NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 171
Submitted by Norman Giller
For those of us of a certain age, it seems almost beyond belief that Spurs go into Saturday’s FA Cup showdown with Chelsea on a run of six successive semi-final defeats. Harry Kane and Dele Alli were not even born the last time Tottenham won an FA Cup semi-final.
I am from the generation that took it for granted that reaching the semi-final stage was almost a guarantee of a date with a Wembley final, followed by a proud and passionate parade of the Cup down Tottenham High Road.
I give you 1961, 1962, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1987 (ouch, that Coventry nightmare), and 1991 (Gazza’s free-kick against the Nomads). But the wheels have since come off our FA Cup coach, and our confidence has been severely dented by crashing at the semi-final hurdle in 1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2010 and 2012.
Watching Chelsea being dismantled by a top-form Manchester United at Old Trafford yesterday, I tried to stop my mind straying to thoughts of the FA Cup, Premier League double.
But what was just a few weeks back the Impossible Dream has suddenly come into focus. The ball is more at Chelsea’s feet than ours, but we can help make it happen by breaking the semi-final jinx on Saturday.
If we can conquer Chelsea and reach our first FA Cup final for 26 years then we could find ourselves on the edge of a footballing paradise.
It is still going to need the rouble-rich boys from the Bridge to trip up on the final furlong of the Premier League race. What was once a 10-point lead is now down to just four points, and Chelsea can feel our hot breath.
All the signs were there yesterday that they are losing their momentum just as Spurs touch peak form, as witnessed in the 4-0 destruction of Bournemouth for a seventh successive PL victory.
Our webmaster Paul Smith missed the match for a much more important family wedding date, but his fellow Spurs disciple Declan Mulcahy came off the bench to capture the action here.
It was a near-perfect performance, and you could have rated every player at least an 8 for skill and effort. For me, it was the midfield motivation from Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier that gave Spurs a stranglehold on the game, and if they can reproduce this form at Wembley on Saturday I think Chelsea will find it difficult to function.
Dembele is Tottenham’s answer to his countryman Eden Hazard, the man who can produce the unexpected for Chelsea. Mousa ‘the Magician’ is always inventive and imaginative and his slalom runs with the ball seemingly tied to his feet can unlock the tightest defence. He could have stepped out of the pages of a J.K. Rowling Harry Potter book, and has all the wizardry of a Hogwarts master. Doubtless she would have called him Professor Dembeledore. He must just remember to keep his thumb out of the eye of the brooding Brazilian Diego Costa while creating his bewitching cocktails. Recalling last season's Battle of Stamford Bridge, Mousa should concentrate on the dribbling rather than the debilitating.
Add the special ingredient provided by Kane and Alli, and perhaps at long last normal semi-final service will be resumed.
For your diaries these are the last challenges facing Spurs at the business end of this exceptional season:
Saturday, April 22: Chelsea, Wembley 5.15 (FA Cup semi-final)
Wednesday, April 26: Crystal Palace, away 8.00 (PL)
Sunday, April 30: Arsenal, home 4.30 (PL)
Friday, May 5: West Ham, away 8.00 (PL)
Sunday, May 14: Man United, home 4.30 (PL)
Thursday, May 18: Leicester, away 7.45 (PL)
Sunday, May 21: Hull City, away 3.00 (PL)
Oh yes, and the FA Cup final is set for Wembley on Saturday May 27.
But first of all, the little matter of that semi-final …
Please don’t just skip the following item …
It was Saturday May 20 1967 when the Dave Mackay-motivated Spurs won the FA Cup by beating Chelsea in the first all-Cockney Final at Wembley. To mark the golden anniversary I have revisited that season in my Spurs ’67 book, with all profits going to the Trust to help our old heroes who have hit difficult times.
I hope that YOU are going to get behind this great cause. So far very few Spurs Odyssey followers have felt inclined to order the book, yet I know many of you were around for that final.
I know I am an old nag, but I will continue to beat the drum for the players who are paying the painful price in their autumn years for their efforts on our behalf in the summertime of their lives. Any money we can raise helps pay for operations and home care. I will personally respond to anybody who supports us.
You can order a signed copy here http://www.normangillerbooks.com/spurs-67/4554925859. It is the perfect present for Dads and (definitely) Granddads, who remember the days when Spurs were FA Cup kings.
Please reach into your Spurs soul (and pocket) and help our old heroes. Thank you.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 35
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 35
This week’s mystery player:
“I have won 12 international caps and joined Spurs from Valencia for a then club record £26m. Who am I and against which team did I score a match-winning penalty in my Spurs debut in 2013?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL35@normangillerbooks.com. Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Deadline is midnight on Friday.
Please keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2016-17 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. And the first three in the final table will win an autographed, hardback copy of my Bill Nicholson Revisited tribute book, PLUS a souvenir card signed by Spurs legends Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman.
The 34th teaser was:
“I have won 51 international caps and scored 41 goals in all competitions for Spurs, and played in the 2009 League Cup final. Who am I and from which club did I join Tottenham for £13.7m in 2008?”
A maximum three points in the SOQL table to those who answered Roman Pavlyuchenko, who arrived from Moscow Spartak. He famously ‘ran around a bit’ at the request of manager Harry Redknapp!
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is John Saunders, from Southend-on-Sea, who has been a Spurs supporter since the history-making Double season of 1960-61. I will be emailing John a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the SOQL League table is decided on facts up until the final weeks of the season. Then I introduce tie breaks based on opinions, which is when I lose friends and fail to influence people with my views.
But please remember, it is just for fun and helps us all refresh our knowledge on the history and the heroes of our great club.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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