Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Norman Giller's Blog (No. 454 - 16.10.23)
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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 454) (16.10.23)

Submitted by Norman Giller

The day captain Mackay refused to walk

As we sit impatiently through the distraction of the international break, it gives me the chance to not only plug my latest book - The G-Men - but to throw the spotlight on my favourite of all Tottenham players: David Craig Mackay, arguably the greatest footballer ever to pull on the Lilywhite shirt.

He plays a key role in the Jimmy Greaves/Alan Gilzean story, and I would like to share the following chapter highlights from the book that captures the awe and respect in which he was held throughout the Beautiful Game.

"TOTTENHAM'S fifth round 1967 FA Cup tie against the Robins of Bristol City has gone down in White Hart Lane football folklore as the match in which Dave Mackay added to his legend by refusing to walk when the referee sent him off. I watched with incredulity from the press box, and could not believe what I was witnessing. There was no doubt in my mind that the referee had sent off the Spurs skipper, who was amazingly into his comeback season after twice breaking a leg. This was how I reported it at the time for the Daily Express:

A smile flickered on the craggy face of Spurs skipper Dave Mackay as he knocked down suggestions that he had been ordered off against Bristol City ... and refused to walk. "I would have gone, wouldn't I"? he said with a shrug of his wide shoulders. "The referee booked me and warned that I would be off next time."

But after their 2-0 defeat, all the Bristol City players insisted that Worcester referee Ken Burns DID send Mackay off following an angry second-minute clash with fellow-Scot Johnny Quigley. Gordon Low, City skipper and another Scot, told me: "There was no mistaking that the referee was telling Mackay to get off. It was thanks to our boys, mainly Johnny Quigley, pleading for him to change his mind that saved him from an early bath. Mackay should have walked, but he just stood there staring at the referee until he altered his decision to a booking. We all appreciate what Dave has achieved in football and did not want to see him sent off for what was a heat-of-the-moment incident. Our anger is with ourselves for missing so many chances to at least force a replay. We threw it away."

Two misses in particular - both from the penalty spot - will haunt City for the rest of the season. Right-back Tony Ford tamely shot the first into the arms of goalkeeper Pat Jennings after Mike England had handled in the 75th minute. Two Tottenham players had strayed into the penalty area while the spot kick was being taken, and referee Burns ruled that City should have a second crack.

Chris Crowe, back to the superb form that made him a hero at Wolves, nominated himself to take the kick this time and placed the ball firmly on the spot. He retreated 20 yards for the longest run-up I have ever seen and then sped towards the ball like Olympic champion Lynn Davies on the way in for a long jump.

But Crowe must have felt for the high jump as he screwed the ball yards off target. "I felt really sick," he admitted afterwards. "I was trying to put Jennings off with my run-up but only managed to confuse myself. I should have scored and have apologised to my team-mates."

This was the end of a courageous City comeback that shook Cup favourites Spurs after they had given the Second Division team a first-half pounding.

Jinking Jimmy Greaves scored a superbly struck 10th-minute goal after collecting a beautifully delivered defence-splitting pass from Terry Venables. Then Spurs made and missed another half dozen chances before lapsing into a coma of casualness that so nearly cost them victory against a City side that played to the peak of their power.

Following the two City penalty misses, Tottenham were forced out of their relaxed mood and Greaves gave a lesson in how to take a spot kick when he scored in the last minute with a precision-placed shot after Low had handled.

Bill Nicholson was not a happy man at the final whistle. "We have just used up a lot of luck," he admitted. "I am not at all satisfied with this performance. We must become more consistent and improve our concentration if we want to go any further in the competition."

The front jacket of Norman's book on The G-Men

The front jacket of Norman's book on The G-Men

Up in the press box, we were convinced the referee had pointed to the dressing-room when Mackay made his reckless early challenge, but Mr. Burns refused to comment.

It was years later when I dragged the truth from Dave.

"Yes," he confessed, "the referee did point to the dressing-room and said "Off." This was, of course, in the days before cards. I stood my ground and pretended I had not understood him. Then I grabbed Johnny Quigley and told him to tell the ref that I was playing the ball and if guilty of anything it was retaliation after he had fouled me.

The referee wrote my name down in his little book and awarded City a free-kick. I went back into the goalmouth trying hard not to laugh. I'd gone through all my career without being sent off and did not feel I deserved to go. I had an excellent disciplinary record, which confounds those people who thought I was just a hard man."

At our off-the-record match inquest afterwards at the Bell and Hare bar, Greavsie told me: "Only Dave would have been big enough to stand his ground and refuse to walk. The referee was wise to change his mind. He would have risked being lynched if he had sent off a legend of the Lane."

That gives you a taste of my self-published The G-Men book and I hope it inspires you to order a post-free copy direct from me at I will be making a donation for every copy sold to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, who quietly help our old heroes who missed the gravy train.

Now back to THIS season of unbelievable promise, and it's breath-holding time as Ange Postecoglou hopes all our players emerge from the international break without injury.

Next up: Fulham at home, next Monday evening. Revenge for the League Cup exit? Meantime, let's enjoy being TOP OF THE TABLE.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League 2023-24

Week 11 (already!) of season nine of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:

Who won 41 caps, scored just one goal after joining Spurs from Leeds and which club did he move to when leaving Tottenham in 2008?

Please email your answer to me at and make the subject heading Quiz Week 11. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will do my best to respond to all who take part.

The rules are the same as in the previous eight 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 become as popular as Sol Campbell in an Arsenal shirt.

This year's main prize will be a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion 2024, plus three signed books to be revealed at a later date. We have retired the omniscient David Guthrie after his three victories.

Last week's question:

Who won 108 caps, scored 30 League goals in two periods with Spurs and who is captain of the national team he currently manages?

Answer: Jurgen Klinsmann/Heung-min Son (South Korea)

See you back here ... please note, next Tuesday with thoughts on the Fulham game.


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