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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v West Ham, 24.04.99

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- West Ham United

Prem          Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           5   3   0   2    6 - 6    6
Away           6   2   1   3   11 -11    7
Total (Prem)  11   5   1   5   17 -17   16
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  33  17   7   9   65- 51   47
Away (Div 1)  33   9   9  15   45- 54   29
Total(Div 1)  66  26  16  24  110-105   76
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)  10   4   4   2   18-13    12
Away (Div 2)  10   3   3   4   13-12     9
Total(Div 2)  20   7   7   6   31-25    21
Total (Prem)  11   5   1   5   17 -17   16
Total (Div 1) 66  26  16  24  110 -105  76
Total (Div 2) 20   7   7   6   31 -25   21
Grand Total   97  38  24  35  158 -147 113

West Ham United come to Tottenham in the knowledge that, for once, they are likely to finish well above Tottenham in the final table. Usually when West Ham come to play us, they are scrapping to avoid relegation, hearing us taunt them by singing ...


When I first began to follow Tottenham's fortunes, West Ham were stranded in the old Second Division. They had been a permanent fixture in that Division since their relegation at the end of season 1931-32. But gradually under Ted Fenton, who had succeeded long-time manager Charlie Paynter (who had been manager from 1932 to 1950), West Ham built a side that won the old Second Division championship at the end of season 1957-58. Back in the old First Division, West Ham began to cultivate a reputation as a team that played football and allowed the opposition to play football, too.

When Fenton retired in the summer of 1961, he was succeeded by his thoughtful coach, Ron Greenwood, who had enjoyed an unspectacular career as a player with Brentford and Chelsea. Greenwood re-modelled West Ham and we first began to hear about players called Moore, Hurst and what was his name, oh yes, Peters, a player ten years ahead of his time. These three were the core of the England side that won the World Cup in 1966. One wonders what John Smith thought of it all as those years unfolded. Smith had been the player who had kept Moore in the reserves until Smith was seduced by the bright lights of Tottenham and the prospect of succeeding the ageing Danny Blanchflower. But somehow the script did not proceed as it should have done and Smith wasted four years of his career in the Spurs Reserves, moving to Coventry before Blanchflower announced his retirement.

West Ham had ten glorious years, neatly book-ended by FA Cup final victories in 1964 (against Preston North End, won 3-2, with a very young 16-year old Howard Kendall playing for Preston) and 1975 (against Fulham, who had veteran defenders in Mullery and Moore, which West Ham won 2-0, thanks to a reserve striker called Alan Taylor).

But Anno Domini caught up with the team and soon West Ham had crashed to the old Second Division. But then came their greatest hour when they played their part in ruining Arsenal's summer when Trevor Brooking stooped to glory by heading home one of his very rare headed goals to beat Arsenal, who were soon to lose on penalties to Valencia in the ECWC Final, thanks to Graham Rix ..... Happy days for fans from the Boleyn and Tottenham ....

West Ham returned in style to the old First Division but all too soon they were back in the old routine, struggling to avoid relegation. But under Billy Bonds and, later, Harry Redknapp, West Ham have climbed back to pre-eminence. But one player will be missing on Saturday as there will no longer be Julian Dicks galumphing down the left wing for West Ham. Dicks has had a distinguished career at West Ham and, very briefly, Birmingham and Liverpool. Dicks may have been dismissed for more early baths than most players but he was, I always felt, an over-enthusiastic player rather than a dirty one, like, for instance, Pat van den Hauwe, who could sometimes put the boot in rather more often than I would prefer to see. I would have liked to have seen Dicks in a Tottenham shirt because he was a player who was committed to the cause and always gave 110% to his performance and never conceded a game was lost, just like Dave Mackay in his time.

Brooking, of course, was a brilliant midfield player. As the taunts ran, Brooking 'floated like a butterfly and stung like one' because he rarely made a tackle. But his forte was to read the play, thus avoiding the necessity of making a tackle. Another player I admired in West Ham colours was Paul Allen. I always enjoyed him rampaging down the West Ham right wing but mourned the loss of that when he played in a totally different role at Tottenham. I grudgingly admired Paul Ince but fervently prayed he would never sign for Tottenham because of his hot-headed temper and his keen desire to become enmeshed at the centre of any dispute, even if it was at the other end of the pitch. I admired, too, the simple honesty of players like Harry Redknapp, Billy Bonds and Alvin Martin, three players who knew their weaknesses, but who were staunch loyal players.

So what will be the outcome of Saturday's match? West Ham are still hoping to qualify for the UEFA Cup but may be forced to attempt to do so through the Inter-Toto Cup during the summer months. One really does question the wisdom of that decision given West Ham's small squad and limited financial circumstances. Tottenham have no such ambitions, having qualified for the UEFA Cup at Wembley recently, and they are safely berthed in mid-table this year with no concerns they might be sucked down to the choppy waters of the relegation battle. George Graham won't be pleased but I have a feeling West Ham might just nick it because they'll be hungrier for the points than Tottenham. I hope I'm wrong as I want to see Tottenham finish in the top half of the table for the first time for two seasons. I'd like to see us finish as high as 7th, last accomplished in 1994-95 when we had a manager who addressed his trainers when speaking to the press.

What a long time ago that seems!

Cheers, Brian

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