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Preview Middlesbrough v Spurs, 30.03.02

Here is Brian Judson's preview of the game

Full Record of Spurs -v- Middlesbrough

Prem          Pl  W  D  L   For- Ag  Pts
Home           7  2  3  2    8 - 10   9
Away           6  2  2  2    6 -  6   8
Total(Prem)   13  4  5  4   14 - 16  17
Football Lge
Home(Div 1)   25 15  4  6   62 - 40  36
Away(Div 1)   25  3  6 16   25 - 52  13
Total(Div 1)  50 18 10 22   87 - 92  49
Football Lge
Home(Div 2)    1  0  0  1    2 -  5   0
Away(Div 2)    1  0  0  1    0 -  3   0
Total(Div 2)   2  0  0  2    2 -  8   0
Total(Prem)   13  4  5  4   14 - 16  17
Total(Div 1)  50 18 10 22   87 - 92  49
Total(Div 2)   2  0  0  2    2 -  8   0
Grand Total   65 22 15 28  103 -116  66

The advent of Easter at one time, particularly in the late 1920s and early 1930s, used to mean that Middlesbrough and Tottenham had relegation problems on their hands. Middlesbrough led a yo-yo existence, relegated at the end of season 1923-24, promoted 1926-27, relegated 1927-28 (with Tottenham), promoted 1928-29 and thereafter struggling to avoid relegation, with a particularly close call at the end of season 1934-35 when they very nearly went down again with Tottenham.

Like many clubs, Middlesbrough must have cursed the outbreak of WW2 because they had a nice side coming along and were poised to threaten to break Arsenal's near monopoly of the championship. It took them a while to get going again after WW2 but season 1950-51 saw them achieve their highest placing for a while when they chased Spurs for the title for much of the season, faltering only in the dying weeks of the season. Thereafter, they slid down the table until they were relegated, with Liverpool, at the end of season 1953-54. It was a long time before they once again graced the top flight and they even experienced a season in the old Third Division before they climbed back to the top flight.

No one who saw their side in the 1970s will forget the trouncing they gave Tottenham at White Hart Lane. It was a very good side and promised a bright future for the Teessiders but they could not hang on to their best player, a certain Graeme Souness, who left for Liverpool. Things went for bad to worse during the 1980s and eventually the old club were forced to shut down and reform as a new club altogether. But they eventually climbed back up the League but have again become a yo-yo side, not good enough for the Premiership but too good for the Football League.

However, the signs are that Middlesbrough are at long last developing on the right lines under Steve McClaren. The future looks bright for the Teessiders if they can hang on to him.

Because Middlesbrough spent so long out of the top flight, I don't have many memories of seeing Middlesbrough play Tottenham. There was, as I mentioned, the unhappy 4-0 thrashing in the Football League Cup on the day Bill Nicholson's resignation became known in September 1974. We were dreadful that evening and never did a thing right. Happily, there was a similar 4-0 result in January 1966 when we thrashed them 4-0 at White Hart Lane on a mudheap. Dave Mackay scored twice, one a penalty) and Frank Saul scored the other two in a season the Teessiders prefer to forget.

Another game that sticks out in my mind is our 3-1 win at Ayresome Park on the opening day of the 1981-82 season. It was highlighted on ITV and I can recall the goals that Villa, Hoddle and Falco scored that day. It got them off on the wrong foot and they were relegated at the end of the season.

Given our present problems (with so many out injured), our win last weekend was very timely indeed. But we need to build up on that and pick up some more points. However, Middlesbrough pulled off the shock of the weekend last week by beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in a match that may have tilted the odds into Arsenal's favour ....... It is a difficult game to call as both sides have had problems in scoring goals at one end but leaking them alarmingly at the other. But both seem to have done enough to have secured their passports to Premiership football for next season.

I think Spurs will just about shade it but I'll be happy to settle for a point .......

Cheers, Brian

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