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Match Reports
Spurs v Arsenal, May 1971

This article was written in April, 2004

As has been well publicised this week, Arsenal COULD clinch this year's Premiership Trophy at The Lane, depending upon Chelsea's result on the same day. Arsenal will also need to win our game, which I shall preview later in the week.

Those who are old enough (like me), and who were at White Hart Lane on the night of Monday 3rd May, 1971 will have a story to tell. I was just 18 at the time, and got to the main entrance about 5.30 - 6 p.m. for a 7.30 p.m. kick off. The gates were already closed, and I didn't have a ticket, so I stood forlornly around the main gates, hoping to at least savour some of the atmosphere on a night that, of course, I hoped, would see Spurs (who were a competitive top half side then) deprive the other half of North London the first leg of what would emulate our historic Double of 1961.

Luckily for me, Steve Perryman arrived in a green MGB GT, and they had to open the gates to let him into the car park. About 1,000 - 2,000 of us burst through the gates, and amazingly, they let us through the turnstiles! The official capacity and attendance for that match was 56,000, but I'm sure there were nearer 60,000 in the stadium. I secured a place under the floodlight pylon in the south-western part of the ground, and watched the events unfold, as recalled here by Brian Judson

Even today, 33 years after the event, recalling the match is a nightmare to me but, for the benefit of younger readers, let me take you back in time to that match.

Going into the match, Leeds United were top with 64 points and had finished their League programme. Arsenal needed to draw 0-0 or win the match to deprive Leeds of the Championship. A 1-1 draw or higher would mean that Leeds would win the League : it was that tight.

From late March onwards, it became increasingly obvious that Spurs v Arsenal was going to settle the title. Incredibly, the Spurs Board did not consider making the match all-ticket. I remember travelling on the train to work at approximately 7.30am that morning. Long queues were already forming round the ground. I wasn't worried because I was a season ticket holder in the old North Stand in Paxton Road. But when I made the return journey at 5.00pm, I could see there were so many people milling around it was obvious there was going to be problems getting into the ground. On arrival home, I bolted my tea and went back to Tottenham more than an hour earlier than I usually did for most home midweek games. I got back to White Hart Lane at about 6.15pm, more than an hour or so before the kick-off at 7.30pm. It took me 45 minutes to fight my way up the jam packed solid sardine tin that was Paxton Road. Think of a Japanese bullet train and multiply that by a factor of 5 at least and that was Paxton Road that night ...... (People were still coming in to claim their seats late in the second half so thick the crowds around the ground.)

Spurs lined up : Jennings; Kinnear, P Collins, Beal, Knowles; Mullery, Perryman, Peters, Neighbour; Chivers, Gilzean (sub Pearce).

Arsenal lined up : Wilson; Rice, McLintock, Simpson, McNab; Kelly, Armstrong, Graham, George; Radford, Kennedy. (Sammels was substitute but I can't remember if he came on).

The noise was deafening. I remember how the foundations of the North Stand seemed to be shaking from the terrific din both sets of fans created. Charlie George almost snatched the lead in the opening seconds after Rice had made a long run on the right before centring. Jennings anticipated the flight of George's shot and pushed the ball over the bar. But Arsenal were not used to the pressure of pushing for the championship and their nerves showed. Peters almost caught Bob Wilson napping when his shot clipped the bar with Wilson hopelessly stranded out of position.

McLintock was a demon and a tireless worker, encouraging his team mates to hang on until Spurs ran out of steam. Kelly, a late selection for the injured Peter Storey, began to weave his magic. Armstrong ran tirelessly up and down the wing. Tottenham were fully stretched in the last fifteen minutes before half-time. McLintock saw Collins hook a ball off the line. Then Arsenal forced four quick corners as the Gunners held on.

At the start of the second half, Tottenham came back into the picture. Wilson was injured soon after the start and required lengthy treatment before resuming in goal. He had been injured as Joe Kinnear had raced in to the packed area in an attempt to force the ball home. There was a very quick flare-up as the Arsenal players surrounded Kinnear.

The worst moment for both sets of fans then came. Knowles raced down the wing and put in a peach of a centre which left Gilzean momentarily unmarked. But at the vital moment, he took his eye off the ball for a fraction of a second and in that moment Tottenham's hopes of winning the match disappeared. Gilzean failed to connect with the ball by an inch. "That should have been it," he commented after the game, "but I was so busy looking for a place to put it that I took my eye off the ball."

Worse was to come as the seconds began to tick away. Charlie George raced down the left wing and Jennings covered his near post waiting for the seemingly inevitable shot. But it never came. He centred the ball to Radford who bulleted a header goalwards. Jennings somehow pushed it out and the Tottenham defenders frantically tried to regroup. Armstrong caught the loose ball and centred it to Kennedy, who headed the ball home from the edge of the area with four minutes to go.

The Spurs fans slumped in resignation. They knew then the other lot were bound to go on to complete the double against Liverpool at Wembley. Then, as if in response to a signal, all the Spurs fans jammed the exits, fleeing before the Arsenal hordes could celebrate their first championship since 1953.

It was a truly horrible moment seeing Kennedy head home that bloody goal. It has haunted me in nightmares ever since. If you are a Spurs supporter, your whole raison d'etre is that you *NEVER EVER* want to see that bloody lot win *ANYTHING*.

Thanks as always to Brian for his recollections. Let us hope that Gooners' fans don't get to celebrate on the same scale THIS week.

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