wouldn't it be nice to see us playing well in BOTH halves.
Here, for your interest, is the introduction to my latest book (number 120) that has just gone off to the printer …
BOBBY SMITH is football’s Forgotten Hero; also the Flawed Hero. He is one of the greatest centre-forwards ever to pull on a Tottenham or England shirt, and yet you can rarely find anybody of the Premier League generation who can name him. He was the Harry Kane of his time, crashing in goals galore for club and country. But Bobby became a tarnished idol because of crippling gambling debts that affected his judgement and common sense.
At his lowest point, he was banned from the Spurs club he had served so well, and in this book I give his reasons for making statements that turned him into a pariah of the football world. Out of respect to his memory, he deserves to have his side told of what was a headline-hitting scandal. Forgotten Hero? Or Flawed Hero? You be the judge.
This was originally going to be an autobiography, with me as the hidden ghost beavering away in the background and helping Bobby tell his remarkable, often chilling and always thrilling story. But sadly he was taken from us in 2010 before we could get into print, and I now feel the urge to remind people – particularly Chelsea, Tottenham and Brighton supporters – just what a phenomenal player he was in an era that demanded not just skill but raw courage. Bobby, last of the Soccer slaves, had it in spades. He also had a self-destruct button that caused earthquaking tremors and, later, heartrending remorse.
The book – I like to think of it as Bobby’s book – gives me the opportunity to spotlight a partnership made in heaven and hell, Jimmy Greaves providing the skill from paradise and Bobby a mix of strength and savagery from the abyss. The result for Tottenham and England football fans was a double act that terrified defences and delighted spectators.
It is a celebration of their achievements on the football field and a peep at their private lives that, I must warn you, is not for people of a nervous disposition.
I couple the Bobby Smith story with a detailed look at the incredible Double season in which he was prominent with his goals, and I revisit my dear old friend Danny Blanchflower to tell the background to how and why he predicted the Glory Glory march that is such a colourful and crucial part of Tottenham history.
In my position as a football reporter – some might say snoop – I was a lucky eyewitness of the highs of ‘Greavsie and Smithy’ and also a concerned observer of their lows. Jimmy and I were firm friends for 64 years, and I followed Bobby’s career from when he first reluctantly arrived at Spurs with a chip on both shoulders.
You can measure my closeness to Jimmy by the fact that I delivered the eulogy at his funeral in 2021 on behalf of his team-mates, friends and army of fans, and Bobby and I were mutual admirers to the point where he was going to trust me to tell his extraordinary life story.
At their peak together they were dynamite. ‘I knocked ’em down,’ said Bobby, ‘and Jimmy banged them in, or I should say stroked them in. He was a true artist of a finisher, while I liked to see the net bulge. We went together like bacon and eggs.’
I shall be quoting Bobby at length in the following pages, because I had gathered together reams of material for an autobiography that I was going to ghost. I put it on one side when he was taken from us by cancer in 2010.
In their painful battles with football-related medical matters, both Greavsie and Smithy were quietly helped by the caring Tottenham Tribute Trust, that does so much unheralded work to assist our old heroes as they pay the price for the entertainment and excitement they gave us in the summertime of their lives.
As they face the winter of their discontent, I am happy to pass on a donation from you to the Trust for purchasing this book. Thank you. You can find proof that I am putting action where my mouth is by visiting the Trust’s ‘Just Giving’ page.
Now that Jimmy has joined his old mate in the great football stadium in the sky I feel the time is right to pay tribute to the priceless pair and mark what they achieved together on the playing fields of England.
It is all a precursor to my NEXT book that will feature another explosive Tottenham double act – The G-men, yes Greavsie and Gilzean. If you are interested in the stunning story of their thundering plundering, please email me at email@example.com. Same rules apply, with a percentage of any profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust. Let’s help our old heroes while lauding them.
But now it’s time to fasten your safety belts as we turn the searchlight on Greavsie and Smithy.
Come with me back to the 1950s when they first met each other. Anthony Eden was Prime Minister, Dwight Eisenhower President of the United States, a semi-detached house in London would set you back £2,300, a pint cost a shilling (5p), a gallon of petrol four bob (20p) and the most any footballer could earn was £15 a week.
Jimmy was just starting out on his great football adventure and Bobby was down in the dumps …
If you are interested in reading the following 19 chapters you can buy a signed copy of the book direct from me at just £9.99, plus P&P. I intertwine Bobby's remarkable story with an in-depth look at the historic Double season, with contributions from. Danny Blanchflower and Bill Nicholson. You can purchase the book at www.normangillerbooks.com.
Week fourteen (somebody please hold back the clock) of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:
Who won 15 England caps, scored 13 international goals plus 208 for Spurs, and from which London club did he join Tottenham?
Please email your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with Quiz Week 14 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 – 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. That’s when I lose the few friends that I have. But, hey, it's fun. Please join in.
This year’s 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 … Week 13: Which former Spurs striker won 13 England caps, started his career with Ipswich Town and which club did he join from Tottenham in 2009?
Answer: Darren Bent and Sunderland. I didn't catch any of our regulars out and there are more than 40 of you sharing first place in the table!
See you back here next Monday, same time, same place. COYS!
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