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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Sunderland v Spurs, 31.10.99

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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Sunderland

Prem           Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home            1   1   0   0     2-0    3
Away            1   1   0   0     4-0    3
Total (Prem)    2   2   0   0     6-0    6
Football League
Home (Div 1)   37  14  12  11    57-45  42
Away (Div 1)   37   8  11  18    31-60  29
Total (Div 1)  74  22  23  31    88-105 71
Football League
Home (Div 2)    1   0   0   1     2-3    0
Away (Div 2)    1   1   0   0     2-1    2
Total (Div 2)   2   1   0   1     4-4    2
Total (Prem)    2   2   0   0     6-0    6
Total (Div 1)  74  22  23  31    88-105 71
Total (Div 2)   2   1   0   1     4-4    2
Grand Total    78  25  23  32    98-109 79

When I think of this particular fixture, I always remember the match played at Tottenham on 27th September 1969. It was not because Spurs were on their way to winning any silverware or anything like that. Spurs were pretty mediocre that season and were to suffer the humiliation of an embarrassing exit from the FA Cup later in the season and an undignified exit from the Tottenham dressing room of Jimmy Greaves as a result of that FA Cup disaster.

It was not even a case of the match being memorable. It was an awful game in which most of the team played as if they were complete strangers having been plucked off the street by Bill Nicholson and thrown a Spurs kit to wear for the match. We were awful that day. Mike England had a stinker of a game and backheaded the ball over Pat Jennings to enable Sunderland, who were destined to be relegated at the end of the season [with Sheffield Wednesday], to win the match. It was our third defeat in four matches. Our only victory had been over an anonymous North London team at their ramshackle ground, which we had won 3-2. We had lost to Manchester City, who were no great shakes themselves, 0-3, in which they were able to wreak havoc at will. We had then won 3-2. Then we had lost 0-5 at Derby and had the embarrassment of our 'supporters' wrecking a British Rail train at Flitwick. And now this ......

But there was something to be pleased about as those of us in the 30,523 crowd left the ground. A small, cherubic youngster had made an impressive debut in the number 11 shirt. It was, of course, Steve Perryman, who was to go on to re-write the Tottenham Hotspur record books until, 17 years later, he reluctantly left Tottenham for the last time as a player.

But there is also another game, played on 29th January 1995, that we can recall when Jürgen Klinsmann scored twice in our FA Cup Tie at what we used to call 'Joker Park' with Gary Mabbutt and Teddy Sheringham completing the rout in our 4-1 victory over Sunderland. Those of us who could not afford to make the long journey north to Roker Park to be part of the 21,135 spectators who watched the match, saw the game live on TV. I remember dancing around my living room that afternoon.

Sunderland's greatest days occurred mostly before the First World War. They have won the FA Cup twice, once in 1937 and once in 1973. No one who saw their victory over Leeds United in 1973 will ever forget that match. Ian Porterfield scored the vital game and Jimmy Montgomery, Sunderland's goalkeeper, made a superb double save from Peter Lorimer and Trevor Cherry to deny Leeds an equaliser. My abiding memory of that afternoon was seeing Bob Stokoe, Sunderland's manager, streaking on to the pitch at the end of the game and racing forty yards to greet and give Montgomery a huge bear-hug of appreciation for his double save.

But since then Sunderland have known some very dark days. Once, until 1957-58, they could boast the longest unbroken sequence of membership of the top flight as they had never been relegated from the top flight before that season. But since then they have regularly yo-yoed between the top two divisions. Worse, they even had the indignity of spending a single season in the old Division 3 during 1987-88.

But since Peter Reid was appointed manager of the club in 1995, there have been multiplying signs that Sunderland may be approaching a new golden era. They have set the Premier League alight with some very enthralling displays of football. Together Sunderland, with a rejuvenated Leeds United team, are threatening to end the old era of domination by Manchester United and two other anonymous London clubs may be over. That can only be good for football as a whole as we have only to look at Scottish football to note how unhealthy the domination of the League by Rangers and Celtic can be. Only Aberdeen and Dundee United have broken the throttle hold of the two Glasgow giants on the League since the Premier Division was set up at the start of season 1975-76.

And the outcome of today's match between Sunderland and Spurs? There is no doubt that Spurs will be a tired team after their strenuous examination by Kaiserlautern on Thursday night. Sunderland will be more relaxed and fresh and will give Tottenham a searching examination of their credentials towards the target of a top six finish at the end of the season. Spurs will, in my opinion, do well to survive to snatch a point from the Stadium of Light. The fanatical support of Sunderland's fans will be worth a goal start to the home side. If Spurs can survive the onslaught of the first twenty minutes without conceding a goal, we will have a chance. But if we concede a goal in the first twenty minutes, I shall be surprised if we then avoid defeat.

My gut feeling is that we will survive the first twenty minutes' battering and go on to survive in a goal-less draw. I cannot envisage Spurs scoring if they are not able to provide support for Steffan Iversen as our midfield will be too busy helping the beleaguered defence. Walker is sure to have a very busy afternoon's examination of his credentials that claim he is England's number 3 goalkeeper.


Cheers, Brian

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