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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Wimbledon v Spurs, 26.09.99

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This article was written by Brian Judson

Full League Record of Spurs v Wimbledon





Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           7   2   4   1     6-5   10
Away           7   3   1   3    12-10  10
==========================================
Total (Prem)  14   5   5   4    18-15  20
==========================================
Football Lge   
Home (Div 1)   6   3   0   3    11-12   9
Away (Div 1)   6   2   1   3    10-15   7
==========================================
Total (Div 1) 12   5   1   6    21-27  16
==========================================
Total (Prem)  14   5   5   4    18-15  20
Total (Div 1) 12   5   1   6    21-27  16
==========================================
Grand Total   26  10   6  10    39-42  36
===========================================

These two clubs met six times last season. By the end of the sixth match, both sides and both sets of supporters were heartily sick of the sight of each other. They met twice in the League, twice in the FA Cup and twice in the Football League Cup. But here we are concerned with our League performances.

Spurs played the corresponding match on the opening day of last season. Although our hopes were high having successfully escaped relegation, thanks to several vital goals being scored by the recently departed Klinsmann, the squad was largely unchanged. Our former Head Coach, Christian Gross, had been largely unable to persuade fresh faces to join his squad. The only major summer signing had been Paolo Tramezzani, who had joined us from Piacenza. Hans Segers had also joined us as goalkeeper cover and coach. The reaction by the fans had been "Paolo Who?"

Those Spurs supporters who travelled to Selhurst Park will not want to be reminded of the fact that Spurs toiled in the sunshine and lost 3-1. We were awful. Even though it was the only game so far played, the tabloids immediately made Spurs favourites to go down.

By the time the return game came round in January, Tramezzani was no longer part of the first team squad, Herr Gross had long since departed and we were beginning to accept that the geezer in the brown overcoat was becoming part of the Tottenham furniture despite his highly debatable past as manager of the anonymous outfit from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road. That return game was as disappointing as the other League match. We seldom looked like scoring and Wimbledon were happy to accept a point as, by that time, they were more interested in both Cups than the League.

Wimbledon's rise to prominence is, of course, well known. It isn't so long ago they were still an amateur club, competing in the Isthmian League, playing teams like Barnet, Enfield, Carshalton and Tooting and Mitcham. They turned professional in 1964, becoming a Limited Company at the same time, and joined the Southern League. They were elected to the Football League in the summer of 1979 and began a yo-yo existence in which for several years they never played two consecutive seasons in the same Division. As recently as season 1982-83 they were in the old Division 4. They won promotion to the old Division 3 at the end of season 1983-84 and to the old Division 1 at the end of season 1985-86. Although they have often been tipped to be relegated, they have so far survived, finishing higher in the table than some very fashionable clubs. Their one major success was to win the FA Cup in 1988, beating Liverpool 1-0, thanks to a rare Laurie Sanchez goal after John Aldridge had inexplicably missed a penalty moments before. Wimbledon are thus a member of a very select club who can claim to have won both the FA Cup and FA Amateur Cup.

Wimbledon are a team that rarely knows when it is beaten. For example, playing at Upton Park last September, Wimbledon were losing 3-0 to West Ham after only 26 minutes but went on to win the match 4-3. The winning goal was scored in the 81st minute by Ekoku.

But in the second half of the season, former manager Joe Kinnear, once of Spurs, sustained a heart attack prior to their league match at Sheffield Wednesday. They won that match 2-1 but drew only two of their subsequent matches and plummeted to the bottom half of the table. Only the points won in the first half of the season and the poor form of the clubs below them saved them from relegation.

Their new manager, Egil Olsen, has begun the long overdue rebuilding of Wimbledon's squad. Despite the change of ownership of the club, Wimbledon's future is still precarious. They are desperate to have a ground of their own as they continue to be poorly supported at Selhurst Park by most Premier League club standards. Their home borough of Merton seem incapable of providing assistance to them and the Republic of Ireland has blocked any ideas of Wimbledon uprooting themselves and moving lock, stock and barrel to Dublin.

Wimbledon will, of course, be hoping that Tottenham's players will have their minds on their trip to Moldova this week and will want to catch them with their pants down. Tottenham have loftier ambitions and will want to make up some lost ground. They need to improve their away record, having played one fewer away game because Chelsea had other distractions and postponed Tottenham's visit to the Bridge until January 2000.

Tottenham's squad will largely pick itself with Campbell, Anderton and Scales likely to be out for sometime. Vega is said to be close to full fitness and may figure on the bench.

This is a match that is often difficult to predict. In the days of the Crazy Gang it was sometimes a case of trying to guess which Spurs player would be seriously injured by Vinnie Jones. With Vinnie now pursuing a career in Hollywood (perhaps being assisted by Klinsmann on the gentle art of falling over!), one hopes that Wimbledon will be less combative in style. There will be some needle in the match since this will be the first occasion that Chris Perry faces his old club since moving to Tottenham.

My guess is that Spurs will again draw 1-1. I would prefer to see a win but I suspect that some of them will have their minds centred on the long flight to Moldova.

Cheers, Brian

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