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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 283) (09.09.19)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 283
Submitted by Norman Giller

Spurs need Harry to be spot on against Palace

Harry ‘Deadeye’ Kane is at the moment – quite properly – giving all his concentration and effort to England, but Tottenham need the hat trick hero to get his club thinking cap on for Saturday’s crucial match against Crystal Palace at the new Lane.

Spurs must not take anything for granted against Palace, or they will get punished as in the best-forgotten encounter with Newcastle. Even though it’s early in the season, they can’t afford to lose any more ground to major rivals Man City and Liverpool.

I will be quite happy to see captain Kane sitting out tomorrow’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo, but true patriot Harry will no doubt insist on leading the England team for his 41st cap.

He has now collected 25 goals in his 40 internationals. It’s an impressive record, but I will always put the case for Jimmy Greaves to be remembered as ‘the Special One.’ He scored his 25th goal for England in his 31st match ... and his total stood at 30 goals after 33 games ... finished with 44 goals in 57 internationals.

When Harry is converting penalties as against Bulgaria on Saturday, the subject always comes up as to who has been Tottenham’s greatest spot-kick specialist.

To answer the often-repeated question, I revisit a parade of "12-yard" specialists on my memory screen, and for facts to go with my feelings I turn to my Spurs records inherited from the late master statistician, Leslie Yates.

Tottenham facts and figures men have to bow the knee to Leslie as the father of Spurs statisticians, with the much-mourned Andy Porter taking over the baton and, figuratively speaking, giving shape and meaning to the club’s history. (Note to older supporters: All those sixpenny pocket-size Tottenham programmes you used to read avidly were written by Edmonton-born Leslie, who was a Spurs fan from the early 1920s before becoming an outstanding journalist and eventually programme editor).

For the modern records, I always turn first to the information-jammed www.myfootballfacts.com website, that is diligently kept up to date by the omniscient, Israel-based Paul Yarden.

In chronological order, I come up with this list of post-war Tottenham penalty experts …

ALF RAMSEY

Took most of the penalties for the Push and Run Spurs. Alf was a poker-faced perfectionist who liked to side-foot rather than power the ball past the goalkeeper. He was also a deadeye from the spot for England, scoring three times in his 32 appearances. Total penalties scored for Spurs: 20.

TOMMY HARMER

Tottenham’s ‘Tom Thumb’ of a midfield maestro was an artist from the penalty spot. Converting 23 spot-kicks for Spurs during his ten years at White Hart Lane, he was all subtlety from the spot. He used to win mind games against goalkeepers and then celebrate with a wave in the air like a magician finishing his trick with a flourish.

DANNY BLANCHFLOWER

A smiling assassin on the penalty spot, Danny boy used to exchange banter and blarney with the goalkeepers. He slotted home 11 spot-kicks for Spurs, the most crucial in the 1962 FA Cup final against Burnley at Wembley. As he placed the ball for the kick, his Northern Ireland team-mate and best pal Jimmy McIlroy sidled up to him and said: “Bet you miss.” Danny duly deposited the ball into the net and then, running back past Burnley schemer McIlroy, said out of the side of his mouth: “Bet I don’t.”

JIMMY GREAVES

Arguably the greatest British goalscorer in history, Jimmy did not enjoy taking penalties and reluctantly inherited the responsibility from his skipper Blanchflower. He could take penalties with either foot, but most times favoured the left. One of the 28 he scored for Spurs brought the great Gordon Banks to boiling point. Gordon was in the back of the Leicester net rubbing his gloves on dry grass when Jimmy jokingly rolled the ball into the opposite corner. To the amazement and amusement of Greavsie – and the anger of Banks – the referee awarded a goal. Gordon got booked because of the understandable force of his protests. A funny old game.

GLENN HODDLE

As with everything he did on the football field, Glenn was a total perfectionist who spent hours in training practising his penalties. He found the net with 29 of his spot-kicks, sometimes with audacious chip shots and always with careful consideration and preparation. Glenn played psychological games with the goalkeepers, eyeing one side of the net and slotting it into the opposite side. He concentrated on placement in preference to power.

TEDDY SHERINGHAM

One of the most skilful players of his generation, Teddy was a master of all the footballing arts and he was deadly accurate from the spot. He netted 20 penalties for Tottenham and always put them away with aplomb. The irony was not lost on Spurs supporters when – in his debut for Manchester United – penalty king Sheringham missed from the spot against … Tottenham. A cruel old game.

ROBBIE KEANE

A prolific goal scorer throughout his career, Robbie never shirked the responsibility of taking penalties and was bang on target 19 times for Spurs. He used to mix net-busters with cleverly placed shots, and usually seemed a thought ahead of goalkeepers. During his goal-gorged, have-boots-will-travel adventure, he notched more than 50 goals from the penalty spot.

HARRY KANE

‘Our Harry’ is currently the hottest penalty taker in the Premier League, with 15 successful conversions to his name on top of the seven he has put away for England, including his memorable strikes in the 2018 World Cup finals. Two more, and he equals Frank Lampard’s all-time record. He is mainly about power and placement, always with his golden right boot and struck so ferociously that his England goalkeeper team-mate Jordan Pickford describes his penalties as “unsaveable.” He has revealed that he sometimes takes as many as 50 penalties in training sessions. Harry is one of the most single-minded footballers I have ever come across, and is reaping the rewards for his diligence and dedication.

If you put me on the spot and ask me to choose just one of these magnificent players to take a penalty to save my life I think I would give the job to Glenn ‘Hod the God’ Hoddle. He mixed power, skill and confidence into a winning cocktail.

But all the penalty takers named here have to bow the knee to powerful full-back Tommy Clay, who either side of the First World War scored no fewer than 37 goals for Spurs from the spot. Yes, Clay was The Greatest!

But these days, it is Our Harry Kane who is spot-on, whether for club or country. Harry’s ‘pen’ is mightier than the sword!


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

Question No 6 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Which midfielder was a League Cup winner with Spurs, was a member of the 1996 Euro International championship winning team and from which club did he join Spurs in 1998?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL6@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.

The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact.

Last week’s fifth SOQL question of the new season: Which former defender studied at the London School of Economics, played in the 1975 FA Cup final, and from which club did he join Spurs in 1978?

The answer: John Lacy, the lanky defender who collected an FA Cup final runners-up medal with Fulham before joining Tottenham in the same period as the Ardiles/Villa transfer revolution.

This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.

You will be better informed if you buy my SHOOTING SPURS book that features every player who has scored 50 or more goals for Tottenham since the club was formed in 1882, with special in-depth features on Jimmy Greaves and Harry Kane, plus focus on exceptional managers John Cameron, Arthur Rowe, Bill Nicholson and current master, Mauricio Pochettino.

Cliff ‘159 goals’ Jones has provided the introduction, and profits go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who missed the gravy train and now have to pay medical and care bills.

It costs just £9.99 and I will send a signed copy to anybody buying direct from me at www.normangillerbooks.com. There is also a screen version for £4.99.

I hope you will support this great cause.

See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!

The "Giller Index" - listing all Norman's articles for Spurs Odyssey

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