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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Carlisle, 17.09.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published 15th September, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Carlisle United

Football Lge    Pl  W  D  L   For-Ag  Pts
Home (Div 1)     1  0  1  0     1-1    1
Away (Div 1)     1  0  0  1     0-1    0
Total(Div 1)     2  0  1  1     1-2    1

FA Cup

1970-71 FAC3    Home    1-1     Gilzean
        FAC3R   Away    3-1     Gilzean Chivers 2

As the above table shows, we have not met Carlisle United outside the period of the 1970s. The FA Cup replay is the game that sticks out in my mind most of all.

At that date, I was still single and living at home with my parents. My mother listened to the commentary on the radio for me. (Ed:- Brian was deaf) As I recollect, we joined the second half with the score 1-1 and things were not going well at all. Then Gilzean nicked one of those goals that he was famous for with a deceptive nod of his head. A minute later, Gilzean set up a chance for Chivers and it was all over. The din I made in the kitchen whilst my mother ironed the week's washing stirred my father into storming out to the kitchen and demanding to know what the row was all about. "Ned, don't be such a spoilsport!" my mother said to him. "Spurs have scored twice in a minute, that's all!"

The away defeat at Carlisle was a poignant moment in Spurs history. We were rooted to the floor of the First Division with three successive defeats and Carlisle, of all teams, were top of the League. If I remember correctly, Carlisle v Spurs was the Match of The Day that weekend and we were awful. It was obvious things could not be allowed to go on the way they were. But none of us ever dreamed that Bill Nicholson would have departed as manager before the following Saturday came round! (Ed: Bill was manager for 4 more games, actually resigning after a 4-0 League Cup defeat to Middlesbrough on September 11th, 1974)

Normally, in match previews, I try to talk about the fixture's history but there is none associated with this fixture other than the games listed above.

I thought I'd discuss generally some of the memories I savour of the Football League Cup. In pride of place, even above the two victories that Spurs have chalked up as Cup winners of this competition, is Swindon Town's 3-1 victory over Arsenal in 1969. The game was played on a mud heap. Wembley had been wrecked as a footballing paradise by the Horse of the Year show that had wrecked the turf through galloping hooves. Arsenal, to be fair, were wracked with a flu virus and several of those who played that day were not fully fit but had to play as they were the only ones capable of standing up.

Don Rogers had given Swindon an early lead which they looked like holding until Bobby Gould struck with four minutes to go. Gould ran behind the goal to greet the Gooners on the terraces and turned to face his team mates and suddenly burst into tears. His version was that it was because he was overcome by the emotion of the moment. My interpretation is that he suddenly realised, "Oh shit! We've got to play extra time now! What have I done?" :-)

In extra time, Swindon were rampant against a rapidly tiring Arsenal. Noble restored Swindon's lead forcing Arsenal to throw caution to the wind. They flung everyone except Bob Wilson forward and were inevitably caught out almost at the end of extra time. Swindon cleared the ball to Don Rogers, who timed his run brilliantly, ensuring he was not caught offside. He was 1:1 with Wilson, who tried to psyche Rogers into doing the wrong thing whilst Arsenal's players dragged tiring limbs back to defensive positions. Rogers dummied past Wilson and stroked the ball into the empty goal. I don't think there was any time to re-start the game before the final whistle echoed.

Another memory is that of Alec Stock's QPR side, then in the Third Division, conceding two goals to First Division West Bromwich, and then beating them, 3-2. Most of the QPR side were aged 20-22, if I recall correctly. The Morgan twins, Rodney Marsh and various other youngsters ran riot and thoroughly deserved their victory in what was the first Wembley final for the League Cup.

Spurs' two victories were odd ones. Their first was against Aston Villa, in February 1971. Mike England missed that game as he had a long-standing injury problem and 'Spud' Collins deputised for him. Collins had been spotted playing for Chelmsford City and was groomed as a long term successor for Mike England. He was quiet and unobtrusive but he was a very good player. Collins did much to nullify the threat that Andy Lochhead posed. Chivers scored both goals, one of which was set up by Neighbour, who centred from the left wing. The other was conjoured up by Chivers after being released by Mullery.

Two years later, we played in the worst ever final I've ever seen Spurs associated with. There is absolutely nothing worth recalling of the drab, boring final against Norwich City. John Pratt limped off after only 9 minutes and had changed and was back on the bench before half-time. Coates replaced him as substitute and scored the late winner after completely mis-hitting the ball. Keelan, in the Norwich goal, had the ball covered had it gone where Coates had aimed it but could do nothing to prevent the ball trickling over the line after it was mishit.

And the outcome on Wednesday night? Your guess is as good as mine. Wet your finger, test the way the wind is blowing, stick a pin on a piece of paper with possible scorelines and that's as good as any way to predict Wednesday's result. I'll go out on a limb and predict we'll win 3-1.

Cheers, Brian

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