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Spurs v Derby, 23.08.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published 23rd August, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson (with additional comments by the webmaster)

This report was provided by Brian Judson. It is followed by my ecstatic observations about the debut of Jose Dominguez. Note that at the time, I had some misguided misgivings about the one and only David Ginola!

Saturday, August 23rd, 1997

FA Carling Premiership


Tottenham Hotspur : Walker; Carr, Scales, Calderwood, Edinburgh; Howells, Sinton (sub Neilsen, 76), Ginola (sub Dominguez, 34), Clemence; Ferdinand, Iversen.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Baardsen, Mabbutt, Fox.

Booked : Edinburgh, Nielsen.

Goalscorer : Calderwood, 45

Derby County : Poom; C Powell, Stimac, Lausen, Eranio; Dailly, Hunt (sub Solis, 72), Van den Laan (sub D Powell, 72), Carsley; Ward, Burton (sub Sturridge, 60).

Substitutes *NOT* used : Hoult, Rowett.

Booked : Eranio, Laursen, Carsley, Stimac.

Referee : M J Bodenham (East Looe).

Attendance : 25,886.

Tottenham won this match, which is something most Spurs fans were grateful for as they left White Hart Lane. However, much of the football on view from both sides was fumbling with far too many players over-kicking the ball, thus losing possession to the opposition. Spurs players seemed to feel as though they were strangers to each other, making repeated mistakes and being caught in possession of the ball frequently. It was a messy, unsightly game and one that few will want to recall in years to come.

Following an annoying 10 day break for World Cup matches that England were not involved in, Tottenham returned to White Hart Lane for a home game with Derby County. Having lost their first two matches, it was vital Tottenham extracted something from this match if they were not to be dogged by a season's struggle against relegation, particularly in view of the bright start Arsenal have made to their season. The usual long litany of injuries were included in the pre-match reports and included the colossus that Sol Campbell has become in the Tottenham defence. Despite treatment, his knee injury had not responded and he was forced to miss the match. Surprisingly, Calderwood was preferred to Mabbutt but, perhaps in the light of events, it was probably just as well that he played.

Derby had comfortably survived their first season in the Premiership, finishing 12th. They had been regarded as one of the favourites for relegation but had seldom been in trouble. Jim Smith had strengthened his squad during the summer months but surprisingly, in view of the problems given to the Tottenham defence in the corresponding match last August, (Dean) Sturridge was initially confined to the bench.

The opening half hour was so awful that I am sure most of the spectators must have wished they had stayed at home to enjoy the sunshine. Certainly I have rarely viewed so many players demonstrating perfectly how *NOT* to play football. Their first touch was awful. Too many laid the ball off too early or too late or were caught in possession. Walker's upfield kicking towards the Edmonton end was atrociously poor, quite often leaving Ferdinand and Iversen stranded in no man's land.

But it does have to be said of Derby that their tackling was very crude. It was obvious their intention was to preserve their goal and snatch a point. I felt that Mr Bodenham should have stamped on some of the crude tackling at a much earlier stage than he did. Certainly, Stimac clattered into Ginola at every opportunity without even receiving a finger waving from an official who seemed to be semi-detached from the mayhem surrounding him.

The spectators were becoming visibly restless when Stimac clattered Ginola yet again. Ginola needed lengthy treatment and jogged around clutching his shoulder for some minutes afterwards. He showed no enthusiasm for playing after that and was seen pleading to be substituted. In the end, Ginola was called off in the 34th minute and Jose Dominguez appeared on the touchline.

Once Dominguez came on, he soon had the fans roaring approval as he buzzed around like an angry wasp, running rings around the Derby defenders. Derby quickly put three defenders around him as soon as he received the ball but he was too quick for them, spinning round and round until the Derby defenders banged into each other, leaving the way to goal open like the parting of the Red Sea in times past.

As the referee looked at his watch, Dominguez won a free kick. Sinton took the free kick and a blur of white bulleted into a packed penalty area to head the ball home. When the congratulations had faded, we found Calderwood grinning broadly at the bottom of the pack. There was scarcely time to restart the match before the halftime whistle echoed.

The second half was a huge improvement on the first half but still too much football reminded one of the pinball wizard rather than push and run. But the goal had worked wonders for Tottenham's confidence and had gnawed at Derby's during the interval.

Tottenham, with Clemence, Sinton and Dominguez as chief tormentors, started to put passes together that suggests that Dominguez may well be the player we have been looking for for a very long time. He seemed to bring out the best in those around him, particularly in the very young Clemence, who seems already to be a fixture in the Tottenham team. It is hard to realise that Clemence has only broken into the first team this season as his play and approach is so mature.

Derby tried to change their approach by sending on three substitutes including Sturridge, with half an hour to go. But Tottenham's tails were up and the crowd roared every time Dominguez received the ball. It has been a very long time since I have felt a roar of anticipation generated by the presence of one player. Probably the last player to evoke a response like that was Gazza in 1990-91 .......

Right at the end, Spurs could and should have increased their lead. Injury time seemed to go on for ever. Something like five or six minutes must have been added by the referee to the game. And then Dominguez was sent flying in the penalty area. Howells stepped forward to take the kick and ballooned the ball over the bar.

So, not a game to remember, apart from Dominguez's debut. The smallest player to represent Tottenham since Phil Holder in the 1980s, he may well be the smallest player ever. Yet he has a heart that is as strong as Dave Mackay's or Alan Mullery's, charging everywhere, trying to lift those around him.

On Wednesday evening we entertain Aston Villa, who are rock bottom of the League. Hopefully, Dominguez will start the game and help us to beat a team that seems to have had the indian sign on us for far too long.



Editor's comments, also written in 1997

At last - mine eyes have seen some glory! It was in the diminutive shape of Jose DOMINGUEZ. Bruce ( a reference to friend and former fellow webmaster Bruce Lewis)- you must have been privileged to have seen his performance against Southend reserves. I only wish I had been there with you. I don't remember reading anything on the list about his performance at Swindon, where he played the other night. The point I am making is that I would pay money, and travel almost anywhere to watch this little dynamo. HE IS THE MOST EXCITING FOOTBALLER I'VE SEEN AT THE LANE SINCE JK. He is fast, he beats players; he has brilliant powers of recovery, retaining the ball a couple of times even after falling over; he seems to have all the tricks in the book, including the Ryan GIGGS trailing leg trick. I kid you not when I say that every time he had the ball, he set the crowd alight, and had the Derby players totally flummoxed.

The papers today will probably say "OLES RING OUT FOR JOSE", and that's how it was. It was the best home atmosphere for ages ( I missed the ManU game ). Even on this first appearance, there can be no doubt that DOMINGUEZ is real class, with electric pace, and that he is without doubt the best signing Gerry has made. The great thing is that the little man was interviewed ater the game, and he says he still isn't fully fit! So, there's more to come! I can't wait to see him on Wednesday. He must be the first on the team sheet. He reminded a lot of people around me of Ossie, but he is a lot faster.

DOMINGUEZ is the player that GINOLA should have been for us, but isn't. (Little did I know!)It appears that GINOLA went off after 33 minutes with a shoulder injury, but he was making no impression, and made one or two elementary mistakes. There ain't going to be room for both of them in the side, and in my view there is no question of who should be first choice. I think GINOLA'S stay at the lane could be very brief. (Ed: How wrong could I be?! )

I shall leave the more structured reporting to Brian (Judson), and Ivan (Cohen), but just comment briefly about the players:-

WALKER - gave a competent performance, but was getting a bit of stick from the crowd in the first half for not releasing the ball earlier. (7/10)

CARR - a good showing in the 4-4-2 formation, and probably his best match so far (7/10)

EDINBURGH - say what you like; I think he's come on leaps and bounds over the last year, and that he played really well ( 8/10 )

CALDERWOOD - scored with a powerful header from near the edge of the box, from a SINTON free kick, after little DOMINGUEZ had been fouled. He also defended really well, having one of his best performances for the team. The competition for the centre back position is really tough!(8/10)

SCALES- got caught out once or twice, and gave the ball away needlessly at times too, but generally recovered well, and pleased the crowd when going forward. (7/10)

HOWELLS - his usual showing. Fed DOMINGUEZ quite well when going forward, and got stuck in as usual (6/10)Missed ( dollied over) the penalty won by the little man near the end.

CLEMENCE - I suppose he's got the ANDERTON position, and until a certain individual is fit again, he'll hold his own. His lack of experience and expertise does show at times, but he holds and passes the ball well. (7/10)

SINTON - was another crowd pleaser, playing left side midfield, with GINOLA in the middle behind the front two. A couple of times SINTON seemed to steal GINOLA'S thunder, by carrying the ball from outside left into dangerous positions. He had a couple of shots himself. He got crocked in the second half and the bench asked him what he wanted to do. SINTON tried to run off his knock for ages, when he should have been taken off straight away. (8/10)

GINOLA - enough said already ( 5/10 )

DOMINGUEZ - also enough said already but I'm giving him 10 out of 10!!

FERDINAND, and IVERSEN - neither of these impressed today. They are not playing well off each other. IVERSEN didn't look match fit, and showed very few of the running, and defence beating skills that we saw last season. They both improved in the second half, but it was still a moderate performance. FERDINAND missed a sitter in front of goal, and why didn't he take the penalty. Obviously it was a captain's decision, but surely our main striker ought to be whacking them in? ( 5/10 )

NIELSEN - came on for SINTON, and impressed me. He got booked with his first touch! but went on to feed the attack well.

Generally speaking, we gave Derby too much possession in the first half, but I don't think they really threatened us. They were missing ASANOVIC, who usually orchestrates their play. We didn't get going until DOMINGUEZ entered the scene, and the only thing I'd say is that we didn't capitalise on the possession we had, and convert enough chances to win by the 2 or 3 goals we should have.

Finally, I am very impressed with my temporary seat in the south upper. It doesn't matter now when you buggers in the lower tier stand up, because I can still see all the action! Also because the rake is sharper (i.e. the stand rises higher, quicker ), I don't seem to be quite so far from the goal at the far end. The only thing is I've got a bloke sitting a few rows behind me who sounds like he's on helium:) OLE, OLE,OLE. OLE - JOSE!!!!!!!

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