Spurs match reports

Young Boys 3-2 Spurs: History Repeating Itself?

Well first of all, a history lesson: in our first ever European Cup tie, back in 1962, Blanchflower, Mackay et al travelled to Poland to play Gornik, under the auspices of Bill Nick, and promptly found themselves 4-0 down at half-time, before scoring two late goals. Back at the Lane in the return leg we won 8-1… (That and just about everything else in our history can be read about in AANP’s book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, now a tenner on Amazon, ahem).So that, ladies and gents, is the Champions League, Tottenham style. Despite the fact that players, management, fans, pundits and just about anyone remotely connected with the club had spent the entire summer banging on about the Champions League, our lot looked to be taken completely by surprise by the whole experience. Everywhere we looked players were discovering new and exciting forms of ineptitude. Daws and Bassong spent the first half hour diligently practising their Corluka-running impressions, and by half-time had given some near-perfect examples of that running-through-quicksand look. If there is a physical opposite to Velcro, Pav appeared to have wrapped himself in it in the first half, as the ball flew several yards away from him every time he tried to control it. And so on. Giovani looked lively in the opening stages, but the rest of them ought to have worn sixes and sevens on the back of their shirts. Action in places, but not the merest semblance of plot.

And yet, even despite the sudden presence of Larry, Curly and Moe in the Tottenham defence, the feeling around these parts persisted that we would at some point sneak an away goal or two and have plenty to play for in the second leg. From the outset, although our hosts were merrily waltzing through our back line, there were some fairly straightforward indications their own defence was far from watertight, with Giovani and Defoe spurning a couple of early opportunities. A more seasoned CL outfit may well have slammed the door in our faces and lobbed the key into the Rhine; instead, for all the euphoria of their early blitz Young Boys seemed oblivious to the fact that in European competition a miserly defence at home is paramount.

We May Have Ourselves A Scapegoat…

Presumably much will be made of the plastic pitch, but from the comfort of the AANP armchair it is difficult to know quite how great an impact that had. It may have had a psychological effect, or it may have meant that any pass over 20 yards fizzed off the surface and away, but whatever the reason, the introduction of Hudd, and the short passing he brought with him, certainly seemed to aid our recovery. Passes under 10 yards looked like they were easier to control, and for a period either side of half-time the players appeared to warm to the task.

By and large however, they made it look like they were running across a minefield rather than an artificial pitch. Ought not these chaps, whose entire lives have been geared towards mastering the dark arts of a size 5 football, have been capable of adjusting to Astroturf pronto? Perhaps, but AANP is reluctant to chastise our lot on this account until I’ve walked a mile in their astro boots. Moreover, injuries sustained by Defoe and Modders suggests that beneath those artificial fibres lurked some malevolent daemon of terra firma. No doubt our heroes will be a darned sight happier on the green, green grass of home. 

A Word On Our Glorious Leader 

We’ll Be Fine

An inauspicious start then, but better things should await in the second leg. No doubt we rode our luck yesterday, as Young Boys could have hit five or six but for some schoolboy (sorry, couldn’t resist) finishing. Nevertheless with Ledley quite possibly to be restored to offer some almost motherly reassurance and organisation at the back, plus Aaron Lennon waiting in the wings, and Gareth Bale yet to make an impact on the tie, I sense that our opponents have blown a good opportunity to give themselves a much more imposing lead.

So, unusually, panic is nowhere to be seen at AANP Towers. If we hit a level remotely near the standards of last season I back us to cruise through, particularly at a throbbing, floodlit White Hart Lane. It may of course all go pear-shaped again (recall ye our UEFA Quarter Final home leg to Sevilla, a few years back, when after an encouraging 2-1 away leg defeat we cunningly conceded twice in the first ten minutes at the Lane to set ourselves a Herculean task), but I personally draw inspiration from the class of ’62, and their christening of Tottenham’s European adventures with the concession of four first-half goals, before proceeding to a 10-5 aggregate victory. Gifting the opposition an early lead, and generally doing everything in our powers to complicate the uncomplicated is a peculiarly Tottenham trait, as proudly displayed today as five decades ago. One-nil may suffice next week, but I suspect that our lot will find a vastly more complicated means of progressing.

Spurs Books Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

EXCLUSIVE – Preview of New Book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes”

What ho. If I’ve been doing this right seasoned visitors to AANP Towers should know that as of this Saturday the book “Spurs’ Cult Heroes” becomes available to buy in shops. To mark the occasion and whet your appetite, I have posted a world exclusive no less – below, for your visual delectation, is the Introduction to Spurs’ Cult Heroes.

Before you dig in, just a few public notices: Gary Mabbutt, the last man to lift the FA Cup for Spurs, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones in Enfield, this Saturday (6th March), from 12 – 2pm. If you prefer the comfort of your computer-box, the humble tome can also be purveyed at, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , TescoWaterstones and Play

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 match reports

Everton 2-2 Spurs: Doing It The Tottenham Way

How uniquely Tottenham. Could any other team in Christendom have managed to plough on with such determination towards ignominy, when offered quite so many opportunities for glory?The Tottenham Way

I’d like to think that when a player signs for Spurs, he is sat down and given a good thorough education on the club’s history. He is instructed in the tradition for playing football in a certain style – keeping the ball on the floor, moving it around slickly. The Blanchflower quote is drummed into him – “Glory… doing things in style… etc.” If the player in question is foreign, this quote is the first English he masters. He learns the names of every member of the ’51 Championship-winning push-and-run team, and dutifully sits through hours of black-and-white footage. He worships at the altar of the Bill Nick double-winners. He is sat down and forced to watch the one-touch extravagana that was Darren Anderton’s goal away to QPR in November 1993.

The reality? Probably money and nightclubs; but after games like today’s I wonder if the first thing they are taught on driving up through Bill Nicholson Way, with rigorous attention to every conceivable detail, is how to shoot themselves in the foot in any given situation. You are now a Tottenham player, and it is therefore your duty to explore every avenue for self-destruction, before ever proceeding to victory.

And for good measure, that kamikaze message is then presumably drummed home in the huddle before every game. If the FA were to decide retrospectively that the entire Everton squad took a bung for today’s game, and awarded the three points to us, some idiot in lilywhite would probably pipe up and suggest a rematch instead.

Ruthlessness: Not Welcome at White Hart Lane

A strange old game, because while enough to reduce grown men to tears of despair, it was by no means an awful performance. For so many of our lot, the laudable and the deplorable waltzed merrily hand-in-hand. If they were making lung-busting 20 yard runs to slide in and win a tackle one minute, you could blinking well guarantee that they’d be caught dawdling in possession the next. Adroit movement to create a clear goalscoring opportunity was duly matched by an inaccurate finish. It’s Tottenham in a microcosm. When we were good we were very good; when we were bad we were horrid. Ruthlessness had a look, but was firmly ushered away, and now seeks an abode elsewhere.

Sliver Lining. Honest.

Our heroes’ penchant for the mind-bogglingly infuriating has sunk to new depths, but I honestly believe that if we take time out from throttling the nearest small animal (I’m considering storing in my back garden a small pestilential rat, or rabid dog, or Thierry Henry, just so that I can come stomping back home after days like these and give the vile creature a damn good kicking) we can appreciate a few glass-half-full conclusions.

As mentioned, this was no awful performance. For the second away game in a week, we have done a jolly good impression of a home team. The notion of sitting back from kick-off, soaking up pressure and assessing the situation was given short shrift, as we dispensed with subtlety from the first whistle, and went at it hammer and tongs. Sure, Everton had their chances, and in the first half our defence conducted a couple of stringent examinations of precisely how the term “suicidal back-pass” ought to be defined, but we made one shooting chance after another. Against Wigan they all whistled just inside the post; this time, as with Villa last week, they all seemed to arrow a foot the other side.

Kranjcar’s cup continues to runneth over with new and ingenious ways of causing panic in opposition ranks, and Lennon really does seem to have mastered the art of the inviting cross. It’s not just a one-off, a hazy estimate suggest that four out of five were whipped into pleasingly dangerous areas.

I can think of games just this season (Stoke, first half vs Sunderland) in which we’ve had plenty of possession but struggled to create a genuine goalscoring chance. There has been a lack of movement off the ball, which has clotted our creative juices (notably of Hudd) and led to too much dependency upon the cursed long-ball game. By contrast, over the course of the last few games (and I even include the Man Utd match amongst these) there has been a distinctive buzz of movement in our ranks. Yes, we need to convert rather than rue our chances; and by golly we need to beg, steal or borrow the ability to wrap up a game when leading 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes; but on a broader front there is at least the sense that we have the capacity to create sackfuls of chances.

The counter-argument is that for all this approach-play loveliness WE STILL DIDN’T BLOODY WIN DID WE? Well, granted. When the time came to dig in and fight to the death, we were found wanting. And two points from what really ought to be six, will almost certainly come back to make rude gestures at us come mid-May. Fourth is still in our own hands, but if are to make it we seem determined to do so in the most excruciating manner possible. How uniquely Tottenham.


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

And as ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book 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, Jurgen Klinsmann here

Spurs preview

Spurs-Stoke Preview: A Chance To Pay Tribute To Bill Nick

Believe it or not, win this by four goals and we’ll be top of the table, albeit until Chelski conclude their evening game. Try informing your nearest Spurs-supporting chum of this fact, and the chances are that you will be greeted with little more than a nod of approval and a healthy dose of perspective. Along with our consistency to date, the general realism of fans this season has been just as startling. We are all aware that we could be on the brink of something very, very good; but equally, there seems to be a healthy realisation that we remain a work in progress. That said, we’ll all be demanding three points today.Crouch Get His Chance


Crouch was snapped hurling down some slightly awkward-looking shapes after last Saturday’s game, and although the media did their best to sensationalise the “story” beyond all reasonable sense of perspective, they soon tired of that, particularly as ‘Arry treated it with little more than a shrug. I suspect it’s not what the continental players do, while rugby players apparently spend their post-match hours indulging in such unholy practices as sitting in ice-baths for reparatory purposes. Nevertheless, there seems no harm in a cheery night out with team-mates, a full week before the next game. Certainly the patrons of AANP Towers are in no position to judge a man who spends his Saturday nights on a London boogie floor…

Squad Depth. Ruddy Marvellous.

Woodgate should be back in the team today, for the first time this season. While Liverpool whinge about losing Gerrard and Torres (both of whom featured in their defeat at the Lane on the opening day of the season) it is a sign of the strength of our squad that despite the absences of Woodgate all season, Modric for half the season, and the likes of Ledley, Palacios, Dawson and Defoe at various points, we are deservedly in the top four.

So, aside from three points obviously, what would AANP like to see transpire from its lofty perch?

1. A Four-Goal Win To Take Us To The Top Of  The Premiership

Being top in August is fun but inane; being top when the clocks go back is, frankly, fantastic. ‘Tis true, ‘Arry would be unbearably smug if it transpires that he takes us from bottom to top in exactly a year, but I’d still give my right arm to see it happen.

2. Goals From Woodgate and Dawson


3. A Clean Sheet


4. A Blinder From Jenas/Hudd


5. A Tribute To The Great Bill Nicholson


I am sure the fans will pay tribute to him today, it is to be hoped that the club does likewise in some official capacity – and how fitting it would be if we could end the game sitting proudly atop the table once more, as Bill Nicholson took us as both player and manager.








As ever, all are

most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the players to be featured in forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes: Dave Mackay here, Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Chris Waddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann hereYou can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, or follow on Twitter here.


Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Who Will Fill The Final Three Spaces?

Three spaces left, but still a number of contenders for the list of 20 Spurs Cult Heroes. Still looking for the players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans for what they did at the club – so put forward your argument for (or indeed against) the inclusion of any of these:Pat Jennings, John White, Alfie Conn, Bill Brown, Sandy Brown, Cyril Knowles, Ralph Coates, Gary Lineker, Steffen Freund, Teddy Sheringham. Nayim’s inclusion on this list is debatable, as his finest hour came after he had left Spurs.

(Three from that list will join the following 17, about whom there seems to be little argument: Bill Nick, Blanchflower, Mackay, Greaves, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones, Perryman, Hoddle, Ardiles, Villa, Mabbutt, Roberts, Waddle, Gazza, Clive Allen, Ginola, Klinsmann).

Spurs' Cult Heroes - Fans' Memories

Spurs’ Cult Heroes – Who Would You Choose?

The clue is in the title – the first all-action book on Spurs is imminent, and all lilywhite fans are most warmly invited to pitch in.A list of 20 fans’ favourites is being compiled, and frankly, for a team as steeped in history as ours, there just ain’t enough room for everyone. Some names effortlessly pick themselves – true Lane legends such as Blanchflower, Perryman, Mabbutt, Greaves and Bill Nick. Numerous others had more fleeting Tottenham careers, but by golly left an indelible imprint – Gazza, Ginola, Klinsmann et al. So feel free to hurl your suggestions this way – each and every one will be pored over by the tireless scribes at AANP, as we look to whittle down the list to 20. The planned tome will eventually chart each player’s Tottenham career, examining why they became a fans’ favourite. It will be heavy on anecdotes and reminiscences – so by all means include your own memories of your personal cult heroes, from both on and off the pitch.

To set the ball rolling, here’s a provisional list, of not-quite 20:
Bill Nicholson
Danny Blanchflower
Dave Mackay
Jimmy Greaves
Bobby Smith
Cliff Jones
Steve Perryman
Cyril Knowles
Glenn Hoddle
Pat Jennings
Ossie Ardiles
Ricky Villa
Gary Mabbutt
Graham Roberts
Chris Waddle
Paul Gascoigne
Jurgen Klinsmann
David Ginola
Steffen Freund

Other names to be considered (in no particular order) include Martin Chivers, Mike England, Len Duquemin, Sandy Brown, Neil Ruddock, Ted Ditchburn, Ralph Coates, Arthur Grimsdell, Jimmy Dimmock, Ron Burgess, Eddie Baily,  Alan Mullery, Nayim, Robbie Keane, Ledley, Ronnie Rosenthal, Garth Crooks, Steve Archibald, Ray Clemence, Erik Thorstvedt, Gary Lineker.

Get involved!