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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Derby County v Spurs, 03.10.98

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Derby County -v- Spurs

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts

Home           2   1   1   0     2-1    4
Away           2   0   0   2     3-6    0
Total (Prem)   4   1   1   2     5-7    4
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  24  13   4   7    41-25  31
Away (Div 1)  24   3   8  13    29-60  16
Total (Div 1) 48  16  12  20    70-85  47
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   1   0   1   0     0-0    1
Away (Div 2)   1   0   1   0     1-1    1
Total (Div 2)  2   0   2   0     1-1    2
Total (Prem)   4   1   1   2     5-7    4
Total (Div 1) 48  16  12  20    70-85  47
Total (Div 2)  2   0   2   0     1-1    2
Grand Total   54  17  15  22    76-93  53

Over the years, Derby County have rarely figured prominently in the race for the Championship so it is a pleasant surprise to see Derby at the top end of the table instead of the bottom. Under Jim Smith, a veteran manager who has rarely managed a side featuring in the national limelight, they have a very honest and capable man, who deserves to enjoy some sunshine in his latter years.

Derby had never won honours before winning the FA Cup in 1946. As they advanced through the rounds, they also looked for some gipsys as there was reputed to be a curse on the Baseball Ground because Derby County had evicted a tribe of gipsys from the land when they purchased the site. The curse said that Derby would never enjoy success whilst playing there. They eventually found a tribe who could be persuaded to remove the curse in exchange for reparation and Derby went on to win the FA Cup for the only time in their history.

But their greatest days were in the 1970s when, first, Brian Clough, and, later, Dave Mackay managed them to the title. Mackay joined the ranks of a select number of managers who had also won the title as players when Derby won the League in 1974-75.

However, I have always felt their 1971-72 side was the more exciting of Derby's two championship sides. They were an arrogant side, a very swash-buckling side. In John O'Hare and Kevin Hector they had a very powerful pair of strikers. O'Hare was the target man who provided the openings for Hector, who had once scored 44 goals in the League for Bradford (Park Avenue). Mackay had by then left the Baseball Ground but by then his protege, Roy McFarland, had the confidence to skipper the team. It was a joy to watch Derby play in highlights of MATCH OF THE DAY and THE BIG MATCH that season. And when they won the League, Derby were not even playing! They had finished their season early and were sunning themselves on a beach in Majorca when the news came through that they were champions.

But, all too often, in the past Derby have been a yo-yo side. Being a Derby supporter requires a constitution that can survive a ride on a roller coaster. They have experienced life in Division 3 twice. Back in the 1950s, they were even humbled by Boston United, in the FA Cup, in the same season Tottenham thrashed Boston!

When Spurs have played Derby, generally the points have been largely divided between the clubs with Spurs usually winning at Tottenham but losing at Derby. I have seen many matches between the two clubs in my time but there are three matches that stick out in my mind most of all.

The first two are Cup matches. In 1972-73, we were drawn away to Derby County in the 4th Round, having thrashed Margate, 6-0, at their ground. The match at the Baseball Ground was played on a pudding of a pitch. It was a wonder that anyone managed to score! But, with about 10 minutes to go, Chivers put us ahead. And then with thoughts starting to muse on the likely 5th Round opposition, Roger Davies, a tall, skinny and gangly player, who looked more arms and legs than anything else, popped up to snatch a late equaliser.

On the following Wednesday, Spurs were winning 3-1 with 10 minutes to go. Mike England had just added a penalty to earlier goals by Chivers and Gilzean. Spectators were beginning to drift to the exits, confident that Spurs would be playing QPR in the 5th Round. But then the gangly kid struck to bring Spurs back to earth as Hector and Davies scored twice in those ten minutes. At the start of extra time, Bill Nicholson was clearly fuming, particularly with Chivers, who seemed to be aloof of events. But Spurs could not recapture their rhythm and Davies scored twice in extra time to dump Spurs out of the Cup.

The third game, of course, is the match played in October 1990, when Gazza scored a hat-trick against Derby in our 3-0 home victory. None of us who can recall two of Gazza's goals should have been surprised when he scored *THAT* goal against Arsenal some six months later. I am convinced that the second of the free-kicks that Gazza scored from was even further out than the 35 yards at Wembley. I remember very well that in both free-kick situations Peter Shilton did not even move.

We have yet to win at Pride Park, Derby's new ground, so Saturday would be a very suitable occasion to do so. Let us hope that as it will be George Graham's first match in charge as Tottenham manager we will break this particular hoodoo.

Cheers, Brian

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