"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published January, 2018, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson
Tottenham and Barnsley have never previously met in the FA Cup.
I thought that I'd write about some past FA Cup ties where Spurs were
regarded as favourites yet stumbled to defeat. I think we need to be
cautious about regarding Tottenham as certainties for Round 5 after
easily beating Barnsley just before Christmas.
The classic Cup tie is the 4th Round tie against Derby County in January
1973. We reckoned we'd done the hard bit by surviving on the mud heap at
the Baseball Ground. In fact, as I recall it, Tottenham came within 10
minutes or so of winning the match thanks to a Chivers goal. At Tottenham
we were winning 2-1 with some 10 minutes left when we were awarded a
penalty which Mike England successfully converted. Many people left the
ground at that point, convinced Spurs had won the game. Roger Davies, who
had broken into the Derby team that season, had other thoughts and
inspired Derby to a 3-3 draw in normal time and drove Derby on to a 5-3
win in extra time. I can recall Bill Nicholson criticising the attitude
of his players. He reminded them that a game is never cut and dried until
the final whistle echoes.
Another game we really ought to have won was the match at Port Vale in
January 1988. As I recall, it was a wintery Saturday afternoon. Venables
had only been in post for a month and was still in the process of
evaluating his inheritance. He'd already started to make some changes,
bringing in Terry Fenwick, arguably the most unpopular player ever to be
signed by Tottenham, and bringing in youngsters like Brian Statham and
Neil Ruddock. But on the day Tottenham's heart wasn't in the game and
Port Vale could have won by a heavier margin than the 2-1 victory they
earned. If I correctly recall, Mimms was at fault with one of the goals
that Tottenham conceded.
We really should have won the 1987 Cup Final. We were the better team for
quite long spells of the game. But I still find it a very painful match
to recall, as no doubt do other Spurs supporters. It was a shame that
David Pleat's side did not receive any tangible honours for providing the
best football seen from a Tottenham side since 1960-61.
One game that we ultimately won but so very nearly lost was the Fourth
Round tie at Notts County in January 1986. This was the second season
that Peter Shreeve and John Pratt had been in charge. We were awful that
day. For a long time it looked as if Notts County were going to pull off
a shock win but very late in the day Clive Allen snatched an equaliser
and later still, Notts County missed an open goal when it looked simpler
to score. We won the replay but lost in the 5th Round at Everton, when we
were lifeless for much of the match.
A cup tie we should have won in January 1975 was one I missed due to a
domestic arguement. We were home to Nottingham Forest on the day Brian
Clough took over as manager of the Midland side. They were at the wrong
end of the old Division 2 table whilst we were deep in relegation trouble
at the bottom of Division 1. All was not well in the dressing room as
Terry Neill tried to impose his ideas on the club. As far as I can recall
from the match reports in the press, Forest apparently had only one
attack that night and scored the only goal of the game.
Another cup tie we really should have won was the one against Crystal
Palace in January 1970. We were awful against Palace at Tottenham and
never looked like scoring. The mud heap may have had something to do with
our terrible performance but we really should have won. Our performance
in the replay was even worse after Gerry Queen rose to nod home what
proved to be the winning goal. I have discussed the subsequent fallout
from this result elsewhere. (Ed:- 4 key players were dropped, and Jimmy Greaves never played for Spurs' first team again)
Perhaps, as a reminder, that one should never take the likely outcome of
a cup tie for granted is the result of a cup tie played in January 1933
when Walsall beat our anonymous neighbours from the other end of the
Seven Sisters Road 2-0. At that time, Walsall were in the old Division 3
(North) whilst their guests were leading the championship.
And, of course, we've all been battered to death by the Beeb with
countless re-runs of that famous victory of Hereford over Newcastle
United in January 1972. And if you haven't .... Macdonald heads Newcastle
ahead with nine minutes left ... "I've dunnit, fook it!" the muddy
Macdonald squawked. Then, with less than a minute to go, Radford played a
one-two before slamming home a 40-yard shot that I doubt McFaul in the
Toon goal saw coming. All hell broke loose as Hereford's fans invaded the
pitch. Then in extra time George scored the winner with a simple tap-in
and all hell broke loose again in Hereford's joyous celebrations.
And how do you plan to prevent a goal such as Mickey Thomas scored at the
Racecourse ground a few years ago when Wrexham beat Arsenal? Even from 40
yards out, Arsenal should never have conceded the goal but their wall
broke a fraction too soon, enough to give Thomas the chance to score. And
that against a defence commonly recognised as one of the most efficient
and Scrooge-like over the last 10 years.
And Saturday's game? Fortunately, Barnsley signed Jan Aage Fjortoft too
late to qualify for this week's match. I'm not sure whether he is cup-tied
playing for Sheffield United. All I'm glad about is that he won't be in
Barnsley's line-up as he is a very wily player.
Spurs hope to have Les Ferdinand back for the match. Whether you like him
or not, it will help Klinsmann, who has, so far, had to shoulder all the
responsibility on his own up front. Klinsmann will want to do his best to
get Tottenham to the Cup Final now that he has announced he will be
retiring after the World Cup finals. (Ed:- Klinsmann's announcement related to International football, although he did indeed effectively retire from club football too in 1998. He had a brief spell playing football in the USA in 2003) Whether he achieves that particular ambition depends on the luck of the draw and the chances that are
created. Spurs ought to win but I suspect it will not be as easy as it
was last month when we won 3-0. I suspect we will have to settle for a
narrow victory with nails bitten low before we can relax.
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