"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published January, 2018, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson
Saturday 17th January 1998
FA Carling Premiership
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (1) 1 WEST HAM UNITED (0) 0
Tottenham Hotspur : Baardsen; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Wilson; Calderwood
(sub Howells, 58), Fox (sub Brady, 79), Berti, Ginola (sub Dominguez,
65), Sinton; Klinsmann.
Substitutes *NOT* used : Mabbutt, Brown.
Booked : Vega.
Goalscorer : Klinsmann 7.
West Ham United : Forrest; Potts, Ferdinand, Unsworth, Pearce; Moncur,
Lampard, Berkovic (sub Hodges, 85), Lazaridis (sub Dowie, 46); Hartson,
Substitutes *NOT* used : Lama, Bishop, Rowland.
Booked : Moncur, Hartson, Potts.
Sent-off : Abou. (42 mins)
Referee : Mr D R Elleray (Harrow).
Attendance : 30,284.
This was one of those occasions where I fancy we really needed Harry
Gibbs, the former boxing referee, to adjudicate on the incident that
occurred just before half-time. A mass brawl over an incident few saw at
the time led to the dismissal of the liveliest of live wires in the West
Ham defence. Since I didn't see the actual offence, I can only report
what I have read but, allegedly, Abou kicked Vega when the action was
elsewhere on the pitch and Vega collapsed as if poleaxed. This led to a
mass brawl in which Calderwood took a leading part, angrily exchanging
words with West Ham's manager, Harry Redknapp, as the latter led off
Abou. Abou had been swiftly dismissed by Mr Elleray after consulting the
linesman nearest to the scene and Abou had refused point blank to go. Mr
Elleray had then asked Redknapp to remove Abou so that he could re-start
the match. And then Calderwood had to make things worse by exchanging
comments with Redknapp.
The scene left a nasty taste in my mouth because these fixtures
traditionally do not turn as nasty as did yesterday's. Even with the
highly combative Julian Dicks in the side, swatting players discreetly
when the referee had his back turned, the atmosphere never turned sour.
Before the game, Christian Gross had hammered into his players the need
to extract a win from the game. Spurs' position is so dire as the
position is so tight at the bottom that it could come down to goal
difference to decide who stays up and who drops. Only Bolton and Barnsley
have a worse goal difference than Tottenham so wins are vital.
A long list of players were all missing from the team yesterday but there
was one of the long-term injured on the bench for yesterday's game. David
Howells had not featured in a Tottenham line-up since 8th November when
Tottenham had lost 4-0 at Liverpool. I hoped that if Howells came on it
would mean an early departure for Calderwood.
From the kick-off Tottenham poured forward. West Ham packed their goal
mouth and absorbed everything Tottenham could throw at them. Their
intention was obviously to absorb Tottenham's attacks and then catch them
on the break when their lines of communication were extended. But that
hope quickly vanished.
In the 7th minute, Ginola pushed a low ball into the West Ham penalty
area. Ferdinand hesitated a fatal second, allowing Klinsmann to lightly
touch the ball sufficiently enough to place it wide of the desperately
clawing hands of Craig Forrest. It wasn't a spectacular goal but it was
Klinsmann's first since returning to Tottenham. White Hart Lane erupted
to salute the second coming of Klinsmann.
This left the Hammers with little choice but to chase the game. They
began to push forward but found Campbell marshalling his back four so
well that they barely worried Baardsen in goal. Hartson was repeatedly
caught offside as he chased through balls from Unsworth and began to
And yet, to my surprise, as I have recorded, it was Abou who was sent
off. And, looking back, I think the fates smiled on Tottenham for once.
Abou had certainly been far livelier than Hartson as Abou had the nous to
beat Tottenham's offside trap. I always felt that if West Ham equalised
it would be more because of Abou than anyone else.
After the break, West Ham introduced Ian Dowie, the player with the
neanderthal looks, at the expense of Stan Lazaridis. It placed more
responsibility on John Moncur to prise open the Tottenham back door as
Frank Lampard was not at his best form.
For a while, West Ham poured forward. Tottenham were looking a bit edgy
as they were pushed back but Baardsen made it clear who was in charge of
the penalty area. Unlike Walker, Baardsen bawled out his back four if he
felt they had left him exposed. Klinsmann dropped back to help the
defence, marshalling those with no specific defensive duties.
Howells came on for Calderwood. I am no fan of Howells but he was a
distinct improvement on Calderwood, who I detest more. Howells worked
hard and tried to get the ball forward instead of just hoofing the ball
as Calderwood tends to do.
Ginola was called off shortly afterwards. He looked reluctant to go but
eventually accepted the decision to replace him with Dominguez. Ginola is
now very important to Tottenham's plans and I think he was substituted in
order to avoid a recurrence of his hamstring twinges. Dominguez worked
hard for Tottenham but did not really create any openings. He continues
to be an enigma as he is clearly not a team player.
Brady was the last of the substitutes to come on for Tottenham but had
insufficient time to make an impression. But he does look promising.
Towards the end of the game, I felt that West Ham slowly began to accept
they were unlikely to score. Certainly Hartson seemed to lose interest in
the game after he was booked. I don't think Dicks would have stood for
that had he been playing. Tottenham are fortunate they missed the
combative Dicks for this vital match.
After the game, Harry Redknapp criticised Calderwood and Vega's part in
Abou's dismissal. He felt that Vega had made a meal of the incident and
that Calderwood had made it even worse by running around stirring things
On my way home after the game, I thought a lot about Baardsen's
performance. He is obviously still very raw as a goalkeeper and has a lot
to learn. But, having said that, I am beginning to think that Baardsen
may turn out to be the best goalkeeper we've had since the days of Pat
Jennings. Before people say, "But what about Ray Clemence?" please do
remember that we saw Clemence only after he'd passed his peak as his best
days were at Liverpool.
Baardsen has one important asset that Walker lacks. He is not slow to
make his feelings clear when there has been a lapse of concentration in
front of him. Walker tends to conceal his feelings or make enigmatic
smiles. Baardsen's distribution is still not perfect but he looks better
than Walker in that respect. I have a feeling that Campbell may well have
a bit more confidence in knowing Baardsen is behind him than in Walker.
Tottenham now have a two week break from their League problems as they
return to the road to Wembley. This time the opposition is Barnsley, who
Tottenham comprehensively defeated just before Christmas.
· Read the preview for this game.
· All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
Top of page | Index to 1997-98 Match Reports