Tuesday, January 31, 2012

They Played for Spurs and Wigan

Wigan Athletic are currently the youngest club in the Premier League having been formed in 1932.  They were elected in to the Football League in the summer of 1978, replacing Southport and over the years eventually gained promotion to the top flight of English football in 2005.  With such a short history, not surprisingly, there have been only two transfers negotiated between the two clubs and both have been from Wigan's Premier League era.

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Pascal Chimbonda
Pascal Chimbonda played in Wigan's successful debut season in the Premier League and was included in the PFA 'Team of the Season' for 2005-06.  He had joined the club from Bastia for £500,000 the previous summer and after just one season he joined Spurs in August, 2006 for a fee of £4.5 million.  He made his debut against Manchester United the next month and was a regular at right back and played in the Carling Cup winning team against Chelsea in 2008.  He made 65 League appearances for Spurs and scored three goals.

He was transferred to Sunderland in July, 2008 for an undisclosed fee but returned to Spurs the following January for a fee in the region of £3 million having only made 13 appearances at the Stadium of Light.  His second Tottenham debut was at Bolton Wanderers at the end of January when he made an appearance as a substitute.  He made another substitute appearance in the next match and the only League match he started in his second period with the club was in a 1 - 1 draw at Sunderland in March.  He started both UEFA Cup matches against Shakhtar Donetsk when Harry Redknapp fielded understrength teams.

In August, 2009 he moved to Blackburn Rovers for a fee thought to be around £2.5 million where he stayed for eighteen months.  Since then he has had short spells with QPR and is now with Doncaster Rovers.

Wilson Palacios
Wilson Palacios joined Spurs in January, 2009 for £12 million having joined Wigan the previous January after spending six months on loan with Birmingham City.  He made his debut in the 3 - 2 defeat at Bolton and worked hard to strengthen the Tottenham midfield as they battled to ensure Premier League survival in Harry Redknapp's first season as manager.  The following August Palacios scored his first goal in Premier League football against Hull City.  That season he helped Spurs qualify for the Champions League and played his part in the Spurs success in that competiton the following season.  His controlled midfield display in Italy against AC Milan alongside Sandro where Spurs secured a single goal victory was one of the highlights of his time with the club.  His opportunity to play regularly was being restricted with the development of Sandro and last summer he moved to Stoke City for a fee of around £6 million.  He made 86 League and Cup appearances for Spurs, scoring once.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Spurs Home Record against Wigan

Tottenham's home Premier League record goes from one extreme to another - from the 9 - 1 victory in November, 2009 to last season's one goal defeat.  The clubs first met in season 2005 - 06 following Wigan's promotion and Spurs will be looking to complete the 'double' over Wigan for only the second time after their 2 - 1 success last September.

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Feb. 2006  PL  Draw 2 - 2  Mido, Defoe
The first game between the two sides had taken place the previous November with Spurs achieving a 2 - 1 victory with goals from Robbie Keane and Edgar Davids' first for the club.  The home game ended as a draw with Spurs having to come from behind on two occasions.  Wigan had gone ahead after ten minutes but midway through the first half Mido levelled when he touched in Paul Stalteri's low, hard cross.  Spurs had had the better of the first half chances but Wigan regained the lead after 67 minutes only for Jermain Defoe to bring Spurs level once again a minute later. 

Nov. 2006  PL  Won 3 - 1  Berbatov, Defoe, Lennon
Spurs had started brightly but it was Wigan who again took the lead after twenty five minutes and it was only two goals in a minute just before half-time which relieved the situation for Spurs.  Defoe equalised from a pass from Dimitar Barbatov and a minute later Berbatov took a long ball from Assou-Ekotto and cut inside to hit a great shot past the goalkeeper.  Aaron Lennon made victory secure with a goal in the final minute after good work by Berbatov.

Nov. 2007  PL  Won 4 - 0  Jenas (2), Lennon, Bent
Three first half goals set up Spurs for this comfortable victory.  Jermaine Jenas scored twice in the opening twenty five minutes and Lennon added a third nine minutes later.  Darren Bent scored the fourth with eighteen minutes remaining for only Spurs second Premier League win of the season.

Sept. 2008  PL  Draw 0 - 0 
This was only Spurs second point of the season in their fifth match and was to be the last gained by them under Juande Ramos, leaving the way open for the arrival of Harry Redknapp and his mantra for the season 'Two points from eight games'.  Spurs had won in the  UEFA Cup the previous Thursday but in a disappointing, lacklustre performance simply couldn't score and as the game progressed it was Wigan who looked the more likely to snatch the win.

Nov. 2009  PL  Won 9 - 1  Crouch, Defoe (5), Bentley, Kranjcar
Peter Crouch put Spurs ahead inside ten minutes but Wigan then had a couple of chances to level but there were no more goals before half-time.  Early in the second half Defoe scored twice in three minutes only for Wigan to pull one back three minutes later.  The goalscorer, Scharner, had clearly used his hand to control the ball but the goal stood and Spurs felt aggrieved and responded as Defoe completed his hat-trick a minute later.  Lennon added a fifth after 64 minutes and Defoe scored his fourth with just over ten minutes remaining.  Spurs then scored three in the final three minutes - Defoe scored his fifth, Bentley scored from a free-kick which struck the post and rebounded in off the despairing goalkeeper.  Niko Kranjcar completed the scoring in the final minute as Wigan had completely folded.

Aug. 2010  PL  Lost 0 - 1
Wigan's first victory at White Hart Lane brought Spurs down to earth following a midweek victory in the Champions League.  Spurs dominated the game and had all the early chances but as time wore on they simply ran out of ideas as Wigan defended in numbers, determined to avoid another humiliation following two heavy defeats in their opening two matches.  Late in the second half Wigan realised that the game was there to be won as a couple of attacks had Spurs defence in disarray and ten minutes from time they scored their first goal of the season to take all three points while Spurs supporters were left waiting to see their team's first home League goal of the season.

Jan. 2009  FAC  Won 3 - 1  Pavlyuchenko (2), Modric
Played on a Friday evening Roman Pavlyuchenko produced two goals and the kind of performance that persuaded Spurs to pay £14 million for him.  The first came from a penalty early in the second half.  Luka Modric scored the second with fourteen minutes remaining but Wigan pulled one back with two minutes left only for Pavlyuchenko to complete the scoring in the final minute.  This was Pavlyuchenko at his best but sadly it doesn't occur too often, although he does appear to like scoring against Wigan with another 'double' in February, 2010 at DW Stadium.

 * 31st January, 2012 PL Spurs 3 Wigan 1 Bale (2), Modric March Report *


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Watford 0 Tottenham 1 FA Cup 4th Round

With a single goal from Rafael Van der Vaart, Tottenham became the first club to reach the 5th Round of the 2012 FA Cup and that's about the best that can be said for the match and Spurs' performance at Vicarage Road.
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FA Cup 4th Round
Watford 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Scorer: Van der Vaart

Team: Cudicini; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Rose; Van der Vaart, Livermore, Parker, Modric (Lennon); Defoe (Pienaar), Adebayor (Pavlyuchenko) Subs (unused): Friedel, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Kranjcar

Spurs First to Reach FA Cup 5th Round (just!!)

Goalscorer: Rafael Van der Vaart
Tottenham became the first team to reach the FA Cup 5th Round as the match at Vicarage Road ended just ahead of the one at Goodison Park but in another sense they just managed to beat Championship side, Watford, thanks to a goal from Rafael Van der Vaart a few minutes before half-time.

The Spurs team contained six players who started last weekend's game against Manchester City showing that Harry Redknapp realises the importance of winning some silverware this season.  Carlo Cudicini, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Jake Livermore and Emmanuel Adebayor came into a team which contained eight full internationals.  With Spurs lacking pace and width it was much easier for the Championship side to contain them and Watford set out with purpose taking the game to their Premier League opponents.

Early enterprise from Watford saw Cudicini parry a shot which a defender cleared and then a dangerous cross to the near post was knocked wide with defenders nowhere and Cudicini relieved.  A long range effort passed wide for the home side with Tottenham offering little threat to the home defenders.  It wasn't until almost the half-hour mark that Spurs managed their first attempt on goal - a weak shot from Jermain Defoe.

While Watford were hard working, industrious and much quicker to every ball, Spurs' display was akin to their home performance against PAOK Salonika when defeat ultimately led to their elimination from the Europa League.  Their passing often fell short and was inaccurate, they were slow on the ball and were often caught in possession and they resorted to playing hopeful long balls forward which caused no problem to the Watford defence.

With such a lacklustre performance Spurs were fortunate to go ahead three minutes before half-time.  Watford had just created some confusion in the Tottenham penalty area which Spurs managed to scramble clear to Kyle Walker who broke at pace and passed the ball on to Van der Vaart having crossed the halfway line.  Van der Vaart for the first occasion found time and space in the Watford half and proceeded towards the goal with options of a pass both left and right but from thirty yards shot and as the ball bounced in front of Scott Loach, the goalkeeper's mistake ensured Spurs were ahead. 

Aaron Lennon replaced a very out of sorts, Luka Modric, at half time but Watford continued to press and could have levelled early in the half following some shambolic defending by Spurs.  It all started with a poor goalkick out by Cudicini putting the defence under pressure and as Dawson gave the ball away, it was only a finger tip save by the veteran goalkeeper that retrieved the situation as he touched Sean Murray's shot onto the post and the rebound was blazed over.

Spurs best attack of the evening saw a Rose cross met by Kyle Walker and pushed over by the goalkeeper. 

Watford always looked more likely to score as Spurs continued to concede possession with sloppy defending and only occasionally offered anything of an attacking threat although a Van der Vaart shot hit the bar after he combined well with Lennon and Defoe with just over an hour played.

Spurs failed to learn from earlier mistakes and nearly conceded after giving the ball away outside their own area.  Such were Spurs attacking limitations that it was only with about fifteen minutes remaining that I realised that Emmanuel Adebayor was still on the pitch as he chased a ball out after defending a corner, so anonymous had he been in the second half.

Cudicini saved for a corner from a high dropping cross and then Watford struck the outside of the post for a second time from the corner.  Watford who had lost their last three League games were giving Spurs a fright and brought on former Tottenham player Mark Yeates.

Cudicini again saved and then again as he blocked with his feet from a free-kick and a defender cleared.  With ten minutes remaining a fierce drive was blocked by Dawson who knew nothing about it as Watford continued to seek an equaliser and an opportunity of the replay their performance deserved. 

Spurs held out and maintained their unbeaten Cup record against Watford but it was the home side who deservedly received all the credit as their attempts on goal was over three times greater that Tottenham's and their performance was far superior than suggested by their position in the Championship.

Spurs progress with their first 1 - 0 FA Cup 4th Round success since defeating Leeds United in 1982. and they went on to win the Cup that year.  An omen, perhaps, but performances would need to show considerable improvement for any such dream to become reality.


Friday, January 27, 2012

They Played for Spurs and Watford

Two Spurs 'Legends' are linked with Watford.  Spurs signed Pat Jennings from Watford in 1964 when former Tottenham captain, Ronnie Burgess was manager of the club.  At least twenty eight players have connections with both clubs at some time in their careers but only two have joined Spurs from Watford.  The other transfers have been in the opposite direction with a number of players moving on loan including Andros Townsend who spent time at Vicarage Road last season.
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Pat Jennings
Pat Jennings was a young, inexperienced goalkeeper when Bill Nicholson signed him from Watford in June, 1964 for £27,000.  The Northern Ireland international had just won his first two caps and had played only 48 League games for Watford in his year with the club when Nicholson decided to buy him.  He had cost Watford £6,000 when he joined from Newry Town in 1963.

Nicholson was looking to rebuild his team following the demise of the 'Double' team and as he had done the previous year with Watford, Jennings stepped straight into the Spurs team in place of Bill Brown.  His debut was in a 2 - 0 win over Sheffield United on the opening day of season 1964-65.

Initially, Nicholson must have had doubts about Jennings as he took time to settle and during his first two seasons he shared goalkeeping duties with Brown.  By the start of 1966-67 Jennings had made the position his own and after  a few months Brown was allowed to join Northampton Town.  For the next eleven seasons Jennings was first choice goalkeeper at White Hart Lane.  He helped the club to win the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and the UEFA Cup of 1974.  His total of almost 600 League and Cup appearances is littered with numerous match winning performances and a goal having scored in the 1967 Charity Shield game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

He will always be remembered for the size of his hands which enabled him to come out to catch a cross using only one hand.  His two penalty saves at Anfield as Spurs earned a 1 - 1 draw in 1973 are part of Spurs legend and after a UEFA Cup game in Switzerland Spurs returned with a resounding 5 - 1 victory over Grasshopper Zurich but it was Jennings who received all the plaudits for his performance that evening.

It was only in his last season that Jennings was troubled by injury and as Spurs were relegated manager Keith Burkinshaw made the unbelievable decision to release Jennings in favour of his young understudy, Barry Daines.  Jennings moved to Arsenal and gave them years of outstanding service before returning to Spurs to keep fit for the 1986 World Cup Finals.  He retired on his forty first birthday as Northern Ireland were eliminated from the competition by Brazil.

On retiring he took on the role of goalkeeping coach and is still involved with the club in their corporate facilities.  Pat Jennings was recently honoured by UEFA for winning over 100 international caps for Northern Ireland.

The manager of Watford at the time of Jennings' transfer to Spurs was Ronnie Burgess who had joined in 1936 and played over 450 League and Cup games as well as being captain of the 'Push and Run' side which won the 2nd Division and 1st Division titles in consecutive seasons from 1949 to 1951.  He joined Swansea in 1954 and moved to Watford as manager in 1959.

Tommy Harmer, was known as 'The Charmer' and as a player he spanned the years between the 'Push and Run' team of the 1950s and 'The Double' side of the 1960s but missed out on both.  He joined Spurs as an amateur in 1948 and made his debut in September, 1951 against Bolton.  He played 222 League and Cup games before signing for Watford in October, 1960 having lost his place in the first team to John White.  He was loved by supporters with supreme tricks and skills on the ball.  Lightly built in the rugged midfield battle of those days he was frequently the inspiration for Spurs best performances having taken over from Eddie Baily as the creative influence in the team.  He was at his best in Bill Nicholson's first game as manager, when the new manager restored him to the team.  He was the creator behind the 10 - 4 win over Everton and even managed a goal for himself.  At first, Nicholson tried to play both Harmer and White in his team but eventually opted for the Scot.

In the book about the late John White, 'The Ghost of White Hart Lane', Harmer is described as, 'though he was small, he was a giant' and Julian Holland wrote, 'Harmer was a truly great player.  His tragedy was that his gifts were never fully suited to the type of play current at Tottenham.  Under Rowe he was too static.  Under Anderson he was denied colleagues quick and responsive enough to turn his genius into Champion-ship winning football.  Under Nicholson he lacked the mobility that the new manager looked for. Nor could he supply rapid improvisational touches that Nicholson knew were necessary to overcome planned, coherent defences in 1961.'

Harmer spent two years with Watford before moving to Chelsea as a player/coach and helped them win promotion.

Dennis Bond was a young midfield player who made his name with Watford making over 100 appearances before signing for Spurs in March, 1967 for £20,000.  He had made his debut for the Vicarage Road club at the age of seventeen when Burgess was manger.  He failed to make an impact with Spurs and only made 26 League and Cup appearances in three seasons, scoring once.  He then joined Charlton for £25,000 where he became a regular for three seasons and returned to Watford and made another 200 appearances for the club.

Roy Low has a place in Tottenham record books as the first player to appear for the club as a substitute.  It was on 11th September, 1965 when he replaced the injured Derek Possee against Arsenal at White Hart Lane.  Low was a wing half but he only made eight appearances and scored one goal in his three years at the club.  He joined Watford in February, 1967.

Many well known Spurs players have played for Watford after leaving Spurs.  Gerry Armstrong, while not making any great impression in his five years at Spurs, signed for Watford in November, 1980 and went on to greater things in Spain and with Northern Ireland.

Mark Falco enjoyed greater success at Tottenham having come through the youth system and was a member of the UEFA Cup winning team of 1984.  He joined Watford in October, 1986 and later played for Glasgow Rangers, Queen's Park Rangers and Millwall.  Falco scored 90 League and Cup goals for Spurs and was one of the successful penalty takers in the UEFA Cup Final shoot-out.

From the same era, Paul Miller had developed as an apprentice with Spurs and spent over twelve years at the club before moving to Charlton Athletic in February, 1987.  He played over 200 League games and was a regular in the successful Keith Burkinshaw teams of the early 1980s contributing the away goal against Anderlecht in the UEFA Cup Final.

Steve Hodge who had a short time with Spurs in the mid-80s, having joined from Aston Villa in December, 1986, returned to his first club, Nottingham Forest, in the summer of 1988.  He later played for Watford towards the end of his career.

Tim Sherwood started his career with Watford and after playing for Norwich City and Blackburn, captaining them to the Premiership title, he joined Spurs in February, 1999.  He spent four years with the club, making 93 League appearances, before moving to Portsmouth.  He is currently in charge of Spurs Development squad.

The first player to play for both Spurs and Watford was Bill Lane.  He was a centre forward who spent less than three years with the club from 1924 but only made 29 appearances before joining Leicester City.  He later played for Watford from 1932 to 1936.

Another player from the 1920s who played for both teams was Jack Elkes.  He joined Spurs from Southampton in 1922 and was a forward who could also play at centre half.  He made over 200 League and Cup appearances for the club and moved to Middlesbrough in 1929.  He joined Watford in 1933 spending one season with the club.

John Moran was a full back who had one season with Tottenham, playing twelve matches and then became the first player to be transferred directly between the two clubs by joining Watford in 1932 where he spent four years.

A number of players from the 1950s turned out for both clubs - Bobby Cook, Dennis Uphill, Chris Adams, Johnny Gavin, Alfie Stokes and John Ryden.  Ryden, a centre half, had captained Spurs for a season in the mid-50s but the arrival of Maurice Norman and Dave Mackay reduced his opportunity for first team appearances.  Stokes scored 40 goals in 65 League appearances but was allowed to join Fulham in 1959 as Bill Nicholson put together his new team.

The 1990s also throws up numerous players who spent time at White Hart Lane and Vicarage Road - Mark Robson and Danny Hill, Darren Caskey, all on loan, Ronnie Rosenthal, Espen Baardsen, Allan Nielsen, Ramon Vega and Stephen Kelly and Andros Townsend (both on loan).

Mark Yeates, a former Tottenham player who came through the youth system, is currently in the Watford team.  He made his debut for Spurs on the closing day of the season in May, 2004 setting up a goal for Robbie Keane.  He made three League appearances and after a series of loan periods he joined Colchester United in 2007.  After two seasons he joined Middlesbrough and then moved to Sheffield United.  He joined Watford last summer and has scored three League goals this season from midfield.

Speaking ahead of the Cup tie, Yeates commented on his time at Spurs,  
" Tottenham was a big part of my life ...... so I've got a lot of fond memories.  I've still got a lot of pals there.  Martin Jol gave me a few run-outs, but Spurs are such a big club and at the time in every transfer window they were bringing in three or four new players.  It was hard for the likes of myself, Dean Marney and Johnnie Jackson, we were on the fringes.  Eventually we had to move on but there are no hard feelings."


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tottenham's Cup Record against Watford

Tottenham's visit to Vicarage Road to play Watford in the FA Cup 4th Round tie is the first occasion that Watford have had home advantage over Spurs in the FA Cup.  The clubs have met previously on three occasions at White Hart Lane and at a neutral venue for a semi-final clash.  Spurs have played at Watford in the League Cup in three matches.  A further FA Cup tie was played at Spurs' old Northumberland Park ground when Watford were known as West Herts.

Carling Cup 5th Round
Spurs last game at Watford was in the Carling Cup in December, 2008 at the 5th Round stage.  They progressed to a semi-final tie against Burnley with a 2 - 1 success through goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent.

Spurs found themselves a goal behind within fifteen minutes as Watford mounted sustained early pressure.  They drew level on the stroke of half-time with a Pavlyuchenko penalty following a foul on Jermaine Jenas.  Spurs scored the winner with fifteen minutes remaining when substitute Bent latched on to a ball from Pavlyuchenko to score with  a low shot.

FA Cup 3rd Round
The last meeting between the two clubs in the FA Cup was in January, 1999 when Spurs won 5 - 2 at White Hart Lane.  Watford who were in the 1st Division at the time took the lead in the opening minute.  Steffan Iversen equalised on ten minutes as Spurs scored three times in seven minutes.  Three minutes later Darren Anderton scored with a penalty for handball following a free-kick awarded for a foul on David Ginola and then Iversen added his second on seventeen minutes.  Watford showed spirit and pulled a goal back after half and hour but Allan Neilsen restored Spurs two goal advantage three minutes before the interval.

It was not until four minutes from time that Ruel Fox completed the scoring with Spurs' fifth.  Two former Spurs players were included among the Watford substitutes that day, goalkeeper Chris Day and Ronnie Rosenthal.  Rosenthal came on at half-time, receiving a warm welcome from the Tottenham faithful.

League Cup (Coca Cola Cup) 2nd Round
This tie was played over two legs with the first game at Watford in September, 1994.  It marked Jurgen Klinsmann's debut in Cup football in England and he didn't disappoint scoring a first half hat-trick on the ground where he had made his first Spurs appearance in a pre-season friendly the previous August.

Watford took the lead in the opening seconds but Darren Anderton levelled with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.  Then Jurgen Klinsmann completed his hat-trick before half-time to give Ossie Ardiles' attacking team the advantage.  After half-time Watford pulled a goal back before Teddy Sheringham restored their three goal lead.  Ian Walker then conceded a penalty but saved it before Ilie Dumitrescu scored Spurs sixth, only for Watford to pull another goal back through a Gary Mabbutt own goal.

The second leg at White Hart Lane a fortnight later in October, 1994 was just as exhilerating as Watford came out victorious by 3 - 2.  Spurs, however, progressed to the next round with an aggregate win of 8 - 5.  Watford went ahead after fifteen minutes but Nicky Barmby who missed the first match equalised after half an hour.  Watford regained the lead early in the second half but Klinsmann again drew Spurs level only for the visitors to score the winner fifteen minutes from time.  This was Spurs fourth consecutive home defeat and Ardiles was under increasing pressure.

FA Cup Semi-Final
Spurs were progressing serenely towards the Wembley Final when they met Watford at the FA Cup semi-final stage at Villa Park in April, 1987.  The match proved remarkably easy for Spurs who were facing a Watford side who had to find emergency goalkeeping cover due to injury.  The 4-1 victory did not flatter Spurs as David Pleat’s side continued their good form and won through goals from Steve Hodge (2), Clive Allen and Paul Allen. Coventry City were their unexpected opponents in the Final and unfortunately that match didn't go as expected.

League Cup 2nd Round
In September, 1975 Spurs visited Vicarage Road for a Cup match for the first time.  They won against the 4th Division side through the only goal scored by Chris Jones.  Having avoided relegation with victory over Leeds United in the last game of the previous season, Terry Neill's team, in his only full season in charge of the club, progressed to the semi-final stage where they lost out to Newcastle United.

FA Cup 3rd Round
In January, 1939 Spurs were playing in the 2nd Division while Watford were in the 3rd Division (South).  An emphatic win at White Hart Lane saw Spurs create another 'first' to include in their record books.  It was the first time that numbers were worn on the players' shirts, something which the Spurs directors had been campaigning for over a considerable period of time.

The Spurs goals were scored by Ralph Ward (pen), Fred Sargent, Willie Hall (2), Andy Duncan, Les Miller (2).

FA Cup 2nd Round
Spurs were the Cup holders when the clubs met in January, 1922 with Spurs in the 1st Division and  Watford in the 3rd Division (South).  Tottenham had overcome Brentford in the 1st Round and a Bert Bliss goal at White Hart Lane was sufficient to see them progress on this occasion.  Their defence of the FA Cup came to an end in the semi-finals when they lost to Preston North End in controversial circumstances.

Spurs first FA Cup tie was in October, 1894 when they met West Herts at their old Northumberland Park ground.  Four years later, in 1898, West Herts and Watford St. Mary's merged to form Watford FC.  Spurs won 3 - 2 with goals from Peter Hunter and Donald Goodall (2) and Tottenham's experience with the FA Cup had commenced.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spurs First FA Cup Tie v West Herts (Watford) in 1894

 Spurs travel to Watford for their FA Cup 4th Round match on Friday evening.  Their first FA Cup game was a home match in 1894 against West Herts who later became Watford.  Following a 3 - 2 victory Tottenham met Clapton in the next round.

First FA Cup
13th October, 1894

Spurs 3 West Herts 2 F.A.Cup 1st Qualifying Round

This was Spurs’ debut in the F.A. Cup against the team who would become known as Watford.  Spurs first F.A. Cup goal was scored by Peter Hunter. The other two goals came from Donald Goodall.  The match played at the club’s old Northumberland Park ground was watched by a crowd of 2,000.  Spurs progressed to the fourth Qualifying Round before losing in a replay to Luton Town.

From: 'All Those Cup Finals' by wlhatwhl

Spurs’ first FA Cup tie was played at their Northumberland Park home on 13th October, 1894 against West Herts in the 1st Qualifying Round. West Herts was a former name of Watford and they were experienced Cup performers having played in the competition for the previous eight seasons.  Spurs, however, won 3-2, in what ‘The Weekly Herald’ for 19th October, 1894 described as ‘a very hard struggle.’  Spurs scored twice in the first half through centre forward, Peter Hunter and Don Goodall. West Herts levelled after half-time before Goodall scored his second to put Spurs through.

Further in ‘The Weekly Herald’ it was reported that after Hunter scored, ‘Spurs attacked almost continuously from now to half time.’  Reviewing the game at half time, the paper expected that ‘Having had four-fifths of the game with the slope against them it was naturally expected that the ‘Spurs would be the superior lot in the second half.  But how often does the unexpected happen. Whether they had been dosed with some wonderful physic during the interval, I can’t say, but, West Herts now played with the utmost vigour.  A corner was obtained directly after the restart, and Wright directed the ball into the net, cheers from the visitors supporters – of whom, by the bye, there were several – greeting such a successful recommencement.’  In the latter stages of the game, after Spurs had regained the lead, it was reported that, ‘Eccles tried his luck, and it appeared that the ball went under the cross-bar, but the referee ruled otherwise.  The visitors, although trying hard, failed to equalise and so the ‘Spurs won by 3 goals to 2.’

The names of that first FA Cup team will be known by only the most fanatical of Tottenham Hotspur supporters but are worth recording as they were the players who set Spurs off on the road to their wonderful history of success in the competition.

Team: Monk; Jull, Welham: Shepherd, Briggs, Julian; Cubberley, Goodall, Hunter, Eccles, Payne.

Of those players, full-back Jack Jull is the only one who has any connection with the club’s earliest days.  He was one of the founders of the club and was one of the best players at that time, playing for them for fourteen years from 1883 until 1897.  He was made club President in 1895 in recognition of his great service to the club.

Two other players of note are half-back Stanley Briggs and winger Ernie Payne.

Ernie Payne is regarded as the catalyst which brought Spurs into the world of professional football to which Stanley Briggs was so opposed.  In 1893, eleven years after their formation Spurs drew 0-0 in a 1st Round London Senior Cup tie against Old St Marks.  For that game, a new name, ‘Burton’, appeared on the team sheet, to play on the left wing for Spurs.  This was in fact, Ernie Payne who was on Fulham’s books but being unable to get into their team, he had accepted an invitation to play for Spurs.  However, when he arrived at Tottenham he had no kit.  Spurs provided him with shirt, shorts and socks but were unable to find boots to fit him.  They gave him a loan of ten shillings (50p) to buy a pair of boots on the understanding that they would belong to Spurs.  When Fulham heard about this they accused Spurs of ‘poaching’ their player and ‘professionalism’.  Spurs were immediately called before the London Football Association to answer these charges.  The charge of poaching was dismissed but the charge of inducing a player and professionalism was upheld.  The penalty imposed on Spurs was harsh – their ground at Northumberland Park was closed for two weeks, Spurs were suspended for a similar period and Ernie Payne was suspended for a week even though he had repaid the money to Spurs.  An appeal was lodged but it was unsuccessful, the London F.A. being strongly opposed to anything suggesting of professionalism, a view that was holding back the development of football in London.  This matter became known as the ‘Ernie Payne Boots Affair’ and while Payne continued to play for Spurs, he is best remembered for the longer term consequence of the matter in that Spurs within a short period of time decided to turn professional.

Stanley Briggs was one of the best known amateur footballers in London at that time.  He helped to establish Spurs as a top amateur club and captained the side.  However, he was totally opposed to the decision of the club to turn professional in December, 1895 and preferring to retain his amateur status, he did not play as often for the club and went to play for other amateur clubs in London.

In that initial season in the F.A. Cup, having defeated West Herts, Spurs progressed to the 4th Qualifying Round before losing to Luton Town in a replay.  While Spurs were still amateurs, Luton Town had adopted professionalism four years earlier.

3rd November (2nd Qual. Round) v Wolverton (h) Won 5-3 Goodall, Hunter (2), Payne (2)
24th November (3rd Qual. Round) v Clapton (a) Won 4-0 Eccles (2), Hunter, Goodall
15th December (4th Qual. Round) v Luton Town (h) Draw 2-2 Eccles, Cubberley
19th December (4th Qual. Round Replay) v Luton Town (a) Lost 0-4

West Herts merged with  Watford St. Mary's in 1898 to form Watford FC.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tottenham and the FA Cup (4th Round)

Spurs and the FA Cup 4th Round

Spurs - A Stepping Stone on the Road to Wembley 
(Article first appeared on Topspurs)
Les Allen
Many of the FA Cup ties that linger on the memory are associated with the 3rd Round or the Semi-Final or Final while the games in the intervening rounds tend to merge into one, as the 4th, 5th and 6th Rounds become indistinguishable as part of the journey, which one hopes will lead to success.  As always, there are exceptions with the double spring spectaculars in 1985 at Southampton and Anfield.

Having overcome Cheltenham Town in the 3rd Round, Spurs have been rewarded with a 4th Round trip to Watford.  This 4th Round tie will probably be consigned to join the many games that are overlooked in history unless it becomes memorable for all the ‘wrong’ reasons in that the Championship side gain an unexpected victory or hopefully the game has some spectacular goals which make it a step towards a Spurs’ victory in the Final in May.

Following fast on th eheels of last weekend's disappointment against Manchester City in the League, it is for the ‘wrong’ reasons that a recent 4th Round game is remembered.  It was in February, 2004 that supporters were left reeling after Spurs managed to lose a three goal half-time advantage to ten-man City.  At half-time supporters were contemplating a 5th Round game at Old Trafford – Spurs were three ahead and City had just had a player sent off - nothing could be more straight forward.  City, however, staged the most unexpected of come-backs to win the replay 4-3. The lowest point in a very low season as Spurs with David Pleat as caretaker manager, waited patiently for a new manager to replace Glenn Hoddle.

Unfortunately, even the greatest of managers can suffer the ignominy of such defeats.  In 1973, with less than ten minutes to play, Bill Nicholson’s side were 3-1 ahead in the 4th Round Replay against Derby County at White Hart Lane. Spurs’ goals had come from Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean and a Mike England penalty but then the Derby centre forward, Roger Davies came to life and scored twice to take the game into extra time.  He then scored a third as Derby completed a remarkable recovery to win 5-3 in front of 53,000 disbelieving spectators.

In 1966 a visiting centre forward who also scored a hat-trick in a 4th Round tie was less fortunate. Willie Irvine, a Northern Ireland international scored three for Burnley in a seven goal thriller but went home on the losing side when Alan Gilzean matched his hat-trick and Frank Saul added a fourth for Spurs who had been two down early on and were trailing 2-3 with only minutes remaining.

The repercussions from a shock defeat can sometimes be very unexpected.  In 1970 Spurs were knocked out of the Cup by Crystal Palace in a 4th Round Replay. Only a few weeks earlier Spurs had comfortably completed a League double over their London rivals and so must have assumed that progress to the next round of the Cup would be reasonably straight-forward.  Palace, however, achieved a scoreless draw at White Hart Lane and a single goal was enough in the replay.  Manager Bill Nicholson was frustrated with the disappointing performance of his players and for the next game made wholesale changes.  Dropped from the team were Alan Gilzean, Joe Kinnear, Cyril Knowles, Steve Perryman and Jimmy Greaves.  Through time four players managed to regain their places but the other, Spurs’ leading goal scorer, Jimmy Greaves, never played for Spurs again.  By mid-March he had been transferred to West Ham United as part of the deal to bring Martin Peters to Tottenham.  Those supporters present at Selhurst Park that night in January didn’t realise that they were witnessing the demise and swan-song of Spurs’ greatest goal scorer – Jimmy Greaves’ last appearance in a white Spurs’ shirt.

However, games worthy of more favourable mention, include the 2nd Round tie back in 1901, when no-one could accuse Spurs of having an easy ride in the FA Cup.   Having removed 1st Division Preston from the competition in the previous round, they were drawn against Bury, the FA Cup holders.  In the previous year’s Final Bury had brushed aside Southampton, Spurs’ rivals from the Southern League.  Spurs had home advantage but 1st Division Bury took the lead within two minutes, before some of the record crowd of 20,250 had taken their places inside White Hart Lane. Bury then dominated the game putting Spurs’ defence under constant pressure but after half an hour Spurs managed to score – very much against the run of play.  From a rare foray into the Bury half, winger Tom Smith centred from the right and Sandy Brown scored the goal that completely changed the game.  Spurs were filled with confidence and in the second half were a different team. Brown scored a second goal and while Bury recovered to fight back in an effort to retrieve the situation, it was Spurs, the non-League side, who were playing the cultured football and deservedly progressed to the next round.

In 1921, the next occasion that Spurs won the FA Cup, their early progress was quite straight-forward. It had been expected that their 1st Division rivals, Bradford City would provide stiffer opposition than Spurs had experienced in the previous round but despite their defensive display holding Spurs in the first half, they were swept aside after half-time as Spurs scored four goals without reply.  Jimmy Seed was the star, scoring twice in two minutes early in the second half.  He controlled the game for Spurs and completed his hat-trick with a shot from twenty five yards, after winger, Jimmy Banks had scored the third.  It was Jimmy Seed who received the rave reviews in the newspaper reports for his performance and his goals.

In 1961 Spurs had a home 4th Round tie against the side they had met at the same stage of the competition twelve months earlier.  Then Spurs had been drawn away and were relieved to come away from Gresty Road with a 2-2 draw after Crewe Alexandra had twice pulled back from being a goal behind and only a magnificent save from Bill Brown prevented Spurs becoming the victim of a Cup upset.  Les Allen and Cliff Jones scored in the first game and both maintained their scoring in the replay, being responsible for eight of the thirteen goals that Spurs scored that night.  At half-time Spurs were 10-1 ahead and added three more in the second half to record their highest win, 13-2. Allen scored 5, Bobby Smith got 4, Jones scored 3 and Tommy Harmer completed the scoring.  It is said that Crewe left London Euston from Platform 13 and arrived in Crewe at Platform 2.

A year later, Crewe determined not to suffer another heavy defeat gave a credible account of themselves before losing 5-1 to the Spurs team that was well on the way to recording the first League and Cup ‘double’ of the twentieth century.  Crewe must have feared the worst when Terry Dyson put Spurs ahead after four minutes but their goalkeeper, put in an outstanding performance.  Smith scored Spurs’ second but three minutes later Crewe pulled a goal back.  Dave Mackay scored a third before the interval and second half goals from Jones and Allen completed Spurs’ victory.

The 4th Round draw in 1962 took Spurs on the long journey to Plymouth who were in the 2nd Division.  Spurs won 5-1 with goals from Terry Medwin, John White, Jimmy Greaves (2) and Cliff Jones.

The 1967 4th Round game saw Portsmouth as the visitors to Tottenham.  In the 2nd Division, Portsmouth held Spurs through the first half in spite of early Spurs’ chances and pressure.  It was two goals inside a minute from Alan Gilzean early in the second half that changed the game.  Greaves added a third before Portsmouth scored their consolation goal.

The 100th F.A. Cup competition in 1981 saw Spurs with a home tie in the Fourth Round against Third Division strugglers, Hull City.   Going into this game, Spurs were in a period of impressive form with Archibald and Crooks taking the chances created by a midfield including Hoddle, Ardiles and Galvin, so the result should have been a formality.  Hull, however, gave Spurs a scare and the deadlock was only broken when substitute Garry Brooke, who had replaced Ardiles, scored with seven minutes remaining.  Brooke then forced another save from the Hull keeper and set up Steve Archibald’s last minute goal.  It was with relief that Spurs progressed to the next round.

The following year Spurs faced 1st Division opposition in a home game with Leeds United. As in the previous round against Arsenal, it was a very tight game and it was Garth Crooks who again provided the goal which took Spurs through to the next round for their third game against 1st Division opposition, Aston Villa.

The 1991 FA Cup triumph was achieved amid the financial difficulties encountered by the club and the events off the pitch were a major distraction.  Paul Gascoigne, however, managed to single-handedly turn everyone’s thoughts back to the football with his outstanding performances in the Cup games, in spite of needing a hernia operation.  It was hoped that he could be nursed through to the end of the season and against Oxford United he showed no ill effects from the problem by scoring twice to give Spurs a comfortable passage to the next round.  The other goals in a 4-2 win were scored by Gary Mabbutt and Gary Lineker.

While Terry Venables masterminded Spurs’ FA Cup success in 1991, his first three seasons at White Hart Lane were not so distinguished.  Spurs were knocked out in the early rounds, showing none of their traditional Cup winning characteristics, including a 4th Round exit in 1988 to Port Vale.  The 3rd Division side, fifty two places below Spurs were two goals ahead after twenty five minutes.  When Spurs wakened up after half-time they scored through central defender Neil Ruddock mid-way through the half but it was too little too late and their humiliation was complete – from finalists at Wembley the previous May to Cup fodder for lowly opposition eight months later – the FA Cup is no respecter of anyone’s reputation.

Spurs’ progress in January, 1979 was proving problematic.  They had the good fortune to receive a home tie in both of the opening rounds but after being taken to a replay by non-league Altrincham, Wrexham also managed to earn a draw at White Hart Lane in the 4th Round.  The replay win over Altrincham had been Spurs’ first FA Cup success for six seasons, since defeating another non-League side, Margate, in 1973 which had been Bill Nicholson’s last FA Cup win as manager.  Spurs and Wrexham shared six goals in the first game with Glenn Hoddle, Chris Jones and an own goal accounting for Spurs’ quota.  Wrexham were deserving of the replay and Spurs were grateful to a hat-trick in successive rounds with centre forward Chris Jones providing the much needed goals to see Spurs through by 3-2 after extra time.

A memorable game from recent times when Spurs’ FA Cup success has been minimal was back in 2001.  Spurs were drawn away to fellow Premiership side Charlton who had won the earlier league game by a solitary goal and had earned a scoreless draw at Tottenham a few days earlier.  Spurs found themselves two goals behind early in the second half but staged a remarkable comeback to score three goals inside six minutes to change the game.  Gary Doherty, Darren Anderton and Oyvind Leonhardsen got the goals while a late strike from Sergei Rebrov sealed the victory.

In 2010, a home tie against Leeds United who had knocked out Manchester United at Old Trafford in the previous round proved more difficult that expected.  A late penalty gave Leeds a 2 - 2 draw and a replay at Elland Road.  Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the goals at White Hart lane but it was a Jermain Defoe hat-trick which saw Spurs through the replay with a 3 - 1 success and into the next round.

A defeat in the 4th Round of the FA Cup often signals an early ‘end’ to the season. This year Spurs, however, have their ambitions at the top of the Premier League to maintain interest in their season. Defeat at Watford, however, is not a prospect that anyone at White Hart Lane would want to contemplate and whatever team Spurs send out, the players must be prepared to dig deep and produce the required effort and application to keep alive the hope that it will be another stepping stone on the road to Wembley.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Manchester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Spurs came back from conceding two goals in three minutes in the second half to draw level within six and in the second minute of added time were inches away from winning the game only for City to be awarded a match winning penalty with fifteen seconds remaining.  So nearly a great day for Spurs - a performance to be proud of but ultimately they are now eight points behind City in the title race.

City Make Spurs Pay the Penalty

Manchester City 3  Tottenham Hotspur 2
                           Scorers: Nasri, Lescott, Balotelli (p)            Defoe, Bale 

Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Pienaar), Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Livermore), Defoe  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Bassong, Dawson, Kranjcar, Pavlyuchenko

Jermain Defoe
With the match in added time my prediction that Spurs could win against Manchester City was within inches of becoming a reality only for Jermain Defoe to knock the ball wide of the far post as he stretched to reach a cross from Gareth Bale.  Then with fifteen seconds remaining Ledley King gave away Tottenham's first penalty of the season for City to win the game and increase their lead at the top of the Premier League.

Spurs had shown remarkable powers of recovery to come back from the shock of conceding two quick goals with half an hour remaining but had drawn level within six minutes and from then on looked comfortable and capable of taking all three points.

Spurs had started the game with King in central defence and Defoe replacing the ineligible Emmanuel Adebayor and throughout the first half contained City who were defending a 100% home record this season in the Premier League, having conceded only four goals.  The first half was fairly even with City quick to confront any Tottenham forward movement while Spurs tended to allow City to run with the ball before cutting out the danger as they closed in on the penalty area.  Brad Friedel was quick to come out to meet any dangerous through ball and in this game was taking more responsibility for meeting crosses and corners - punching them clear to relieve the danger.  City had spells of possession but Spurs stood up to the threat and with patience were dangerous through the pace of Bale, Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker.  Defoe worked hard up front on his own but the team did miss the ability of Adebayor to compete for high balls and hold up possession until support arrived.

At the interval Spurs would have been the happier of the two teams although their attacking threat had been minimal but they had coped with any threat City had created.  The first fifteen minutes of the second progressed in a similar fashion but then the game came to life just before the hour.  On fifty six minutes City had possession just inside the Spurs half and this time were given too much time to pick out a pass as Silva found Nasri who had come in from the wing ahead of Walker to hammer a shot past Friedel.  

City suddenly came to life and three minutes later from a corner they reacted quicker to a ball that had been flicked on with Lescott being stronger than Scott Parker as he bundled the ball over the line.  Suddenly, memories of the game at White Hart Lane in August were resurfacing but a minute later Spurs were back in the game.

Younes Kaboul played a high ball forward out of defence and Savic misdirected his defensive header allowing Defoe to run on into the area and as Hart came out he played it past him to score from a tight angle. 

Spurs belief had been restored and they were level within five minutes as Lennon held up the ball on the left and played it across for Bale to strike a beautiful curved shot past Hart from twenty yards.  In five minutes Spurs had increased the number of goals City have conceded at home in ten games this season by 50%.  It was now time for City to have doubts.

The game continued from end to end but neither goalkeeper had a save to make and a draw looked the most likely outcome until those final agonising moments in added time. 

Spurs had been keeping possession well and in the second minute of added time hassled City into a mistake which allowed Bale to run at the defence with Defoe free to his right.  Bale put in a cross which beat the defender and goalkeeper but as Defoe stretched to reach it at the far post he could only knock it just outside the goal.  Spurs had missed a golden opportunity to take all three points. 

The match was drawing to a close but with fifteen seconds left City got the ball forward to Balotelli in the penalty area and as King challenged for the ball both players went down.  The referee could only award a penalty - the first Spurs have conceded this season.  Balotelli scored and City had the three points.

What an unfortunate way to lose - especially after being so close to winning.  What an unfortunate time to concede the first penalty of the season - especially for Ledley King who had played so well in his first game back after injury and brings such authority to the Spurs defence. 

A disappointing result but Spurs know that they can compete with the best and there will be many more good days through the rest of the season.                     


They Played for Spurs and Manchester City

Paul Stewart who scored a goal for Spurs in the 1991 FA Cup Final signed from Manchester City as a striker but became a very useful midfield player at White Hart Lane, going on to play three games for England.  Bert Sproston is one of the more unusual transfers between the two clubs in the season leading up to the Second World War.

Emmanuel Adebayor's loan transfer from Manchester City to Tottenham last August is the first time that Spurs have signed a player from City since Paul Stewart moved from Maine Road to White Hart Lane in 1988.  The last player to move in the opposite direction was Chris Jones who joined City in September, 1982.

Emmanuel Adebayor joined City from Arsenal in 2009 after three years in North London but spent the second half of last season, on loan, at Real Madrid where he scored twice as he helped the Spanish club knock Spurs out of the Champions League.  These added to his eight goals in nine north London derbies.  He failed to score for City in three games against Spurs and redeemed himself somewhat, in the eyes of Spurs supporters, by scoring on his Spurs debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers and twice on his home debut against Liverpool.  He is currently the club's leading goal scorer with 9 goals in the Premier League.  Being on loan, he is ineligible for the match at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.

Paul Stewart 1991 FA Cup Final
Paul Stewart started his career with Blackpool, and joined Manchester City in March, 1987.  He scored 26 League goals for City and fifteen months later joined Spurs for £1.7 million.  Stewart made his debut for Spurs on 1st October 1988, as a substitute in a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United but missed a penalty.  Bought as a striker he scored 12 goals in his first League season with Spurs but when his goals dried up, he was successfully converted to a midfield role.  He was part of the Tottenham midfield which won the FA Cup in 1991, scoring Spurs' equalizing goal in that game.  His conversion to midfield came about almost by accident as Spurs, already a goal down, had to adjust when they were reduced to nine men against Luton Town and Stewart moved back into midfield where he showed an unexpected talent in the position, scoring both goals as Spurs won 2 - 1.  In the summer of 1992 he moved to Liverpool, having expressed the desire to return north but it was an unsuccessful period at Anfield.  He made 131 League appearances for Tottenham, scoring 28 goals.

Chris Jones grew up through the Spurs youth system and made his progression to the League team in August, 1974.  In total he made 185 League and Cup appearances, scoring 42 goals in his nine seasons with the club.  He was a skilful player but was unlucky player in that he often got into good goal scoring positions but couldn't quite turn them into goals.  He helped Spurs to avoid relegation in his first season and was a regular for much of the following season.  He was part of the team which was relegated the next year but played his part as Spurs then won promotion.  He scored 18 League and Cup goals in the next two seasons in the 1st Division but the arrival of Steve Archibald and Garth Crooks saw his first team opportunities diminish.  His best goal scoring performance for Tottenham was an FA Cup 4th Round replay at Wrexham in 1979 where his hat-trick enabled Spurs to progress to the next round with a 3 - 2 win after extra time.  He joined City for £110,000 in September, 1982 but after only three games in two months joined Crystal Palace.  He also played for Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient.

Bert Sproston was an England international full back who joined Spurs from Leeds United in June, 1938 for £9,500, a big fee at the time.  Then the following November he was involved in a very unusual transfer.  Having played nine games for Spurs, he was selected to play against Manchester City at Maine Road but on the day preceding the match he was transferred to City for £10,000 and played for them as Spurs lost 0 - 2.  He had found it difficult to settle in London and remained with City until 1950.  

Alex Steel was with City for eighteen months prior to joining Spurs in the summer of 1908.  He was  a half-back but only made one appearance for Spurs but that game has put him into the Tottenham record books.  On that day in January, 1910 against Bradford City he became the third member  of the Steel family to play for Spurs.  He joined his brothers, Danny and Bobby, in the team, the only occasion when three brothers have played together for Spurs in a League game.

Alex Young who had a long, successful career with Everton joined Spurs in June, 1911 and scored on his debut.  After three goals in his first two games he failed to score in the next three and was omitted from the team.  He immediately demanded a transfer and went to City in November but was only there until the end of the season.  

Bill Felton was a full-back who spent three years with Manchester City before joining Spurs in March, 1932.  He played regularly in the team and captained the side to promotion in 1933 but lost his place midway through the next season and moved to Altrincham in the summer of 1934.

Neil McNab came to Spurs from Morton in 1974 at the age of sixteen for a fee of £40,000, signing as an amateur.  He turned professional in the summer but had already made his League debut against Chelsea as a substitute in April, 1974 which, at the time, made him the youngest player to appear for Spurs in the League.  Over the next number of seasons he played occasionally but in Spurs promotion season he played every game.  The arrival of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in 1978 saw him lose his place following the 0 - 7 defeat at Anfield and he moved to Bolton in November, 1978.  After being with a number of clubs he joined City in July, 1983 and had seven good years at Maine Road, playing probably his best football and helping them to promotion in 1989.  He joined Tranmere Rovers in 1990 for two seasons.

Clive Allen, the son of Les Allen, is one of Harry Redknapp's backroom staff and had two and a half seasons at City after returning from a year in France with Bordeaux.  He had joined Spurs from QPR in 1984 and scored twice on his debut against Everton but injury restricted him during his first two seasons.  In 1986-87 season he set a new Tottenham record by scoring 49 goals including the first in the 1987 FA Cup Final defeat to Coventry City.  That season, he was voted 'Player of the Year' by the PFA and Football Writers Association.  He moved to France in March, 1988.

Clive Wilson, Bobby Mimms and Michael Brown played for City early in their careers and later joined Spurs but Paul Walsh who joined Spurs from Liverpool later joined City. 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tottenham Can WIN against Manchester City

Tottenham face a formidable task as they meet Premier League leaders, Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow afternoon.  Last August it would have seemed unthinkable that Spurs would be only five points behind City following the Manchester's club overwhelming win at White Hart Lane.

Let's be positive because, let's face it, if we can't be no-one else will be.  Spurs can beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.  In August I wrote an article suggesting that Spurs could win at Old Trafford but that proved ill-founded.  United's win, I thought, was not as impressive as the media made out at the time as Spurs had matched them for an hour. 

Perhaps I just made an error over the site of Spurs' success in Manchester this season just as I did in 1966 when throughout the World Cup I was certain that Jimmy Greaves would score a hat-trick in the Final only for his replacement, Geoff Hurst, to snatch the glory.

The match on Sunday can't be classified as the 'winner takes all' scenario that the games in Manchester against City have been in the past two seasons but Spurs must take something from the match to prevent City from opening an eight advantage over them at the top of the Premier League table.  City have a formidable home record in the Premier League this season.  They have won all ten of their home games, scoring 31 goals with only four conceded.  City have however, lost both of their last two home games to United and Liverpool in the Cup competitions.  It is City, however, who are probably under more pressure to succeed as the expectations for them are so high.

Reasons for Spurs to be Positive:
  • Setting aside the game at White Hart Lane in August when City had started the season at a pace while Spurs were still in the starting stalls, encouragement can be taken from the fact that since that game Spurs have taken more points, 46, than any other club in the Premier League.  City had a nine point advantage then but that has been reduced to five.
  • Encouragement can be taken from Tottenham's Premier League record at City's various stadia.
P  14  W  9  D  2  L  3  For  19  Ag  13

In the Premier League era we can also add two League Cup successes (1 - 0 in 1982, 2 - 0 in 2007), an FA Cup triumph (4 - 2 in 1993) and a draw (1 - 1 in 2004) in the same competition. 
  • The past two seasons have seen Spurs play City at the end of the season with a Champions League place up for grabs.  No-one will forget Peter Crouch's goal in May, 2010 which provided Spurs with their passage to Europe's top club competition.  On the night Spurs deservedly took the spoils.  A year later while Crouch's own goal handed the Champions League place to City, it was Spurs who finished the stronger and City fans who were relieved to hear the final whistle.  In that game City had already put together much of the team which Spurs will face tomorrow while Spurs are considerably stronger with the introduction of Scott Parker, Brad Friedel and Kyle Walker.  The team will also include Gareth Bale who was injured at the end of last and Ledley King is rumoured to be ready for this weekend's game.
  • If Ledley King is available to play he brings a much needed assurance to the defence and whoever partners him in central defence, Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson, will be much more confident and reliable in their play.  King brings with him a record of success to the side - he has not appeared in a losing team in the Premier League since August, 2010 when Spurs lost unexpectedly to Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane.  He has played in 17 games since then in all competitions and has remained undefeated with 14 wins and three draws.  His last appearance was against Chelsea when Spurs drew 1 - 1.
  • Spurs will be without Emmanuel Adebayor who can't play as he is on loan at Spurs from City.  City, however, will be without a number of key players - Vincent Kompany who is suspended while Yaya and Kolo Toure are playing in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.  The absence of Adebayor will be a chance for Jermain Defoe to show that he is the striker with a goal scoring instinct that the team has lacked in previous games.  For all their creative, skilful football Spurs have failed to take opportunities which have presented themselves and so victories have been hard-earned against lesser opposition.  This game would be a perfect time to find that clinical goal scoring touch.
The game against City will be an interesting test for Spurs and an opportunity to gauge how far they have progressed as a team when faced with top opposition.  For Spurs to succeed they will need to be secure in defence while being clinical when any goal scoring opportunities arise. 

Equally, it will be  test for City to face the pace and attacking skills of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker, while Rafael Van der Vaart can usually be relied upon to raise his game in  a match of this importance.  A win for Spurs would increase their belief for their prospects for the season, a result would restrict City's progress while a defeat would make life more difficult for Tottenham but would not bring an end to what, so far, has been a fantastic season.

'Come On You Spurs!'


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gareth Bale in UEFA.com 'Team of Year'

Gareth Bale, the Tottenham Hotspur and Wales international and current PFA Footballer of the Year has received another accolade by being named in the prestigious UEFA.com's 'Team of the Year'.  He described being included in the team as a 'special honour'.

Gareth Bale - Tottenham's Super Star
Gareth Bale - selected in UEFA.com 'Team of the Year' for 2011
Liverpool have Steven Gerrard, Manchester United have Wayne Rooney but it's been a long time since Spurs have had a player of such stature who is capable of turning a game with a moment of brilliance.  Now, however, they have Gareth Bale's and his inclusion in the UEFA.com 'Team of the Year' is another step in the remarkable turnaround for the young player since his arrival at Tottenham.  A little over two years ago there were rumours and suggestions of him leaving Spurs as he struggled to live up to the high praise which accompanied his transfer from Southampton in  May, 2007.

Bale, then eighteen years of age, was another player from the successful Southampton Academy to make the step up to a Premier League club and cost Spurs £5 million with the potential to double with appearances and success.  His initial appearances in Martin Jol's side were encouraging.  He made his debut in August, 2007 at Manchester United in a single goal  defeat and a week later scored his first Tottenham goal in a 3 - 3 draw at Fulham when he received the ball from Robbie Keane to race down the left wing and score - a sight which through time would become the norm for watching Spurs fans and opposing defenders.  He scored with a free-kick in the north London derby with Arsenal and then scored in a Carling Cup tie against Middlesbrough giving him three goals in the first four matches he had started for the club.

Spurs' overall results, however, were poor and Juande Ramos replaced Jol in October but in only his second game for the new manager Bale was injured in a Premier League game against Birmingham in December and was to miss the rest of the season.

At the start of the next season Bale alternated between left back and the left side of midfield but the team was struggling and Bale's performance at Stoke in October, 2008 summed up perfectly his own time with Spurs and the club's situation at the time.  The club were bottom of the Premier League with two points and the 1 - 2 defeat in their eighth League match was to be  Ramos' last game in charge in a Premier League match.  In the seventeenth minute, playing at left back, Bale gave the ball away with a poor pass out of defence and as he tried to retrieve the situation he committed a foul to concede a penalty and was dismissed as Stoke scored their opening goal from the penalty spot.

As Bale started his three match suspension, a new manager came in and Bale found it difficult to reclaim his place as Harry Redknapp's team battled to avoid relegation with Benoit Assou-Ekotto playing regularly at left back for the rest of the season.

As season 2009-10 commenced Bale was recovering from surgery during the summer and had an unenviable record weighing heavily on his young shoulders - he had never played on a winning Spurs' team in his two years at the club.  That burden was eventually lifted at the end of September, 2009 when he appeared as a late substitute in Spurs' 5 - 0 win over Burnley - after a record twenty four Premier League matches without a win.

Assou-Ekotto continued to hold the left back position and there was talk that Bale might go out on loan while some clubs were considering putting in a bid for the young player during the January transfer window.  However, an injury to Assou-Ekotto was to give Bale his opportunity for an extended run in the team.  When Assou-Ekotto returned to fitness after a two month absence, Bale moved to left midfield with Luka Modric playing a more central and as the end of the season approached with Spurs looking to grab a Champions League place, Bale scored in consecutive wins at home over Arsenal and Chelsea.

Gareth Bale was now an established member of the Spurs team which played in last season's Champions League and he had established a good understanding with Assou-Ekotto on the left wing. In the first Premier League away game at the Brittania Stadium Bale had a point to prove and did so in style with the two goals which earned Spurs the three points.  He set aside the ghost of his previous problems at Stoke and provided the winning goal with a wonderful left foot volley.

It was at the San Siro Stadium against Inter Milan that Bale announced himself on the world stage.  With Spurs Champions League campaign looking doomed as they faced a four goal deficit with only ten men after thirty five minutes it was Bale who restored some pride for the team with a second half hat-trick with goals of unbelievable quality.  He ran at the Inter defenders with pace and left them floundering on three different occasions as Spurs staged a remarkable comeback to lose by only one goal to the reigning Champions.  By the end it was the Inter fans who were baying for the final whistle.

In the return game a fortnight later as Spurs won 3 - 1, the lasting memory is of Bale once again racing from his own half, down the left wing as chants of "Taxi for Maicon" rang from the White Hart Lane stands with the Inter defender lying prostrate on the ground.  The Inter defender and his colleagues failed to prevent Bale putting in a perfect cross for Roman Pavlyuchenko to score Spurs' third goal of the evening in the final minute.  Then, he had just repeated what he had done less than thirty minutes earlier when Peter Crouch had scored the second goal.

There was now no way that Bale would be leaving White Hart Lane - he was a vital part of the team that Harry Redknapp was developing to challenge the top four teams in the country.  It wasn't easy for Bale as defenders looked for ways to prevent him having an influence on the game and at times he was subject to heavy tackles and finding two or three defenders waiting in his way.

As last season drew to a close the high expectations and number of matches took their toll on all the players and Bale was finding it more difficult to be as effective as he struggled with niggling injuries.  His season finished early following a heavy challenge against Blackpool but refreshed at the start of this season he has shown added qualities in his game by playing from the right as well as the left and by having more freedom to play across midfield.  This was best illustrated against Norwich City over the Christmas period when he scored the two goals which kept up Tottenham's title challenge.  The first came as he supported Emmanuel Adebayor almost as a second striker in the penalty area and the second was the result of  a powerful run from the halfway line to out pace the defenders and lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

At present, much of what is good about Spurs often centres around Gareth Bale.  He has scored seven goals this season and has numerous assists as the team have risen to third position in the Premier League with 46 points from their last 19 matches.

Bale appears to be a very settled young man and he is always the last Tottenham player to leave the pitch at White Hart lane as he acknowledges the supporters on all sides of the ground before leaving the field.

Gareth Bale has played a leading role in the revival of the Wales international team and it is widely expected that he will appear in the Great Britain football team in the London Olympics later in the year.

UEFA.com 'Team of the Year'
It is the first time a Spurs player has made it into the Team of the Year since its inception in 2001 and Bale is the only Premier League player in the 2011 team and becomes the first Welshman to named.
He was up agains the likes of Lille's Edin Hazard, Manchester United's Ashley Young and Chelsea'a Juan Mata for the left midfield position.

Gareth Bale was quick to praise his team mates at Tottenham for the part they played in him receiving this accolade.  Luka Modric was also on the shortlist in central midfield and Gareth is one of only three players not based in Spain's La Liga to make the cut.