FIFTY YEARS AFTER
The Double Series was written by the eminent Brian Judson
Spurs began their March 1961 programme by making the long trip north to
Roker Park. Sunderland were then in the Second Division, a far cry from
the days they had been nicknamed the Bank of England because they were
able to make very expensive raids on the transfer market. Until their
relegation at the end of the 1957-58 season, they were the only club who
could claim unbroken membership of Division One since the 1890s.
Spurs were drawn away to Sunderland when the draw was made for the 6th
Round of the FA Cup. They snatched the lead in the 10th minute when Cliff
Jones headed a vital goal. Spurs wasted vital chances and arrogantly
strutted about, much to Bill Nicholson's fury. Sunderland grabbed an
equaliser four minutes after the break when a speculative shot from Willie
McPheat went in off Stan Anderson's outstretched leg. The Sunderland fans
went berserk and play was held up for several minutes. Spurs were then
battered by the Roker Roar but Sunderland could not break through again
and Spurs slinked back south, knowing they had enjoyed a monumental slice
With Tottenham, Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley all involved in Cup ties,
only Wolves, who unexpectedly lost 5-2 at Blackpool, and Everton, who beat
Fulham, 1-0, of the leading clubs had a League match that day. At the
bottom of the table, Manchester City crashed at home in a re-arranged
match against Manchester United, 3-1. and Preston lost 1-0 at Blackburn. Final score - Sunderland 1 Spurs 1. Attendance:- 61,236.
Four nights later, Spurs had their revenge. They slaughtered Sunderland
5-0 in the replay : it could have been even more! Les Allen put them ahead
in the 27th minute after a centre from White took a deflection off Len
Ashurst's boot. A minute later, Spurs were 2-0 ahead. White saw Jones
unmarked on the left wing. The Welshman streaked away and Wakeham could
only push his volleyed shot as far as the hovering Bobby Smith. Terry
Dyson put Spurs 3-0 ahead seconds before half-time. Dyson headed the
fourth of the evening after 65 minutes and Mackay rounded off the scoring
with twenty minutes left.
There was one League match that night. Wolves beat Newcastle, 2-1, to get
their challenge back on track and increasing Newcastle's problems at the
bottom. Final score - Spurs 5 Sunderland 0. Attendance:- 64,797.
The following Saturday, Spurs travelled to Cardiff, where they crashed
3-2. They were twice in front but were rocked by a tremendous Cardiff
effort in the second half. Dyson put Spurs ahead in the 3rd minute. Hogg
equalised seven minutes later. Les Allen regained the lead before
half-time but goals by Walsh and Tapscott put Cardiff ahead. Spurs laid
siege to the Cardiff goal for the last twenty minutes but could not score.
This was the first time Cardiff had ever beaten Spurs at Ninian Park. It
was one of the biggest shocks of the whole season.
Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves failed to take advantage of Tottenham's
defeat, by playing out a goal-less draw. Burnley also slipped further
behind by drawing 4-4 with Chelsea at Turf Moor. Everton lost further
ground by crashing 2-1 to Manchester City, at Maine Road. Preston sprung a
surprise by thrashing West Ham 4-0 to climb off the bottom of the table.
Blackpool slipped back to the bottom after drawing 0-0 with Nottingham
Forest. Fulham and Bolton drew 2-2 and Manchester United and Newcastle
drew 1-1 to increase the problems of Fulham, Bolton and Newcastle at the
foot of the table.
In midweek, Sheffield Wednesday won 1-0 at Blackpool, to reduce Spurs'
lead at the top of the table to a mere six points. Moreover, the Owls were
now free to concentrate on the League as Burnley had eliminated them from
the FA Cup. Final score - Cardiff 3 Spurs 2. Attendance:- 45,463.
On March 18th, Spurs took time off from the League again, this time to
play Burnley at Villa Park, in the FA Cup Semi-Final. It was a
disappointing match as there was far too much tension. Burnley were
probably feeling the effects of their Quarter Final tie against Hamburg in
the European Cup. They had been beaten 4-1 in the second leg of their tie
three nights before. It came as no surprise when Bobby Smith hammered
Spurs ahead after 30 minutes. Burnley were denied an equaliser when Jimmy
Robson headed the ball into the Spurs net as the referee decided Robson
had fouled Norman before heading the ball. Smith then added a second three
minutes after the break when his shot deceived Blacklaw in goal. Cliff
Jones scored the third late in the match. They had won through to the Cup
Final for the first time since Jimmy Dimmock's goal had beaten Wolves at
Stamford Bridge in April 1921! Final score - Spurs 3 Burnley 0. Attendance:- 69,968.
The other semi-final required three matches before Leicester City
eliminated Sheffield United in a second replay at Birmingham. Leicester
finally broke the deadlock to win 2-0 after two goal-less draws.
In the League, Sheffield Wednesday beat Bolton Wanderers, 1-0, to reduce
Spurs' lead to 4 points. Wolves thrashed Birmingham City 5-1 to keep up
their challenge. Everton remained in 5th place after beating Nottingham
Forest, 1-0. A reduced League programme saw Blackburn beat Manchester City
4-1 and Chelsea draw with Preston 1-1 to increase City's, Chelsea's and
Preston's worries at the bottom of the table. Fulham, however, reduced
their concerns by beating West Ham, 2-1, at Upton Park.
Four nights later, Spurs unexpectedly lost at home to relegation haunted
Newcastle United. They had so many chances they should have scored 20
against Newcastle. It was one way traffic! Amazingly, Dave Hollins, John's
elder brother, was making his debut for Newcastle that night. Les Allen
did manage to put Spurs ahead just before half-time. But despite the one
way traffic, it was Newcastle who snatched an improbable victory by
equalising in the 64th minute when Ivor Allchurch scored and then going
ahead when Scanlon scored in the 77th minute.
The other midweek games that week had few implications at both ends of the
table. Burnley's hopes had disappeared in a huge backlog of fixtures
because of their involvement in Europe and the FA Cup and their hopes
virtually died after a goal-less draw with Blackpool. Everton's chances
were also extinguished following a 1-2 home defeat by Aston Villa. Final score - Spurs 1 Newcastle 2. Attendance:- 46,470.
Spurs then travelled to Craven Cottage for their away game with Fulham.
Memories were being revived concerning the previous season when Spurs had
dropped vital points over Easter and conceded the title to Burnley. Were
Spurs going to make the same mistakes all over again? It certainly looked
like that as Spurs fumbled their way to a goal-less draw. Bill Nicholson
conceded after the match that Spurs were not playing very well at all.
Johnny Haynes missed two chances to win the match for Fulham.
Whilst Spurs were dropping a point at Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday thrashed
Manchester United 5-1 to reduce Spurs' lead to three points. Bill
Nicholson was incandescent with fury as Spurs threw away chance after
chance and did not mince his words when he spoke to the media. "We've
become lazy!" he said. Wolves, the only other realistic challengers for
the title, drew 1-1 at Nottingham Forest. The situation at the bottom of
the table was tense with only six points covering the bottom twelve clubs,
the bottom three being Newcastle, Blackpool and Preston after the day's
matches. Final score - Fulham 0 Spurs 0. Attendance:- 38,536.
Chelsea came to Tottenham on Good Friday for the first of their Easter
matches. Spurs won 4-2 but the score-line does not reflect their
superiority. A large crowd of 65,000 spectators saw Cliff Jones hit two
goals, and Allen and Saul, who replaced the injured Bobby Smith, score one
apiece. Tony Marchi made a rare appearance for Spurs and completely shut
Jimmy Greaves out of the game. Brabrook scored with eight minutes to go to
reduce the arrears and Tindall notched a second in injury time.
Spurs had returned to form in the nick of time! A crucial month lay ahead
of them as the season approached its climax.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday maintained the pressure on Spurs by winning
1-0 at Newcastle, thereby increasing the problems of the Magpies. Wolves
had no game on Good Friday. The situation at the bottom of the table was
quite tense as a glance at the table accompanying this review shows. Of
the clubs at the bottom, Preston won 3-2 at Maine Road to beat Manchester
City. It was going to be a tense Easter for most of the clubs at the
bottom of the table. Final score - Spurs 4 Chelsea 2. Attendance:- 65,032.
Pos Pl W D L F A Pts
1 Spurs 35 26 4 5 98 44 56
2 Sheff Wed 35 22 9 4 69 35 53
3 Wolves 36 21 7 8 90 66 49
4 Burnley 34 18 6 10 89 61 42
5 Everton 36 17 5 14 69 62 39
6 Blackburn 36 14 9 13 68 66 37
7 A. Villa 34 14 8 12 65 63 36
8 Arsenal 36 13 10 13 68 70 36
9 Leicester 33 14 6 13 65 56 34
10 Cardiff 35 13 8 14 52 64 34
11 Man United 35 13 7 15 65 68 33
12 Birmingham 35 13 6 16 55 69 33
13 West Ham 36 13 6 17 71 75 32
14 West Brom 36 14 4 18 57 66 32
15 Chelsea 35 12 7 16 82 85 31
16 Nottm F'st 35 12 7 16 50 65 31
17 Fulham 36 12 6 18 61 83 30
18 Bolton 34 10 8 16 49 60 28
19 Blackpool 35 10 7 18 60 64 27
20 Man City 34 10 7 17 64 81 27
21 Preston 35 10 7 18 38 57 27
22 Newcastle 36 9 8 19 75 98 26