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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Newcastle v Spurs, 05.04.99

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Newcastle United



Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           6   3   1   2    11-7   10
Away           5   1   2   2     6-12   5
==========================================
Total (Prem)  11   4   3   4    17-19  15
==========================================
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  43  24   7  12    87-48  59
Away (Div 1)  43  15  14  14    70-76  45
==========================================
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
==========================================
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   6   1   3   2     6-7    5
Away (Div 2)   6   3   0   3     6-4    6
==========================================
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
==========================================
Total (Prem)  11   4   3   4    17-19  15
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
==========================================
Grand Total  109  47  27  35   186-154 130
===========================================

The quirk of the computer that devises the Premiership fixtures and the fickle finger of Lady Luck has decreed that Tottenham must play Newcastle twice over a period of seven days. The Easter Monday fixture is being screened live on Sky Sports 1.

Unlike many clubs with fixtures over the Easter holiday, Tottenham and Newcastle can go into this match knowing that, unless there is a bizarre change of fortunes, both will be competing in the UEFA Cup next season. Tottenham, of course, have already qualified as League Cup winners, following the dramatic climax to their Final tie with Leicester City last month. But UEFA have since decreed that Newcastle will also qualify for the UEFA Cup despite their comparatively low position in the table. They are assuming that Manchester United or Arsenal will finish high enough to qualify for the Champions League and will not need to qualify as FA Cup Winners for the UEFA Cup. (The European Cup-Winners' Cup will be abandoned after this year's competition.)

Neither club will, however, wish to show their hand ahead of the Semi-Final of the FA Cup on Sunday. (This game is being shown live on ITV.) Monday's clash may resemble a game of chess with both clubs trying to conceal their tactics from each other, particularly as neither club have to worry about being sucked down into the relegation battle this season.

There may still be supporters from both clubs who can possibly remember the occasion when Tottenham suffered what had been their worst defeat at St James' Park until December 28, 1996 two seasons ago when Newcastle crushed us 7-1. The previous big defeat match took place in September, 1951, when Spurs were the defendimg League Champions.

Spurs had a long injury list that day and fielded the following team : Ditchburn; Ramsey, Willis; Brittan, Nicholson, Burgess; Scarth, Bennett, McClennan, Murphy, Medley. Harry Clarke, the first choice centre half, was injured. His two deputies, Farley and King, had been found wanting in the games they had played. So Nicholson was asked to revert to centre-half for the first time since season 1946-47. Scarth had made his debut the previous game in midweek at Fulham and had done enough to deserve a run-out in the continuing absence of 'Sonny' Walters. McClennan and Murphy, long time deputies to the first choice Duquemin and Baily, had also come into the side because of injury.

Newcastle were still smarting from the 7-0 thrashing they had been given at White Hart Lane the previous November and tore into Tottenham. They ran out 7-2 winners, which was then Tottenham's record defeat. Scarth and Bennett scored for Tottenham. In the wake of this defeat, Scarth was dropped and never selected for first team duty again.

Although Spurs won a few games at St James' Park during the 1950s, it was not until the 1959-60 season that Tottenham extracted some revenge for that 1951-52 thrashing. Spurs went to Newcastle for the first game of the season and thrashed their hosts, 5-1. Cliff Jones scored a hat-trick and Brooks scored twice as Spurs gave a hint of what was soon to come.

The following season, as Spurs marched to their destiny with history, they won 4-3 at St James' Park. Newcastle were struggling at the bottom of the table (they were destined to be relegated) whilst Spurs were already well out in front of the pack, who never caught them. Len White gave Newcastle the lead in the 33rd minute. He took a pass from Ivor Allchurch, beat three Spurs defenders and hammered the ball home. Spurs equalised two minutes later when Harvey, the Newcastle goalkeeper, missed a Dyson centre and Norman headed home. A minute later, Norman miskicked the ball, White intercepted it, drew 'keeper Brown and Henry could only help the ball across the line. That was the score until the second half when Harvey could only push out a shot to White, who hammered home the equaliser. Newcastle were aggrieved in the 62nd minute when the referee waved play on with Newcastle insisting Cliff Jones was offside and Jones put Spurs ahead. Four minutes later, Bill Brown misjudged a Hughes centre and saw the ball drop into the net behind him. Smith grabbed the winner with four minutes to go when he hammered home a cross from Les Allen.

Season 1974-75 saw Spurs win 5-2 at Newcastle. Spurs were fighting to avoid relegation. Nicholson had resigned earlier in the season and had been replaced by Terry Neill, whose antecedents need not be discussed here but whose appointment was not universally welcomed by Tottenham fans to say the least. This match was probably Alfie Conn's finest hour. He had been Nicholson's last signing for Tottenham. He was an oddball of a player in that he eschewed all forms of protection, preferring to play without shinguards and with socks flapping around his ankles, his shirt hanging out and unruly curly hair that stretched down to below his neck. Had Bruce Rioch or Ron Saunders been his manager, they would have suffered apoplexy over his appearance. Conn scored three goals that day and could have had more. He was the darling of the Tottenham fans, a cult figure if you like. He could do no wrong in their eyes. He had beautiful control of the ball although he would be the first to admit he was no Hoddle. Knowles and Duncan scored the other goals in a shock 5-2 win, our biggest away win for years, particularly as we were at the wrong end of the table.

So, over the years, we have had our ups and downs. Newcastle's great days lay in the golden years before the First World War when they dominated the Football League. In 1908-09, a season in which they won the League, they crashed at home to deadly rivals Sunderland, 9-1.

As both clubs will have one eye on their cup-tie the following weekend and both are assured of European football next season, assuming that Manchester United and Arsenal do not collapse and fail to finish somewhere in the top three positions, I do not expect to see a vibrant match. If Spurs bother, they have the capability to win the match. But I think the most likeliest outcome will be a draw, perhaps 1-1.

Cheers, Brian

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