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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Chelsea v Spurs, 12.01.2000

· Last season's game - Chelsea 2 Spurs 0, 12.12.98
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Tottenham Hotspur -v- Chelsea

Prem           Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home            7   0   4   3     7-14   4
Away            7   0   3   4     6-13   3
Total (Prem)   14   0   7   7    13-27   7
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)   42  20   9  13    79-57  51
Away (Div 1)   42  19   6  17    63-50  46
Total (Div 1)  84  39  15  30   142-107 97
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)    2   1   1   0     7-4    3
Away (Div 2)    2   0   1   1     1-4    1
Total (Div 2)   4   1   2   1     8-8    4
Total (Prem)   14   0   7   7    13-27   7
Total (Div 1)  84  39  15  30   142-107 97
Total (Div 2)   4   1   2   1     8-8    4
Grand Total   102  40  24  38   163-142 111

Let us begin this preview by dealing with the most dismal aspect of it first. The following is the dreadful sequence of results over the years since 1986-87 :

1986-87 1-3  2-0
1987-88 1-0  0-0
1989-90 1-4  2-1
1990-91 1-1  2-3
1991-92 1-3  0-2
1992-93 1-2  1-1
1993-94 1-1  3-4
1994-95 0-0  1-1
1995-96 1-1  0-0
1996-97 1-2  1-3
1997-98 1-6  0-2
1998-99 2-2  0-2

I believe that our record against Chelsea is currently the worst of all our sequences against opposing teams. We have never beaten them in the Premier League and we have to go all the way back to season 1989-90 for our last victory over them.

Chelsea have, over the years, been a side that has infuriated its followers. Their history is a roller-coaster of highs and lows. They have won only one League Championship (in season 1954-55 when their 52 points was the lowest ever recorded for a championship winning team under two points for a win). They are the only side who can claim never to have served an apprenticeship before joining the League. They had not even kicked a ball in anger before they joined the Football League in the summer of 1905. It was appropriate their only Championship to date occurred 50 years after the club's formation.

But I will always argue that their best team was the one that Venables skippered in the mid-1960s. Had Venables not fell out with the voluble and volatile Tommy Docherty, I feel sure that Chelsea would have won the League then. It was a very attractive side, very positive, with none of the irritating habits they sometimes display today. Most of the side had London backgrounds with many of them having been snatched from under the noses of West Ham United's East End scouts.

Whilst Chelsea have been successful in recent seasons, it was not so long ago they came perilously close to slumping to the old Third Division. In season 1982-83, they spent the majority of the season just below the halfway mark but two months after March 12th and before May 7th saw them record no wins as they fell from 13th to 20th with four games left to play. They drew three of those and won one to save themselves from the drop.

Over the years, there have been many fine games between the clubs. I recall a few of them here.

The most dramatic was the game played on 19th April 1975. Both sides were deep in trouble at the bottom of the old Division 1 table. It was obvious the team that lost would almost certainly be the team that would be relegated. There was trouble on the Worcester Avenue terraces before the game and it looked probable the game would never start as people flocked on to the pitch to avoid the pitched battle going on between the 'Chelsea' and 'Tottenham' neanderthals who seemed to think it hugely funny to spoil the game for the majority of those present by fighting. It took the cool presence of referee Jack Taylor, who went out alone and unescorted by the police, and made it clear he was prepared to wait until midnight to ensure the game was played. His no-nonsense approach enabled the game to go ahead on time and Spurs won 2-0 thanks to goals by Alfie Conn and Stevie Perryman. Younger readers of these notes would not recognise Ray 'Butch' Wilkins if they were shown a photograph of him as Chelsea's 18-year old skipper : he had a very glossy, healthy thatch of hair compared to today's bald dome!

But, for me, the best game between the two clubs that I ever saw was the 6th Round FA Cup tie held at Stamford Bridge on March 6th 1982. We won 3-2, thanks to goals scored by Hazard, Archibald and Hoddle early in the second half. Chelsea had gone ahead early on and scored late in the game but the fifteen minutes that saw Spurs score three goals remains, for me, the best fifteen minutes played since Spurs won the Double in 1960-61. The passing was sublime, the goals were superb, particularly Hoddle's.

Another game I will never forget is the 1967 Cup Final. Spurs won that game in a canter on May 20th 1967. They had a long unbeaten run stretching back to January 1967 and the confidence that engendered was clearly on display. There is no doubt that Chelsea froze on the day, clearly overawed by the occasion. Pat Jennings had very little to do in goal and the only time he was threatened was when Tambling scored a very late consolation goal for Tottenham.

A couple of seasons before that, Chelsea came to Tottenham on February 1st 1964. They had won promotion at the first attempt following their relegation at the end of season 1961-62 and were playing well. But for most Tottenham supporters that day it was a chance to say farewell to Tommy Harmer, who was playing for Chelsea that day and whose skill provided Chelsea with the openings to secure a 2-1 victory, our second home defeat of the season.

Those of you who have been long-time members of the List will remember my admiration for 'Harmer The Charmer'. He was a frail, bony-looking player who looked as if he would never last the whole ninety minutes. But he made up for his apparent lack of strength with magic that defies description. You had to see him playing to be able to appreciate the full repertoire of his skills. I have never seen anyone come remotely close to deceiving a whole team as to which direction he was going by dipping one shoulder and then with them wrong-footed he went the other. Spurned by Rowe, sacked by Nicholson, Harmer made the most of his short spell as Tottenham's midfield general in the mid-1950s. There were few dry eyes among the older Tottenham fans that February afternoon when Harmer disappeared from view for the last time as a player at Tottenham even though Chelsea had won.

And next Wednesday's match? I will be very surprised if we win at the Bridge. We have not won there since 1989-90 and I doubt if our defence can concentrate for 90 minutes to secure the win we need. But football is a funny game as we noticed during the Coventry City -v- Chelsea game earlier this week when Chelsea twice equalised within seconds of a Coventry goal. I hope I am not being wildly optimistic when I say I think we will draw 1-1.

Cheers, Brian

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