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Spurs v Feyenoord, November 1961

Spurs' European Cup Campaign - 1961-62
Part Two - Feyenoord

Brian Judson wrote this series on the 40th anniversary of Spurs' only venture in the fore-runner of the Champions League - The European Cup. The series is being published on Spurs Odyssey 50 years after those events, and has been up-dated accordingly.

Younger readers of this occasional series will be surprised to learn that the European Cup did not dominate the football headlines in 1961 as much as its successor, The Champions League does in the present day. In those days, UEFA were not predominant and clubs were largely left to their own devices to arrange fixtures once the draw had been made.

Readers will recall that Spurs had lost to Gornik Zabrze in Poland, 4-2, but won the return game, 8-1. The draw for the first round proper decreed that Spurs were drawn against Feyenoord, from Holland.

Professional football in Holland was still in its infancy as professionalism had only been adopted in 1956. Spurs were drawn away so played the first match in Holland. Spurs won this match but the inexperienced Dutch side gave Spurs an almighty fright and came close to securing a late draw, much to Bill Nicholson's fury.

The Dutch side had the better of the opening stages of the game and might have snatched an early lead had not Baker resorted to conceding two free-kicks within the space of three minutes after half-an-hour's play. It was the only way he could prevent Coen Moulijn from getting past him.

Spurs finally snatched the lead two minutes before half-time. Cliff Jones headed a ball goalwards but the ball was beaten out. Dyson was hovering in the right place at the right moment and forced the ball into the Dutch goal.

Their nerves calmed, Spurs went further ahead shortly after half-time. In the 48th minute, White floated a centre over for the young teenager, Frank Saul to nod home. (Saul had made his Spurs debut in September 1960 against Bolton, and scored 3 goals in 6 appearances during the Double Season)

Undeterred, Feyenoord battled back and eventually reduced the arrears in the 61st minute. Right half Reiner Kreijermaat volleyed the ball home with a dramatic long shot from 35-yards out.

But Spurs were not to be deterred and restored their two goal advantage in the 71st minute. Cliff Jones provided the pass from which Frank Saul latched on to score.

Feyenoord were undeterred by this setback and piled on the pressure. In the closing stages, Bennaers, a tiny bustling winger like Dyson, harried the life out of Spurs and was unlucky not to score twice. Both flew past a limping Bill Brown (no substitutes in those days!) and rattled the crossbar.

After the match, Bill Nicholson told the press: "We muddled through. That's all you can say. One mistake? There were so many, I don't know where to start."

Wednesday 1st November, 1961
Feyenoord 1 (0) Tottenham Hotspur 3 (1)
Attendance:- 61,719

The teams were:

Feyennord: Pieters-Graafland; Kerkum, Veldhoven, Kreyermaat, Kraay, Klaasens, Schouten, Bennaers, van der Gijp, Bouwmeester, Moulijn.

Tottenham Hotspur: Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Marchi, Jones, White, Saul, Clayton, Dyson.

The second leg at Tottenham was a drab affair.

To Spurs' fans consternation, Feyenoord snatched the lead in the 8th minute. Dutch centre forward Gyp made a long hopeful punt upfield which the Spurs defence failed to clear and the lurking Bennaers nipped in to divert the ball behind Brown.

Within three minutes, however, Spurs were level when Blanchflower released Mackay on the left, Mackay centred the ball and Dyson's header left the Dutch keeper stranded.

Shortly afterwards, there was high drama when Mackay and Kraay, the Dutch centre-half, were involved in a heading duel and their heads collided with each other. Kraay was revived fairly quickly but Mackay remained inert even after lengthy treatment and was carried off with blood pouring from a head wound. Spurs were left to play with ten men.

Meanwhile, in the dressing room, frantic attempts were being made to revive Mackay. It was suspected he had concussion and a suspected fractured eardrum. Eventually Mackay was revived and when he had shaken his head to clear it, he demanded to know why everyone was looking so shaken and demanded to be allowed to return to the pitch. Ten minutes before half-time, Mackay was back on the pitch rampaging about as if nothing had happened to him.

In the second half, Feyenoord threw everything into the game to reduce the two goals aggregate deficit. But the longer the game went on, the less likely it seemed there would be another goal.Saul saw a rare shot easily saved by the Dutch 'keeper Graafland whilst Brown was lucky to smother a shot from Kreyermaat at the other end of the pitch.

And that was how the game ended.

Wednesday 15th November, 1961
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (1) Feyenoord 1 (1)
Attendance:- 62,144

The teams were :

Tottenham Hotspur: Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Marchi, Jones, White, Saul, Mackay, Dyson.

Feyennord: Pieters-Graafland; Kerkum, Veldhoven, Kreyermaat, Kraay, Klaasens, Bergholtz, Bennaers, van der Gijp, Schouten, Moulijn.

Within four days of the match, Spurs made their long-awaited move for Jimmy Greaves, who had not settled in Milan and who had frequently figured in back pages sensational headlines. Spurs were reluctant to make Greaves the first 100,000 player and so paid 99,999 for his services, beating off opposition from Chelsea. Spurs were reported as paying Greaves 180 a week for his services, which was a considerable amount of money in the 1960s. Both the Football Association and Football League were unhappy with the transfer and enquiries were held before Greaves was finally allowed to play for Spurs. The FA capitulated first, allowing Greaves to play for Tottenham's Reserve side. The Football League took longer before they allowed Tottenham to officially register Greaves as a player so it was five weeks after he signed before he made his first team debut against Blackpool on 16th December 1961. Unhappily, Greaves was not eligible to play in the European Cup until the Semi-Final stage.

In January 1962, Spurs learned their opponents in the Quarter-Final of the European Cup were to be Dukla Prague, from Communist Czechoslovakia. As the Czechs had closed down for their mid-winter break, Spurs were not able to apply their usual spying missions .....

Cheers, Brian

Spurs v Gornik Zabreze, European Cup - September 1961
Spurs v Dukla Prague, European Cup - February, 1962
Spurs v Benfica, European Cup - March/April, 1962

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