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The Double Years


April 1961

The Double Series was written by the eminent Brian Judson

Spurs marched closer to the title on Saturday, April 1st 1961 by thrashing Preston North End 5-0. Marchi, replacing Dave Mackay, had a superb game. Les Allen provided the pass from which White scored in the third minute. Soon afterwards, Spurs were 2-0 up as Cliff Jones ended a man-to-man passing bout that had begun with Blanchflower at the other end of the pitch. That was the 100th League goal of the season for Spurs. Saul headed the third after a left-footed centre from White. The fourth came after a foul on Allen. Blanchflower appeared to hesitate as he shaped to take the kick before he chipped the ball to Jones, who scored, whilst Preston were still trying to work out what Blanchflower was doing. The fifth goal came when Jones scored with a sparkling overhead kick. Had Spurs taken all of the chances they created, they would have won 10-0.

Sheffield Wednesday could only draw 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers, which swung the bookmakers solidly behind Tottenham. Wolves beat Manchester City at Molineux to keep their fading hopes still flying but Burnley's 2-2 draw at Filbert Street against Leicester ended any hopes they had of retaining the title.

Blackpool crashed at home against West Bromwich Albion to increase their fears for the drop. Fulham lost at Old Trafford but Bolton snatched a valuable point at home to Arsenal to increase their chances of survival. Final score - Spurs 5 Preston North End 0. Attendance:- 46,325.

On the Easter Monday, (April 3rd)Spurs completed the double over Chelsea. But Spurs had a fright before they were assured of the win that put them within touching range of the title. Spurs went ahead in the 7th minute when Bobby Smith, restored to the side after injury, powered home a header. Chelsea lost Peter Brabrook with a dislocated shoulder in the 33rd minute, reducing Chelsea to ten men in those pre-substitute days, after Norman had tackled him after Brabrook had threatened to score. Four minutes later, Greaves equalised for Chelsea but had the goal disallowed because someone else had been offside. Greaves protested and had his name taken. In the second half, Frank Blunstone equalised within three minutes of the re-start. Then Blunstone laid on a pass for Greaves to score in the 56th minute. But shortly afterwards Terry Medwin headed home the equaliser. Spurs powered forward for the winner and grabbed it when Norman headed home a free-kick taken by Dave Mackay.

Sheffield Wednesday were effectively the only team that could catch Spurs now but they could only draw 1-1 with relegation haunted Newcastle United, which, more or less, ended the Owls hopes. On paper they could catch Spurs but they required a monumental slice of luck.

Preston and Manchester City, two of the other teams in trouble, drew 1-1 at Deepdale, whilst Blackpool crashed 2-0 at Old Trafford. Final score - Chelsea 2 Spurs 3. Attendance:- 57,103.

Spurs then travelled to Birmingham City on Saturday April 8th. Spurs took a shock lead in the first minute when White headed a corner from Cliff Jones on to the bar and Bobby Smith forced home the rebound. White then had a goal disallowed for offside. Spurs then added a second, despite Smith being clearly offside, Smith steered the ball past the goalkeeper to present Allen with the simplest of tap-ins. White cashed in on a poor Birmingham pass to put Spurs 3-0 ahead. But, roared on by the crowd, Birmingham fought back. They were awarded a penalty in the 39th minute for a foul on Bloomfield. Harris fired the ball wide but the referee decided Brown had moved before the kick was taken and allowed Harris to re-take the penalty. Harris made no mistake this time. Two minutes after the break, Harris smacked the ball home after a cross from Bloomfield. Birmingham poured forward seeking an equaliser but Spurs hung on to secure a famous victory.

Sheffield Wednesday dropped another point at home to Leicester City which ensured the following week's clash of the titans would effectively settle the destination of the title should Spurs win.

All the teams at the bottom of the table lost. Bolton lost 2-0 at Burnley, Blackpool lost at Highbury, Newcastle crashed 4-0 at home to Everton and Preston crashed 2-1 at home to Wolves.Final score - Birmingham 2 Spurs 3. Attendance:- 40,961.

The following Saturday, with the Spurs game postponed to the Monday, the focus was placed on the relegation battle. Preston and Newcastle United both lost (to Aston Villa and Blackpool respectively) to increase the dangers of relegation. Bolton beat Nottingham Forest and Manchester City drew at West Ham to enhance their chances of survival.

Postponed from the Saturday, because of the England -v- Scotland international (which England won 9-3), Spurs clinched the title on the following Monday, April 17th. After 30 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday were awarded a free-kick when Don Megson gathered a rebound from the Spurs wall to fire the ball home. Three minutes before half-time, Spurs equalised. Baker started the move with a 40-yard clearance. Dyson, the smallest player on the field, outjumped Megson who was 12" taller than him, and backheaded the ball to Smith. Smith eluded Swan and then hooked the ball past Ron Springett, the visitors' goalkeeper. One minute later, Norman headed a free-kick, taken by Danny Blanchflower, down to the feet of Les Allen, who crashed the ball home. When the final whistle echoed, Spurs were Champions. The crowd invaded the pitch and raced across to the old West Stand. They chanted "WE WANT DANNY! WE WANT DANNY! WE WANT DANNY!" and refused to leave the ground until Blanchflower led the team out to acknowledge the supporters. Final score - Spurs 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1. Attendance:- 61,205.

On the following Saturday (April 22nd), Spurs travelled to Burnley for their last away match of the season. Spurs were lucky to avoid a heavier defeat than 4-2. Only Bill Brown kept the score down to a reasonable level. Spurs' first goal came against the run of play when Baker scored with a long range speculative pot shot. Smith added a second when Dyson lobbed the ball for Smith to head home, also against the run of play. Harris reduced the arrears in the 58th minute when put through by McIlroy. Nine minutes later, Pointer crossed from the left to provide McIlroy with the chance to equalise. Harris put Burnley ahead in the 84th minute when McIlroy put him through. There was a further Burnley goal scored in the 88th minute by Robson.

Preston and Blackpool had both played in midweek, picking up a valuable point by drawing against Bolton and Manchester City respectively. But on the Saturday, Preston crashed at home to Manchester United, which left them dangerously poised for the drop. Newcastle beat Bolton and Blackpool won at Birmingham but there was only one game left for them, which they had to win to ensure survival. Final score - Burnley 4 Spurs 2. Attendance:- 28,991.

The following Wednesday evening (April 26th)saw Spurs beat Nottingham Forest, thus equalising Arsenal's record number of points for the First Division title. The only goal of the game came in the 64th minute when Medwin's left foot diverted the ball into the Forest goal past the unfortunate Grummitt, who was destined to suffer lumbago two seasons later, when Spurs thrashed Nottingham Forest, 9-2. Spurs played some terrible football and were fortunate to win. Final score - Spurs 1 Nottingham Forest 0. Attendance:- 35,743.

For their final League match of the season, Spurs played West Bromwich Albion. The looming Cup Final against Leicester City was clearly on their minds. All of the team played well below par and Derek Kevan, no great shakes as a striker (in modern parlance) certainly took advantage of it. Bobby Smith put Spurs ahead four minutes after the break but looked suspiciously offside. West Bromwich fought back. Derek Kevan snatched the equaliser from Clive Clark, who had been signed from QPR. Their winner came in the 62nd minute when Bobby Robson (yes, that Bobby Robson!) fired a shot from fully 25 yards out. Brown was so stunned he didn't even move.

Preston could only draw at Bolton and were relegated. Newcastle won at Blackburn and must have thought they were safe but Blackpool got the draw they needed against Manchester City to survive. Preston have never been back to the top flight since then. Final score - Spurs 1 West Brom 2. Attendance:- 52,054.

And so to Wembley. (on Saturday May 6th)It was our first FA Cup Final since April 1921 when Jimmy Dimmock's goal had beaten Wolves at Stamford Bridge. Bill Nicholson, aware how tired the team were and aware of the strength-sapping turf, was ultra cautious in his tactical planning. He knew Spurs could not afford to play cavalier football of the kind that had excited fans up and down the country all season.

Leicester City sprang a huge pre-match surprise by sensationally dropping Ken Leek, who had scored in every match in the Cup so far, in favour of the untried and untested Hugh McIlmoyle, who was later to travel widely around the minor Football League clubs.

When Blanchflower was introducing his team to the Duchess of Kent, she commented that Leicester's players had been wearing tracksuits with their names on them but Spurs hadn't. Blanchflower quipped, "I know, ma'am, but we all know each other, they don't!"

Spurs played on the attack for five minutes after the kick-off and then withdrew to what we now call the midfield, with the intention of making Leicester City make all the running, thus tiring themselves out. But in those first five minutes, Spurs could have gone ahead. White saw a shot whiz wide from eight yards when it looked easier to score. After that, Spurs ceded control of the midfield as pre-arranged in the tactical planning. The turning point came in the 19th minute of the game when Chalmers, trying to clear the ball, and Allen collided and Chalmers collapsed in a heap. Allen was soon up after treatment by Cecil Poynton but Chalmers needed lengthy treatment and could only hobble about. Today, of course, he would have been whipped off and replaced by a substitute but substitutes were not allowed until the start of the 1963-64 season. With Chalmers hobbling about on the wing, Spurs now had a definite advantage. McLintock was forced to drop back to right-back and Keyworth to right-half. In the 38th minute, Cliff Jones scored what looked a perfectly good goal but the linesman, who happened to be one Harry New, flagged for offside.

But towards the end of the second half, Blanchflower noticed that Leicester were beginning to flag and tire. He urged his players forward. Then, with 21 minutes to go, Allen pushed the ball to Dyson, who prodded it on to Smith. Smith pivoted like a ballet dancer and smashed the ball past the bewildered Gordon Banks. The Spurs players raced to congratulate Smith. Seven minutes later, Chalmers lost the ball to White, who pushed it on to Smith. A quick look at the goalmouth and Smith hoisted the ball to the far post where Dyson outjumped everyone to head a spectacular goal. Again, Spurs celebrated whilst Chalmers limped off the field. Final score - Spurs 2 Leicester 0. Attendance:- 100,000.

Blanchflower led his team up the steps to the Royal Box to receive the Cup from Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. The first modern League and Cup Double had been achieved.

The following day, there was a victorious open-top bus procession from Edmonton Green's Town Hall to Tottenham's Town Hall, opposite the Prince of Wales Hospital, now closed and converted to flats. It was estimated that two million people thronged the route of the procession to celebrate Spurs' achievement.

Pos            Pl   W  D  L  F   A  Pts
  1 Spurs      42  31  4  7 115  55  66 (C)
  2 Sheff Wed  42  23 12  7  78  47  58
  3 Wolves     42  25  7 10 103  75  57
  4 Burnley    42  22  7 13 102  77  51
  5 Everton    42  22  6 14  87  68  49
  6 Leicester  42  18  9 15  87  70  45
  7 Man Utd    42  18  9 15  88  76  45
  8 Blackburn  42  15 13 14  77  76  43
  9 A. Villa   42  17  9 16  78  77  43
 10 West Brom  42  18  5 19  67  71  42
 11 Arsenal    42  15 11 16  77  85  41
 12 Chelsea    42  15  7 20  98 100  37
 13 Man City   42  13 11 18  78  91  37
 14 Nottm Fst  42  14  9 19  62  78  37
 15 Cardiff    42  13 11 18  60  85  37
 16 West Ham   42  13 10 19  77  86  36
 17 Fulham     42  14  8 20  72  95  36
 18 Bolton     42  12 11 19  58  73  35
 19 Birmingham 42  14  6 22  62  84  35
 20 Blackpool  42  12  9 21  68  73  33
 21 Newcastle  42  11 10 21  86 109  32 (R)
 22 Preston    42  10 10 22  43  71  30 (R)

Cheers, Brian

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