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The Burkinshaw Years

Keith Burkinshaw - the second most successful Spurs manager ever

Many thanks to Brian Judson for this excellent article:-

Keith Burkinshaw was born at Higham, in Yorkshire, on 23rd June 1935. Liverpool spotted him playing for Denaby United after being turned down by Wolverhampton Wanderers as a youth. He signed for Liverpool in November 1953 but only played in one League game during his seven years at Anfield. In December 1957, he left for Workington Town, then in Division 3 (North). He made 293 League appearances for the Cumbrian side, scoring 9 goals before leaving for Scunthorpe United in May 1965. He made 107 League appearances plus 1 as substitute, scoring 3 goals before he retired. Some of his time there was spent as caretaker-manager. He was then employed by Newcastle United as a coach from 1968 until 1975 when he was sacked as part of a cost-cutting exercise. It was then that Terry Neill appointed Keith Burkinshaw as First Team Coach for Tottenham.

In the summer of 1976, Terry Neill resigned as manager to become manager of Arsenal. It was the unassuming Burkinshaw who was appointed as his replacement. Many experienced players had been sold by Neill during his short tenure as Manager and Spurs did not have any depth or experience in their squad. The season of 1976-77 was a torrid one for Tottenham and it came as no surprise when they were relegated at the end of the season. There were those who questioned whether Burkinshaw was the right man for Tottenham but the Board stood by him.

Spurs made a good start to their season back in Division 2 for the first time since May 1950 and were soon seen as favourites for the Championship. Spurs had a very young side with players such as the emerging Hoddle, the young McNab and Keith Osgood. In the spring, Spurs developed the jitters and lost the chance of the title but managed to get the vital point they needed at Southampton in the final game of the season. Their goal average was superior to Brighton's solely because of a 9-0 thrashing of Bristol Rovers the previous October.

During the close season, the World Cup was held. Within days of that competition concluding, Spurs had sensationally signed two members of the winning World Cup squad, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, plus a centre-half from Fulham, John Lacy. The Argentinean pair were besieged when they signed for Tottenham and they found it difficult to handle.

Spurs had an up and down season. Villa was the first to make his mark, scoring on his debut at Nottingham Forest. But it was Ardiles who caught the eye more as he began to forge a partnership in midfield with the maturing Hoddle. There were hiccups along the road, including a spectacular 7-0 thrashing by Liverpool. Tommy Smith was heard to dismiss Ardiles as a fancy Dan who would disappear when the winter months came. But slowly, Spurs found their feet and enjoyed a good FA Cup run to the 6th Round, before they finished the season in 11th place.

The following season saw them slip down the table as Spurs rang the changes to find a cutting edge up front. But they had another good run in the Cup where they again reached the 6th Round. Probably the high moment of that season was winning at Old Trafford, when Hoddle was forced to replace Aleksic in goal and Ardiles scored the only goal of the match seconds from the end of extra time.

In the summer of 1980, Burkinshaw swooped to sign Steve Archibald and Garth Crooks to form a new striker partnership. The pair gelled from the start and they scored the majority of the goals over the season. Archibald, a morose individual, was the player the fans took to most, much to Burkinshaw's irritation, as he find Archibald a prickly person.

Ricky Villa is seen here celebrating his first goal in the momentous 1981 Cup Final replay

That first season saw Spurs go back to Wembley for the first time since 1967. Villa was awful in the first match against Manchester City and was substituted midway through the first half. Hutchison had put Manchester City ahead and it looked as though Spurs were about to lose a proud record. But late in the match, Spurs won a free-kick and from it, Hoddle equalised, thanks to a wicked deflection off Hutchison, who thus scored for both teams. In the replay, Spurs were the better side, Villa firing them ahead after only 5 minutes and thereafter, apart from a short spell where the Mancunians equalised and led, Spurs were mostly the better team. Crooks equalised midway through the second half and then Galvin was running down the left wing, almost lazily. He slipped the ball to Villa, who dodged round one City defender after another, drew Corrigan and slipped the ball over him before turning and racing to where Burkinshaw sat impassively amid the hullabaloo.

But Burkinshaw was not happy because Spurs had only finished 14th in the League. Their performances had been disappointing. Just before the start of the season, Spurs bought Gary Mabbutt from Bristol Rovers, despite the fact he was diabetic and needed regular injections of insulin. The side set off on what was to be a long, gruelling season with an appearance at Wembley against Aston Villa, which was drawn 2-2. Falco, deputising for the absent Crooks, who was injured, scored two great goals. In the Cup Winners Cup for the first time since 1967, Spurs made good progress until they were drawn against Barcelona in the Semi-Final. Roberts scored a vital goal in the first leg, played at Tottenham, but they crashed in Spain, losing 1-0. In the League Cup, they went all the way back to Wembley, only to lose to Liverpool, 3-1, in extra time, having come within four minutes of winning the final. The League slipped beyond their reach when they had to play 18 League matches between the beginning of March and the end of the season. It was too much to expect and Spurs eventually finished 4th in Division 1. But Spurs did get back to Wembley again, beating Queen's Park Rangers in the Cup Final, after Fenwick, then playing for QPR, had struck to force injury time after Hoddle had put Spurs ahead. In the replay, it was a Hoddle penalty that gave Spurs the win that gave them the Cup after Roberts had been upended. But Ardiles and Villa were not at Wembley with Tottenham as both had gone home because of the outbreak of war between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands.

Season 1982-83 saw Spurs set off on another four pronged assault. They lost possession of the Charity Shield to Liverpool, who beat them 1-0 at Wembley. They were knocked out of the League Cup at Tottenham by Burnley, who crushed them 4-1. And they lost 2-0 at Everton to lose their grip on the FA Cup. Their interest in Europe ended when a Karl-Heinz Rummeneigge inspired Bayern Munich side beat them 4-1 in Munich after forcing a draw at Tottenham.

But changes were already afoot that would led to Burkinshaw's departure from Tottenham. Paul Bobroff and Irving Scholar engineered a take-over of the football club and sold a new tranche of shares to make Tottenham a publicly owned company and a listing on the Stock Exchange, the first such football club to do so. Burkinshaw, unhappy about the proposed changes, also fell out with Archibald when he refused to allow the substitution of Archibald in the first home game of the season. Their relationship, never very strong, collapsed with the two protagonists completely ignoring each other. Spurs slipped to 8th position in the League that season and made early exits from both domestic Cup competitions. But in Europe they stormed to the Final. Unhappily, Perryman was suspended for the home leg of the Final and missed out on the celebrations. But Spurs won the Cup on penalties with Tony Parks making the vital save.

Burkinshaw then resigned as Manager of the Club, looking over his shoulder to the new West Stand, making the withering observation, "There used to be a football club over there!". The second most successful manager in Tottenham's history left for a succession of jobs in the Middle East and then returned to the UK to become Director of Football at Aberdeen.

Cheers, Brian

Keith Burkinshaw installed into the Spurs Hall of Fame

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