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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Newcastle v Spurs, 04.10.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published 5th October, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Newcastle United

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           4   1   1   2     7-7    4
Away           4   1   2   1     6-11   5
Total (Prem)   8   2   3   3    13-18   9
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  43  24   7  12    87-48  59
Away (Div 1)  43  15  14  14    70-76  45
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   6   1   3   2     6-7    5
Away (Div 2)   6   3   0   3     6-4    6
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
Total (Prem)   8   2   3   3    13-18   9
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
Grand Total  106  45  27  34   182-153 124

No one on the Spurs-List should need reminding of the outcome of our last visit to St James' Park. We were well and truly thumped by a rampant Magpies side, 7-1. It was our worst result in a very disappointing season. But back in November 1950, as we were marching to our first championship, we thrashed Newcastle United, at Tottenham, 7-0. This was the very same Newcastle side that was to lift the FA Cup the following April when they beat Blackpool, 2-0. Newcastle were not a run of the mill side either but bristled with internationals. Spurs only had Ted Ditchburn, Alf Ramsey, Ronnie Burgess and Eddie Baily as internationals. (Bill Nicholson had yet to win his cap.) Yet the following season, Spurs went to St James' Park and were soundly thrashed 7-2 less than three months after being declared champions.

The interesting part of the story concerning the 1950-51 championship side is that only Ramsey was purchased from another club. The rest were all local players or picked up by the scouting system. Quite a few of them were born in Edmonton or Tottenham. The difference between those days and today's players were graphically illustrated by Eddie Baily. "I never had a car until I was 34. The only players I can remember having a car were Ronnie Burgess and Ted Ditchburn. I lived in Clapton and caught the same bus as the fans travelling to Tottenham." Can you imagine today's players doing that?

Newcastle were a very strong side in the 1950s. They won the FA Cup three times in the 1950s. They weew captained by Jimmy Scoular, an uncompromising player, who would probably be described as a ball-winner in today's parlance. There were players like the Robledo brothers, two skilful players from Chile. And there was Jackie Milburn, who could sniff a chance to score a goal before anyone else realised that one existed. But one player was destined for greater fame as a Sunderland manager in the '70s. Bob Stokoe was a tremendous centre-half who wound down his playing career in the lower divisions before beginning a managerial career. His main claim to fame is that of Sunderland manager when they beat Leeds, 1-0, in the 1973 Cup Final. No one who saw Jimmy Montgomery defy Peter Lorimer and Trevor Cherry in successive seconds on different sides of the Sunderland goal will ever forget that final.

But Newcastle hit hard times and began a yo-yo existence between the top two Divisions. They seldom managed to claw their way above the halfway mark when in the old First Division and spent too much time in the old Second Division. When Keegan signed for Newcastle in 1981, they had become the butts of the North East comedians. Keegan steered them back to the old First Division and retired in 1984.

Newcastle had a fairly successful side when Keegan retired. But the board were tempted into selling their better assets : Beardsley, Gascoigne and Waddle all leaving for clubs that promised greater success. And, inevitably, Newcastle paid the price and were relegated again.

But Sir John Hall bought out the existing board and sensationally appointed Kevin Keegan as manager. Newcastle were being tipped for relegation to the old Third Division but somehow scrapped and scraped enough points to avoid the drop.

Backed by Sir John Hall's millions, Newcastle climbed back to the Premier Division. Keegan, perhaps unwisely, concentrated too much on the attacking side of the game and gave scant consideration to the defensive side of the game. As a result, Newcastle spent a lot of money for little or no reward in terms of silverware. Keegan sensationally resigned earlier this year as manager and was replaced by Kenny Dalglish, who can now achieve something no other manager has achieved : winning the League with three different clubs. Herbert Chapman, Brian Clough and Dalglish have achieved the feat with two clubs but no one has done it with three.

Spurs have generally beaten Newcastle at Tottenham but have travelled poorly. However, Newcastle have been embroiled in Europe and have lost another striker to injury. Alan Shearer is still some six weeks to two months away from starting to train, Ferdinand has never been replaced and too much has been riding on Asprilla. If Tottenham are ever to win at Newcastle to gain some much needed confidence, tomorrow (Saturday) is a golden opportunity to do so.

It remains to be seen what team starts tomorrow's match. If Ferdinand and Ginola play, they will want to be at their best to remind Newcastle what they are missing. I hope that Spurs start with Mabbutt on the bench. Last week demonstrated the depth to which he is now struggling. I would also play Vega alongside Campbell. It is to be hoped that Walker will dominate his defence instead of grinning enigmatically when someone else makes a mistake. Baardsen demonstrated a willingness to bawl out errant defenders in the game and a half he played last season.

My heart hopes for a Tottenham win : my head tells me Tottenham will probably be lucky to scrape a draw. But if everyone works hard, PARTICULARLY OFF THE BALL, there is no reason why we should not win up there, even if it is a 1-0 win resembling those nicked by George Graham's Arsenal teams.

Cheers, Brian

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