All Action, No Plot

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Spurs 2-0 Portsmouth: Boom Boom Boom - Let Me Hear You Say Bale

Never mind the theory that Peter Crouch Can Do Anything – the 2010 product is Gareth Bale. When he sets off on a gallop down the left the world is his oyster. He has within his armoury the capacity to outpace just about any opponent slower than Usain Bolt; play an intelligent, 10-yard diagonal ball infield; or whip in a peach of a cross, as demonstrated for the opener yesterday. Add to that his Delap-style long throws, and a mean free-kick, and Gareth Bale really can do anything. (Although I suppose his defending occasionally remains fallible). At various points yesterday the humble Pompey folk were ganging up on him in their threes, and still struggling to stop him, as he turned in yet another Man of the Match performance. The concern here at AANP Towers is that Man Utd come sniffing in the summer.As noted recently on the top-notch Spurs Show podcast, Bale’s searing pace comes from his bizarrely long stride. Unlike, say Aaron Lennon, whose little legs move so fast they morph into a Scooby-Doo style blur of movement when he sets off, Bale seems to amble along at a reasonable yet unspectacular pace, and despite this goes motoring past every opposing full-back in the British isles, because he covers so much ground in each stride. Which is marvellous.

Entertainingly, a side-effect of Bale’s renaissance has been BAE’s decision to add a spot of attacking urgency to his game as left-back. As a result he can now be spotted pelting forward towards the opposition by-line to deliver a low cross or two of his own, having previously insisted on slamming on the brakes whenever he approached the final third.

Game Of Two Halves

The second half was so subdued as to arouse suspicion. My Spurs-supporting chum Ian is rarely short of a conspiracy theory, and spent our post-match pint peddling the theory that ‘Arry had ordered the players not to score any more because he retained a soft spot for his former club. Tongue may have been firmly in cheek at that juncture, but here at AANP Towers we do wonder whether the drill was to avoid any over-exertion and unnecessary injuries in the second half. If this were indeed the case it is rather a pity, for had we gone at it hammer and tongs in the second period we really could have done a Wigan. Evidently Chelski were not in a forgiving mood at Villa yesterday, racking up seven, and something similar ought not to have been beyond us.

The All-Action Minute

However, if the second half was a little sedate, ample compensation was offered in the first half by possibly the most exhilarating, all-action minute of football I have ever witnessed at the Lane, around the half-hour mark. Hudd almost snapped the woodwork in half; before we had time to catch our breath Crouchy achieved the extraordinary feat of looking elegant as he nailed the exact same spot on the frame of the goal; and from the resulting corner the beanpole’s Van Basten impressions continued with an overhead kick unfortunately straight at David James. Not since Sheringham and Solsjkaer won the Champions League in 1999 has one minute of football been observed with quite such breathless excitement here at AANP Towers.

A Few Words On The Boy Walker

90 minutes is hardly enough time to make or break a career, but young Kyle Walker did a decent job on debut. His was the vital contribution to our second goal, and although sometimes a little naïve going forward his general willingness and ability to go haring down the right gave Bentley the room to whip in a few delicious crosses. Walker will have sterner defensive tests, but he applied himself with gusto and aggression as appropriate. An encouraging start.

In the final analysis it was pretty straightforward fare, as expected. There were a couple of first half concerns, as Pompey sliced us open on one occasion, and we also had Gomes to thank for one vital save that was worth a goal. On balance of play however, we were well worth the three points. There was a gloomy inevitability about another of our number hobbling off, but fingers are crossed that Dawson’s removal was precautionary. Seven games to go, and we remain well-placed.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). 

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson. 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs - Portsmouth Preview: Will ‘Arry Go 2-2-6?

A theory doing the rounds in some quarters is that the crunch games in our push for fourth is not the quartet against the big boys (Man Utd-l’Arse-Chelski-City) but the four against the less glamorous mob – Pompey, Sunderland, Burnley and Bolton. Anything less than three points against each of this lot, so goes the theory, and we really will throw away fourth spot.AANP rather struggles to get its head around all this truth be told, and is likely to be an equal bag of nerves immediately prior to kick-off in each of these games. However, whichever view one adopts, there can be no question that three points is absolutely essential today. (And preferably to be achieved without further injuries). For various reasons - form, quality, O’Hara ineligible - this a mismatch of fairly epic proportions, which ought to be viewed as a chance to fill our boots and add a little sheen to our goal difference.

Team News

 

 

 

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play

). 

 

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here

. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.

 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs 3-1 Fulham: Late Thoughts On A Great Night

Fourth place or the FA Cup? AANP suspects we’ll manage one or t’other, but the chaps scuttling around the turf each week seem to have the right idea, by prioritising victory one 90 minutes at a time, irrespective of the competition.Merrily we can gloss over it now, but by golly in the first half we were outplayed. Various boxes were left worryingly unticked in central midfield, where Modders lacked the muscle and Sergeant Wilson the passing range to pull the strings. Added to this Benny was having a distinctly average time of things at left-back. The solution seemed to be shunting Bale back to left-back, Modders to left midfield and giving Palacios some fresh company in centre-mid – but we at AANP Towers did not expect to see any such move until the hour-mark at the earliest. Oh we of little faith.

Twelve months ago I regularly chided ‘Arry for his unwillingness to make substitutions, but the double-whammy at half-time was spot-on. It got even better ten minutes later, when Corluka went down like a fallen oak, and ‘Arry took the quite brilliant step of replacing a full-back with a third attacker. Genius. Admittedly there were few other options on the bench, but a safety-first substitution would have been unsurprising. Instead, the romantic in ‘Arry came to the fore, and for a glorious half hour we had seven attacking types scuttling around in lilywhite. They didn’t disappoint either, playing some absolutely gorgeous one-touch football at the start of the second half.

The goals became progressively better. The first may have had a touch of fortune about it, although Bentley deserves credit for whipping in a ball so menacing it ought to have been illegal; but the second was both well-constructed and well-finished; and the third was absolute magic. It was a goal fashioned by Gudjohnsen, Hudd, Modders and Crouch, but created in the finest tradition of Tottenham Hotspur FC, the stuff of which Hoddle, Gascoigne and Ardiles would have been proud.

That 25-minute blitz after half-time really left us with little option but to applaud. One-touch football ordained from on high, and Fulham simply couldn’t live with it – indeed few teams would have fared better. Classic Tottenham.

Elsewhere On The Pitch 

We may not have too many truly world-class players in our ranks, but our squad depth is certainly impressive, and good enough for the twin challenges in hand. Bringing on players of the ilk of Hudd, Bentley and Pav is a luxury few other teams can enjoy.

Is Bale better at left-back or left-midfield? He’s ruddy marvellous in both positions, but there is much to be said from him starting at full-back and timing his run from deep, effectively becoming a fifth midfielder. Nor does there appear to be any need to worry about wearing the boy out, with his constant charges up and down the length of the pitch, as he boasts energy levels that would leave the Duracell bunny red-faced. One day, somebody somewhere is going to suggest that he is using naughty substances – perhaps on the comments section of these very pages…

Our rivals for fourth obligingly tossed away points; AANP become an uncle again; all was right with the world. Two bad results against Pompey and, overcome by fickleness, we’ll probably start calling for ‘Arry’s head again, but for now let’s just bask in the fact that Spurs are on their way to Wembley.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). 

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson. 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs - Fulham Preview: Cue The Star Wars Theme Music

A Cup quarter-final, under the floodlights and in front of a jam-packed White Hart Lane – if that doesn’t get your juices flowing my friend you’re probably better off at the Emirates. The Star Wars theme that greets the players as they amble out each week may not be everyone’s particular brand of cognac, but pre kick-off it certainly makes the hairs on the back of the AANP neck stand to attention, and by the time it blares out this evening I suspect I’ll be bouncing off the walls and ready to kill someone with my bare hands.With any luck the eleven in lilywhite will be similarly frenzied come 8pm. The omens are fairly encouraging - in our recent League double-header against Fulham we worked hard for a goalless draw on their patch, and then comfortably beat them 2-0 at the Lane barely a month later. A slice of nice meaty déjà-vu would go down nicely tonight.

Team News 

Ye gods be praised, as it looks as if reinforcements are finally arriving. Hudd and Bentley might be back in contention, and even if they do not swan straight back into the starting line-up I’ll be exhaling in relief merely at the sight of them snuggling up on those comfy seats in the dug-out. While it is positive to see Livermore, Townsend et al mingling with the first team superstars, if we are hit by further injuries or even just tired legs, it will be reassuring to gaze around and behold chaps of the ilk of Bentley and Hudd stretching their multi-million pound limbs on their sidelines.  

Fulham: Abusive To Old Ladies

I fancy us to win this, as do the bookies, but complacency will be banned from the premises given that Fulham dealt out a right thumping to (an admittedly ten-man) Juve last week. Form is temporary and class permanent, according to the adage, but whatever the explanation Bobby Zamora is playing like a man who has been eating his greens. He has been a handful against us on a couple of occasions already this season, and let’s face it, our lot hardly relish having to face these big burly chaps, all elbows, backsides and upper-body strength. I suspect that Sebastien Bassong earns more in a week than I do in a year, but I will happily dispense with envy tonight if he merits the full pay-packet tonight and keeps Zamora under lock and key.

These things don’t always go to plan, but if our heroes blow this opportunity I might never forgive them. It ought not to come to that. Everybody will be singing, when the Spurs go marching on.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). 

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson. 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Stoke 1 - 2 Spurs: We Like The Look Of That

It could still all go horribly wrong, but for the moment at least our lot continue to make all the right moves. The threatened second half implosion did not materialise, and instead, after a fourth consecutive League win, we now have to come to terms with the fact that our glorious heroes have discovered some consistency, of all things.BAE vs Corluka

It was hardly Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed, but Messrs Corluka and Assou-Ekotto were notably unimpressed with each other’s conduct in the second half. Apparently Charlie lumbered over to deliver a pointed critique of Benny’s positioning at a corner; the braided one appeared to suggest in reply that he go forth and multiply. Given BAE’s permanently glazed expression of a hired assassin, this was quite possibly a moment for which he had been waiting his whole life (although in a fist-fight to the death I think I would back the Croat). Excitingly, there was even a level of push-and-shove that would have had Didier Drogba hurtling to the turf and screaming like a baby, but our two heroes both walked away unscathed.

Much ado about nothing ultimately, but truth be told we at AANP Towers are secretly rather pleased by all this. Tottenham players have typically seemed a little too precious and delicate in recent years, rather than ready to roll up their sleeves and fight for the cause, often giving the impression that they care more about their next haircut or tattoo than the cockerel. The sight of juices flowing and blood boiling out there on the pitch therefore elicits a silent nod of approval. We like the look of that around these parts.

As an epilogue, ‘Arry’s comments on Benny make frankly hilarious reading, although I do rather wonder about the lad:

Benoit is a strange boy. He’s a bit highly strung and hardly speaks English. If you say something to him he’s hard work. He hasn’t improved his English in the couple of years he’s been here.”
[Asked why the player had walked off on his own, Redknapp replied:] “He didn’t know the result! He probably thought we’d drawn. He’ll turn up Wednesday and play great, but he won’t know we’re playing Fulham until someone tells him. That’s how he is. He’s unreal. He walks off and he’s thinking about the music he’s going to play when he puts his headphones on.”
 

It was a risky move, but resting Palacios and bringing in Younes Kaboul ultimately paid dividends. With Sergeant Wilson one booking away from suspension and Kaboul cup-tied, the latter took to the pitch yesterday, to ensure that Palacios will be available for the FA Cup game on Wednesday (keep up). The proof of the pudding was ultimately the result, and whatever the misgivings from various quarters about Kaboul’s ability as a midfielder, ‘Arry need not say a word, but can simply wave three points at all of us by way of justification.

Fourth Striker

In Gudjohnsen we may have the perfect fourth striker. Unlike, say, a younger tyro of the Darren Bent ilk, one gets the impression that Gudjohnsen is a darned sight more philosophical about starting regularly on the bench, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, back in the day. Not that this attitude would count for much of course, if he were complete bobbins once on the pitch, but as he demonstrated on Saturday he certainly seems to know his way around.

We at AANP Towers have been fond of likening him to Sheringham, but the strength he showed for his goal, in holding off the challenge of Faye (I think), followed by the clinical, powerful finish, was more akin to Shearer. He adds much-needed experience to a young squad, which suggests that he probably has something to contribute on the training-ground as well as the pitch, and on the evidence of the weekend can still be relied upon to produce the goods when called upon. If anything, yesterday’s performance suggested that he may merit elevation up the ladder to something higher than fourth-choice striker, but if remains the man to whom we turn in an emergency we can’t be doing too badly.

Another Week, Another Injury

This time Pav hobbled off stage left. All vaguely reminiscent of one of those action/horror films in which the cast are killed off one by one, in various gruesome ways, until Sigourney Weaver is left to sort things out in the final scene. That we have kept churning out wins with personnel dropping like flies is mightily impressive, and to do so on Saturday without King, Palacios, Lennon or Defoe, as well as various supporting cast-members, really is thigh-slappingly good. With a bit of luck the situation might soon ease, as Bentley is supposed to be nearing fitness, while Hudd is also reportedly progressing well. This gearing up to be one heck of a season finale.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). But never mind all that – the new trailer for Predators is now out, and it looks awesome. Have a butcher’s here.All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson. 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here 

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Stoke - Spurs Preview: There’s A Storm Coming

Boy: Viene la tormenta
Sarah Connor: What did he just say?
Attendant: He said there’s a storm coming.
Sarah Connor: I know.

 

She wasn’t wrong either. There’s a storm coming alright – no less than L’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd, as well as Man City away in the final week of the season. Our heroes won’t quite have to go galloping around town on the run from an indestructible shape-changing policeman with ruddy great big knives for hands, but the task awaiting them next month is still mighty daunting. Even the greatest optimists amongst us might concede that a point or two could be dropped in that run-in. (The upbeat AANP projection is that we’ll actually take seven points from those four games – but that’s a story for another day).So if there is a time to be amassing points, it is the next eight days or so: up at Stoke tomorrow, and at home to Pompey a week hence. We have taken nine points from our last nine, and could feasibly extend this to 15 from 15, which would amount to jolly handy preparation for the forthcoming tormenta. First things first however, and Stoke away will be testing– we imploded there last year (two red cards and a near-death experience for Corluka) and were frustratingly snuffed out by them at the Lane earlier in the season, when they stuck every man and his dog behind the ball, launched a few long throws and mugged us in the final few minutes. However, where there is Bale there is hope…

Defoe Crocked

Well the good news is that nobody in the treatment room will be feeling lonely. Lennon, Ledley, Bentley, Jenas, Woodgate, Cudicini and Hudd have some new company, as Defoe has pulled a muscle, while the boy Rose and Kyle Walker also amongst the walking-wounded. Crouch will presumably line up alongside Pav, while Gudjohnsen will be on high alert and we might even resort to dragging back Keane, kicking and screaming - and pointing - from his latest boyhood idols.

All a bit threadbare then, although our starting eleven still looks strong enough. However, one more sprained ankle or chipped fingernail and we will be turning to Younes Kaboul to carry the midfield through the final few crunch games of the season.

Hudd Contracted

He may not be available tomorrow, but Hudd has been in the news this week, having inked a brand spanking new deal to keep him at the club for a few more years, the lucky devil. Footballers’ contracts do not seem to be worth much these days, and if (hypothetically) Man Utd came sniffing in a year or two it seems a mite unlikely that the big man would resolutely refuse to listen to their overtures, and insist that he honour the remaining few years of his deal at the Lane. Still, even as a fully-qualified cynic I can appreciate that a new contract represents a more positive scrap of paper than a transfer request.

Other tittle-tattle suggests that that Sandro lad is on his way in, while Adel Taraabt may well have talked his way out. In a couple of months, these and other more pressing concerns will have been concluded. ‘Arry reckons another 16 points will do the trick this season. I cannot be bothered to check the veracity of this claim, but given his “Two-points-eight-games” mantra I will assume he knows his numbers. A point tomorrow would not be bad, but if we want to make the Champions League we ought to target three.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Gary Mabbutt Signing Copies of Spurs’ Cult Heroes - New Dates

Parish noticeboard – for those who fancy meeting Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs (although not for long…) he will be signing copies of AANP’s new book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, on the following dates:

Waterstones Riverside Hemel Hempstead; Easter Saturday 3 April, 12 noon 

Waterstones Leadenhall Market, City of London; Thursday 8 April 12.30pm

Waterstones Stevenage; Saturday 24 April, 12 noon

Waterstones Walthamstow; Saturday 8 May, 1pm

If you haven’t yet got your mitts on it, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).

Fancy a try before you buy? Then feast your eyes on the Introduction

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Introduction

“We Tottenham folk have been spoilt. Admittedly it does not always seem that way, as we look on aghast at our heroes so regularly ensuring that ignominy is snatched from the jaws of glory; or when that rarest of beasts – a settled management structure – is slaughtered, seemingly on a whim, and we have to start again from scratch. However, when dipping nib into ink in order to write Spurs’ Cult Heroes - and even when simply compiling the list of 20 players to be featured - I realised that we have, other the years, have boasted riches of which other sets of fans can only dream. With good reason does Tottenham Hotspur have a tradition for glory glory football, for when one considers the array of talent that has purred around the White Hart Lane turf, it would have been plain lunacy to have adopted any other approach than that of devilish, breath-taking entertainment.

So how to select from the rich band of swashbucklers, goalscorers and servants so loyal that directly beneath the cockerel on their shirt one suspects they also had that same cockerel tattooed on their chest?

It was a glorious conundrum – so, inevitably, I initially went down the Ossie Ardiles route, and tried to include the whole ruddy lot, every player who has ever had the regulars at the Lane gawping in awe-struck wonder. Just as Ossie discovered however, it quickly became evident that this Tottingham line-up just would not accommodate quite so many big names. In a moment of realisation that has no doubt struck countless Spurs managers over the years, I reluctantly concluded that for all the wonderful talent available, some semblance of order would be necessary in order to set the wheels in motion.

For a start, all those featured had to rank amongst the very best White Hart Lane has seen; no room for those players whose glaring inadequacies we gloss over just because we love them and they love us. A stringent criterion perhaps, but after over 125 years of trophies, goals, loyalty and downright mind-boggling flair, it seemed a legitimate parameter. (As a crucial addendum, such greatness must have been achieved in a Spurs shirt, rather than, say, from the halfway line whilst adorned in the colours of a Spanish outfit - even if the victims were that ‘orrible lot from down the road).

Nor was this just to be a list of the 20 best players – they also had to be the sort who, to this day, will make the most foul-mouthed South Stand die-hards suddenly go misty-eyed, and profess their undying love. Popularity counted, a criterion which ought to answer any queries from the Campbell and Berbatov households.

A difficult balancing act? Those of a certain vintage have argued that the task straightforwardly involves selecting the entire Double-winning team of 1961, and throwing in Greaves, Hoddle and Gazza. One appreciates the sentiment, but one vital requirement of the Cult Heroes collection was to capture the long tradition and very essence of the club. Tottenham Hotspur were formed in 1882; won the FA Cup in 1901; became the first English side to win the Double in 1961; the first British side to win a European trophy, two years later; and won the centenary FA Cup Final in 1981. In the words of the White Hart Lane faithful every matchday:

”And if you know your history, it’s enough to make your heart go woo-ooo-oooah…”

An effort has therefore been made to convey this glorious, if allegedly ineffable, history of the club, those elements which make Spurs one of the proudest and most famous teams in the country. I pre-emptively hold up my hands and offer a mea culpa straight away, for the absences of any players from the 1921 FA Cup-winning side (Jimmy Dimmock and Arthur Grimsdell having been popularly supported). Similarly, star names from our first ever League Title-winning team of 1951 (Ted Ditchburn, captain Eddie Baily and Len “The Duke” Duquemin sprang to many minds) are glaring omissions. Naturally, in gauging popular opinion, much of the focus fell upon those from the latter half of the twentieth century, and the content of Spurs’ Cult Heroes reflects this. However, the chapter on Sandy Brown, whose extraordinary goalscoring feats helped bring the FA Cup to White Hart Lane in 1901, is aimed at conveying the sense of the club in its nascent years, as well as paying tribute to an individual Cult Hero. Likewise, the late, great Bill Nicholson, whose association with the club spanned over 60 years, was a member of the 1951 League Championship winners, and deference is duly shown to this team in the relevant chapter.

Of those not included in Spurs’ Cult Heroes, few players had their credentials promoted quite as vigorously as John White. An attacking midfielder, White was crucial in driving Spurs to the Double in 1961 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, but was tragically killed on 21 July 1964, when struck by lightning whilst sheltering under a tree at a golf course. That he is not included amongst the final 20 is due primarily to the quality and popularity of so many of his peers. The list already includes Blanchflower and Mackay, as well as Cliff Jones and the manager of that glorious team, Bill Nicholson, not to mention Jimmy Greaves, signed in the winter of 1961. While White’s case for inclusion was strong, it was felt that another member of the team from that era would skew the balance of the final list; but such an opinion is by no means definitive.

Others conspicuous by their absence include Lineker, Sheringham, Crooks and Archibald, while wide-eyed rants of fury were also directed this way for the omissions of Cameron, Ditchburn, Ramsey, Smith, England, Coates, Peters, Neighbour, Conn, Thorstvedt and Freund, to name but a handful. The compilation of the final list of 20 was rather unscientific at times, but a huge number of opinions were sought and reminiscences collected.

Disagreements about the personnel may be inevitable, but it is to be hoped that Spurs’ Cult Heroes does at least capture much of that tradition of the club - not just the silverware, but all those other factors unique to Spurs. Football played “the Tottenham way”. Glorious European nights at the Lane. Gleaming white shirts. Years ending in “1”. Magic Wembley moments. Audere est Facere. Questionable musical offerings. Big-name signings. Exotic foreign arrivals. Flair players; club servants; the occasional hardmen; and goalscorers so prolific you almost wanted to offer a consoling pat on the shoulder of the hapless goalkeeper who would soon be left wondering what had hit him.

Tottenham Hotspur’s history is packed with heroes. If the White Hart Lane turf could speak – well, I would like to think it would pretty much read from these pages.”

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs 3-1 Blackburn: Why Can’t Corluka Run Properly?

Like a craggily-bearded convict using the walls of his cell to chalk off the days until freedom, it is with growing excitement that I desecrate the walls of AANP Towers with scribbles signifying another game played, and another win recorded. Nine games to go, and our heroes are fulfilling their side of the bargain. I must confess that at this stage of the season I find myself caring less and less about the style, and more and more about the outcome. Spring has sprung and victories are now paramount, particularly with the injury-list lengthening.

Corluka’s Ridiculous Running Style: A Theorem

Not long ago I went for an unhealthily long run around the streets of North London, the result of which was that for the following two days the inevitably tight hamstrings had me waddling around like a man recently sodomized by a horse. The aftermath of said run gave rise to the notion that perhaps Coluka’s bizarrely laboured, trundling approach is due to the fact that the night before every game he sets off on a half-marathon, leaving him absolutely spent by the time he waddles out in lilywhite. Admittedly it is a hypothesis that might not necessarily withstand the most intense scrutiny, but with each passing game I gaze in utter bemusement at the sight of this top-level professional athlete undergoing such a struggle simply to run.

‘Twas a mixed performance from the Croatian. Now prevented from producing his wondrous link-up play with Lennon, I have taken to viewing the world’s oldest-looking 24 year-old with an increasingly critical eye. As ever his distribution was regularly sloppy; and, as ever, his defensive duties were carried out fairly solidly. On both counts however there was a notable exception today. His was a vital and superb contribution to the opening goal, the intelligent movement in the area and textbook downward header positively Sheringham-esque. Yet on the debit side his penalty area lunge in the first half was thoroughly ill-advised, and might have been deemed a spot-kick on another day.

And On The Subject of Penalty Shouts…

It appears that the impeccable Howard Webb would only have awarded Gareth Bale a penalty if the Blackburn mob had chopped him in half with a chainsaw. The handsome young Welshman was once again outstanding, with Sergeant Wilson also turning in another strong performance. Quite the bonus too that the midfield pitbull negotiated the full 90 minutes caution-free, to avoid an untimely two-game suspension.

Elsewhere on the Pitch

Modders showed a few flashes of class, but again could not really be said to have bossed things from central midfield. Similarly fitful stuff from Kranjcar, although it made a delightful change to see us actually score from a corner, the Croatian’s set-piece delivery on that occasion achieving the rare feat of beating the first man.

Super Pav

Actually “Super” is something of an exaggeration, as on two occasions he swung at the ball with all the mal-coordination of a fat kid in the playground, from not much further than six yards. However, when you’re hot you’re hotski, and our Pav still chipped in with his now customary brace. If nothing else it will bump up his transfer value come the summer.

Is There A “Bad Time To Score”?

Good predatory stuff from Defoe too, to celebrate the return of the Wembley arch atop his pate. Conventional wisdom has it that the closing moments of the first half are “a good time to score”, and whatever the science of that particular theory a half-time lead is always well-received around these parts, for our lot have developed the laudable habit of turning such half-time leads into full-time victories.

Perhaps not vintage Spurs in the final analysis, but a job well done nevertheless. With resources depleted it is quite a relief to shake hands, turn on our heels and wander off into the sunset with three points securely stuffed in our cases. It is three successive League wins now, precisely the adrenaline shot our top-four push required, and with seven days until our next fixture our walking-wounded have some precious time to remove their band-aids and bolster the ranks.

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

Spurs - Blackburn Preview: Five Things I’d Like To See From Tottenham This Weekend

Strangely nervous ahead of this one, precisely because we are such overwhelming favourites. We at AANP Towers would happily trade all of the following for three points, in any way or form, but as I idle away the final minutes of the day-job, the following notions float to mind…A Dull Home Win

The list of Games-To-Rue-Come-May is far too long already; let’s not add to it, eh chaps? Just a standard, by-the-numbers, mundane home win will do just fine thank you. You know the sort – a goal from Kranjcar in the first 15 minutes; a good hour of dominance; a slightly nervy feel that we ought to turn said dominance into goals; and finally a Defoe goal in the last ten minutes to kill the game off. The sort of regular home win that gets shunted well done the Match of the Day running order. No alarms and no surprises, as Radiohead might venture.

A nice stress-free win is all the more appealing given that our fixture-list begins to take a few turns for the worse in coming weeks. Admittedly Pompey at home should just about be negotiable, but Stoke away could be a tad tricky; Man City away could be crucial; and we also have games against the top three to come. Three points are being dangled White Hart Lane-wards, and it might be an idea to stock up now, before such resources become scarce in April.

No Caution For Palacios

One more yellow and Sergeant Wilson misses two games. Bad enough at the best of times, the current injury crisis means that one more mishap might see Kaboul or Corluka shoved into midfield, as part of a tactical re-jig best defined as Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hope. The chances of Palacios lasting the final ten Premiership (plus Cup) games without a booking are nil, but if he could just hold out until the likes of Hudd and Bentley return that would soften the blow somewhat.

Destruction of All That Sam Allardyce Stands For

Sam Allardyce might be quite the philanthropist - on a personal level I cannot comment - but as a manager I despise him and his ways. ‘Arry has gone the diplomatic route ahead of this game (“

Everyone plays how they play, they have their own style…Whatever Sam does, he has been one of the most successful managers”) but I fervently hope that we subject Allardyce’s charges to a masterclass of one-touch, olé football, and pass them to death. Although I’ll settle for a mundane home win of course.None of That Hollywood-Ball Gubbins From Daws

Daws’ defensive form has been pretty darned impressive, barring the occasional rush of blood to the head, but I do wish he would stop the Beckenbauer impressions. Just be a good boy and knock the ball short to Modders or someone, rather than trying to launch it sixty yards to one of the attacking midgets.

Robbo Circa 2008 Onwards

Once upon a time Paul Robinson was awesome. A few years back, when we were last challenging for the top four, it seemed that between him and Ledley a certain goal would be prevented every game, and I duly worshipped his balding pate. However, ever since that missed kick against Croatia it has been nigh on impossible to think of him without seeing the grinning face of Borat heralding another slapstick mishap, poor blighter. More of the same tomorrow please. Let’s see him flap at a 30-yard Kranjcar effort, or flap at a set-piece and end up chucking the ball into his own net.

Up the other end, Gomes has barely made a mistake all season, and this juxtaposition alone ought to be enough to seal the three points.

The teamsheet will presumably be fairly similar to that posted against Fulham last week – BAE at left-back; Bale left midfield; Modders in the centre – although Defoe can be expected to return to the starting line-up alongside Pav. The early kick-off gives us a chance to put a bit of pressure on the other challengers for fourth, and watch them stew in their own juices over the course of the weekend – and there are few preferable activities around these parts of a Saturday afternoon.

 

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

 

Fulham 0-0 Spurs: Tottenham’s Going To Do It Again

Well I would have settled for a draw beforehand – that it was such a memorable, high-octane, pulsating spectacle of a game was a bonus. As against Bolton in the last round, the AANP view is that our opponents have blown their best chance of victory by failing to beat us on their own patch. Back at the Lane and under the floodlights I fancy us to come out on top, injuries permitting. Fulham at home and Pompey at Wembley in order to make the FA Cup Final? Now there’s a thought…

A Good Day For Bullies

It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it appears that sometimes bullies finish first. Sergeant Wilson refused to let anyone have their way, and spent his 90 minutes ruining things for any Fulham player who came near him; while for the other lot, Bobby Zamora made himself a complete pain from start to finish. The well-behaved kids, like Modders, didn’t stand a chance. Too nice by half, our Luka was given the opportunity to boss things from central midfield, but again gave reason to conclude that he is best deployed as a left midfielder, drifting infield and linking with an overlapping full-back.

A Nagging Worry

There remains a nagging frustration here at AANP Towers that the central midfield berth remains an area for improvement generally. I humbly suggest that Hudd needs to offer more than just his passing-range; and less humbly decree Jenas a lost cause; while as we saw yesterday Modders does not appear to have the requisite muscle and feistiness for the role. Until the end of the season we will have to plough on with the resources we have, but come the summer I fervently hope that we beg, steal or borrow a top-notch, attack-minded central midfielder. Admittedly there are precious few of them out there, and ‘Arry will probably just persist with Hudd, but to become a Champions League-standard team we need a midfielder who can run the show.

Bale’s Midfield Adventure

Back to yesterday’s game, about which many a sage has ventured that a draw seemed about right. Our heroes started fairly well, but by golly the Fulham defence was well-organised, and within about fifteen minutes I had already started mentally clearing the diary for the replay date. The game became a little more stretched in the second half, with Fulham hitting upon the novel idea of trying to win the thing, and Gomes was called upon to go leaping around once or twice, but the closest thing to a goal was probably Corluka’s coronary-inducing slashed clearance in the dying embers of the game, which drifted horrifyingly close to his own net.

As ever, all that was best from our lot came from the ever-wondrous size nines of Gareth Bale. Worries that his creative juices might be sapped by his new midfield role proved fairly unfounded, as he increasingly became our default attack option – the only man capable of getting behind the Fulham defence, frequently drawing two opponents towards him and occasionally also haring infield. I’m not sure too many women want him, or too many men want to be him, but I have a healthy dose of man-love for the guy, and sincerely hope that his every whim is indulged by those in authority at the Lane, to ensure he remains in lilywhite for years to come. Every now and then I allow myself to drift off and imagine how ruddy unstoppable we might be with Bale pelting down one flank and a fit-again Aaron Lennon on the other…

Elsewhere On The Pitch

Less impressive were our two full-backs. Assou-Ekotto was a little too casual at times, while not for the first time Corluka’s distribution was rather wayward. Bassong however probably deserves a nod of approval, for sticking manfully to his Zamora-containment duties throughout, a blinking hard task by the look of it.

The Crouch-Pav pairing did not really have me slapping my thigh and ordering champagne. There was huffing and puffing a-plenty up-front, but not too many clear-cut chances amidst the suffocating line of Fulham defenders.

So a replay it will be. We may yet rue failure to capitalise upon the absence of Danny Murphy in the Fulham ranks, and there is also the very ominous possibility that injury or suspension might deplete our midfield further; but as things stand we are jolly well-placed to reach the FA Cup Final.

AANP’s first book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, all good bookshops and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play).

All are most welcome to leave memories - and browse those of others - regarding the players featured in Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Danny Blanchflower here, Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Martin Chivers here, Alan Gilzean here, Pat Jennings here, Cyril Knowles here, Steve Perryman here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here, Paul Gascoigne here. Also featured in the book are Sandy Brown and the late, great Bill Nicholson.

You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here

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