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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 313) (06.04.20)

NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 313
Submitted by Norman Giller

Our Harry Kane keeps everybody guessing

As if the coronavirus epidemic is not enough of a worry, my self isolation is continually interrupted with rumours of Harry Kane being on the move to – take your pick – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid or any club able to find £150million.

This can only be conjecture and speculation by newspaper reporters struggling to fill columns of space during what is a petrifying period for the newsprint industry. Circulations and advertising revenue are plummeting, and we could easily lose a couple of national newspapers if the lockdown crisis continues deep into the summer.

Without kicking a ball, Tottenham have managed to take more media and social network stick than following any defeat on the football pitch. I am in a very small minority who have been trying to defend Spurs chief Daniel Levy. His announcement that all 550 non-playing staff will have their salary cut by 20 per cent and be put on “furlough” to cope with the sudden Covid-19 crisis was appalling PR. It should have been balanced by what the club and players are intending on the positive side.

I am privy to confidential information about what Levy plans to do for the local community, and the players are only hesitating to make donations because they are bound to a collective response from the PFA.

Everybody should stop being judgemental until Levy and the players have had time to show they are not the cold, callous people they are being painted by the media and on line. We are all in unknown territory and sniping and snapping from the sidelines is not helping anybody.

The Harry Kane transfer rumours were triggered by his interview with Jamie Redknapp. His exact quote when asked if he saw his long-term future at Spurs was: “Obviously I get asked this question a lot. It’s one of those things, I couldn’t say yes and I couldn’t say no. I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs but I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there for the sake of it. I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, get better and become one of the top, top players. It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever but it’s not a no either.”

It was a classic case of Harry keeping us all guessing, but from that quote, headline, deadline-chasing reporters came to the conclusion that he was ready to get on his bike, They took it a huge step further by naming the obvious clubs to which he could move. In the newspaper trade it’s known as ‘flying a kite.’

Harry, whose father and big brother, Charlie (both Spurs fanatics), have a crucial say in his future plans, is understandably hungry for titles and trophies. Join the club, Aitch! I caused raised eyebrows on a recent appearance on the excellent Spurs Show podcast when I said if I were Harry’s Dad I would be advising him to consider a move. (You can hear the full show here: https://play.acast.com/s/cd829793-03f0-439c-908c-2daecd9a831d/601e803f-e5c9-414b-ad6e-5c61bc3a66ed)

No doubt about it, Harry is one of the world’s most in-demand players and it would be a nagging regret if he went through his club career without having a medal to show his grandkids. It’s up to Spurs to build a team around him that will satisfy his urge to be a winner. Over to you, José,


Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith and I have decided the only safe and rewarding place to exist at the moment is in a pleasant past where we remember our old heroes who brought us all together as Tottenham disciples.

The enforced standstill in the season gives us the chance to remember and revere the achievements of Lane Legends. So – continuing today here on the Spurs Odyssey stage – we serialise my latest book lauding the past performances of our goal-grabbing players.

The book is called Shooting Spurs, and focuses on every player in Tottenham’s history since the formation of the club in 1882 who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals. Today the spotlight is on the third man to join Tottenham’s 100 League and Cup goals club …

Jimmy Dimmock

JIMMY DIMMOCK
Born Edmonton, 5 December 1900
Died Edmonton, 23 December 1972
Playing career span with Spurs: 1919-1930
Goals in 438 matches: 112

JIMMY DIMMOCK truly was “one of our own” – long before the arrival of ‘Our Harry’ Kane. He was born and raised around the corner to White Hart Lane, learned his now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t ball trickery in the back streets of Edmonton and first came to the notice of Spurs scouts while playing under their noses as a boy wonder at Montague Road School, from where you could hear the roar of the Tottenham crowd.

There was an almost uncanny symmetry about Jimmy’s career that captured the perfectionist way he played the game, scoring exactly 100 League goals for Spurs in exactly 400 games. And he was exact in everything he did on the football pitch while following a script only he could read.

He was not so well ordered and in control off the pitch, fathering eleven children and getting himself lost in a spiral of debt after his playing days were over. But while having the football at his feet, he was the local hero who became king of the Lane.

‘Dodger’ Dimmock was a natural born outside-left in the days that all teams had two wingers patrolling the touchline. He not only had jet pace but bewildering dribbling skill that left a procession of hefty, Neanderthal full- backs kicking thin air. This, of course, was in an era when fierce tackling was part and parcel of a game that centred on physical contact. It was not so much the Beautiful as the Brutal Game.

A handsome man with boyish features and a distinctive thatch of fair hair, he was a team player but had an agenda of his own once the ball was at his feet. He would often dummy as if passing to his inside-left partner Bertie Bliss but would then suddenly navigate his way into a shooting position and invariably beat the goalkeeper with an angled shot. There was no winger to touch his goals output for Spurs until the emergence 40 years later of the Welsh wizard Cliff Jones.

His entry on to the Football League stage was delayed by the outbreak of the First World War, during which he served as a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery after starting an apprenticeship at the local Gothic Works gas-stove manufacturing company. He guested several times while home on leave for Clapton Orient, but it was, naturally, Tottenham that he signed for at the age of nineteen. Manager Peter McWilliam described him as “the perfect outside-left, who not only lays on goals for team-mates but packs a potent shot in that left foot of his.” Peter knew what he was talking about, because he had a left foot that was described as being like a magic wand when he was at the peak of his playing career with Newcastle.

McWilliam took to calling his players by their surnames, not because he was being impersonal but due to the fact he had four Jimmys in the Tottenham dressing-room, all forwards: Dimmock, Banks, Seed, and Cantrell. A jam of Jimmys. Dimmock’s early impact was sensational, helping Spurs win the Second Division championship in his first season, and in 1920-21 becoming what was then the youngest Tottenham player to win an England cap. He and his playing partner Bert Bliss were called up together for their debuts in the international against Scotland at Hampden Park when he was just 125 days past his 20th birthday.

Two weeks later against Wolves in the FA Cup final, Jimmy enjoyed his finest hour. Despite an early knock, he kept his feet while all about him were losing theirs on a saturated mud heap of a pitch at Stamford Bridge, and he scored the only goal of the game in the 53rd minute. It was described as a thing of beauty by onlookers. He collected a ball delivered by partner Bert Bliss just inside the Wolves half. There seemed no imminent danger until suddenly in a flash of inspiration he ghosted past one defender and then a second with almost effortless acceleration.

The surface was so muddy that players from both sides were skidding around as if on ice, but Dimmock was sure footed and had already decided how to sign off his menacing run. While the Wolves defenders rushed to mark the other three Jimmys – Seed, Cantrell and Banks – for the anticipated cross Dimmock was about to be crowned James the first. He cut inside and with his trusty left foot shot with deadly accuracy, and the ball flashed low and hard across the Wolves goal on an unerring route to the far corner of the net. The dejected Black Country defenders looked in despair at their outwitted goalkeeper Noel George, who held up his mud-caked gloved hands in a gesture that signalled there was nothing that he could do to stop a simply wondrous shot.

The roar of the majority of Spurs fans in the 72,805 crowd could surely be heard clear across London and in the Edmonton streets where local hero Jimmy Dimmock had honed his astonishing skills.

A naturally delighted Dimmock was interviewed after the match by a posse of Press men, who were drenched to the skin while collecting their quotes in the Stamford Bridge car park; no such thing then as organised press conferences.

He told the soaked reporters:

‘Scoring the winning goal is the greatest moment of my life, and then to get my medal from the King is beyond my wildest dreams. The conditions were terrible, but I managed to keep my feet and beat the Wolves goalie with a low shot. We all wondered whether the game was going to be abandoned. It was like the Somme out there. This is a triumph for the team. We believe in sticking together and I’m just proud that it was me who got the ball into the net. Wolves fought hard but I always thought we had the beating of them.’

The 3-0 defeat by Scotland in his international debut made the selectors wary of him, and he had to wait five years before he was recalled for appearances against Wales and Belgium.

He gave twelve years’ service to Spurs, knowing the highs of promotion and the lows of relegation before winding down his career with Thames F.C., Clapton Orient and then Ashford Town, where he was briefly player-coach.

I so wish I could write a happy ever after story, but Jimmy’s life and luck went into a nosedive after he hung up his boots. Having fathered eleven children, he needed every penny he could get in those hungry ’thirties, but working for a haulage company did not bring in enough to – literally – keep a roof over his head.

He was on the point of having his council house repossessed by Edmonton Urban Council for non payment of rent when Spurs came to his rescue and paid his outstanding bills, a forerunner of the work the Tottenham Tribute Trust does today (all profits from my book go to The Trust).

Jimmy then got caught up in a court case when he was sued by a money lender for not repaying his loans. He had to sell his medals and furniture to settle court costs and a heavy fine, eventually getting court permission to pay off his debts at ten-shillings (50p) a week. To add to his woes he was badly injured in a car crash at Waltham Cross in 1935.

Tragically, it gets worse. The continual heavy tackles from full-backs had so badly damaged him that in late middle age he had to have both legs amputated because of complications.

Jimmy Dimmock, the boy wonder, had to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

How many of us, I wonder, are thinking of another great Tottenham Jimmy? It’s a cruel old game.

Next week: George Hunt, the goal poacher who became a Gunner.


Spurs Odyssey Quiz League

We are carrying on with our weekly Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and hope you continue to take part. Question No 36 in this 2019-20 SOQL season:

Which marksman started his La Liga career with Real Madrid, has played 12 times for Spain and who was the manager that signed him for Tottenham from Valencia?

Please email your answer to me at SOQL36@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 SOQL question: Who won 22 international caps, scored one goal in the final when Spurs became first winners of a major European trophy, and from which club did he join Tottenham?

The answer: John White, the Ghost of White Hart Lane, who Bill Nicholson bought from Falkirk on the advice of Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower. He was a stunningly gifted midfield marshal who had the ability to steal into positions that continually confounded defenders. Bill Nick was planning to build his ‘new’ Spurs around him until the tragic day in the summer of 1964 when he was struck down by lightning while playing a solo round of golf. A true master of the footballing arts. His son, Rob, is an exceptional photographer, and I am always happy to take the time to tell him just what a wonderful footballer and person his Dad was (actually, along with his best pal Cliff Jones, he was a loveable rascal, and the pair were always getting up to hilarious japes).. Never to be forgotten.

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.

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

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