NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 421
Submitted by Norman Giller
So I was at the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to film my contribution in an official documentary coming out when Harry Kane overtakes the Jimmy Greaves club goal-scoring record … and I left the ground feeling considerably older.
Tottenham coming from behind three times before winning 4-3 against lethal but leaky Leeds did nothing for my ancient ticker.
What is it with Spurs this season? They seem to have to give themselves the challenge of conceding a goal or two before they click into top gear.
It is a problem that master coach Antonio Conte must address during the aggravating break for the World Cup in that football hotbed of Qatar. The error-strewn match against Leeds is highlighted HERE by my Spurs Odyssey team-mate Declan Mulcahy, who must have needed more lead in his pencil by the time the seventh goal went in.
The decisive goal was scored (his second in two minutes) by the inventive Rodrigo Bentancur following a beautiful pass from Our Harry, who had earlier moved to within just five goals of Greavsie's 266-goal club record. Kane’s pass was to Kulusevski, who claimed the final assist for the winner.
Sitting with me in the press box was the legendary writer Hunter Davies, the first biographer of The Beatles but, more important for Tottenham followers, the man who authored one of the greatest of all football books, The Glory Game.
Just in case you have not read it (you can still get the book on line following several reprints since its first appearance in 1972) The Glory Game gives a microscopic, fly-on-the-wall view of Tottenham's 1971-72 season.
I get a walk-on part during a violent Uefa Cup adventure in Romana when – in my then role as chief football reporter for the Daily Express – I described the Tottenham players as 'getting kicked about like rag dolls.'
Hunter and I have had 168 years between us on this mortal coil so far (he is now 86), and we agreed being at the new Spurs stadium was like reporting football on another planet from our days at the old White Hart Lane.
`We used to chase around the car park hoping to snatch a quote or two from managers and players, while today there is an organised post-match press conference, with pampered reporters asking their questions from leather-bound seats in the Media Centre.
Mischievous Hunter had fun with enormously popular stadium announcer Paul Coyte at half-time when he told him: "The book reveals the politics of the players, their hobbies, their fears and foibles, plus who had the biggest willy … it was Terry Naylor.'
Great character Terry, a former Smithfield meat porter, postman and a wedding singer, was also being interviewed by Coytey and happily acknowledged the accolade. 'I couldn't believe that Hunter sprung that on me,' Paul told me. 'To be honest, I was more interested in talking to him about the Beatles.'
Both Hunter and I have been lucky to see Jimmy Greaves and Harry Kane at their peak, and we both wish we could have seen them playing together. Jimmy would be our first choice for an all-star Spurs team.
There is Only One Jimmy Greaves, my official biography, is available along with my Bobby Smith biography, two for the price of one at www.normangillerbooks.com.
Meantime, Our Harry leads his England team-mates off to Qatar and the World Cup finals. He and Eric Dier (and Ben Davies with Wales) go with our best wishes for a successful tournament. And please come back in one piece. There's a second half of a season waiting for you at Tottenham.
I just hope when the season restarts that Tottenham fans remember how to treat the footballers wearing the Lilywhite shirt. It has increasingly become. a habit for a section of the crowd to jeer and boo their own players, particularly at half-time. And this is magnified on social media, where the abuse of players (and Conte and chairman Daniel Levy) is at a juvenile, hysterical level. I recommend that these critics get themselves a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word 'support'.
Please note that unless there is something pertinent to report, I will be taking a break from my Spurs Odyssey duties during the World Cup. That will change if England go all the way! Watch this space,
Week fifteen (somebody please hold back the clock) of our ninth year of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenges:
Who played 32 times for his country (his last cap a 6-3 defeat), was a World Cup winner and from which south coast club did he join Tottenham?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com with Quiz Week 15 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 14: Who won 15 England caps, scored 13 international goals plus 208 for Spurs, and from which London club did he join Tottenham?
Answer: Yes, the old Spurs war horse Bobby Smith, who joined the club from Chelsea in 1956 and is the subject of my latest book biography. He could beat everybody but the bookmakers. What a story!
See you soon. COYS!
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