Monday, April 30, 2012

Redknapp to Miss Out as England Manager

After three months of intensive speculation and scrutiny where every match was viewed as an extended audition for the England manager's post, the Football Association have announced that they have been granted permission by West Bromwich Albion to interview their manager, Roy Hodgson, for the England position.

So Harry Redknapp, the 'Darling of the Media', the 'people's Champion' and the players' favourite appears to have missed out on his 'dream' appointment and what he often described as an opportunity he would find difficult to turn down.  Harry Redknapp has become like Brian Clough in the 1970s, the manager everyone wanted in charge of England but the Football Association thought otherwise.

It seemed to be no co-incidence, back in February, that the Football Association arranged their crucial meeting with their former manager, Fabio Capello, for late in the day when Harry Redknbapp's court case would come to a conclusion.  Having failed to reach agreement with Capello over the John Terry captaincy issue, the manager's departure and the clamour from the media, players and public placed Redknapp in yet another spotlight with him the overwhelming favourite to take over the reins in time to lead the England team in this summer's Euro Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

The Football Association in what was seen as an attempt to avoid disrupting a club in mid-season waited in making any approach for the appointment and put Stuart Pearce in temporary charge.  There were, however, only two names thought likely to be under consideration - Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson.  Such was the focus on Redknapp that his every move and decision at Tottenham was questioned with regard to the England position.

Distraction to the Tottenham Season?
As time passed, Redknapp's position and his famed man-management skills started to take a hammering as the Spurs' form dipped and people queried his tactics and team selections.  Since the departure of Capello, Spurs' win over Blackburn Rovers was only their third success in eleven Premier League matches and there have been some unflattering results along the way.  Everything was great as Spurs thrashed Newcastle United in the immediate aftermath of the court case but then they failed to overcome League 1 team Stevenage in the FA Cup, needing a replay to progress.  Having taken a two goal lead before half-time against Arsenal, Spurs conceded twice before the interval and in the second half were unable to stem the flow against a revitalised home team.  This was followed by a 3 - 1 defeat against a lack-lustre Manchester United at White Hart Lane and so the results continued to slip and Spurs who in mid-February had seemed assured of a Champions League place had slipped to sixth ahead of the Blackburn match.  They also were humiliated in the FA Cup semi-final when Chelsea scored five at Wembley.  None of these results looked good on any hypothetical application for the England position.  Along with the results question arose concerning tactics, the preparation for matches, January transfer dealings at the club and player rotation which culminated in rumours of player dissatisfaction.  As time passed, the situation worsened for Redknapp with the possibility of managing England in the summer an obvious distraction for him and the club.

The West Ham Connection
While Harry Redknapp was considered to be the FA's favoured choice with their Chairman, David Bernstein, frequently photographed attending Spurs' matches or present at games which Redknapp was at as part of his Tottenham duties, there was no official comment on the position but it was known that there was one dissenting voice within the heriarchy at the Football Association, Sir Trevor Brooking.  From his time at West Ham United, he is no supporter of Harry Redknapp and may have been voicing disquiet at such an appointment and even, perhaps, favouring Roy Hodgson.  

The Long Drawn Out Process
The result of this lengthy process is that Roy Hodgson will probably become the new England manager in the not too distant future.  This appointment suits the FA as the cheaper option as Hodgson is out of contract at West Bromwich Albion in the summer with no compensation to be paid.  Tottenham would, however, have required payment for the release of Redknapp from his contract and Daniel Levy is well known for his difficult and protracted negotiations.

Spurs disappointing run since February would appear to have gone against Redknapp while Hodgson's difficulties at Liverpool have been overlooked.  Redknapp would have brought flair to an England team while Hodgson will provide a well organised team,  as he has done at Fulham and West Bromwich but will the experienced international players respond to this in the same way as a club side?  Hodgson's experience of international football and tournament play may have given him an advantage over Redknapp but if he doesn't bring some semblance of success to the team in the Euro2012, there will be complaints all round.

What of Tottenham?
Uncertainty has been the key-word at Tottenham for the past number of months.  It was considered almost a certainty that Redknapp would be off and tentative plans would have been put in place for his replacement.  There has been constant media speculation around players at the club - Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker would be on many clubs wanted list, while Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Rafael Van der Vaart would attract interest if uncertainty continues at the club and especially if they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League competition.

Other players within the squad are nearing the end of their careers through age or with injury issues - both goalkeepers, Brad Friedel and Carlo Cudicini, are veterans while Ledley King and William Gallas both have injury issues and can not be relied on to play regularly.  The January transfer signings, Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen were only short-term options and have no future at the club.  Emmanuel Adebayor will probably be off as Spurs can not match his wage demands and Jermain Defoe is unhappy about his restricted opportunities.  There could be considerable scope for change at White Hart Lane during the summer but will Harry Redknapp be there to oversee it?  There have been suggestions that even if he didn't get the England post, that he would be on his way out in the summer - only time will tell.

The protracted period of waiting to replace Capello has worked well for the Football Association but Tottenham have come out of the process badly.  Their manager has been distracted or to put it into Redknapp footballing speak, 'he had his head turned' by the thought of managing his country and Spurs' season has fallen away as a consequence.  From a potential title challenge they slipped through the certainty of a third place finish and a guaranteed Champions League place to scrapping to hold fourth and the possibility of qualification as long as Chelsea fail to win the trophy next month.  

With three matches to go, Harry Redknapp and Spurs know what they need to do - set aside all distractions that have come about through speculation on the England manager's position and players' future plans and concentrate on winning the games at Bolton and Aston Villa and winning the final game of the season against Fulham at White Hart Lane.  


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tottenham 2 Blackburn Rovers 0

Spurs comfortable win over relegation fearing Blackburn restored their grip on fourth place in the Premier League having slipped to sixth after Chelsea's win over Queen's Park Rangers earlier in the day.  A goal in each half secured the points with Kyle Walker's strike from a free-kick the outstanding memory from one of Spurs' easiest and most one-sided Premier League victories.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Blackburn Rovers 0
Scorers: Van der Vaart, Walker

Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Rose; Lennon (Giovanni), Sandro (Livermore), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe); Adebayor  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, King, Nelsen, Saha

Spurs won a game which they totally dominated with Blackburn unable to make even one attempt on goal during the ninety minutes.  Spurs controlled the game and were given the time to pass the ball around at will and the only disappointment was that they failed to capitalise on the visitor's lack of ambition and score some more goals.

Younes Kaboul, Danny Rose, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor started in place of Ledley King, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Scott Parker and Jermain Defoe who had played against Queen's Park Rangers.  King and Defoe were on the bench while Assou-Ekotto and Parker were injured.  

Spurs started  quickly and could have scored inside a minute when Luka Modric's cross found its way to the back post but Lennon put his shot into the side netting.  A few minutes later Sandro made a powerful run into the penalty area but was unfortunate that as he fell after being tackled, the ball struck him and went out for a goal kick.  After seven minutes good play between Modric and Adebayor found Sandro whose powerful shot from the edge of the box struck the bar. 

Blackburn were posing no threat and Spurs continued to dominate but without creating any clear goal scoring opportunities.  After twenty two minutes, the breakthrough came when Lennon's cross from the right was headed against the bar by Bale and while Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart seemed to get in each other's way, Van der Vaart managed to give Spurs the lead.

Almost immediately, Spurs had the opportunity to increase their lead with a quick break in a three against three situation but Lennon who carried the ball from his own half shot over instead of putting Bale or Adebayor into a scoring position.

After half an hour the stats showed Spurs to have had 71% possession and 6 attempts on goal to the visitors none.  This total Tottenham possession continued and a good move on the left between Modric and Rose ended with the full back through on goal but Paul Robinson was out quickly at Rose's feet to smother the danger.  William Gallas struck the bar with a header from a corner, three minutes before the interval.

The second half continued with the same pattern of Rovers pulling eleven men back into defence and Spurs passing the ball about as if it were a practice match.  Brad Friedel had a very comfortable afternoon and was untroubled in his 301st consecutive Premier League match.  With such dominance the match lacked urgency and Spurs didn't really threaten Robinson's goal but with fifteen minutes remaining Kyle Walker brought White Hart Lane to life.

Spurs were awarded a free-kick in the centre of the pitch about thirty yards out.  Rovers lined up a wall with Van der Vaart looking as if he was once again taking responsibility for the set-piece.  Then, Walker stepped up and curled a shot around the wall and past Robinson, giving the former Spurs goalkeeper no chance.  It was Walker's second goal for Spurs - the PFA Young Player of the Year doesn't go in for ordinary run of the mill goals, with his first having been the winner against Arsenal earlier in the season.  This goal gave Spurs the comfort zone they needed to see out the rest of the game without any trouble.

In ninety plus minutes Rovers had one corner and no attempts on goal, a very strange performance from a team needing the points to avoid relegation.  Spurs had 71% possession with 17 goal attempts and five on target.  Spurs have now won their last six matches against Blackburn.

Now its on to the Reebox Stadium on Wednesday evening where Spurs will face another team with relegation worries but it will be a much sterner test against Bolton.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spurs 5 Blackburn 2 Match Report - May, 1965

A memorable match at White Hart Lane saw Spurs defeat Blackburn 5 - 2 in season 1964 - 65 when they were undefeated at home but won only one away game all season.  Norman Giller's match report from the Daily Express highlights the need for consistent goalscorers in a successful team.
Friday, 16th April, 1965
(from the Daily Express)
THIS No. 7

Spurs 5  Blackburn 2   ****

Three goals from Alan Gilzean 
and two from Jimmy Greaves
tell their own story of another 
slaughter by the mighty G-men 
of Tottenham.

This was Gilzean's first three-
goal show for Spurs - but it
could not rob Greaves of the 
match-star rating.

The news from White Hart Lane 
for Alf Ramsey, England manager: 
There is a better right winger in the 
League than Liverpool's Peter 

He is Greaves by name and 
destructive by nature.

Greaves played on the right wing
because of an injury to Cliff Jones.
And Greaves was magnificent.

He scored twice, helped create
two for Gilzean - and was robbed
of a third in the 88th minute
when signalled off-side after netting
what looked to me to be a perfect goal.

Blackburn?  They were never
in the game in the first half and
made an impact on only rare
occasions in the second.

Gilzean's 77th-minute goal was
the best.  He cleverly put the
finishing touches to a four-man
move involving Eddie Clayton,
Roy Low and, inevitably, Greaves.

The G-men's other goals: 
Gilzean (14 and 44 minutes), 
Greaves (22, 83).  
Blackburn came briefly but brilliantly
into the game with goals by 
Bryan Douglas (46) and Andy 
McEvoy (49)

Team: Jennings; Knowles, Henry; Mullery, Brown, L., Clayton; Greaves, Low, Saul, Gilzean, Weller

The win over Blackburn Rovers took Spurs to 5th place in the 1st Division, a point behind Everton, after thirty nine games.  The top three teams, Leeds United, Chelsea and Manchester United, however, were ten plus points ahead.  

Spurs ended the 1964 - 65 season with five consecutive wins scoring 25 goals.  
Their home record for the season was:
P  21  W  18  D  3  L  0  For  65  Ag  20

They finished the season in 6th place and it is the only occasion that Spurs have gone through a complete season undefeated at home. 


Spurs Home Record Against Blackburn Rovers

A record stating that Tottenham have won their last five matches against Blackburn Rovers is always a worrying statistic for a Spurs fan.  For most clubs that would be something to build on and boost confidence but for Spurs in their current fragile state it could become another burden too heavy to carry even against a relegation threatened Blackburn team who have  only won once in their last six Premier League matches.  Spurs, of course, have only one win in their last nine games.

Spurs Home League Record against Blackburn Rovers (inc PL)

P  47  W  30  D  7  L  10  For  110  Ag  60

Home Premier League Record
P  17  W  9  D  3  L  5  For  25  Ag  22

Spurs have won the last five games against Blackburn.

22nd Oct. 2011  PL  (a)  Won 2 - 1  Van der Vaart (2)
A goal in each half from Rafael Van der Vaary secured the points for Spurs at Ewood Park as they extended their unbeaten run to six matches.  Match Report

2nd Feb. 2011  PL  (a)  Won 1 - 0  Crouch
A headed goal by Peter Crouch after three minutes from a long diagonal cross by  Rafael Van der Vaart brought Spurs the win which enabled Spurs to complete the 'double' over their northern opponents.

Last Match at White Hart Lane
13th Nov. 2010  PL  (h)  Won 4 - 2  Bale (2), Pavlyuchenko, Crouch
Spurs were two ahead at the interval, having missed a penalty, and had added another two in the opening half hour of the second half.  Blackburn's late goals with one from current Spurs player, Ryan Nelsen, brought some respectability to the scoreline, although Spurs contributed to the goals with poor defensive play.

13th Mar. 2010  PL  (h)  Won 3 - 1  Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (2)
Jermain Defoe gave Spurs the lead on the interval.  Roman Pavlyuchenko scored a second ten minutes into the second half.  With ten minutes to go Rovers pulled one back through their former captain, Samba, but Pavlyuchenko restored Spurs' advantage five minutes later.

19th Dec. 2009  PL  (a)  Won 2 - 0  Crouch (2)
After a difficult first half, Crouch gave Spurs the lead on half-time.  Spurs battled in the second half to maintain their lead which Crouch increased with a good goal, with seven minutes remaining.

23rd Nov. 2008  PL  (h)  Won 1 - 0  Pavlyuchenko
A goal after ten minutes was sufficient for Spurs to take the three points as they recovered from the previous week's defeat at Fulham, their first defeat under Harry Redknapp.

28th Oct. 2007  PL  (h)  Lost 1 - 2  Keane (pen)
Martin Jol's sacking in midweek with Clive Allen in temporary charge and Juande Ramos waiting in the wings was the background to Rovers last win at White Hart Lane.  Robbie Keane had given Spurs an early second half lead from the penalty spot.  Blackburn drew level on the hour and took the points with a late goal from Samba.

10th May, 2007  PL  (h)  Draw 1 - 1  Defoe
The penultimate match of the season was played on a Thursday evening and the point took Spurs closer to European qualification.  Rovers went ahead in the first half but Defoe equalised with over twenty minutes remaining.  Spurs ended the season in fifth and a Europa League place.

5th Mar. 2006  PL  (h)  Won 3 - 2  Keane (2), Mido
Spurs were battling to take fourth place in the Premier League and two goals by Keane gave them the advantage in the first half but Rovers pulled a goal back before the interval.  They drew level as Spurs withstood a second half onslaught but took the points with a goal by Mido.  The match is remembered for Keane's first goal as he juggled the ball as he made his way in along the touch line before scoring.

14th May, 2005  PL  (h)  Draw 0 - 0
Spurs' hopes of a UEFA Cup place were dashed as they failed to beat a stubborn Blackburn side in the final match of the season.

8th May, 2004  PL  (h)  Won 1 - 0  Defoe
In what had been a difficult season with Spurs at one point fearing relegation, they won their last home match through an early Defoe goal.  David Pleat's spell as caretaker manager was coming to an end with Spurs having searched for a new manager from September when Glenn Hoddle was sacked.

11th May, 2003  PL  (h)  Lost 0 - 4
The final game of the season ended a poor period for Spurs who lost three of their last four matches, conceding 11 goals.  It was Teddy Sheringham's farewell game but disappointed fans showed their frustrations against Glenn Hoddle, the team and the Board with many throwing their season tickets on to the pitch at the end.

Memorable Home Match against Blackburn
16th April, 1964 1st Div.  (h)  Won 5 - 2  Greaves (2), Gilzean (3)
The first of the three Easter fixtures on Good Friday, saw Spurs win comfortably with the 'G'-men at their very best.  Jimmy Greaves and Alan Gilzean sharing the goals as Gilzean, signed the previous December, scoring his first hat-trick for the club.  Match report from the Daily Express.

This match was the fourth in a remarkable run of five home games at the end of the 1964 - 65 season when Spurs scored 25 goals, conceding 9.  They were undefeated at home throughout the season but won only once away from home.  In the final five matches they defeated Blackpool 4 - 1, Wolves 7 - 4, Liverpool 3 - 0, Blackburn 5 - 2 and Leicester 6 - 2.

In the third of the Easter games at Ewood Park on Easter Monday, Spurs lost 1 - 3, having lost by a single goal at Sheffield Wednesday on the Saturday - and the current players are feeling fatigue?


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Excellent Article on Players Unrest at Spurs

A very interesting article from on the current situation at Tottenham with many players unhappy with the loss of form, training and preparation for matches.

Link: Players Unrest at Tottenham

Tottenham Players Revolt Against Manager Redknapp

By Wayne Veysey and Greg Stobart

A cabal of players, including some of the most senior at the club, have communicated their frustrations via their agents over the last few weeks to chairman Daniel Levy during a run of just one win from nine Premier League matches. understands they have complained about Redknapp's tactics and match preparation, with one enduring theme being that training during the week is providing little preparation for the weekend fixtures.

It is believed that senior Spurs figures have been so alarmed by the players' feedback and a catastrophic run of results that they would consider replacing Redknapp as manager at the end of the season, even in the unlikely event that he does not quit Tottenham to become the new England boss.

The club has abandoned plans to try and persuade the 65-year-old to stay at White Hart Lane and will not offer him the four-year £16 million contract they had prepared.

Although has learned that Redknapp is far from at loggerheads with his entire squad – reports of a bust-up with Emmanuel Adebayor are wide of the mark - a significant number of players have questioned events on the training ground.

"The players feel they are not going into matches well enough prepared," a Tottenham source told "For instance, they will practice all week in a 4-5-1 formation and then play 4-4-2 at the weekend. Or vice versa.

"They also feel there is not enough attention to detail and tactics. One common complaint is little or no practice defending set-pieces. There are question marks about the coaching and how much the players are improving through the input of the staff."

The dressing room unrest is not just restricted to players affiliated with one particular agent who has involvement with a significant proportion of the Tottenham squad.

Some of the Spurs players are feeling the effects of a 49-match campaign in which Redknapp has tended to pick his strongest available XI for every league and FA Cup game, rather than juggle his resources.

Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Scott Parker, Kyle Walker, Brad Friedel, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Younes Kaboul and Adebayor have each started at least 28 of Spurs' 34 league matches, an unusually high proportion even though the club's involvement in the Europa League ended before Christmas.

"Some of the players are exhausted and, as a result, their standards have dropped," the source added. "If you look at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson meticulously manages the entire season and keeps freshening up the team while relying on a core of regulars. Harry just picks the best XI and lets them get on with it."

Redknapp's January dealings, in which he sold Roman Pavlyuchenko and allowed Steven Pienaar, Sebastien Bassong and Vedran Corluka to leave on loan - replacing them with injury-prone pair Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen - has also raised eyebrows.

Senior Spurs figures are coming to the conclusion that a parting of the ways with Redknapp is desirable following a run of five defeats and three draws in nine league games since beating Newcastle 5-0 on February 11, when Tottenham were third in the table and 10 points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal.

The 5-1 FA Cup semi-final humiliation at the hands of Chelsea has also been a key factor in the change of thinking at the top of the club.

Spurs will not try and change Redknapp's mind if, as expected, the FA make an official approach to the club to secure him as the next England manager.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Redknapp in Row at Tottenham

The internet and  Twitter has come to life with rumours that there has been a major fall-out between Harry Redknapp and a number of players which has resulted in at least two of them being omitted from the team which lost to Queen's Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Saturday.

Training Ground Bust-up at Spurs

Rumours have surfaced that Harry Redknapp and a number of players had a training ground fall-out last week.  It is reported that the manager was critical of striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, who got angry at this and as a result the manager has stated that Adebayor will not play again while he is at the club.  It is suggested that three other players were also involved, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon and and PFA 'Young Player of the Year', Kyle Walker.

This may explain the absence of Adebayor and Kaboul from Saturday's squad and Redknapp's reluctance to give details of  who was injured at his pre-match press conference at the end of last week.  While it was assumed that Kaboul was injured, someone at Tottenham is reported to have said that Kaboul was not injured.

Since these rumours have surfaced, sources have come forward to play them down stating that there is no truth in them while others claim that while there may have been an issue that it was not as serious as is being suggested and that it is hoped that Adebayor will be fit to play against Blackburn Rovers next weekend.

Another suggestion is that the players have grown tired of the training ground routines that they follow each day, with the 'old guard' coaching staff of Redknapp, Kevin Bond, Joe Jordan and Clive Allen failing to introduce anything new and failing to be aware of any modern thinking in training methods.

All of this adds to the uncertainty at the club which has not been helped by the speculation that Harry Redknapp is England manager-elect come the end of the season.  Since Harry Redknapp was cleared in his court case at the end of February and the subsequent departure of Fabio Capello, it has been taken as a given that Redknapp would be the new manager.  Since then Spurs results have taken a dramatic downward turn.

There has always been and always will be fall-outs at football clubs during training, such is the competitive nature of the players and Manchester City have shown that this season.  Looking at the Spurs situation from both sides, however, the rumours could well explain the performance of the team on Saturday and the demeanour of the individual players.

A group of players who were very united and who showed great commitment in the early part of the season in fighting performances which won points at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion has now slipped to a new low with only one win in nine Premier League games.  

The defeat at Loftus Road was uncharacteristic for the demeanour of the players with many showing annoyance with each other.  Brad Friedel who had brought a composure to what had been often been a frantic Tottenham defence with Heurelho Gomnes in goal, was uncertain on Saturday with his distribution which unnerved the defence.  The question, however, has to be asked if the defenders were taking up positions to allow him to play it out to them as he would have done previously.  He was also absolutely livid that the players in the defensive wall didn't jump at the free-kick which gifted QPR their goal.  Later in the first half there was an occasion when William Gallas and Benoit Assou-Ekotto had a shouting match during play - something that wouldn't have happened earlier in the season.

On the other hand, however, it is often when a club is going through a bad spell that rumours of disagreements and strife within a club appear.

Whatever the truth and we, the supporters, will probably never know, this latest episode just adds to the rich tapestry of life that is Tottenham Hotspur as they continue on their roller coaster of a season.  The only question that remains is will the downward spiral take a dramatic final upward shot towards the stars and a Champions League place.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kyle Walker Wins PFA Young Player of the Year Award

Kyle Walker
Congratulations to Kyle Walker on winning the Young Player of the Year award at the Professional Footballers' Association ceremony.  He is thoroughly deserving of the award in this his first full season playing in the Premier League.  He has made the right back position his own in the Spurs team with exciting performances through the year.  He scored his first goal for Tottenham in the North London derby at White Hart Lane and was unfortunate that his goal against Bolton had to be ruled out when the FA Cup tie was abandoned.  He also made his full England debut and was named Man of th eMatch fo rhis performance against Sweden in November.

Walker is in good company with Glenn Hoddle a past winner.  Other previous winners with Spurs connections who won it while with other clubs include, Paul Gascoigne and Jermaine Jenas (at Newcastle), Scott Parker (Charlton & Chelsea) and Paul Walsh (Luton Town).

Congratulations, also, to Scott Parker and Gareth Bale who join Walker in the PFA Team of the Year.  Bale and Parker were the winners of the Player of the Year awards last season, awarded by the PFA and the Football Writers Association.


Tottenham - Tottanic

From a Spurs messageboard, also seen it on Twitter - it just about sums up the good ship Tottenham Hotspur over the past number of weeks.  Enjoy!!

QPR 1 Spurs 0 Match report


Saturday, April 21, 2012

QPR 1 Tottenham 0

Spurs lost at Loftus Road to an Adel Taarabt goal scored directly from a free-kick in the first half.  With ten minutes remaining QPR were reduced to ten men when the goalscorer was shown a second yellow card but Spurs never looked like saving a point and now find themselves in fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Newcastle United.

Spurs Season Continues to Capitulate

Queen's Park Rangers 1  Tottenham Hotspur 0
Scorer: Taarabt
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto (Rose); Sandro (Lennon), Parker (Giovanni); Van der Vaart, Modric, Bale; Defoe  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Livermore, Smith, Khumalo

After a minute of the game at Loftus Road, Chris Waddle commented that Spurs had started brightly - it was a comment he was to regret as Spurs' play quickly lost momentum and direction, faced with a determined Queen's Park Rangers team.  Tottenham once again lacked anyone to lift the game and make an impression on behalf of the team and it quickly became a re-run of what has happened for the past two months as Spurs have seen their Champions League aspirations slowly disappear in an unprecedented capitulation.

Injuries to Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha meant that Jermain Defoe started the match as the lone striker with Sandro and Scott Parker in central midfield behind a three of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart.  William Gallas and Ledley King again played in front of the returning Brad Friedel.  Injury to Ryan Nelsen and Younes Kaboul saw Khumalo and Adam Smith on the bench.

Spurs had an early strike when Benoit Assou-Ekotto shot over following a free-kick but almost immediately, Mackie on the right caused the left back problems with a powerful run and shot which went past.  Kyle Walker was playing wide on the right and Assou-Ekotto was also looking to get forward with Bale and Van der Vaart drifting infield.

A period of QPR pressure showed the first signs that the Spurs defence was looking shaky and uncomfortable as they played themselves into trouble when Friedel delayed in clearing a back pass.  Spurs then had the greater possession but were making little headway against a well organised home team who defended in numbers and looked to attack on the break.  Spurs constantly tried to play through the middle where QPR had greatest numbers but their passing was too slow and ponderous.  

The next threat came from a Van der Vaart corner which Bale headed goalwards but Kenny saved. From the resulting corner the ball came back out to Van der vaart and Kenny saved his powerful shot at full stretch.

Queen's Park Rangers were awarded a soft free-kick when Sandro touched the ball with his hand as he fell backwards after making a good tackle.  From the free-kick, the former Spurs player, Adel Taarabt, lifted it over the wall and past a slow to react Friedel who was troubled throughout the first half with the low setting sun.  It was a poor goal to concede and the home side's only real threat on goal.

Spurs continued to cause themselves difficulty in defence but on the half-hour another Van der Vaart shot was saved by the goalkeeper with Defoe heading the rebound over.  Spurs had the more possession but QPR coped well with the limited threat they posed.  In the final minutes before the interval a dangerous run by Modric saw Van der Vaart back heel an effort towards goal and then in the final minute Barton shot over.

Aaron Lennon replaced Sandro at half-time but it was the home side who started the better with Spurs only effort on goal being a Defoe header from a Van der Vaart free-kick which was saved by Kenny.  The home team were growing in confidence and with their hard work were comfortably holding on to the lead.  

With thirteen minutes remaining there was confusion as Taarabt was sent off after being shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away.  A few seconds later the referee then produced a red card, realising that it was the goalscorer's second yellow card.  For the rest of the match QPR were encamped on the edge of their box to deny Spurs with only the occasional break.  For all this possession, Spurs didn't actually look like getting an equaliser as their only efforts on goal were shots from Modric, Van der Vaart and Giovani which Kenny dealt with easily.

Three points greatly enhance QPR's hopes of retaining their Premier League status for another season but no points for Spurs looks as if their hopes of Champions League football next year are all but over.  This loss of form is a mirror image of the way Spurs ended last season and once again Harry Redknapp seems incapable of turning it around.  The loss of what earlier in the season had seemed a certainty will be even harder to accept than the last day defeat at West Ham which denied them a Champions League place under Martin Jol.

None of the players are playing with any confidence.  Their play which was so bright and quick earlier in the season is now ponderous and easy for a team to defend against.  No-one comes out of this match with any credit and with only one Premier League win since thrashing Newcastle in mid-February, that is only one win in nine games, Spurs look incapable of winning any of their final four matches even though they are against teams at the lower end of the table.  There is every likelihood they will slip below Chelsea in a season which was being heralded as one where they were playing the best best since the 1960s - a disappointing end to the season which had held such promise.


Spurs Away Record against QPR

For Spurs, requiring three points to re-ignite their Champions League challenge, a visit to Loftus Road is not the most appealing of venues where they have only won on five occasions in twenty one previous meetings.  The task, even ignoring Spurs own poor recent form, will be made even more difficult with Queen's Park Rangers need for points to avoid an immediate return to Championship football next season. 

Spurs League Record at Loftus Road (inc. PL)
P  21  W  5  D  7  L  9  For  25  Ag  32

Away PL Record against QPR
P  4  W  1  D  1  L  2  For  6  Ag  9 

March, 1949  Div. 2   Draw 0 - 0
Spurs and Queen's Park Rangers first met in the 2nd Division in season 1948-49 following QPR's promotion.  The first match at Loftus Road in March, 1949 ended in a scoreless draw as Spurs finished the season in 5th place, once again missing out on promotion.  Many of the players who were to become the famous 'Push and Run' team of 1949 on, were already at White Hart Lane - Ted Ditchburn, Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess, Len Duquemin, Eddie Baily and others - but it was to take a change of manager at the end of the season when Arthur Rowe replaced Joe Hulme, for all of the pieces to fall into place.

April, 1950  Div. 2  Won 2 - 0  Medley, Baily
The following season Spurs had their first success in West London with a 2 - 0 victory in April, 1950 which ensured their promotion to the 1st Division for the first time since 1934-35, an absence of fifteen years.  While QPR were battling against relegation, it was an exciting match, which a newspaper report of the time described as having 'the characteristics of a cup-tie.  It was fast, it was exciting and there was a sprinkling of really good football'

Spurs went ahead after seventeen minutes when Les Medley scored and secured their victory when Eddie Baily added a second with fifteen minutes remaining.

The clubs didn't meet again until 1968-69 when QPR were promoted to the 1st Division for the first time in their history following a meteoric rise from the 3rd Division and success in the League Cup as a 3rd Division side in 1967.

Feb. 1968  Div. 1  Draw 1 - 1  Greaves
The most notable fact from this match was that the Morgan twins, Ian and Roger, who had been part of the QPR success story of previous years were on opposite sides as Roger had joined Spurs the previous February for a fee of £110,000.  QPR were relegated at the end of the season and didn't to the 1st Division until 1973.

March, 1974  Div. 1  Lost 1 - 3  Chivers (pen)

March, 1975  Div. 1  Won 1 - 0  Duncan
A vital win for Spurs in a season of turmoil.  Bill Nicholson had resigned the previous August and was replaced by Terry Neill.  in a difficult year Spurs were in a constant battle against relegation and the points gained at Loftus Road when new signing John Duncan who had cost £140,000 when signed from Dundee, scored the only goal of the match, helped secure their survival come the end of the season.  It was Spurs second successive victory, having beaten Wolves 3 - 0 the previous day.  Duncan scored after 23 minutes but the win came as the result of a strong defensive display and an outstanding performance from Pat Jennings.

Nov. 1975  Div.1  Draw 0 - 0

Jan. 1977  Div. 1  Lost 1 - 2  Duncan
Duncan again scored Spurs only goal but it wasn't enough to gain any points and come the end of the season Spurs, now under Keith Burkinshaw, were unable to avoid relegation.

Dec. 1978  Div. 1  Draw 2 - 2  Lee, Taylor (pen)
The Boxing Day fixture came a few days after the humiliating five goal home defeat to Arsenal but Spurs re-grouped to take a point with goals from Colin Lee and a Peter Taylor penalty.  QPR were relegated at the end of the season but returned in 1983.

April, 1984  Div. 1  Lost 1 - 2  Archibald
Spurs finished the season in 8th position but newly promoted QPR were three places above them.  Steve Archibald scored Spurs only goal in one of his last games for the club as he joined Terry Venables at Barcelona in the summer.  Archibald had an excellent finale to his time at Spurs, scoring five goals in his last five matches.

Jan. 1985  Div. 1  Draw 2 - 2  Falco, Crooks

April, 1986  Div. 1  Won 5 - 2  Falco (2), Allen, C. (2), Hoddle
In a disappointing season, Spurs finished with a flourish, winning five of the last seven games and scoring fourteen goals in the final three games.  Such improved form was not enough to save Peter Shreeve from the sack and he was replaced by David Pleat.

April, 1992  Div. 1  Won 2 - 1  Gray, Durie

Sept. 1995  Div. 1  Won 3 - 2  Sheringham (2) (1 pen), Dozzell
Teddy Sheringham maintained his record of scoring at Loftus Road, having been responsible for all of Spurs goals in their previous three visits.  In the last match the two clubs played at QPR, the home side had a two goal advantage early in the second half, only for Sheringham to score with a penalty two minutes later.  The turn around continued in the second half with two goals from in a minute from Jason Dozzell and Sheringham to give Gerry Francis victory over his former club.

This Season's Match at White Hart Lane: Spurs 3 QPR 1


Monday, April 16, 2012

Spurs and Controversy in the FA Cup Semi-Finals

The controversial goal given to Chelsea at Wembley by the referee in the FA Cup semi-final is not the first time that Spurs have been on the wrong end of decisions at this stage of the competition.  It started back in 1922 and has been a regular feature of the semi-final defeats ever since.

It's Nothing New but Why is it ALWAYS Spurs?

Spurs FA Cup semi-final record now stands at nineteen played and nine wins, the latest, tenth, defeat just adding to the sense of injustice felt before at this stage of the competition.

In 1922 Spurs reached their third FA Cup semi-final.  They had won the previous two but on this occasion they were again drawn to play Preston North End, the club they had defeated in the previous year's semi-final.

Preston gained revenge for the previous year’s defeat in controversial circumstances.  Spurs were favourites to win and played in that manner throughout the first half and went a goal up through Jimmy Seed.  Preston looked a beaten team at half-time but in the second half were re-vitalised and equalised.  Spurs came back into the game and looked to have scored when a shot from Bert Bliss beat the goalkeeper and was on its way into the net.  At this point the referee stopped the game to attend to an injured Preston player.  He decreed that he had blown the whistle before the ball entered the net and disallowed the goal.  To add insult to injury, the player hadn't been seriously injured.  This decision demoralised the Spurs players and Preston went on to score the winning goal.

In 1956 Spurs returned to Villa Park where they had lost at this stage of the competition in 1948 and 1953.

Villa Park was becoming a bogey ground for Spurs where FA Cup semi-final games were concerned. In 1955-56 they again had the misfortune to lose there at the penultimate stage – this time to Manchester City.  It was a refereeing mistake that helped to prevent Spurs achieving that first Wembley final.  Spurs were a goal down but in the final minutes were battling for an equaliser.   The captain, Danny Blanchflower had moved centre half, Maurice Norman, forward into the attack as he had done successfully in the previous round against West Ham.  In the dieing moments winger George Robb was through on goal and about to score when the Manchester City goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, caught hold of his legs.  A goal or a penalty, Spurs should have scored but somehow, unbelievably, the officials saw nothing and Spurs had once again fallen short. 

Then followed, seven successful FA Cup semi-finals from 1961 through to 1991.  However, the game in 1993 at Wembley against Arsenal was to be the first of what has now become six consecutive semi-final defeats.  That defeat was also surrounded in controversy.

In 1993 a visit to Wembley was required when Spurs and Arsenal were again drawn together.   Terry Venables’ team were left feeling hard done by when a refereeing decision influenced the result.  Spurs were denied a penalty when Darren Anderton was brought down in the penalty area in the first half.  If Spurs had been awarded a penalty and Arsenal reduced to ten men with over an hour to play the complexion of the game might have been different.   it wasn’t, however, and then with ten minutes remaining the Arsenal goal was scored from a dubious free-kick although tighter marking by the Spurs’ defence could have eliminated the danger.

A further defeat in 1999 ended Spurs chances of a Cup 'double' under George Graham - once again the referee had his say in the result and needless to say it wasn't in Spurs favour. 

Spurs under George Graham had already won the Worthington Cup and were looking for a Cup ‘double’ as they took on Newcastle United at Old Trafford.  Spurs weren’t at their best against Newcastle but the game turned on the hour when the referee missed a blatant handball by the Newcastle defender, Dabizas, as he struggled to head clear from a free-kick. The game remained scoreless and went into extra time when from a similar situation Campbell was penalised and Newcastle were awarded a penalty.   Shearer scored and with Spurs deflated, added a second to end Spurs’ dreams of a second visit to Wembley.

The defeat in 2010 was hard to take as Spurs were clear favurites against a Portsmouth team they had defeated easily in both League games earlier in the season.

The south coast club were in dire straits facing both relegation and financial problems.  In the semi-final Portsmouth worked extremely hard throughout and Spurs simply couldn't respond or lift their game.  The match went into extra time and was looking destined for penalties when Portsmouth's goal came courtesy of a Michael Dawson slip on the much criticised newly laid Wembley turf.  He slipped at a vital moment as he was about to clear the ball in the centre of the penalty area.  The ball fell invitingly for Portsmouth who accepted the gift and went on to secure a two goal victory and Spurs felt annoyed with the performance of their team and officials who ruled out both a goal and penalty claims in extra time. 

The April, 2012 semi-final will be remembered by Spurs fans for the non 'goal' which Martin Atkinson awarded to Chelsea at the start of the second half.

Spurs were a goal down at the interval but any chance of a comeback was dealt a serious blow when the referee awarded a 'goal' when the ball hadn't even reached the line.  The advantage raised Chelsea's confidence while putting Spurs under pressure to chase the match with the resulting scoreline greatly flattering the West London club.

This defeat has been even more difficult to accept as there was a clear mistake which handed the initiative to Chelsea at an early stage of the second half when Spurs were clearly still in with a chance of winning the game.


FA Cup Semi-Final Spurs 1 Chelsea 5

Once again Tottenham retreat from an FA Cup semi-final with justified grievances at the officials The record books will show a comprehensive victory for Chelsea but will not indicate the injustice of their second 'goal' which did not reach the line never mind cross it.  Spurs have now lost six consecutive semi-finals since their last win in 1991.

 Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 5
Scorers: Bale       Drogba, Referee og, Ramires, Lampard, Malouda

Team: Cudicini; Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker (Sandro), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe); Adebayor  Subs: (unused): Friedel, Nelsen, Rose, Livermore, Giovani

Tottenham's season is now all about whether they can lift themselves to claim a place in next season's Champions League, having succumbed in a semi-final tie at Wembley where another refereeing mistake has cost them dearly.  Following an even first half where Spurs must have felt annoyed to be a goal down at the interval, the match was turned on its head when referee, Martin Atkinson, awarded Chelsea a 'goal' four minutes after half-time when the shot from Mata was blocked by a group of players lying on the goal-line.  The ball hadn't crossed the line, no question about that, but Chelsea had a two goal advantage.

Harry Redknapp sent out his strongest available team with Carlo Cudicini maintaining his role as Cup goalkeeper.  William Gallas and Ledley King were both fit to play and Aaron Lennon and Garerth Bale were available to provide width on the wings.

After a tentative start by both sides where Chelsea were more assured in their passing, Spurs began to have a greater impact and on two occasions looked to have taken  the lead.  First, Rafael Van der Vaart's header was cleared off the line by Terry with Cech beaten and then his free-kick hit the post with the goalkeeper stranded and Emmanuel Adebayor unable to get a touch on the ball as it passed him.  From this seeming position of strength Spurs found themselves a goal down two minutes before half-time.  Drogba controlled a long ball from defence, held off Gallas and turned to put a wonderful strike past Cudicini from the edge of the area.

That the match then turned significantly in Chelsea's favour was due entirely to Mr Atkinson who awarded them a goal following a goalmouth scramble.  The same Mr Atkinson who oversaw  Spurs defeat at Stamford Bridge last season when he awarded them a 'goal' which again hadn't crossed the line and allowed an offside goal to stand.  This time the ball had been cleared from a corner by Cudicini, King got in a second clearance, challenged by Terry, and the ball ran out to Mata.  His shot hit the four players lying on the goal-line and as he ran off to celebrate, the referee gave the goal, even though it had hit Terry and was cleared by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, not having reached the line, never mind cross it.

Spurs' protests fell on deaf ears but Chelsea had once again benefited from a referee's mistake and the comfort of a two goal lead which required Spurs to chase the game.  Spurs pulled one back seven minutes later when Adebayor, through on goal, was brought down by Cech but the ball ran to Gareth Bale to score.  Cech went unpunished for his foul on the Spurs striker.

Spurs became stretched as they sought an equaliser which played into Chelsea's hands and in the final thirteen minutes they added three more goals to give the score-line a rather flattering outlook in their favour.  Ramires got behind the Spurs defence for the third, Lampard struck a free-kick from thirty yards and Malouda added the fifth in the final minute, again getting behind a stretched Spurs defence.

Spurs hopes of winning a trophy are now gone, their season which was so positive until early February has run out of steam and with Newcastle and Chelsea in hot pursuit,  they are in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League place which was their priority for the year.

Spurs are now gathering a rather unwanted collection of records - their sixth consecutive semi-final defeat, their first defeat to Chelsea at Wembley and they join Watford, Fulham and Bolton as teams who have conceded five goals in an FA Cup semi-final.  

Many of Spurs semi-final defeats have been shrouded in controversy - in 1921 they had two penalty claims turned down, in 1956 they were denied a clear penalty, as they were in 1993 when Anderton was fouled.  In 1999 they were denied a penalty for handball but had a similar award given against them in extra time and in their last match in 2010 they had a goal disallowed and a penalty turned down.  The Chelsea 'goal' seems to be par for the course for Tottenham.

The more worrying concern is that the ramifications of a Cup semi-final defeat can be serious - in 1947 Spurs missed out on promotion, in 1957 Blanchflower resigned as captain, in 1993 Venables and Sugar fell out while following the 1995 defeat by Everton, Spurs lost Jurgen Klinsmann who along with Teddy Sheringham had been such a vital part of Spurs’ resurgence that season.  
Following the Portsmouth defeat two years ago, Spurs managed to galvanise themselves with an outstanding response which lifted them to the Champions League for the only time.  Every Spurs fan is hoping that the final five Premier League games will provide enough points to secure their Champions League place but on the evidence of recent matches it is sadly looking a forlorn hope.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Spurs Record Against Chelsea in the FA Cup

Spurs and Chelsea have met once before at Wembley in the FA Cup.  It was for the Final in May, 1967 and Spurs were triumphant, lifting the Cup for the fifth time after a 2 - 1 victory, the goals being scored by Jimmy Robertson and Frank Saul.  Their more recent meeting at Wembley was equally successful in the Carling Cup Final of 2008 when Dimitar Berbatov's penalty and Jonathan Woodgate's header in extra time brought Spurs victory after going a goal down.

Spurs and Chelsea have met on nine previous occasions in the FA Cup.  The most recent had a disappointing result for Spurs after an exciting first game at Stamford Bridge in March, 2007 when they relinquished a two goal advantage when Chelsea equalised with four minutes remaining.

Mar. 2007  FAC 6th R. (a) Draw 3 - 3  Berbatov, Opp.o.g., Ghaly
Berbatov gave Spurs the lead inside four minutes.  Lampard brought Chelsea level midway through the first half.  Spurs then took a two goal lead before the interval through an own goal and Hossam Ghaly.  Early in the second half Spurs had the opportunity to increase their advantage but Chelsea survived and clawed their way back into the tie with the late equaliser.

Replay (h) Lost 1 - 2  Keane (pen)
Spurs matched Chelsea stride for stride for almost an hour with Cech by far the busier keeper.  Then the visitors scored twice in six minutes with two great strikes which gave Paul Robinson no chance.  Spurs pulled one back through a Robbie Keane penalty with ten minutes to go but Chelsea held on.

Mar. 2002  FAC 6th R. (h) Lost 0 - 4
in January Spurs had defeated Chelsea 5 - 1 in the second leg of the Worthington Cup semi-final.  Chelsea were looking for revenge and extracted it with delight.  William Gallas put them ahead early in the first half and then Chelsea added two goals in the opening ten minutes of the second half.  A fourth came with twenty five minutes left but Spurs avoided any further embarrassment.

Mar. 1982  FAC 6th R. (a) Won 3 - 2  Hazard, Archibald, Hoddle
Spurs were looking to retain the FA Cup while Chelsea were in the 2nd Division.  Spurs wore an all white strip with yellow socks and as the game progressed everything clicked for them. Chelsea had taken a first half lead but gradually Spurs started to show their superior class with Glenn Hoddle giving a master class of ball control.  It was only a matter of time before Spurs would score and it came when Steve Archibald poked the ball home after the Chelsea goalkeeper failed to hold a Hoddle free-kick.  Spurs immediately stepped up a gear and within ten minutes were 3-1 ahead.  The second goal was a masterpiece.   Hoddle and Micky Hazard cut through the Chelsea midfield with an exchange of passes and, after Hazard's flick had left them wrong-footed, Hoddle crashed a 25-yard drive past the goalkeeper.  Hazard then confirmed Tottenham's superiority with a coolly taken drive and although Chelsea pulled a goal back Spurs coasted home on a wave of possession football.  The performance was even greater as Spurs had to display their passing talent on a bare pitch with a very uneven bounce.

May, 1967  FAC Final (Wembley) Won 2 - 1  Robertson, Saul
The first 'All London' FA Cup Final and Spurs were deserved winners.  Jimmy Robertson gave them the lead just before half-time and Frank Saul added a second after the interval.  A late Chelsea goal didn't disturb Spurs on their way to claim the trophy for a fifth time and maintain their record of never having lost an FA Cup Final.

Feb. 1965  FAC 5th R. (a) Lost 0 - 1
In a season of transition for Bill Nicholson as he tried to rebuild following the demise of the 'Double' winning team,  Chelsea took the lead after seventeen minutes and Spurs even with all their experience were unable to find any response against a well organised young team. 

Jan. 1964  FA Cup 3rd R. (h) Draw 1 - 1  Dyson
Jimmy Greaves was appointed captain for this game when Tony Marchi was dropped, one of a number of changes made by Bill Nicholson following disappointing results over Christmas.  John Holowbread replaced Bill Brown in goal, Phil Beal made his Cup debut in place of Marchi and other unfamiliar names in the Spurs team were John Smith, Mel Hopkins and Eddie Clayton.  Terry Dyson gave Spurs the lead after two minutes but Chelsea were soon level in a 'full-blooded' Cup-tie.  Chelsea were wary of Greaves but while he was outstanding in the first half he could manage a goal and a replay was required.

Replay (a) Lost 0 - 2
The tie continued in its 'full-blooded' way without anyone being sent off or booked.  Chelsea went ahead after seventeen minutes and two minutes later were awarded a penalty but their captain, Terry Venables, had his shot saved by John Hollowbread.  Spurs' only threat came from their two wingers, Dyson and Cliff Jones, but a second goal after the interval put Chelsae through.

Jan. 1957  FAC 4th R. (h) Won 4 - 0  Medwin, Harmer, Smith, Stokes
It was scoreless at half-time but Chelsea were a man down, having lost winger Frank Blunstone to injury.  In the second half, Danny Blanchflower orchestrated Spurs victory as they scored four goals in seventeen minutes from Bobby Smith, a Tommy Harmer free-kick, Terry Medwin and Alfie Stokes.

Feb. 1910  FAC 2nd R. (a) Won 1 - 0  Humphreys
This first Cup meeting between the two clubs came in Spurs' first season in the 1st Division, one year after gaining admission to the Football League.  Both clubs were battling against relegation and the only goal was scored by former Chelsea centre forward Percy Humphreys who had only joined Spurs earlier in the season.  In the final match of the season he was to score another crucial goal against Chelsea - the one which gave Spurs victory and so avoiding relegation while Chelsea went down.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spurs and the FA Cup Semi-Finals

It is now over twenty years since Tottenham last enjoyed the celebrations of winning an FA Cup semi-final.  There have been many trials and tribulations in that time but Spurs have fallen short at that vital stage even when firm favourites as in 2010 against Portsmouth.  In their lengthy history Spurs have reached this stage of the competition on eighteen occasions, winning on nine occasions and for most of those successes the result was well deserved with Spurs winning comfortably. However, of the nine unsuccessful attempts to reach the Final, there has often been a sense of injustice as Spurs have been at the wrong end of some dubious decisions. 

Spurs and the FA Cup

Semi-Finals 1901 – 2010
Spurs FA Cup Semi-Final Record
As a Southern League side Spurs had progressed to the 1901 FA Cup semi-final having disposed of the Cup holders, Bury, and the only other surviving non-League side, Reading, in previous rounds. First Division, West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park were Spurs next opponents while Sheffield United and Aston Villa contested the other semi-final.  Although the game was like a home game for Albion, Spurs took thousands of spectators to the Birmingham venue.

The Spurs’ hero was Sandy Brown who scored all four goals in a comprehensive win.  Brown had scored in every round of the Cup and now had a total of twelve goals in the competition.  Spurs were very much the under-dogs and all of the Spurs’ players deserved credit for this performance. Although the game was scoreless at half-time Spurs had more of the play and from the time that Brown headed the first goal just after the restart from a centre by John Kirwan, there was no doubting the result.  He scored twice more in the next twenty minutes – his second from a corner, the third was a shot from thirty yards and the fourth, five minutes from the end, after a passing movement took Spurs the length of the pitch.

Following a replay Spurs discovered they would be meeting Sheffield United in the Final to be played at Crystal Palace.

Twenty years later, just back in the 1st Division, Spurs faced Preston North End at Hillsborough in their second semi-final.  The two clubs had previously met in the Cup on two occasions, including the 1st Round tie in 1901 when Spurs went on to win the Cup for the first time.  Now, the two clubs were opponents in the top flight and although Preston were in the bottom half of the League to Spurs sixth position, the northern club had been successful in both League games earlier in the season.  Spurs had had moments of good fortune in their early progress in the Cup but on this occasion it seemed to desert them.  It took two goals from Bert Bliss in the second half to ensure Spurs’ victory – scoring the first with a typical drive and then converting a pass from captain, Arthur Grimsdell.  A mix-up in the Spurs’ defence allowed Preston to pull a goal back but Spurs were never under any threat.  The game could and should have been wrapped long before Spurs scored their first goal.  In the first half they had two goals disallowed – the first after Jimmy Banks scored but the referee gave Spurs a free-kick for a foul on Jimmy Seed and then a second following a scramble in the Preston area was disallowed for some unknown reason.   Early in the second half Spurs should have had two penalties – firstly for a foul on Banks and then when a Preston defender handled but neither impressed the referee.

Spurs’ opponents in the Final at Stamford Bridge would be Second Division Wolverhampton Wanderers who had defeated another Second Division side, Cardiff City in a replay.

The following year, in 1922, Spurs suffered their first semi-final defeat, Preston gaining revenge for the previous year’s defeat in controversial circumstances.  Spurs were favourites to win and played in that manner throughout the first half and went a goal up through Jimmy Seed.  Preston looked a beaten team at half-time but in the second half were re-vitalised and equalised.  Spurs came back into the game and looked to have scored when a shot from Bert Bliss beat the goalkeeper and was on its way into the net.  At this point the referee stopped the game to attend to an injured Preston player.  He decreed that he had blown the whistle before the ball entered the net and disallowed the goal.  To add insult to injury, the player hadn't been seriously injured.  This decision demoralised the Spurs players and Preston went on to score the winning goal.  In the Final Preston lost to a disputed penalty, awarded for a foul committed outside the area, but that is of little consolation to Spurs.

It was another twenty six years before Spurs were to grace a semi-final again and it was as a 2nd Division side that they met 1st Division Blackpool at Villa Park in 1947-48.  They had defeated 1st Division Bolton and then 2nd Division clubs, West Bromwich, Leicester and Southampton to reach this stage.  For over an hour Spurs were the equal of Blackpool who were the strong favourites with Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen in their side.  It was Spurs, however, who went ahead when Len Duquemin got the final touch in a goalmouth scramble for his eighth Cup goal of the season. Time ticked away and Spurs were within four minutes of their first Wembley final when a pass from Matthews found Mortensen.  He set off on a thirty yard run, past four defenders and shot from a very acute angle near the goal line. The shot caught Ted Ditchburn unawares and Spurs were totally deflated.   Into extra time and Mortensen scored twice more to ensure Spurs’ Cup dreams ended at Villa Park.   That result so demoralised Spurs that they won only two of their final twelve League games and missed out on a possible promotion by finishing in eighth place.

Five seasons later, Spurs had an opportunity to gain revenge on Blackpool when they again met in the semi-final at Villa Park.  This time both clubs were in the 1st Division and this was seen as a last opportunity for the ‘Push and Run’ side to achieve Cup success.   It had been a long road to the semi-final for Spurs who had played eight games to reach this stage.  They had needed replays to beat Tranmere and Preston, then one game saw off Halifax but the 6th Round tie with Birmingham City went to three games.  This time Blackpool with Matthews and Mortensen still a force to be reckoned with, took an early lead but early in the second half Spurs levelled through Len Duquemin.  Spurs were now in control and the game was heading for extra time when with seconds remaining Alf Ramsey attempted a back pass to Ted Ditchburn.  As he did so, he slipped and the ball fell short allowing the Blackpool forward to step in and score past Ditchburn.  Only time remained to kick off again and Spurs would have to wait a little longer for a final at Wembley.

Blackpool went on to win the Final against Bolton in the famous ‘Matthews’ final.

Villa Park was becoming a bogey ground for Spurs where FA Cup semi-final games were concerned. In 1955-56 they again had the misfortune to lose there at the penultimate stage – this time to Manchester City.  It was a refereeing mistake that helped to prevent Spurs achieving that first Wembley final.  Spurs were a goal down but in the final minutes were battling for an equaliser.   The captain, Danny Blanchflower had moved centre half, Maurice Norman, forward into the attack as he had done successfully in the previous round against West Ham.  In the dieing moments winger George Robb was through on goal and about to score when the Manchester City goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, caught hold of his legs.  A goal or a penalty, Spurs should have scored but somehow, unbelievably, the officials saw nothing and Spurs had once again fallen short.  ‘What if’ Spurs had scored – they could have taken the game into extra time and gone on to win but the repercussions of the defeat went further than expected.  The Spurs manager, Jimmy Anderson, was unimpressed with Blanchflower’s decision to make changes to the team during the game and in the ensuing row Blanchflower resigned as captain and did not take on the role for another two seasons.

After such a period of disappointment, Spurs were about to embark on a sequence of seven successive semi-final victories stretching over thirty years.  At the fourth attempt, it was the ‘Double’ team of 1960-61 that was to lay the ghost of Villa Park.  Drawn to play defending League champions Burnley a tight game was expected as Burnley had recovered from a four goal deficit to earn a draw in the League game at White Hart Lane earlier in the season.  The semi-final tie saw Spurs take the lead after half an hour and went further ahead when Bobby Smith scored his second in the second half.  This deflated Burnley and Cliff Jones added the third before the end.   Spurs were on their way to Wembley for the first time where they would find Leicester City trying to prevent them completing an historic ‘Double.’

A year later Spurs overcame Manchester United at Hillsborough at the semi-final stage of the competition as they endeavoured to retain the trophy.  Goals from Jimmy Greaves, Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones ensured that Spurs won comfortably and returned to Wembley to meet the team they defeated in the previous year’s semi-final.  Greaves and Jones gave Spurs a two goal half-time lead. United scored with seven minutes remaining but Medwin ensured Spurs’ victory, scoring three minutes later.

The 1967 semi-final saw Spurs return to Hillsborough to play Nottingham Forest. Both teams were in the top three of the League and Spurs were on an unbeaten run that stretched back to mid-January.  In a very close game Forest started the better and Cyril Knowles cleared off the line early on but then after half an hour Jimmy Greaves scored with a great volley from twenty five yards that went in off the post.  Just before half-time Forest almost equalised when a Knowles defensive header hit the post but Spurs held on.  In the second half Forest continued to search for the equaliser but when Frank Saul caught a Forest defender in possession he took the ball to the edge of the penalty area to score with a great shot to put Spurs two up after sixty seven minutes.  Forest weren’t down and out and scored with ten minutes left but although they searched for the equaliser, Spurs had further opportunities to increase their lead. In the following day’s papers the match was described as ‘pulsating’ and a game in which Spurs ‘earned the right to meet Chelsea in the first all London Final at Wembley on the strength of a highly skilled performance in a classic semi-final that had moments of magic and tragedy.’

Although Spurs enjoyed Cup success at home and in Europe over the next decade and a half, the FA Cup eluded them.  It was in 1981 that they next reached an FA Cup semi-final, under the guidance of Keith Burkinshaw. Spurs’ progress to this stage had been steady and they were drawn to play Wolverhampton Wanderers at Hillsborough.  Everyone’s memory of this game is the penalty that was awarded to Wolves in the dieing moments for a tackle by Glenn Hoddle.  This gave Wolves the chance to equalise and take the game into extra time.  The game remained level at 2-2 and a replay was required. The fury of the Spurs’ players and spectators at the penalty decision is understandable as it was wrong on two accounts – the tackle was outside the penalty area and Hoddle won the ball cleanly without touching the ‘diving’ Terry Hibbitt.  Spurs had taken the lead through Steve Archibald after four minutes but Wolves equalised a minute later.  Just before half-time, Hoddle put Spurs ahead from a free kick, that could justifiably have been a penalty.  Spurs defended resolutely until the referee played his part but then we would have missed the excitement of the replay at Highbury.

For some unaccountable reason the FA decided that the replay would take place at Highbury which was a tremendous advantage to Spurs. It was the perfect place for Spurs to win an exciting replay. Determined not to be deprived of their place at Wembley as they had been the previous Saturday, Spurs were fired up for the game from the outset and took an early lead when Garth Crooks headed the opening goal. Wolves came back strongly but couldn’t get an equaliser.  Then just before half-time Crooks scored the second when taking a pass from Hoddle, he finished with ease.   Spurs were celebrating and Ricky Villa sealed the victory with a great goal scored from thirty yards.  A great victory and a stylish performance as ‘Spurs were on their way to Wembley’ again.

The following season as Spurs fought to retain the trophy, the semi-final game took them to Villa Park where they met 2nd Division, Leicester City.  It was a difficult game for everyone and Ossie Ardiles played his last game of the season for Spurs as he returned to Argentina to prepare for the World Cup.  However, there was the additional problem of the Falklands War and Ardiles was constantly booed by the Leicester fans.  Spurs eventually wore Leicester down in the second half when after 56 minutes Ardiles centred for Crooks to score.   Leicester lost a player to injury and their ten men battled gamely but in the 76th minute conceded a soft own goal.  The defender with many options to clear lifted his back pass over the goalkeeper’s head.  This was a very comfortable semi-final victory for Spurs who returned to Wembley for a second successive year to meet Queens Park Rangers.

Spurs next semi-final game was one of the easiest they’ve ever played at this stage of the Cup. Watford went into the game at Villa Park with goalkeeping problems and had to call up an emergency keeper as their regular keepers were injured.   A 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.

In all the years of the FA Cup, Spurs and Arsenal had only previously met in the competition on two occasions.   Now, in 1991, they were to meet in the semi-final.   Such was the demand for tickets that the game was arranged for Wembley, the first occasion that a semi-final had taken place there.  Spurs were under continuing financial pressure but their biggest problem prior to this game was the fitness of their talisman, Paul Gascoigne.  He had undergone a hernia operation immediately after the 6th Round win over Notts County, in the hope that he would be fit for the semi-final.  Four days before the game he successfully played for an hour in a League game at Norwich and was fit to play at Wembley.  Spurs’ other difficulty was that Arsenal had only lost once in the League and were looking to win the ‘Double’.  The atmosphere at Wembley was electric and Gascoigne was at his most exuberant best.  Spurs were not expected to win this game but Venables had them firing on all cylinders from the start.  After five minutes Gascoigne scored from a 35 yard free kick that was hit with such power and accuracy that it left Seaman clutching at thin air.   As Venables said afterwards, “Paul was probably the only player who could do anything like that.”  Five minutes later Gary Lineker increased Spurs’ lead.  Arsenal didn’t know what had hit them but they managed to score before half-time.  Gazza played for only sixty minutes but left to an ovation – ‘Spurs Hero of Wembley.’  Shortly after Gascoigne’s departure, his replacement, Nayim set up Lineker to score the third to take Spurs to the Final.

All the players played their part in this memorable victory as Arsenal were humbled by an inspired Gazza who ensured Spurs had a fantastic victory.  ‘St. Hotspur Day’- a day never to be forgotten by Spurs’ fans around the world nor will the words of Barry Davies, commenting on the semi-final as Gascoigne lined up the free-kick, "He's not going to have a go from there.... he is you know.... that is Schoolboy's Own stuff!"

That was Spurs’ seventh successive FA Cup semi-final victory but since that very memorable and enjoyable day, Spurs have only had that sinking feeling where those games have been concerned. Although they have endured difficult times in the subsequent years Spurs have still managed to reach the semi-final on five occasions.  Two years later another visit to Wembley was required when Spurs and Arsenal were again drawn together.   Terry Venables’ team were left feeling hard done by in 1993 when a refereeing decision influenced the result.  Spurs were denied a penalty when Darren Anderton was brought down in the penalty area in the first half.  If Spurs had been awarded a penalty and Arsenal reduced to ten men with over an hour to play the complexion of the game might have been different.   it wasn’t, however, and then with ten minutes remaining the Arsenal goal was scored from a dubious free-kick although tighter marking by the Spurs’ defence could have eliminated the danger. The ‘might have beens’ could go on for ever but if Spurs had gone on to Wembley and won the Cup, the subsequent dramatic and traumatic end of season events with the fall-out between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables may never have occurred and Spurs mightn’t have gone into a decade of decline.

Defeat in the semi-final usually has some repercussions – in 1947 Spurs missed out on promotion, in 1957 Blanchflower resigned as captain, in 1993 Venables and Sugar fell out while following the 1995 defeat by Everton, Spurs lost Jurgen Klinsmann who along with Teddy Sheringham had been such a vital part of Spurs’ resurgence that season.  The season had started with Spurs banned from the competition as punishment for the financial irregularities uncovered in the Sugar/Venables affair.  It was only as the 3rd Round approached that the decision was overturned and Spurs were re-instated. Progress to the semi-finals had brought memorable performances at Southampton and Liverpool and now Spurs were faced with Everton at Elland Road as the final step back to Wembley.   The media were predicting a Spurs/Manchester United final but unfortunately Everton hadn’t read the script. Spurs were troubled by injuries on the day and Stuart Nethercott had to play as emergency left back. Spurs simply did not perform, little resembling the side that had played so well in earlier rounds and produced such exciting football during the season.  Everton started the better and took a two goal lead.  Klinsmann scored a penalty for Spurs but two late goals sealed Spurs’ fate and added to their embarrassment.

The result was a shattering blow to the fans and the club but the further ramification was that Klinsmann later announced that he would be leaving at the end of the season.  He had brought vitality to the club but with the team not being able to offer him European football the following season he decided to return to Germany.  This was an even greater blow to the Club and one that they have been striving to recover from since that fateful day – only in recent seasons has there been a recovery in Spurs status and expectations.

In 1999 Spurs under George Graham had already won the Worthington Cup and were looking for a Cup ‘double’ as they took on Newcastle United at Old Trafford.  Progress to this stage had been seen a comfortable victory over Watford, replays were needed to see off Wimbledon and Leeds, the latter succumbing to two spectacular goals from Anderton and Ginola at White Hart Lane.  Ginola produced another ‘special’ to win at Barnsley and Spurs were looking confident as they came to play Newcastle.  They weren’t, however, at their best against the Tyneside club but the game turned on the hour when the referee missed a blatant handball by the Newcastle defender, Dabizas, as he struggled to head clear from a free-kick. The game remained scoreless and went into extra time when from a similar situation Campbell was penalised and Newcastle were awarded a penalty.   Shearer scored and with Spurs deflated, added a second to end Spurs’ dreams of a second visit to Wembley.

In 2001, Spurs had another opportunity to reach the FA Cup Final but once again Arsenal stood in their way.  In the entire history of the FA Cup, the two clubs have only met twice in earlier rounds of the competition but on the four occasions that both clubs have reached the semi-finals, they have been drawn together three times.  The background to the tie was Spurs’ change of manager.  A week after Spurs’ thrilling victory over West Ham United at Upton Park in the 6th Round George Graham was sacked.  David Pleat took temporary charge while the club waited for Glenn Hoddle whose first game in charge was the semi-final at Old Trafford.  It started brightly for Spurs with Gary Doherty who had been the hero of earlier rounds with two important goals, giving Spurs the lead.  Arsenal, however, came more and more into the game and it was only an outstanding display by Neil Sullivan in the Spurs’ goal that kept the score to 2-1 for Spurs’ north London neighbours.  While Hoddle’s return to Tottenham was welcome, the timing was not the most appropriate, before such an important game and especially as the players had come together as a team through the Cup run.

Spurs last reached the semi-final stage in 2010 when they faced Portsmouth.  The south coast club were in dire straits facing both relegation and financial problems.  Spurs had defeated Harry Redknapp's old club in both Premier League matches and the last game, only a few weeks previously, had been an extremely comfortable victory at White Hart Lane.  In the semi-final Portsmouth worked extremely hard throughout and Spurs simply couldn't respond or lift their game.  The match went into extra time and was looking destined for penalties when Portsmouth's goal came courtesy of a Michael Dawson slip on the much criticised newly laid Wembley turf.  He slipped at a vital moment as he was about to clear the ball in the centre of the penalty area.  The ball fell invitingly for Portsmouth who accepted the gift and went on to secure a two goal victory and Spurs felt annoyed with the performance of their team and officials who ruled out both a goal and penalty claims in extra time.  Spurs showed remarkable powers of recovery from this very disappointing performance to produce a run to gain Champions League football for the first time.

Spurs haven't had a successful semi-final since 1991which is a very long period for a club with a Cup reputation but this season their quest for Champions League football is being accompanied by a Cup run in the best traditions of seeking the glory of winning the Cup.

The story of the FA Cup, season after season brings dreams that ultimately go unfulfilled but on those few occasions when everything falls into place they are the greatest moments and create lasting memories that carry supporters through in hope for the seasons that lie ahead.

For the Record:
Tottenham's FA Cup Semi-Final Win and Loss Account:
1901 West Bromwich Albion (Villa Park) Won 4-0 Brown (4)
1921 Preston North End (Hillsborough) Won 2-1 Bliss (2)

 1922 Preston North End (Hillsborough) Lost 1-2 Seed
1948 Blackpool (Villa Park) Lost 1-3 (aet) Duquemin
1953 Blackpool (Villa Park) Lost 1-2 Duquemin
1956 Manchester City (Villa Park) Lost 0-1 
1961 Burnley (Villa Park) Won 3-0 Smith R (2), Jones
1962 Manchester United (Hillsborough) Won 3-1 Greaves, Medwin, Jones 

1967 Nottingham Forest (Hillsborough) Won 2-1 Greaves, Saul
1981 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Hillsborough) Draw 2-2 (aet) Archibald, Hoddle
Replay Wolverhampton Wanderers (Highbury) Won 3-0 Crooks (2), Villa

1982 Leicester City (Villa Park) Won 2-0 Crooks, Opp. o.g.
1987 Watford (Villa Park) won 4-1 Hodge (2), Allen P, Allen C 

1991 Arsenal (Wembley) Won 3-1 Gascoigne, Lineker (2) 
1993 Arsenal (Wembley) Lost 0-1
1995 Everton (Elland Road) Lost 1-4 Klinsmann (p)
1999 Newcastle United (Old Trafford) Lost 0-2 (aet)
 2001 Arsenal (Old Trafford) Lost 1-2 Doherty
2010 Portsmouth (Wembley) Lost 0-2 (aet)