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Spurs v Gornik Zabreze, September 1961

Spurs' European Cup Campaign - 1961-62
Part One - Gornik Zabreze

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.

This season sees the 50th anniversary of Spurs only tilt at the European Cup. I thought that I would pen a few words on this campaign for the benefit of those who were not there to witness how close Spurs came to reaching the Final where they would have been favourites to beat Real Madrid.

In those days, it was left to the individual clubs to make arrangements for the matches to be played. The draw for the Preliminary Round of the competition saw us drawn against a Polish club called Gornik Zabrze, a mining community in the town of Katowice. Bill Nicholson had spied on them prior to the away leg of the tie and knew that they would be formidable opposition on their own ground.

Spurs made a very bad start to their campaign as they were losing 4-0 at one point of the away leg. A crunching Mackay tackle on Kowalski left the Pole limping, provoking some blood thirsty threats against Mackay's safety from the watching crowd.

The Poles played with seven players up front, intent on creating an advantage to ensure their survival in the second leg. Pohl was a menace throughout the match, often leaving Bill Brown stranded on his goal line.

Gornik only needed eight minutes to snatch the lead. Cliff Jones and Peter Baker fatally hesitated, thus allowing Lentner to dash down the wing. Musialek pushed his centre against Maurice Norman, who diverted the ball into his own goal.

The second goal came in the 20th minute. Baker headed the ball out but Musialek intercepted the poor clearance and volleyed the ball goalwards. Bill Brown saw the ball coming but could do nothing to prevent it sailing past him into the net.

Five minutes before half-time, Spurs were trailing 3-0. Terry Dyson, who had been told to harry people taking corner kicks, was hit by the ball. It spun loose to Musialek, who promptly headed the ball behind Bill Brown.

Two minutes after the break, Mackay was left trailing in Pohl's wake. Pohl had all the time in the world to pick his spot and put the Polish side 4-0 ahead.

It was at this point the crunching tackle by Mackay on Kowalski occurred. The referee warned Mackay but took no other action.

But with twenty minutes to go, Spurs reduced the arrears. Mackay tore upfield to provide the cross from which Cliff Jones headed home.

Four minutes later, Spurs reduced the arrears again. Mackay centred the ball, Bobby Smith headed downwards and Dyson swept the ball home.

Wednesday 13th September, 1961
Gornik Zabreze 4 (3) Tottenham Hotspur 2 (0)
Attendance:- 70,000

Gornik: Kostka; Franosz, Olszowska, Florenki, Oslizlo, Kowalkski, Wilczek, Pohl, Musialek, Jankowski, Lentner.

Tottenham: W Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Jones, White, R Smith, Allen, Dyson.

The Football League allowed Spurs to postpone a home match against Sheffield United on September 20th 1961 in order to accommodate the second leg of the tie with Gornik at White Hart Lane.

The gates were locked long before the kick-off with thousands locked out. Incensed by reports in the tabloids that the Poles had described the Spurs players as being animals, a din erupted that was clearly audible several miles away from the ground. It must have terrified the Poles in their dressing room under the old West Stand. They were visibly shaken when they finally emerged for the kick-off.

Spurs gave due notice of what the Poles could expect when Les Allen rattled the bar after 30 seconds. The surprise was that it took Spurs nine minutes to snatch the lead on the night.

The first goal came from the penalty spot. Danny Blanchflower, cool as a cucumber, slotted the ball home. The stadium erupted in joy.

Ten minutes later, Spurs were level on aggregate. Blanchflower, wide on the right, centred to the left wing where Dyson lobbed the ball back for Jones to head home.

Jones then struck twice in eleven minutes. The first goal came in the 24th minute. The second goal came when Mackay took a long throw-in, Allen flicked the ball back from the bye-line and Jones forced the ball home.

In between the two goals, Gornik scored their only goal of the night. Pohl scored a fine volley from 25 yards.

Just before half-time, Bobby Smith scored his first goal of the night to emphasise to the Poles they were not going to be allowed back into the game.

Smith added a second in the 72nd minute with another fine header but by then the Poles were shattered beyond repair.

Blanchflower then provided the pass from which Dyson jinked through for the seventh of the evening.

And it was the glorious and imperious John White who had the final word a minute from the end of the match. Spurs had won 8-1 on the night, 10-5 on aggregate.

Spurs had produced a vintage display of football that was destined to be remembered years afterwards by those fortunate to see the match.

Wednesday 20th September, 1961
Tottenham Hotspur 8 (5) Gornik Zabreze 1 (1)
Attendance:- 56,737

Tottenham: W Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Jones, White, R Smith, Allen, Dyson.

Gornik: Kostka; Franosz, Olszowska, Gawlik, Oslizlo, Oleiznik, Florenki, Pohl, Jankowski, Wilczek, Lentner.

Cheers, Brian

Spurs v Feyenoord, European Cup - November 1961
Spurs v Dukla Prague, European Cup - February, 1962
Spurs v Benfica, European Cup - March/April, 1962

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