This Was The Week

Masters With Either Ball
Footballers who have climbed to the summit of cricket

Leslie Compton

Les Compton

On the 27 December 1984 Leslie Compton passed away from a diabetes related illness, at the age of 72.

Now you might think it strange that I start my column in Christmas week with the death of an old sporting star but I do so with good reason (more of that later).

Compton belonged to a rather unique club. He is one of quite a few professional footballers who have also played first-class cricket.

And that’s not the only unique thing about this central defender who spent 22 years at Arsenal – making him one of the club’s longest-serving players.

He also holds the record as England’s oldest ever outfield debutant. At 38 Compton lined-up against Wales at Roker Park in November 1950. England won the game 4-2.

As a cricketer he amassed over 5,000 first-class runs and also kept wicket for Middlesex 1938 and 1956.

His sporting prowess ran in the family with younger brother Denis playing in 78 Test matches for England as well as turning out 60 times for Arsenal.

Which leads me back to my reason for focusing on Leslie Compton’s dual sporting role. You’ve stuffed yourself with Turkey and plum pudding, watched the Queen’s speech and had forty winks.

Now it is time to exercise those little grey cells with This Was The Week Christmas quiz.

There are no prizes. It is purely for your post-Christmas dinner enjoyment.

Which footballer played first-class cricket for Essex once and over 20 times for the county’s second XI? Here is a clue: he is the only man to have struck three times.

Which footballer captained the Leicestershire Schools cricket team as a young teenager? Here is a clue: his enunciation isn’t as crisp as it could be.

Approximately how many professional footballers played first-class cricket? Here is a clue: it is more than two.

Answers will appear in my next column.

colemanREX

David Coleman, broadcasting legend. 1926-2013

Finally, I’d like to pay tribute to David Coleman who passed away recently. I grew up with and enjoyed his television appearances and commentary for over thirty years: whether he was fronting Grandstand, commentating on football matches or reporting on the Olympic Games.

He was a master of his craft albeit one who was prone to the occasional gaff which made his commentary all the more enjoyable and spawned the term ‘Colemanballs’.

Here are a few of my favourites.

“And the line up for the final of the Women’s 400 metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman.”

“That’s the fastest time ever run – but it’s not as fast as the world record.”

“For those of you watching who do not have television sets, live commentary is on Radio 2.”

“Forest have now lost six matches without winning.”

“If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.”

David Coleman 1926-2013. R.I.P

The Wandering Doc
This Man Boasted he had More Clubs than Jack Nicklaus

 

by Richard D J J Bowdery

During the last six weeks nine League managers have been sacked across all divisions.

In the same period 45 years ago one football manager had three managerial jobs, two of which he left on his own terms and the third he started this week in 1968. His name: Tommy Docherty.

article-1158333-00547C9B00000258-91_468x495

Tommy is seen here preparing to fly out to Lisbon for Eusebio’s testimonial match with George Best.

He was managing Rotherham United when the opportunity to take the helm at Queens Park Rangers came up. He was there less than a month before Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis poached him, on the 18 December.

But this story does have a sting in the tail for Docherty. On the 19 January 1970, just 13 months after taking charge, he too was sacked. Perhaps the grass wasn’t so greener back then.

Of course one sacking, in 1977, caused a blaze of publicity both within and outside the world of football and it owed more to his performance off the pitch than his team’s performance on it.

Docherty was manager at Manchester United at the time and playing away didn’t only apply to the club.

In the summer of that year news of his affair with the wife of United’s club physiotherapist, Laurie Brown, became public and in July he was dismissed from his post.

Controversy seemed to follow Tommy Docherty around. During his time as manager at Derby County he became embroiled in a bitter Court case when he sued the ex-Manchester United captain Willie Morgan and Granada television for libel.

The case was eventually dropped and the end of the Court case coincided with the end of Docherty’s managerial career with Derby.

567054F4-A834-5B64-1650E5E1ED01EF9F

United won the Cup with ‘The Doc’ at the helm

But if his off-field antics made the front pages for all the wrong reasons his on field successes received glowing coverage on the back pages.

As Chelsea manager he gained promotion to Division One in 1963 and won the League Cup in 1965. With Manchester United he won the Second Division championship in 1975 and the FA Cup in 1977. The only blots being losing two FA Cup finals: in 1967 against Tottenham Hotspur, and in 1976 against Southampton.

On his appointment as Altrincham manager in September 1987, he stated that they were the ‘Manchester United of non-league football’.

For the record the Doc’s wandering took in the following clubs:

·        Chelsea: 1961–67

·        Rotherham: 1967–68

·        Queen’s Park Rangers: 1968

·        Aston Villa: 1968–70

·        Porto: 1970–71

·        Manchester United: 1972–77

·        Derby:  1977–79

·        Queen’s Park Rangers: 1979–80

·        Sydney Olympic (Australia): 1981

·        Preston North End: 1981

·        South Melbourne (Australia): 1982–83

·        Wolverhampton Wanderers: 1984–85

·       Altrincham: 1987–88

He also had a stint as manager of the Scottish national side between 1971 and 72.

Docherty brought the curtain down on his managerial career while at Altrincham at the end of 87/88 season. He became a media pundit and after-dinner speaker.

With the frequency of sackings in today’s professional game how long will it be before we have a 21st century contender for the wandering Doc..?

Tommy-Docherty

Tommy in his Chelsea days.

 

“Me Old Flower”
One Man’s Trailblazing That Never Wilted

by Richard Bowdery.

It was 35 years ago this week that I was drafting my purple prose using a combination of a pen, paper and a typewriter, aided by industrial amounts of correcting fluid.

You would think, then, that I’d be glad to embrace the digital age. So why am I starting off my column this week talking about computers or, more specifically, my laptop? Simple. Hackers!

About three weeks ago I fell prey to this online low life. Such was the pain it caused me I think I’d prefer to spend 90 minutes opposing ‘Chopper’ Harris rather than waste another waking minute trying to resolve this cyber space headache.

But as they say with every cloud comes a silver lining. And once an I.T. consultant had cured my mother-board of this particularly vicious virus I could turn my attention to this weekly column. But what to write?

As I searched for a subject to cover, the passing of Nelson Mandela hit the headlines. It was then I had my eureka moment and found a topic to write about. No, not Mr Mandela. There would be better writers than I to cover this colossus in the anti-apartheid movement.

My subject is a footballer who had swapped his boots for a microphone and was, 41 years ago this week, appearing on prime-time national television.

Not only had he conquered two very different industry’s he’d done it at a time when players and entertainers of his skin colour were the exception rather than the rule in Britain. And he did it with a smile on his face while, at the same time, putting a laugh on the face of everyone else.

Charles Adolphus Williams, better known as Charlie Williams, was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire of Jamaican descent. He was probably the first black comedian to make it big on British TV.

Cwilliams1Charlie started life, like many of those in that area of the country where he grew up, working in a colliery. It was while playing for the colliery’s football team that he was spotted by a scout.

Soon Charlie was wearing the number five shirt for Doncaster Rovers where he made 171 appearances over five years in the 1950’s.

He was a tough centre-half taking on all comers in the old Second Division (now the Championship). However, he felt the pain of successive relegations at the end of the 1957/58 season when Rovers tumbled into the old Third Division North and then into the newly formed Fourth Division, in the 1959/60 season.

Perhaps it was these relegations that caused him to embark upon a career change. From a hard-as-nails centre back he transformed himself into a singer on the northern club circuit. But it was as a comic that he was to achieve fame and fortune.

Making people laugh was a talent that first become apparent to him during his school days. He realised that he had two choices when dealing with any prejudices from his school mates: fighting or humour. He chose humour, saying: “I never liked soiling my clothes.”

CWilliamsIt was while performing on the cabaret circuit that he was ‘scouted’ again. This time it led to his appearing on The Comedians, a cult TV show that first appeared on our screens in 1971 and featured the likes of Frank Carson, Bernard Manning, Tom O’Connor, Jim Bowen, Lennie Bennett and Mike Reid.

And it was while performing in the hurly burly of northern clubs that he remembered his schoolboy tactics for dealing with hecklers who tried to make fun of his colour. He would simply say “If you don’t shut up, I’ll come and live next-door to you.”

After his success on The Comedians Charlie went on to host the Golden Shot, a game show popular in the 70’s where he followed in the footsteps of Bob Monkhouse who, subsequently, took over from him when Charlie left the show in 1975.

charlie-williams

Charlie Williams 1927 – 2006

Other TV appearances followed but none matched the success he found in The Comedians, and the Golden Shot

Charlie Williams died in 2006 aged 78 from Parkinson’s disease. And although he might not have had the international impact of Nelson Mandela, his legacy of trailblazing his way across pitch and stage around the UK lives on in countless other black footballers and entertainers who have followed in his footsteps.

The Man Who Ruined Moore’s Farewell Italian scorer is familiar figure to England fans

moore_last_game_731114Csp

Bobby Moore’s last England game was against Italy in November 1973

By Rob Shepherd.

This week 40 years ago Bobby Moore made his 108th and last England appearance.

At Wembley on Tuesday (November 19) Steve Gerrard is set to equal that milestone in a friendly against Germany at Wembley – the last big event of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Gerrard could now overhaul David Beckham’s record of 115 outfield caps.

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton is the most capped player with 125 appearances, and Frank Lampard recently became England’s eight centurion.

But with Wayne Rooney on 87 appearances and at least four more years ahead of him, the Manchester United striker is on course to, er, cap them all.

It is only Moore though who has had a bronze statute built of him around the New Wembley.

Back in 1973 many felt that some day perhaps Moore would become England manager.

Who would have ever thought that the man who would make Moore’s farewell game a defeat would end up being England’s boss…?

Respect

Can’t deny it was great to see Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard presented with a golden cap to mark passing of a century of England appearances.

Those who ridiculed him when he was an emerging player (fans and a lot of press men too) must feel a bit silly now accusing him of being fat and only getting a game ‘cos his dad was assistant coach and brother-in-law to his then West Ham boss Harry Redknapp.

Trust me, apart from having been a fantastic footballer for club and country over the years “young” Frank, like his dad “big” Frank, is a top geezer.

Yes, Frank has all the trappings of fame and fortune. But unlike so many others he has not been trapped by fame and fortune.

He remembers his roots – and respects them. Just as he respects Joe Public when he is out and about, which fewer and fewer famous footballers do.
So it was typical that as Frank reflected on having passed that international milestone he was almost embarrassed that he now only has five fewer England caps than Bobby Moore.

LampardGoldenCap

Frank was presented received his Golden Cap from his father.

More to the point Lamps acknowledges what an inspiration Mooro and the Boys of ’66 have been to his career. And he said it from his heart rather than offering up a soundbite.

Of course it DID help a bit that his dad, “Big “ Frank , who won two England caps, was one of Bobby Moore’s big mates…

Which brings me back to my original point: It was forty years ago this week that “Lord Bobby” won the last of his 108 caps for England in a friendly match against Italy, which England lost 1-0.

Italy won the game with a goal four minutes from the end of a dour encounter just a month after Poland had knocked England out of the qualifying stages of the 1974 World Cup finals.

It was Sir Alf Ramsey’s last game as boss as well. But who scored Italy’s winner…?

Have a look below;

Yes, none other than Fabio Capello.

Now back in November 1973 who would have been favourite to have gone on to manage England one day; England’s World Cup winning skipper and golden boy of a generation Bobby Moore or a granite faced Italian midfield bruiser who played for some club called Juventus…???

As one of Moore’s great mates Jimmy Greaves would still put it: “Funny old Game…”

 

 

Soccer in the Trenches: Football as a Unifying Force

The Pitch Cut Up Rough

by Richard Bowdery.

As Remembrance Day falls within this week, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the power of football to unite people in even the most hostile of circumstances.

Drama reconstruction of WW1 Christmas TruceChristmas 1914 saw an extraordinary event take place between sworn enemies. British soldiers lined up against their German opponents. But they weren’t pointing guns at each other. They were kicking a pig’s bladder on a surface which was quite cut up, to say the least.

Several games are reported to have taken place on Christmas Day in no-man‘s land and most were just an opportunity to let of steam.

In 1983 Ernie Williams, who served in the 6th Cheshires recounted how he took part in a match against the Germans. He said: “The ball appeared from somewhere, I don’t know where, but it came from their side. They made up some goals and one fellow went in goal and then it was just a general kickabout.

I should think there were about a couple of hundred taking part. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was no sort of ill-will between us. There was no referee, and no score, no tally at all. It was simply a melee – nothing like the soccer you see on television. The boots we wore were a meance – those great big boots we had on – and in those days the balls were made of leather and they soon got very soggy.”

But there is at least one match where the score was recorded. It took place near Armentieres in France.

1261_pgThe day started with German soldiers placing lit candles on top of their trench. Then they started singing carols. The British joined in and soon soldiers from sides were clambering out of their trenches.

They exchanged cigarettes, swapped momentoes and showed pictures of their families and sweethearts.

Before long a ball was produced and a game of football commenced and would you believe it Germany won 3-2. In the quarter finals of the 1970 World Cup (West) Germany beat England 3-2, so no change there!

All too soon the match was over and hostilities recommenced. But for a short time football had brought a degree of sanity to an insane world.

Many of those soldiers killed in the Great War were professional footballers who played for teams that are still plying their trade at the top echelons of the game today; teams such as Arsenal Southampton, Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday to name but a few.

Indeed famous people such as Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, encouraged them to sign up and fight.

Yes it was an extraordinary event. But as Captain Blackadder famously said: “I can’t believe it! I was never offside!”

Sadly, for the many footballers who fought they would never have the opportunity to be caught offside again.

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

 

 

Ferguson Unveiled at Old Trafford: Goes on to become longest serving manager in English football (almost!)

Manchester United’s Greatest Signing?

by Richard Bowdery

On November 6th 1986 a lone Scot journeyed south on a mission to set up a one man dynasty in the heartland of the ‘auld enemy’. He came, he saw, he conquered and became a legend.

SAFedwards

Alex Ferguson is unveiled as the new boss at Old Trafford by Chairman Martin Edwards in November 1986

For it was on this day that Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United to fill the vacant managerial seat. His journey had taken him from a string of Scottish clubs including a very successful stint as manager at Aberdeen. His impact there caught the eyes of United’s board who were ready to jettison Ron Atkinson.

But it could have been so different if Wolverhampton Wanderers had got their way. In 1982– with the club heading towards the trap door of the old Division One – they approached Ferguson about succeeding the manager John Barnwell. Ferguson declined their offer.

An even more audacious approach was rumoured when Liverpool were said to be considering him for the role of Liverpool manager following Joe Fagan’s decision to retire at the end of the 84-85 season. That job eventually went to Kenny Dalglish.

Over the next 27 years he and the Red Devils exceeded all expectations (except probably his and the team’s own). Look away now if you are from the blue side of Manchester.

League Title winners;

1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013

FA Cup winners;

1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004

Football League Cup winners;

1992, 2006, 2009, 2010

FA Charity/Community Shield Winners;

1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011

European Cup winners;

1999, 2008

FIFA Club World Cup;

2008

UEFA Super Cup;

1991

European Cup Winners Cup;

1991

Of course he does have other claims to fame. He was knighted and is now a Sir. He engaged in diplomacy by entering into an entente cordiale with Arsene Wenger. He repelled a Spanish Armada that had settled near the Liverpool Docks during the reign of Rafael Benitez and he even tried to prove, unscientifically, that a football boot could fly.

But can he claim the crown as the longest serving manager in English football..? It seems not…

That crown must go to Jimmy Davies who, at the age of 71, stepped down as manager of Waterloo Dock AFC in the Liverpool County Premier League after 50 years in charge.

JDavies

Jimmy Davies reflects on his long, trophy-laden career as manager of Waterloo Dock

When he first took up the reins in 1963 the Beatles recorded their first album, Please Please Me.

He has also out-gunned the former Manchester United manager on the Trophy front too; winning 70 to Fergie’s 37.

Apart from length of tenure and trophy’s won, does he have anything else in common with Sir Alex..?

His response was quite down to earth: “I don’t think Fergie gets involved in washing football kits like my wife does” he said.

And if you think this is a wind-up let me point out that (a) this isn’t April 1st and (b) Jimmy Davies has been verified as England’s longest-serving manager by the FA.

And they have one other thing in common; They both retired from football management in May this year.

Happy retirement Jimmy. Oh and you too Sir Alex!

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

 

Will the Gunners be Singing the Blues Again?

by Richard Bowdery.

Have you heard the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman? Two wore red, one wore blue, all three scored and it was the first time their clubs had met. No?

stapleton

Frank Stapleton scored in Arsenal’s first ever meeting with Chelsea in the League Cup

Well it was thirty seven years ago this week that Arsenal faced Chelsea for the first time ever in the League Cup. They met in the fourth round and goals from Frank Stapleton and Trevor Ross for the Gunners saw them gain a 2-1 victory over the Blues whose only goal was scored by David Hay.

Fast forward to Tuesday 29 October 2013 and they meet again in the fourth round and the rivalry will be just as intense; although it is probably fair to say this particular cup competition isn’t held in the same esteem as it was in the 70s. But then again calling it the Milk Cup does have a devaluing effect.

In total both sides have met five times at various stages in this competition with Chelsea claiming the bragging rights over Arsenal, so far, having won three times to Arsenal’s two successes. That could all change when the referee blows for full-time on Tuesday.

Both clubs have reached the final stage of this competition a combined total of 13 times since its inauguration in 1961 (the winner’s that year were Aston Villa who beat Rotherham United).

Their respective records are:

Arsenal – winners in 1987 and 1993 and runners-up in 1968, 1969, 1988, 2007 and 2011.

Chelsea – winners in 1965, 1998, 2005, 2007 and runner-up in 1972 and 2008.

Those eagle eyed among you will note that both sides featured in the 2007 final which was also another first: the first time two London club’s contested a League Cup final. Arsenal took the lead through Theo Walcott’s first ever goal for the club but a goal in each half from Didier Drogba sealed the win for Chelsea in an incident packed match (see below).

And the reference to the Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman at the start of this piece? You have the names, so I’ll leave you to work it out…

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

The Three Amigos –The Wallace Brothers Make History

 

by Richard Bowdery.

The modern game saw history made on October 22nd 1988 when a trio of brothers all featured for the same side in a top flight English match.

The Wallace brothers, Danny and twins Rod and Ray from Lewisham, South London, lined up alongside each other in a Division One game against Sheffield Wednesday at the Dell. Although Wednesday nicked the game by two goals to one Southampton had the last laugh ending the season in 13th place on 45 points, three places above and three points more than the Yorkshire side.

But not only did these siblings compete on the highest domestic stage, each brother also went on to represent their country at Under 21 (and in Rod’s case England B) level; though it was only Danny, the oldest of the three, who made it through to the full England side.

RodWallace

Rod won league titles both North and South of the border

Danny was also the first brother to break ranks when he joined Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in 1989 and won an FA Cup winners medal in May 1990 when United beat Crystal Palace after a replay.

Two years later Leeds United came calling for the remaining two Wallace brothers, still plying their trade at Southampton.

After Leeds Rod went on to play for Glasgow Rangers, Bolton Wanderers and Gillingham where he ended his playing career in 2004.

Ray’s post Leeds career took him to Swansea, Reading, Stoke and Hull as well as some lower league and non-league sides in England, Scotland and Ireland. His playing days ended at Witton Albion in 2002.

Although he was the oldest age wasn’t the reason why Danny was the first brother to hang up his boots.

It was while playing for Manchester United that he began to experience something that wasn’t quite right though he couldn’t put his finger on it.

He said: “I had a lot of injuries at United. They were just normal, everyday hamstring or calf problems but they were so frequent.”

Soccer - FA Carling Premiership - Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - White Hart Lane

Danny in his Old Trafford days

After a loan spell with Millwall he was sold to Birmingham City in 1993.

At City it became obvious that he was far from fit. He recalls getting a lot of pain and numbness in his feet. He had trouble running and eventually even walking was a problem.

Then in 1994 he joined Wycombe Wanderers on a free transfer. It was to be his last club.

Finally in 1996 the reason for his frequent injuries and lack of fitness became apparent when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Aged 32 he was forced to retire from football.

Today Danny is actively engaged in raising funds for research into MS and in helping others with the condition through the Danny Wallace Foundation.

And though no longer involved in the game he has some great memories from his playing days and one of those must surely be that time in the late 80s when he and his brothers were Southampton’s Three Amigos.

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Clown: The Spy Who Brought Down England

by Richard Bowdery

Brian Clough famously called him a clown. But this clown’s antics between the sticks were no laughing matter for England or for their legion of fans under the ‘big top’ at Wembley on October 17th 1973.

JanTomaszewski

Jan won 63 caps for Poland and was named ‘Best Goalkeeper’ at the 1974 World Cup. Not bad for a ‘clown’…

England had to beat Poland in their final group match to qualify for the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany. No other result would do. And they set about their task like men possessed. Yet despite wave upon wave of attacks on the Polish goal their keeper, Jan Tomaszewski, played out of his skin to deny England the breakthrough they so desperately needed.

Then in the 59th minute the unthinkable happened. Grzegorz Lato was fed the ball on the left wing and raced past Norman ‘bites ya legs’ Hunter as though he wasn’t there.  He slotted a pass across the England penalty to Jan Domarski who struck a low shot past the despairing Peter Shilton and into the net.

With England now needing to score twice there was even greater urgency to their play as they lay siege to the Polish goal.

Hopes rose in the 63rd minute when England were awarded a penalty for a foul on Martin Peters. Leeds United’s Allan Clarke scored from the spot to level the match.

But although they breached the Polish defence time and again they were unable to apply the killer punch.

When the final whistle sounded the Polish players’ jubilation contrasted starkly with the dejection felt by the England team, some of whom were in tears as they slumped to the Wembley turf.

As the England manager, Alf Ramsey, trudged off the pitch he must have realised the death knell had sounded on his reign.

A few short months later the FA sacked the man who had brought English football its greatest prize.

As journalist and author Leo McKinstry has said “England’s most successful manager would have had a legacy fit for a hero had it not been for the malevolence of the FA chief Harold Thompson.”

Forty years on almost to the day all the talk is off that game in 1973 and parallels are being drawn between that match and the game England must win to be certain of a trip to Brazil next summer.

Whilst a defeat won’t end England’s hopes of going to the finals as it did back then, with the Ukraine team expected to steamroller San Marino in their final group match, a draw for England will mean they have to negotiate their passage through the play-offs. And there are some tasty sides that could stand in their way.

And there is a final twist in the tail of the clown who laughed all the way to Germany in 1974. It was reported that he allegedly spied for Poland’s communist secret police.

In 1986 the Newsweek Polska magazine printed a story that alleged Tomaszewski was ‘a voluntary consultant’ who had been ‘acquired’ under the code name Alex. All very cloak and dagger.

5061956-jan-tomaszewski-300-227

Tomaszewski continues to be a public figure in Polish life

In his defence the keeper who worked for the Polish Football Association after hanging up his gloves in 1982, said: “I have never reported on anyone and was never a collaborator for the secret police. I do not know what I could have been a ‘consultant’ on. Maybe about training goalkeepers, perhaps the sex lives of ants…”

It is rather ‘odd’ that these allegations surfaced just after Tomaszewski became an MP for the Law and Justice Party who were intent on rooting out informants and communist spies from public life. Neither do the documents make clear in what capacity he is alleged to have ‘consulted’ on.

Looking back it’s a pity England didn’t engage in a bit of spying themselves; They might have discovered that the clown was in fact quite a capable shot stopper. Let’s hope Roy Hodgson’s backroom staff have engaged in a bit of espionage themselves to check out the opposition, before Tuesday night!

 

 

England Makes a Right Prat of Himself

England

England: Hat-trick hero…Sort of!

Strictly speaking this story is two days too late for this week’s column but it was so unusual I thought, why not. So what if it’s out of sync with the Gregorian calendar by a couple of days. I’ll get it back on track next week. However, if the editor disagrees with me then this might well be my last column.

Anyway, something happened back in the 70’s for which the odds are probably a million to one.

On the 5th October 1974 Tottenham were playing Burnley at White Hart Lane in a Division One league match. During the first half Mike England and John Pratt of Spurs each put through their own goal to give Burnley a 2-0 half-time lead.

But in the second 45 minutes the same two players made amends for their earlier lapses by each scoring at the right end and levelling the match 2-2. However, If they felt they had got out of jail they were sadly mistaken. And again Mike England was involved.

In the 76th minute Burnley’s Leighton James struck what turned out to be the winner. On its way goal bound it took a deflection off the hapless Mr England which diverted it past the despairing dive of Spurs keeper Pat Jennings and gave Burnley a 3-2 victory. Probably a game Mike would prefer to forget.

ME-typhooHas there ever been another game in the top flight where the same two players scored at each end? If so I’d love to hear about it (email address is below!).

Burnley also won the return fixture at Turf Moor by the same scoreline but this time without the aide of two own goals from Tottenham players.

Interestingly the following season Spurs beat Burnley home and away, 2-1. Another unusual fact to be noted by those of you who relish unearthing such off the wall statistics.

Oh, and if the editor decrees that this is my swan song column then, in the words of Del Boy, I’d just like to say to you all “Bonjour”.

by Richard Bowdery
richard@bobbyfc.com