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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Sunderland, 14.05.2000

This season's away game - Sunderland 2 Spurs 1, 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            2   1   0   1     5-2    3
Total (Prem)    3   2   0   1     7-2    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)    3   2   0   1     7-2    6
Total (Div 1)  74  22  23  31    88-105 71
Total (Div 2)   2   1   0   1     4-4    2
Grand Total    79  25  23  33    99-111 79

Tomorrow's match brings to a close the 1999-2000 season. For Spurs fans everywhere, it has been a disappointing season by any standards. There have been few signs of progress, few big signings of any kind and not even the prospect of silverware despite one heady weekend at the start of the season when we momentarily led the Premier League. But at least we have been spared the prospect of relegation from the top flight, something which has been an anxiety in recent seasons as the end of the season approached. Twice in recent seasons, we have come very close to falling through the trap door. On both occasions, a vital away win, one at Oldham and one at Wimbledon, saved us from the drop. I am not likely to forget the latter occasion as I was fighting for my own life that weekend as well. Thus tomorrow's match has, as far as we are concerned, nothing riding on it apart from deciding which half of the final table we will feature.

Sunderland, on the other hand, still entertained hopes of qualifying for Europe but these have now largely disappeared with the elimination of Manchester United and Chelsea from the Champions' League and the unlikelihood of qualification for the UEFA Cup dropping as low as the sixth placed club. But Sunderland have done well in the first season back in the top flight. On previous returns to the top flight they have struggled to avoid relegation but for four heady months they were dreaming of their first Championship success since season 1935-36. Alas, they found the pace and the tension of being chased too much for them but their success has to be applauded. I cannot remember Sunderland finishing as high as this in the table. Certainly they have spent huge amounts of money on expensive imports for very little return in the past. Not for nothing were they once known as the Bank of England. In 1958 they spent enormous amounts of money (by the standards of those days) on their team, yet they were still relegated.

My clearest memory of Sunderland is of their beating Leeds United in the 1973 FA Cup Final. Leeds had been one of the most entertaining teams in the First Division that season and were heavily backed to win the Cup. But the game turned on two dramatic moments. The first was when Porterfield scored early on to calm Sunderland's nerves. The second came when Jimmy Montgomery made a double save, first from Peter Lorimer and then from Trevor Cherry, late on. There are doubtlessly those of us who can remember manager Bob Stokoe streaking for Jimmy Montgomery at the end of the match as the Leeds team collapsed on the pitch, emotionally shattered.

But there have been other memories, some truly awful memories. One in particular was on September 27th 1969. We lost 1-0 thanks to an awful own goal back-headed by Mike England, who thought Pat Jennings was behind him when he wasn't. But that day was also the day Steve Perryman made his debut for Spurs after only 14 reserve team games. Even then it was obvious he was a future captain of the team despite his youth. He was not frightened to boss the older players about. I remember Bill Nicholson being quoted as saying, "The boy was about the only good thing about the game. I was not pleased about the other ten players!"

And dare I mention another home game against Sunderland, this time in the League Cup, when we lost a 4th Round tie to Sunderland after falling 2-0 behind and then getting a penalty converted by Roberts? That was in December 1984, seven months after winning the UEFA Cup for the second time! (I see that Garth Crooks only made 22 appearances that season due to injury but he was our top scorer in the League with 10 goals.)

There have been other awful performances against Sunderland but we have also enjoyed some great games. None better than the 6th Round FA Cup tie replay against them in 1961. We had drawn 1-1 at Roker Park and been dragged back to Tottenham for a replay but we thrashed them out of sight. Les Allen scored the first after a shot from White was deflected into Allen's path in the 27th minute. Three minutes later, Sunderland missed an open goal when it looked easier to score when Fogarty scooped the ball over the bar. Cliff Jones then tore down the wing, cut in and passed the ball to Smith, who blasted the ball home. Just before half-time, Dyson added a third. In the 65th minute, Dyson outjumped Sunderland's tall defenders to head the fourth. Five minutes later, Mackay completed the rout.

It is a monumental pity that video was not available when the double side played and that the Football League were opposed to the televising of football matches. It is true to say they did allow some games to be transmitted but they were not very good games and, as far as I can recall, Tottenham were not involved in any of the games. (Nor, I may add, were Manchester United!) But if video had been available, it would have been instructive for our current squad to watch how hard that team played. None of the double side (and Greaves was still at Chelsea, remember!) lounged about. There was plenty of off the ball running and calling for the ball. There were no histrionics a la Ginola when the referee did not spot a foul. And the only celebrations came quickly in the aftermath of a goal, usually a handshake and a clap on the back of the goalscorer. None of this Aylesbury Ducks routines that we have today!

As nothing is at stake with this match, there is no point in predicting a result. It could be 0-0, it could be 5-5. It depends on how motivated both teams are! One thing is certain : there will be three motivated people! One will be Peter Reid, the other two will be George Graham and Stewart Houston. They will be expecting their teams to work hard but it is difficult to see why the players will bother with nothing at stake. I personally hope to hear more youngsters have been tried out.

Thanks to all of those who have taken the trouble to email me to compliment me on my contributions to the List, particularly these previews. Your comments are gratefully appreciated. Enjoy the summer, re-charge your batteries and maybe, just maybe, we'll have more to sing about this time next year ......

fx cue "It's lucky for Spurs when the year ends in '1'!"

Cheers, Brian

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