All Action, No Plot

Tottenham Hotspur – latest news, opinion, reports, previews, transfers, gossip, rants… from one bewildered fan
"AANP - nobody knows what it means, but it's provocative."

CL Final Preview: 5 Steps to the Final in the Lifelong Journey of a Tottenham Fan

5 things Tottenham must do to win here.
6 players who took Tottenham to the Final here.

1. The 1987 FA Cup Final

The day before the Champions League Final, and excitement levels have now shot fairly comfortably through the roof, and are gaily whizzing about in the stratosphere.
In a neat symmetry, AANP’s first lilywhite memory was also a Cup Final, the 1987 FA Cup, a cinematic viewing that made for a pretty fitting way in which to take one’s first step in this absurd journey.

At that stage I suspect I had little idea of what Europe was, let alone the Champions League ruddy Final, but there it began, in a terraced house in Tottenham in front of a black and white screen. The whole thing provided a neatly appropriate template for what was to come in the following three decades, and in particular this season’s Champions League romp – our lot would simply refuse to do things simply if they could instead be done in the most absurd, nerve-shredding fashion.

An early goal, a lead squandered and defeat achieved in barely credible manner – the seeds of the all action no plot approach were not so much sown as shoved down the throat. Our heroes, it was immediately clear, would insist on doing things the hard way.

As an impressionable youth I naively interpreted our second-minute goal that day as a sign that supporting Spurs would be a barrel of laughs, logic dictating that we would score at two-minute intervals for the rest of time.

Alas, the first, critical lesson of Spurs-supporting was yet to come. With the game poised at 2-2 in extra-time, our lot did not just contrive to lose, they flicked through the entire playbook of nonsense and picked out the most nonsensical option of the lot. A harmless cross bounced off the knee of Gary Mabbutt, and looped in a most geometrically-pleasing parabola over Ray Clemence and into the net. Death by own-goal, having led in the second minute. How very Tottenham.

Back in those days, before I had discovered the joys of a stiff bourbon, I digested proceedings by hitting the Lego bricks hard and recreating the barely credible scenes witnessed, but already there would be no turning back.

2: Gazza, 1991 And All That

By this stage the young AANP was already so obsessed with Spurs that it’s a wonder my parents did not cart me off to the nearest institution to have my head examined and some – any – other interests drilled into it instead. Every weekend was spent poring over Saint and Greavsie, Grandstand and The Big Match; every Monday saw me fill my ‘What I Did at the Weekend’ school books with a detailed analysis of Spurs’ fortunes.

Italia ’90 featured prominent contributions from Spurs’ two brightest young things, as well as the now familiar anguish of a drawn-out defeat, stretched out in the most dramatic fashion seemingly just out of cruelty from those on high.

The emergence of Gazza, all trickery and entertainment hammered home the fact that the game is about glory, about doing things in style and with a flourish. When he sized up the Arsenal wall at Wembley, and Barry Davies wondered if he were going to have a crack, I flew off around the place in the sort of celebration that would be unfurled again when Lucas Moura struck in the 95th minute.

The FA Cup Final that followed provided the template of virtually our entire Champions League Campaign in 2019, as, initially, everything that possibly could have veered off the rails duly did so. Gazza crumpled to the turf; Pearce belted home the free-kick; Gazza was stretchered off; Lineker had one wrongly disallowed; and then missed a penalty. This cycle of dismay and setbacks was to prove a solid grounding for the following 20 years or so – and certainly has me well prepared for defeat in some cruel fashion in the CL Final – but once bitten forever smitten, and the glimmer of hope remained.

Step forward Paul Stewart, and the head of poor old Des Walker, and the FA Cup was ours. Little did I know that it would be the first of only 3 trophies in my living memory (until, who knows, Madrid?)

Right up there with the celebrations with my family as Mabbutt lifted the Cup were the celebrations at St Francis de Sales school – a venue presumably well-recognised by most of lilywhite persuasion – the following Monday.

3. The 1990s

One does not want to denigrate the honest efforts of those who went before, but it’s a jolly good job that our heroes achieved both glory and glorious failure in those earlier years, because supporting Spurs in the 90s was a fairly joyless experience, and one compounded by the fact that most in secondary school were Arsenal fans.

There were little flashes of joy – my first visit to the Lane; Klinsmann scoring and then spinning around to stare me in the eyes in a rather generous and touching striker-to-striker moment; discovering that Steve Sedgley lived around the corner and knocking on his door for an autograph; Ginola’s glorious slalom vs Barnsley; the 1999 Worthington – but this was an era in which the hope was doing an impeccable job of killing me.

4. The 2000s, Jol, Bale and ‘Arry

By the turn of the millennium I had had the good sense to start devoting my hours to booze and females, the former reliably assisting in the process of Spurs-supporting, the latter simply putting up with it (or not).

The prominent memory of my University years is turning on the radio for the classified results, having known we were three goals to the good at half-time, and in a millisecond registering a) disappointment that we had still only scored three at full-time, and b) confusion that the intonation of the classified results-reader was indicating that the home team had lost, which was most peculiar, because that could only mean that Man Utd had, in the second half alone, at White Hart Lane, scored the princely total of…

A League Cup Final defeat was thrown in for good measure, before Martin Jol – blessed be his name – strode in like a lumbering bear, and I was off to my first ever European night at the Lane, a second honeymoon if ever there were one.

The zenith of this was yet another glorious failure compounded by several early shots to our own feet – needing to overturn a first leg deficit against Sevilla we were two-down before those around me had even taken their seats – but this at least was where the tide began to turn.

UEFA/Europa nights became the norm; a scrawny left-back called Gareth Bale was making blunders that had me calling for his head; Modric and Berbatov were making grown men go misty-eyed around me; and when ‘Arry Redknapp joined, and kicked things off with a 4-4 draw at the Emirates, featuring a 40-yard Bentley lob and not one but two last-minute comeback goals, the All Action, No Plot blog was born.

And with each passing season, the name seemed apt if not exactly tripping off the tongue. Which other team, needing a final-day result, could lose half its members to food poisoning? Which other team could finally break its Top Four hoodoo, only to find that despised rivals who had finished sixth would conjure up a last-minute equaliser, followed by a penalty shoot-out win, to take the trophy and our CL spot?

Supporting Spurs meant signing up to a series of absurdities that were all perfectly acceptable within the legislation, but seemed unlikely, barely credible and always plain bonkers. The difference is that in this season’s Champions League campaign, those unlikely and bonkers moments have fallen in our favour. To date…

On the pitch we crept closer to glory, but inevitably fell short in ever more galling circumstances, culminating to date with a Semi-Final penalty shoot-out defeat this season. Off the pitch a slightly unlikely dream was lived as I penned a curious book on Spurs, and in the process spent various afternoons in conversation with that same Gary Mabbutt whose knee kick-started the whole thing. (And, of course, became best mates with Jan.)

5: Poch and the Champions League Final

So without sacrificing the glory glory entertainment, Our Glorious Leader has introduced consistency, and raised the bar. A few years ago, in the season in which Walker and Rose tore up the flanks, we were the country’s most entertaining team. Over the course of two seasons we amassed more points than any other team, without winning a trophy.

A variety of sticks were used to beat us, and one by one they have been confiscated with some stern words. After all, there was a time when we were the team that never beat the Top Four teams, or that never won away at Chelsea. We never won at Wembley apparently – shortly before we beat Real Madrid there.

And at the start of this 2018/19 season, with no signings, a squad wearied by the World Cup and no home of which to speak, the Champions League Final was the last thing on anyone’s minds. In fact when we made it to the Quarter-Finals, and then started the Semi-Final, the Champions League Final was still the last thing on this particular mind. Not until Lucas’ final flourish, the moment that, in common with every other lilywhite, I only have to close my eyes to see and hear, which is a rather nifty trick.

After approximately ten days of floating around the place with a permanent grin etched across the visage, it’s been approximately ten further days of excitement building, until these current levels, when I really do need a stiff drink and a lie down.

It does not end in Madrid of course – if the best part of four decades on this mortal coil has taught me anything it is that life tends to churn on fairly relentlessly – but from the 1987 FA Cup Final lost by an extra-time own goal, the all action no plot process has wound its way, via comeback after mind-boggling dramatic comeback, to the 2019 Champions League Final.

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Palace 1-3 Spurs: THAT Goal & 4 Other Lilywhite Observations

1. THAT Goal

Hoddle-esque. Gazza-esque. A goal so good you would let it marry your daughter. Words cannot really do justice to the strike and technique itself, so instead I’ll waft over a couple of associated thoughts. The move in its entirety for example, had the jolly pleasing aesthetic quality lent to it by the fact that the ball did not touch the ground from the moment Kane swirled in his cross, to Eriksen’s cushioned header, to Alli’s one-two-three touch, swivel and shot.

On a separate note, young Alli must have one heck of a brand of confidence flowing through his veins, to even contemplate trying a gag like that. ‘Instinct’ seems to be the buzzword, but if he had had the general blues about his game, the way the match had treated him or life in general, he may well have looked simply to shovel the ball back whence it came and let someone else take responsibility. Mind you, he’s never exactly come across as a shrinking violet on the field.

One lilywhite chum messaged me to say that if you look at the ‘onrushing’ Palace defender tasked with blocking the shot, he decides against flinging himself body and soul into the path of the ball, and turns his back on the shot. Channelling his inner Vertonghen, if you will. Now this seems a rather joyless way to critique one of the finest ever lilywhite goals, but on watching the replay I take the point. Let’s not spoil the thing though, what?

2. Blur of Movement

Stepping out onto the balcony and taking a more panoramic view of things, this should go down as another cracking little win, one which  hammers home the point that this 2015/16 vintage are not as green as they’re cabbage-looking. For a second consecutive week, the rasping injustice of falling behind in a game we were absolutely dominating was deemed nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and they ploughed ahead with the policy line of jinking one-touch passes around the opposition area. There is nothing particularly new to our heroes about having to work right from the first toot on breaking down two defensive banks of four – our reputation evidently precedes us. What brought a rosy glow to the cheeks on observing events unfold was the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed manner in which they set about the task yesterday.

There have been times in weeks gone by (at least one of the Leicester games, maybe Newcastle at home) when our attempts to penetrate the impenetrable have essentially been, when broken down into raw constituent parts, a series of sideways passes. Earnest and willing, but a little lacking in creativity – more akin to repeatedly shoving a blunt knife at a lock and hoping something will give. Yesterday however there was all manner of off-ball movement, right from the moment the curtain went up. This lent itself fairly naturally to the full range of slick, short, first-time passes; and the gist of the thing was that we buzzed around with intent throughout, and particularly in the first half. Worth lobbing an honourable mention for this week’s chosen full-backs too, who set up camp firmly in the final third of the field, meaning that we also had a cracking spread of busy options spanning the width of the field from right to left. And by extension, the weekly tip of the hat to Dier, whose immaculate positioning enables the attacking juices of the aforementioned full-backs to flow so liberally.

3. The Latest Team Tinkerings

While one broadly understands the gist of things when it comes to Pochettino scribbling down the names of the chosen ones, there are an increasing number of spicy little sub-plots bubbing away under the surface. The full-back hokey-cokey for one thing, and in recent weeks, the choice of Dembele or Carroll (which is hardly a contest at all, but became a matter of concern when the Belgian was returning to fitness). The latest tete-a-tete has been between young Sonny jimbo and Eric Lamela. Son’s bravura midweek performance earned him the nod, and I was jolly glad to see it , for te much-vaunted Lamela Resurgence of 2015-16 has yet to utterly convince in these four walls of the interweb. Yes he certainly beavers away with the right attitude, chasing back and scrapping for things like anyway Pochettino minion should, but the chap’s principal role is as one of our resident Magicians-in-Chief, and in this respect he always seems to underwhelm a tad. Son, however, seemed to work things out pretty quickly, and set out taking on his man and thumping in his shots tout de suite. Given the strength of Chadli’s late cameo as well, I wonder if Lamela has suddenly been bumped down the list of cabs on the rank.

4. Substitutions

Generally out glorious leader seems to enjoy a degree of structure to his life. Who knows, maybe he is the sort to neatly fold his clothes on a chair the night before, and opt for a couple of Weetabix every morning with a banana for elevenses. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, he tends to avoid tearing up the teamsheet and trying all manner of new and exciting permutations if a like-for-like substitution is available. A polite ripple of applause then, for his decidedly more proactive move yesterday when we were one down, in hooking the ever-dependable Eric Dier, instructing Dembele to operate ten yards further back, and introducing Chadli into the attacking maelstrom. Most obviously, Chadli duly created one, scored a beauty (and delivered an absolute peach of a crossfield ball in the dying moments); and more broadly, it left us with eight outfield players blessed with a natural urge to burst forward and create (plus two ball-playing centre backs).

On top of which, the Pocehttino applecart was duly upset further by the hobble sustained by Vertonghen, which meant that for the first time this season our sacrosanct centre-back duopoly was separated, and young Master Wimmer was introduced. He did well enough, in increasingly frantic circumstances, but certainly had a solid game vs Leicester in midweek.

5. Lady Luck

One to remember next time we don the sackcloth and ashes, and bemoan the way of the world – at one apiece Palace managed to slap the crossbar twice in around five seconds. Crumbs. Mind you, Alli gave the crossbar a hefty thwack himself, so for those who keep track of these things I suppose there is much to ponder.

In the final analysis however, this was a victory well earned, built on superiority rather than good fortune. The first half in particular was absolutely one-way traffic, punctuated only by that blasted own-goal; whilst our three goals were all, in their own ways, absolute snorters – and a five-point gap is now in evidence, between us and the fifth-placed mob.

Shameless Plug Alert – AANP’s own book, Spurs’ Cult Heroes, continues to retail at Amazon and Waterstones, hint hint.

Spurs – Lazio Preview: The New Dawn Continueth

Ah Lazio, adopted Italian team of many a lilywhite who grew up imitating P. Gascoigne Esq., in the playground, and spent their Sunday afternoons settling into the sofa on to hear that chap yell “GoooLLLAAAZZZZZooooo”, before seeing Gazza turn four players inside out and then merrily burp into the camera.Happy days indeed, and more such joyous occasions are to follow as of this very evening apparently, because the glorious lilywhites of N17 are quite sincere about pilfering the Europa trophy come May 2013, if AVB is to be believed. The new dawn really doth continueth apace.

Champions League qualification is presumably still the priority, but silverware of any sort is most welcome, and the daring combo of AVB’s commitment and our status as one of a handful of favourites suggests that actually winning this whole dashed thing is not beyond the realms of possibility.

With Lazio cheerily waving down from (jointly) atop the Serie A pile, this has assumed the status of rather a heavyweight European clash, and as such one suspects that AVB won’t go a-tinkering with too much gay abandon. Lloris can be expected to bid us all a sunny bonjour from between the sticks; injury to Adebayor means Defoe could be replaced by Dempsey, if our glorious leader is feeling particularly inventive; and the likes of Daws, Hudd and Caulker might also be glimpsed; but a team of scrawny teens last seen practising for a recorder concert this almost certainly won’t be. As Thursday night, ITV4 fare goes, this is shaping up to be quite the lip-smacker.

Spurs 2-1 Arsenal: Late Musings On That Glory-Glory Night

Apologies for the tardiness – busy times at AANP Towers. While it would have been nice to add my tuppence worth to the wave of euphoria in the 24 hours immediately after the Arse was spanked, the delay perhaps allows for a more circumspect few musings.AANP is classifying it a game of one half and two quarters.

First Half

For spells in the first half our lot barely got near the dashed thing, and with l’Arse hogging possession it threatened to be the opening scene of one of those Final Destination films, where the kid has a premonition of unabated carnage on all sides. With no Sergeant Wilson to roll out his little routine of charging up to opponents, stopping a yard off them, looking them in the eye and then daring them to pass him, our midfield pairing off Modders and Hudd looked initially like lambs to the slaughter, alternating between standing back or making woefully ill-timed lunges for possession.

And yet, as it turned out, we kept them at arms length. Other than a first-minute shot which BAE snuffled out on the line, I’m not sure l’Arse managed a shot on goal in the entire first half. By contrast, on the counter we created a couple of chances – and as for the opening goal… As the ball dropped from the skies, a montage of Gazza’s St Hotspur day free-kick and Bentley’s Emirates volley flashed through the mind, before the boy Rose took a punt and gained immortality.

Half-Time

Nice to see David Ginola (Cult hero! Cult hero!) at half-time, but I spent the interval cursing our lot for what they were about to put me through. 

One Quarter

As it happened, the first half of the second half (you follow?) was simply wonderful. I’m not just talking about the goal, gorgeous though it was (who knew Defoe had the defence-splitting diagonal killer pass in him?) It was the manner in which we gave l’Arse the run-around for twenty minutes or so thereafter, with a maturity I simply did not know we had. Watching Gudjohnsen and Modders play keep-ball as weary Arse legs chased shadows was one of the most satisfying sights of the season.

On the evidence of Wednesday night, the January re-shuffle of Keane-Out and Gudjohnsen-In looked a master-stroke. Admittedly Gudjohnsen fluffled a glorious chance to kill the game, but that apart his calm, shielding of possession in midfield was brilliantly executed, and exactly what we needed. Difficult to imagine Keane giving us that sort of input if added as a late sub.

Second Quarter

The inevitable nail-biting finale soon followed however, prompted by the arrival of Van Persie. It was desperate, last-ditch stuff at time, but by golly didn’t it make the chest swell with pride? From the front (Defoe racing around to execute sliding tackles) to the back (Ledley, an absolute Rolls Royce of a defender) they fought to a man, and when we ran out of men we were able to turn to a deity in goal. On my little Spurs Fixture List booklet, next to each result, I note down our goalscorers; for this game the notes read: “Rose, Bale, Gomes (3)”. His acrobatics and reactions defied belief.

Nerves shredded and fingernails chewed to the bone, my heart has now filed for divorce from me, on the grounds of persistent unreasonable behaviour – but it seems a price well worth paying. After the Pompey defeat, the lowest I have ever felt as a Spurs supporter, I tried to remember how the good times felt; not sure I’ll ever forget the feeling around 10pm on Wednesday night.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm 

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).  

 

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

Spurs – Arsenal Preview: Reasons To Be Cheerful?

Well ‘Arry reckons everything is tickety-boo in the Tottenham camp after the Sunday afternoon nightmare. No-one tired, no-one too depressed – just one big, happy, upbeat family. Marvellous. Here at AANP Towers we have been moping around with the air of those who have just had the will to live sucked from their being. Admittedly ‘Arry can hardly pitch up to the press and declare that the whole lot of them are weeping into their bovril and marching the corridors of White Hart Lane waving placards proclaiming “We’re Doomed”.Whatever their mental and physical conditions after Sunday, the players have no option but to dust themselves down and try again tonight. Pushing aside all the mindless fluff and clichés about this being the perfect game to play on the back of the Portsmouth defeat, what exactly are the reasons to be cheerful?

No Deep-Lying Opposition – Huzzah!

If l’Arse stuck nine men behind the ball, held a line just inside their own area and spent the evening crowding out our lot every time they approached, I would weep tears of blood. Praise to the heavens then, for opponents like l’Arse, who will instead attempt to scythe through us with lightning-quick one-touch football, thereby sparing us the anguish of a 90 minutes spent camped in the opposition area without rippling the onion bag.

Moreover, with l’Arse defending relatively high up the pitch, our Welsh Messiah will have plenty of space behind them into which to gallop. Could make for interesting viewing – the handsome young Welshman is odds-on to be our most creative outlet once again.

No Fabregas – Huzzah!

AANP is notoriously bad at scouting opponents. Whenever I watch Spurs I tend to lump every opponent together as They Who Must Be Vanquished, and if a chum should remark that the opposition number 16 (or whomever) had a good game, I will present a face the very picture of blankness. Amongst the few exceptions to this bizarre blinkeredness are Messrs Scholes, Gerrard, Cahill and Fabregas (although this selection may have something to do with the fact that they typically come up against Jenas).  The point of this slightly tangential ramble is that AANP fears Fabregas, and rejoices in his absence. (The absences of Song and Gallas are also bonuses.)

Floodlights – Huzzah!

White Hart Lane by night might be a little eerie most nights of the week, but come match-night, with the floodlights on, the place crackles with atmosphere. If you’ve read this far the chances are that you too love floodlit nights at the Lane, and with that ‘orrible lot from down the road ambling onto our patch tonight we in the stands have the chance to scare the bejeesus out of them before the game even begins. The packed train on the way to the stadium; the booing of Sol’s name when it’s announced over the tannoy; the Star Wars theme as the players march out; and the cacophony of noise as the game kicks off – money cannot buy that sort of atmosphere. Our lot would have to live on different planets not to receive an adrenaline shot from these evening kick-offs.

So this may yet be a night to rival 5-1, or indeed the original St Hotspur’s Day, 19 years ago today. However…

Midfield Worries

I recall feeling mightily peeved at the injustice of it all when, at the very end of Carlito’s Way, having steered clear of all manner of unsavoury types and approaching gunmen, in just about the last scene of the film and within spitting distance of freedom, Al Pacino is gunned down by Billy Blanco from the Bronx. Similarly unjust was the Sergeant Wilson saga – having gone a good eight or nine games knowing that one more yellow card would see him banned, to pick up a caution in the dying moments of the semi-final – and unjustly too – was cruel in the extreme.

Personal injustice aside, it leaves us with a distinctly less menacing look to the midfield. The Hudd was miles off the pace on Sunday, and rarely rises to the occasion against the big boys. Kaboul – or even Ledley – might yet be given the holding role in midfield. Sometimes we can get away with the absence of Palacios in midfield (the league game against Pompey a couple of weeks ago being a case in point). A league game against l’Arse is not one such occasion. The AANP prayer mat has been rolled out and dusted down.

Other Team News

The target of much vitriol following Sunday’s defeat, evidence continues to mount in favour of Crouch’s use as an impact substitute only, and it would be surprising if he were retained in tonight’s starting line-up. Niko Kranjcar is the latest to join the queue for a band-aid, while Lennon has suffered a mysterious “setback” in his rehabilitation.

For various reasons, this should be a completely different kettle of fish from Sunday’s game – but as on Sunday, defeat is unthinkable. As on Sunday it is time to stand up and be counted. The spirit of Gazza and Lineker ’91 would do nicely.

 

Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates:
Waterstones Stevenage – Saturday 24 April, 12 noon;
Waterstones Walthamstow – Saturday 8 May, 1pm
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). 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

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 Tottenhamhotspur.com, 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’ Cult Heroes – Your Memories of Gazza…

Paul Gascoigne is one of those to feature in AANP’s forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, detailing the glorious history of Tottenham Hotspur FC by examining players who achieved legendary status amongst us fans. AANP warmly invites you to leave any memories you may have of the man – favourite moments from his career, or personal meetings off the pitch. Feel free to leave your comments below. 

 

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, Jürgen Klinsmann here, David Ginola here.

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 – 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.

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