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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Derby County v Spurs, 16.10.99

Last season's game - Derby County 0 Spurs 1, 03.10.98
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Derby County -v- Spurs

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts

Home           3   1   2   0     3-2    5
Away           3   1   0   2     4-6    3
Total (Prem)   6   2   2   2     7-8    8
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  24  13   4   7    41-25  31
Away (Div 1)  24   3   8  13    29-60  16
Total (Div 1) 48  16  12  20    70-85  47
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   1   0   1   0     0-0    1
Away (Div 2)   1   0   1   0     1-1    1
Total (Div 2)  2   0   2   0     1-1    2
Total (Prem)   6   2   2   2     7-8    8
Total (Div 1) 48  16  12  20    70-85  47
Total (Div 2)  2   0   2   0     1-1    2
Grand Total   56  18  16  22    78-94  57

Probably the most important match that Spurs have ever played against Derby County occurred in the very first season that Spurs played in the Football League. As the final week of the 1908-09 season started, Bolton Wanderers, Spurs and West Bromwich Albion were all hoping to win promotion. By a freakish coincidence, all three had to play their final game against Derby County. West Bromwich went to the Baseball Ground for their final match of the season on the Monday night. The Spurs team spent the weekend at Buxton and travelled to watch that match. Derby County won 2-1.

Spurs travelled to the Baseball Ground on the Wednesday night. They had worked out the various permutations and knew that either a win or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would probably be enough to secure promotion. Defeat or a 2-2 draw or higher scoring draw would probably keep them in the Second Division for another year, particularly if, as generally expected, Bolton beat Derby when they played them on the Saturday. Spurs grabbed their 1-1 draw, with Bobby Steel scoring the vital goal.

On the Saturday, Bolton beat Derby County 1-0, leaving the final position as:

            Pl   W  D  L For-Ag  Pts
1 Bolton    38  24  4 10  59-28  52
2 Spurs     38  20 11  7  67-32  51
3 West Brom 38  19 13  6  56-27  51

Spurs had a goal average of 2.09 against West Bromwich Albion's 2.07. Spurs were only the fifth team to secure promotion to the First Division in their first season in the League.

Over the years, Spurs have not played Derby as frequently as they have other clubs. Derby and Spurs seldom seem to be in the same Division. When Spurs were relegated in season 1927-28, Derby County finished 4th in the table with 44 points, only six more than Spurs had in finishing with 38 points. Apart from two seasons in the mid-1930s, Spurs were not in top flight football again until 1950-51 and within two seasons, Derby had been relegated and were not to return to the top flight until 1969-70.

The 1970s were the best of times for Derby County as they won the League twice in the space of a few years. They won the first of their titles without actually playing as they had finished their programme and had to wait for their rivals to conclude their seasons. Then, they repeated the feat again a few years later. But, effectively, that was the last time a small provincial club won the game's major domestic honour. Although Nottingham Forest repeated the feat a few years later, they were able to compete in the transfer market, something that Derby have never been able to do so. Their biggest fee so far paid out was to Crewe for the services of Seth Johnson .... 3M.

Derby have, in fact, succeeded in retaining top flight status by having managers who wheel and deal and convert former no-hoper players into players that are coveted by other richer clubs. Not for them a permanently reserved seat at the Nou Camp or Sans Siro stadiums to view very expensive discards. Their happy hunting grounds are in the Unibond and others of the pyramid. Who, for instance, can forget one of their most stunning discoveries, a certain Roger Davies, a tall, gangling, clumsy, unco-ordinated player of the 1970s? Those who were at Tottenham on the night of 7th February 1973 will recall with horror the events of that night? The curious can email me to ask me to relive the dreadful nightmare at the risk of my ending up gibbering in a padded cell .....

But there are happier memories of 8th September 1990 when a Gazza-inspired performance saw Peter Shilton reduced to a gibbering wreck as Gazza took pot shots at Shilton and scored a hat-trick. Two of the goals came from free-kicks some 30 yards out ......... I must remember to look at the club video of that match again some time ......

Spurs have never travelled well to Derby. The Baseball Ground was not one of their happy hunting grounds. I remember very well the only visit I made to that ground when Spurs were fortunate to escape with a draw on 3rd February 1973. The pitch was a boggy morass that reminded me of photographs of the terrain of the Somme and Passchendaele of the First World War battles. Spurs were unable to play their usual game of football and had to resort to route one football as the ball tended to stick in the mud otherwise. Perhaps it would have been kinder for the sanity of the Spurs fans if we had lost that day ......

Spurs have not had much to shout about at Derby although Sol Campbell's goal secured us a rare win at Derby last season. The year before we lost 2-1 with Ruel Fox scoring our goal.

So what will happen this afternoon? I suspect that Spurs will be lucky to escape with a draw. I'll be very surprised if we win. I'll settle for a 1-1 draw although Derby do tend to blow hot and cold and their goalkeeper, Russell Hoult, in for the injured Mart Poom, has been making some terrible blunders recently. But with Chris Armstrong likely to be our only striker up front, it does not bode well for our chances of cashing in on any blunders Hoult makes ......

Cheers, Brian

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