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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Blackburn v Spurs, 30.01.1999

Full Record of Spurs -v- Blackburn Rovers

Premier       Pl   W   D   L  For-Ag  Pts

Home           7   3   1   3   10-10   10
Away           6   3   0   3    8-5     9
Total (Prem)  13   6   1   6   18-15   19
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  24  16   4   4   63-30   36
Away (Div 1)  24   5   5  14   23-50   15
Total (Div 1) 48  21   9  18   86-80   51
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   6   5   0   1   22-8    10
Away (Div 2)   6   2   2   2    9-7     6
Total (Div 2) 12   7   2   3   31-15   16
Total (Prem)  13   6   1   6   18-15   19
Total (Div 1) 48  21   9  18   86-80   51
Total (Div 2) 12   7   2   3   31-15   16
Grand Total   73  34  12  27  135-110  86

It will be a relief to the players and supporters who travel to Ewood Park tomorrow to see a different team who play with totally different values to those of Wimbledon. Blackburn have had their problems this season but seem to have beaten off the likelihood of a long battle to avoid relegation. Since the appointment of Brian Kidd as their manager in early December, they have only lost one match in the League.

Prior to his departure from Old Trafford, I had wondered many times about his abilities. He seemed content to be a backroom boy, shunning the limelight, happy to bask in the reflected glory of helping Alex Ferguson. No one seemed to believe there was an ability in him to be a boss in his own right. At 49, he seemed unlikely to strike out in his own right.

Kidd's main claim to fame was in his spell as a player with Manchester United. He was just 19 on the day he played for Manchester United against Benfica in the European Cup Final in May 1968. His subsequent playing career took him to a variety of clubs, including the anonymous little outfit at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, but Kidd never matched that stunning early achievement.

So it was with some surprise that I read that Blackburn had appointed him as their chosen successor to Roy Hodgson. Yet Kidd has turned their season round and bought some new players in. So far I cannot argue against the selections he has made.

Prior to Hodgson's departure, there had been the very public row between Sherwood, his captain, and himself concerning Tottenham's long-standing interest in the player. Hodgson had blocked Tottenham from talking to Sherwood, declaring he had committed himself to Blackburn recently verbally. Sherwood had retaliated that he just wanted to see what was on offer but that he would not necessarily depart. He asked that Hodgson should trust him. Personally, I think there were other factors at play in the dispute as I would not be surprised if there was an inkling of player power involved in Hodgson's dismissal.

Certainly Tottenham did not have much problem in defeating Blackburn at White Hart Lane earlier this season. But in tomorrow's corresponding fixture last season, Tottenham crushed Blackburn with a decisive, stunningly unexpected 3-0 win. Fox, Berti and Armstrong scored the goals that reduced Blackburn to a rabble. I suspect this victory created huge doubts about Hodgson's abilities as a motivator between his players as Blackburn never seemed to show much confidence in themselves subsequently.

In the week that Bill Nicholson celebrated his 80th birthday, it is curious we are fulfilling an away fixture at Blackburn. For it was at Ewood Park, on 22 October 1938, in a Football League Division 2 match, that Bill Nicholson made his debut for Tottenham. The team that day was : Hooper; Ward, Nicholson, Page, Buckingham, Sargent, G W Hall, Morrison, A E Hall, Lyman. Spurs lost 3-1, Colin Lyman scoring the only goal.

There are some familiar names for Spurs students to note. Ralph Ward skippered Tottenham throughout the war from 1940 to 1945. At the end of the war, he was offered a contract on the resumption of peace time football but elected to return north to play for Crewe Alexandra. Nicholson's career does not need to be summarised here. Vic Buckingham was a footballer whose management career made him better known. He was probably more successful overseas than domestically as it was Buckingham who sewed the seeds that later produced the wonderful Ajax side of the 1970s. But Buckingham also managed West Bromwich Albion and Fulham. Whilst with West Bromwich, he came close to achieving the League and Cup double, finishing runners-up to champions Wolves and beating Preston in the 1954 FA Cup Final, when neutrals all wanted Tom Finney to win an FA Cup medal for Preston.

The two Halls were not related. G W Hall was Willie Hall. He was signed as a replacement for George Greenfield, a very young skilful player who looked likely to achieve great success, but who broke a leg. Hall played in the side that won promotion in 1932-33 and remained loyal to Spurs. He once scored five goals in an England international. But during the war he was severely ill and eventually lost both legs. After the war, he ran a pub.

A E Hall was Albert Hall, another youngster. It was his misfortune to be caught in the surrender at Singapore in February 1942. His experiences as a Japanese Prisoner of War were such that when he returned to White Hart Lane in 1946 he was a walking skeleton. Like so many other players, he lost his best years to the war.

And the score tomorrow? Without Ginola, there is not going to be much flair present. There are those who would like to see Dominguez play but I do not think George Graham will play him from the start, although he may well figure on the bench. (I am writing this before the squad is announced.) I expect Spurs to continue to persevere with Armstrong up front with Iversen even though there are huge question marks about his abilities as I do not think Ferdinand is capable of completing a 90 minute match these days. Ferdinand is a useful substitute and should figure in this role. Ideally, however, I think I'd now be happier if they were told to look elsewhere for a team, but only, of course, when we have satisfactory replacements for them. So, another close match, possibly a 1-1 draw or a 2-1 win for us. It was pleasing to see us playing in a disciplined fashion on Wednesday night, thus securing a clean sheet.

Cheers, Brian

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