Posts Tagged ‘Greaves’

Good Luck Greavsie
Rob Shepherd on what Jimmy Greaves means to him

by Rob Shepherd.

Jimmy-GreavesThere have been so many fine words written about Jimmy Greaves in the last few days since it was revealed he had been admitted into hospital following a severe stroke. The most recent reports say Greavsie is making a spirited recovery. Let’s hope so.

Of all the fine words, the best piece was by Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail.

As ever it was a finely crafted piece by Martin but had an added edge, since for several years Martin ghosted Jimmy Greaves’s column in The Sun.

Despite being from a younger generation than 75 year-old Greaves, 51 year-old Martin knew the man better than most in many ways.

For a generation growing up in the Sixties he was a legend who transcended club loyalties. In an era when it was still the People’s Game, Jimmy Greaves was the People’s Player.

So while many can spin out all the statistics, and in some cases re-write the Wikipedia potted history, few were able to hone in on what really made Jimmy special like Martin.

It’s worth a read (click here) but from my perspective here is a short snap-shot of what Jimmy Greaves was all about.

As great a player as he was, Greaves retained the humility of a boy who grew up in East London’s Dagenham council estate in the charterer building post war years.

When he rebuilt his life (after his playing career ended and, for a while, descended into a battle against the bottle) as a TV pundit and presenter, Greaves’ catchphrase was: ‘It’s a funny old game.’

And that is how Greaves saw football… and still does.

He scored for fun and feels the game should still be fun for all the financial trappings.

It is why he finds it hard to warm to the modern game, driven as it is by money, corporate concerns and play-acting players. Often given the choice Greaves would rather watch a rugby international or Test match over a pot of tea in his living room than a Premier League match or even an England international.

Would Greaves have thrived in the modern game..? It depends;

As a free scoring forward? Of course he would. Harry Redknapp recently remarked that for those seeking a contemporary comparison with Greaves then they should think Lionel Messi.

Indeed Greaves’ overall club record of 422 goals in 602, for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham is still better than that of Messi’s as it stands. For England his record of 44 goals in 57 games works out at around a goal every 117 minutes.

But as a football celebrity and sponsor’s show pony..? Probably not.

GreavesEngland

Greaves scored 44 times for England

Even though Greaves enjoyed a successful TV and media career after he pieced his life back together the day after he had his last alcoholic drink (February 28 1978), he shunned many of the things that went with his new found fame, especially the showbiz soiree’s. He didn’t like all the fuss and also felt the need to avoid temptation.

Greaves actually took more pride in the success of his media career than that of his phenomenal playing days because he had to work hard at the former and modestly felt he was simply a ‘natural footballer’ – a point he reaffirmed at an after-dinner speech he made recently.

There are so many tales that can be told about Greaves.

And many have in recent days, not least correcting the myth that he hit the bottle after missing out on playing in England’s World Cup winning team because of injury. The heavy drinking problems hit in the twilight of his career, around the turn of the seventies when he reluctantly moved from Tottenham to West Ham.

For me though there is one tale which sums up Greaves, the brilliant footballer and diamond geezer.

220 goals for Spurs

220 goals for Spurs

It was told to me by former England manager Terry Venables who played with Greaves at both Chelsea and Spurs.

Venables, three years younger than Greaves, had just broken into the Chelsea first team. It was 1960. Like Greaves, Venables had been brought up in Dagenham.

By now Greaves was living in the slightly more salubrious East London suburb of Gants Hill. Eager to look after the teenage Venables he told him to meet him in a café in Gants Hill on the morning of a game against West Bromwich Albion.

Venables takes up the tale: “I got two buses and met up with Jimmy in this café just after midday.

“Back then there was no such thing as a team pre-match meal let alone an overnight stay. You made your own way to the ground. Jimmy had a car – a Ford Poplar – and took me under his wing insisting I get a lift rather than take the long journey on the District line.

“But he insisted we have something to eat ahead of the match. Even back then I was conscious of what to eat, so I just had some grilled chicken, a few boiled potatoes and a cup of tea. A light meal, not a million miles from what players would have today, although maybe not so close to kick-off.

Venables celebrates with Greaves

Venables celebrates with Greaves

“Then the waiter turned to Jimmy. To my astonishment he ordered a full roast! The works; roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pud and lots of gravy and a cuppa.

“He whoofed that down. I thought we would get on the road since it was getting close to 1pm. But now Jimmy insisted on having some apple crumble and custard plus another cuppa.

“Now back then the roads were so clear that the drive from Gants Hill – which could take up to an hour and a half these days – was done in under an hour so we were in the dressing room comfortably for the allotted 2pm.

“Even so I felt Jimmy had eaten rather a lot before a big game. But it was December it was cold and Jimmy explained he needed some ‘fuel’ inside him.

“He obviously knew what he was doing. We beat West Brom 7-1 that day and Jimmy scored the first FIVE.”

Funny old game indeed.

Good luck Greavsie.

@iLShep

Greavesie Sets The Record Straight He Tells BOBBY Why He Doesn’t Watch His Old Clubs Play

Jimmy-Greavesby Rob Shepherd.

Jimmy Greaves  has hit back at a report that he has snubbed former club Tottenham for 45 years since he left Spurs.

It was stated in an article in the Daily Telegraph that Greaves has never been back to watch a game at White Hart Lane since he moved to West Ham in 1970 with Martin Peters plus £200,000 going the other way.

But Greaves said: “As a Sun reporter then a TV reporter I went there loads of times. Really loads. I launched my autobiography there and I attended the funerals of both Bill Nicholson and Bobby Smith.

“But I don’t go to games. I never have. It’s not just Spurs. I don’t go to any of my other clubs either.”

And Greaves, who turned 75 last week, insists he did not turn down an invitation from Tottenham to be a guest of honour at Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea, the club where he started his career.

“There was no invitation forthcoming but I wouldn’t have gone if they did. I’ve got a lovely giant screen TV, a lovely dog and a warm fire. That’s where I watch sport and it’s very nice. I’m not interested in driving in heavy traffic and enduring big crowds and being freezing cold. I love it on TV.”

And no doubt if he found the Spurs-Chelsea game a bit dull then Greaves will have flicked channels to watch the Six Nations crunch game between England and Ireland.

During a speech he made at a dinner recently Greaves made it clear he tires of the antics of players and has grown to prefer rugby union.

But Greaves DOES still feel raw about how his departure from Spurs was handled.

And that he was not told by the club that Manchester City and Derby were interested in him at the time – both clubs he would have preferred to the Hammers where he did not have a happy time, a period which really triggered his lurch into  heavy alcoholism. Greaves though has not had a drink since 1978.

In his autobiography Greaves said: “I was taken aback and I was angry. I was so annoyed with Bill for wantingGreavesTHFC to bring my Spurs career to an end, I simply said, ‘Okay. If you don’t want me at Spurs, I’ll go’. I didn’t have to go, not if I didn’t want to. I still had eighteen months of a contract to run. I could have told Bill I was staying at Spurs and there was little he could have done about it. But I was so peeved that he appeared so willing to get rid of me, I went along with it. What’s the point of staying at a club that doesn’t want you”

“Looking back on that day, I wish I had told Bill I wasn’t interested in moving.”

Greaves scored 268 goals in 381 games for Tottenham over nine seasons after joining the club for a record £99,999 from AC Milan in 1961. He had started his career at Chelsea, where he netted 132 times in 169 games. Greaves is fourth in the list of all-time leading England scorers, having scored 44 goals in 57 appearances.

@iLshep

Greavsie Leaves ’em Faint!
PLUS: Three Classic North London Derbies Remembered

by Karl Hofer.

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Few derbies deliver the goods like the North London derby has a tendency to do. Over the years we’ve had some classic, high-scoring affairs with breath-taking goals aplenty.

Here BOBBY has searched back through the archives to deliver you three of the best;

Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal, FA Cup Semi-Final, April 14th 1991

The first FA Cup semi-final played at Wembley is one never to be forgotten by Spurs fans. In a season fraught with poor league form on the pitch and financial difficulties off it, Tottenham managed to turn the form book on its head to record a famous victory in the derby.

Paul Gascoigne had single handily dragged Spurs through the competition with some virtuoso performances and it was fitting that he should open the scoring with a scintillating free-kick; the finest in the history of the FA Cup according to boss Terry Venables (you can see it below).

Tottenham had saved their best form for the FA Cup that year and this match against the eventual league champions was no different. A mixture of slack defending and poor goalkeeping led to Gary Lineker scoring Spurs’ other two goals either side of an Alan Smith header for the Gunners, as Spurs denied their rivals the double.

Spurs went on to lift the Cup, although Gascoigne’s second famous kick of the competition, at Forest’s Gary Charles, landed the England star on a stretcher and denied him the opportunity of climbing the Wembley steps.

Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal, League Cup semi-final replay, March 4th 1987

It took 270 minutes of League Cup semi-final football before, against the odds, Arsenal emerged triumphant in a season when Spurs – third in the league and beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup final – came quite close to winning everything but actually won nothing.

Tottenham won the first leg at Highbury 1-0 and looked Wembley bound when they led the second leg by the same scoreline at the half – when, as legend has it, ticket details for the final were announced to home fans. But two goals in 15 minutes from Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn brought the scores level on aggregate and, with extra time unable to separate the sides and no provision for a penalty shootout, the tie went to a replay three days later.

The venue for the third encounter was decided on a toss of a coin, and that was almost a draw, too: Spurs manager David Pleat said that when the coin fell to the ground it got stuck, almost upright, in the mud, but the referee adjudged it was leaning Spurs’ way so the decider would be at White Hart Lane.

Clive Allen put Spurs a goal up for the third successive game, but the game turned after the introduction of unlikely hero Ian Allinson for the adored but injured Charlie Nicholas. In the 82nd minute Allinson struck a shot that zipped through the legs of Richard Gough and past Ray Clemence to level things, and then in stoppage-time another Allinson shot deflected into the path of David Rocastle, who promptly swept Arsenal into the final to the jubilation of the away end. Uniquely, Arsenal beat Spurs three times at White Hart Lane that season.

Allinson’s gallant intervention was repaid in strange style by George Graham; he wasn’t in the squad for the victory over Liverpool in the final and in fact never started another game for Arsenal before being released at the end of the season.

rocastle_tottenham_1987

Rocastle fires Arsenal through to Wembley

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, Division One, 15th October 1963

67,857 crammed into Highbury stadium for the derby in 1963, filling it to capacity – and they weren’t to be disappointed.

An incredible first half saw Jimmy Greaves open the scoring as Spurs stormed into a 4-2 lead at the interval with further goals from Bobby Smith (2) and Dave Mackay – George Eastham twice pulling the Gunners within two in response.

With only five minutes remaining Tottenham still held the two goal lead acquired in the first half but Arsenal pulled one back on 85 through Joe Baker and then equalised with a Geoff Strong header from a corner with only twenty seconds of injury time remaining. For the third time in five years the North London derby had ended 4-4.

In the end the point was sufficient to take Tottenham to the top of the First Division, but after that finish it was Arsenal who felt like the victors on the night.

Soccer - League Division One - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Highbury

Jimmy Greaves walks away after helping to tend to a fan who fainted before kick-off at the packed Arsenal v Tottenham match at Highbury in 1963.

@KGHof

Memories of a Boy Being Taken to his First Football Match
A stroll down White Hart Lane

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

The 2 November 1968 was my initiation into life as a football supporter. On that cold, damp day I was taken by my dad to watch my first professional game of football. I was…well it’s not important how old I was.

We journeyed from south London to N17 to watch Spurs take on Stoke City in a Division One match. But not for us queuing at the turnstiles to pay our admission.

My dad was a talented freelance photo journalist and had his pictures published in local and national newspapers. He also had the gift of the gab. And though he hadn’t been sent by any paper to cover the game, following a few words in the right quarter, we were in.

So as ‘members of the press’ we were escorted pitch-side and we took up our position behind the goal which Spurs were to attack.

GreavesTHFC

The great Jimmy Greaves

Oh, did I forget to explain my role? I was a runner for my dad. It sounds a bit dodgy but basically it meant taking used rolls of film containing the pictures he’d shot to the press entrance where a messenger would whisk them off to Fleet Street. Needless to say not once did I leave my perch behind the goal!

How could I, with Pat Jennings in goal, Mike England the rock at centre-half, and Alan Gilzean feeding that goal-poacher supreme, Jimmy ‘Greavsie’ Greaves.

Spurs could only manage a draw but at least Greavsie scored. And as he left the field guess who got his autograph? With my prized procession tucked away in my coat pocket, Dad and I left for home.

Being a south London boy it was beyond the pale to support a north London team. But nonetheless, it is a match, a day, a rite of passage that will live long in my memory…

@RichardBowdery

Hat-Trick Heroes
Who Has Scored the Most Hat-Tricks While Playing for England?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

This Thursday, 9 October, England take on the footballing minnows of Europe or, to give them their full title, San Marino.

It’s a game the three lions are expected to win and win comfortably. But will any of our players put a hat-trick of goals past this team from the Italian Peninsula?

The thought got me to thinking about which England player had scored the most hat-tricks whilst on international duty.

But before answering that question, I’d like to regale you with one or two other facts of a hat-tricky nature.

My first, and one that might augur well for one of our boys on Thursday, is that England’s Stan Mortensen scored his third and final hat-trick of hat-tricks against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park on 9 October 1948: 66 years ago to the day of this week’s Wembley fixture.

However, we have to go back to the 19th century to find the first recorded hat-trick by an England player. His name was Howard Vaughton and he achieved this feat whilst playing against Ireland in Belfast on 18 February 1882.

The game also featured another remarkable first. Arthur Brown became the second Englishman to notch a hat-trick of goals on international duty. But what makes him more than the Buzz Aldrin of hat-tricks (and to my knowledge the only time it has happened during an England match), is that it was achieved in the same game.

GreavesEngland

Greaves is England’s hat-trick hero

England won 13-0 with Vaughton adding two more goals to his tally, scoring five in all, whilst Brown ended up netting four.

At the time both Vaughton and Brown played for Aston Villa and were the first Villa players to be called up by England.

To date there have been 81 hat-tricks by an English player representing his country. The last of them was scored by ex-Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, when England took on Bulgaria in a European Championship qualifier in September 2012, at Wembley.

And the player who scored the most hat-tricks for England..?  The ex-Chelsea, AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham striker (and goal poacher extraordinaire) Jimmy Greaves, he scored six.

Yet I bet 80 of those 81 England players would gladly give up their achievements for just one hat-trick: the one scored by Geoff Hurst at Wembley on 30 July 1966!

@RichardBowdery

Arsenal v Spurs Preview
PLUS: Three Classic North London Derby Matches Remembered

Arsenal  v  Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Saturday September 27th, 5.30pm

Pochettino faces a tactical test against Arsene Wenger.

Pochettino faces a tactical test against Arsene Wenger.

by Karl Hofer.

It may be early days, but Spurs are going to have to roll their sleeves up and halt a run of derby-day disappointments if they want to divert their season away from an inexorable slide.

Arsenal overcame their bitter rivals on both occasions in the league last season, winning 1-0 both times to condemn former managers Andre Villa-Boas and Tim Sherwood to a loss each in the most important match on their fixture list.

A win would catapult Spurs ahead of Wenger’s men, but ominously the last time they claimed the spoils at Arsenal was in 2010 when they came from behind to win 3-2, which was their first away-day victory in the North London derby in 17 years.

For his part Pochettino is playing down the importance of the game to the Lillywhites season, saying: “We are in a good way. When I arrived here, I knew the situation – I knew that maybe there would be some ups and downs at the start of a new period. It’s always different when you arrive at a new club with different players and you need time to get to know each other. I’m not worrying about the situation. I believe at the moment we need to have more points to reflect the table. It’s the beginning of the season, it’s not how we start it’s how we finish.”

That may be true, but if Spurs were able to upset the odds it could prove to be the catalyst to their season.

To do so they will surely have to draw Arsenal on to them and counter behind their advanced full-backs, the way Dortmund did so effectively in the Champions League last week, proving that last years flaws still remain for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

But inviting players like former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez and the inspired Jack Wilshere to attack you has its obvious dangers, and the Spurs defence will need to perform better than it has thus far if they are to have a sporting chance.

Pochettino won’t be too worried about the club’s recent record on derby day, he’ll be keen to make some history all of his own. However the Argentine will hope his charges have learnt valuable lessons from what must have been a morale-sapping defeat to bottom of the table West Brom on Sunday, whilst confidence must be high with the Gunners after impressively sweeping aside what was a high-flying Aston Villa side 0-3.

 

SELECTED ODDS

ARSENAL:  3/4   DRAW:  27/10   TOTTENHAM:  10/3

Half-Time/Full-Time;

Draw/Arsenal: 7/2   Tottenham/Draw: 13/1   Arsenal/Draw: 13/1

Correct Score;

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham: 7/1,  Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham: 7/1,  Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham: 14/1

Arsenal 0-0 Tottenham: 10/1, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham: 13/2, Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham: 12/1

Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham: 35/1

First Goalscorer;

Sanchez  5/1,  Welbeck  5/1, Ramsey  6/1, Adebayor  13/2, Eriksen  10/1, Lamela  11/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Arsenal to come from behind to win: 8/1

(Odds courtesy of PaddyPower)

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Few derbies deliver the goods like the North London derby has a tendency to do. Over the years we’ve had some classic, high-scoring affairs with breath-taking goals aplenty.

Here BOBBY has searched back through the archives to deliver you three of the best;

Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal, FA Cup Semi-Final, April 14th 1991

The first FA Cup semi-final played at Wembley is one never to be forgotten by Spurs fans. In a season fraught with poor league form on the pitch and financial difficulties off it, Tottenham managed to turn the form book on its head to record a famous victory in the derby.

Paul Gascoigne had single handily dragged Spurs through the competition with some virtuoso performances and it was fitting that he should open the scoring with a scintillating free-kick; the finest in the history of the FA Cup according to boss Terry Venables (you can see it below).

Tottenham had saved their best form for the FA Cup that year and this match against the eventual league champions was no different. A mixture of slack defending and poor goalkeeping led to Gary Lineker scoring Spurs’ other two goals either side of an Alan Smith header for the Gunners, as Spurs denied their rivals the double.

Spurs went on to lift the Cup, although Gascoigne’s second famous kick of the competition, at Forest’s Gary Charles, landed the England star on a stretcher and denied him the opportunity of climbing the Wembley steps.

 

Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal, League Cup semi-final replay, March 4th 1987

It took 270 minutes of League Cup semi-final football before, against the odds, Arsenal emerged triumphant in a season when Spurs – third in the league and beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup final – came quite close to winning everything but actually won nothing.

Tottenham won the first leg at Highbury 1-0 and looked Wembley bound when they led the second leg by the same scoreline at the half – when, as legend has it, ticket details for the final were announced to home fans. But two goals in 15 minutes from Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn brought the scores level on aggregate and, with extra time unable to separate the sides and no provision for a penalty shootout, the tie went to a replay three days later.

The venue for the third encounter was decided on a toss of a coin, and that was almost a draw, too: Spurs manager David Pleat said that when the coin fell to the ground it got stuck, almost upright, in the mud, but the referee adjudged it was leaning Spurs’ way so the decider would be at White Hart Lane.

Clive Allen put Spurs a goal up for the third successive game, but the game turned after the introduction of unlikely hero Ian Allinson for the adored but injured Charlie Nicholas. In the 82nd minute Allinson struck a shot that zipped through the legs of Richard Gough and past Ray Clemence to level things, and then in stoppage-time another Allinson shot deflected into the path of David Rocastle, who promptly swept Arsenal into the final to the jubilation of the away end. Uniquely, Arsenal beat Spurs three times at White Hart Lane that season.

Allinson’s gallant intervention was repaid in strange style by George Graham; he wasn’t in the squad for the victory over Liverpool in the final and in fact never started another game for Arsenal before being released at the end of the season.

rocastle_tottenham_1987

Rocastle sends Arsenal through to Wembley

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, Division One, 15th October 1963

 67,857 crammed into Highbury stadium for the derby in 1963, filling it to capacity – and they weren’t to be disappointed.

An incredible first half saw Jimmy Greaves open the scoring as Spurs stormed into a 4-2 lead at the interval with further goals from Bobby Smith (2) and Dave Mackay – George Eastham twice pulling the Gunners within two in response.

With only five minutes remaining Tottenham still held the two goal lead acquired in the first half but Arsenal pulled one back on 85 through Joe Baker and then equalised with a Geoff Strong header from a corner with only twenty seconds of injury time remaining. For the third time in five years the North London derby had ended 4-4.

In the end the point was sufficient to take Tottenham to the top of the First Division, but after that finish it was Arsenal who felt like the victors on the night.

Soccer - League Division One - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Highbury

Jimmy Greaves walks away after helping to tend to a fan who fainted before kick-off at the Arsenal v Tottenham match at Highbury in 1963.

 @KGHof

If You Know Your History!
Past Encounters: England v Italy

England’s last meeting with Italy ended in dire disappointment at Euro 2012.

Roy Hodgson’s side were outplayed for much of the game but managed to hang on to have a chance of stealing victory in a penalty shoot-out – but yet again failed when it came to spot kicks.

Here are nine other significant encounters down the years;

1934 – England 3-2 Italy, Highbury

Italy turned up in London fresh from their World Cup triumph on home soil earlier that year. England had refused to participate in that tournament but retained a fierce reputation so the match was billed as a clash to decide who was the best team in the world. The contest that was dubbed the Battle of Highbury proved anything but decisive. A famously violent affair, England – with seven Arsenal players in their line-up – did defeat the Italians. But with no substitutions permitted, Italy were forced to play much of the game with 10 men after Luis Monti was injured early on as a result of a crunching clash with England goalscorer Ted Drake.

1961 – Italy 2-3 England, Rome

This remains England’s most recent victory over the Azzurri on Italian soil. The Three Lions boasted the likes of Bobby Robson and Bobby Charlton in the ranks but were 2-1 down to an Italy side that included Giovanni Trapattoni. A second goal from Gerry Hitchens and a late winner from Jimmy Greaves turned the game around for the visitors, with both players completing moves to Serie A that summer. Highlights are below;

1973 – England 0-1 Italy, Wembley

Back in the 1970s a victory over England at Wembley could put Italy in an exclusive club. Outside of the British Isles, only four countries had beaten the English in front of their own supporters. Italy’s victory at the home of football saw them become the fifth. With just five minutes remaining, Giorgio Chinaglia beat Bobby Moore and crossed for the future England manager Fabio Capello to fire the ball past Peter Shilton.

1977 – England 2-0 Italy, Wembley

England and Italy were paired together in qualification for the 1978 World Cup. It was a tough draw given that only one side could qualify. The other two nations in a four-team group – Finland and Luxembourg – were both pummelled leaving England vulnerable following a 2-0 defeat to Italy earlier in the group. They had to beat Italy convincingly at Wembley and hope goal difference would go in their favour. Goals from Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking secured the points but it wasn’t enough for Ron Greenwood’s side and a 3-0 win for the Italians against Luxembourg the following month saw England miss out.

1980 – Italy 1-0 England, Turin

_1876267_keeganZoff

Captains Keegan and Zoff shake hands

England went to Euro ’80 with a squad full of winners. Thanks to the success of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on the continent, the players possessed an astonishing 19 European Cup winners’ medals between them. But an opening draw against Belgium put Greenwood’s men under pressure to beat Italy on their own turf. With Trevor Francis unavailable through injury and Keegan flagging after a long season, England’s hopes were dashed by a late Marco Tardelli goal.

1990 – Italy 2-1 England, Bari

Both teams had suffered penalty shootout heartbreak in the semi-finals but it was Italy who claimed third place. A shocking error from Peter Shilton, in his final appearance for England, allowed Roberto Baggio to open the scoring in the second-half. Tony Dorigo crossed for David Platt to head home his third goal of the tournament but, after Paul Parker hauled down Salvatore Schillachi just before the end, the Italy striker made no mistake from the spot.

1997 – England 0-1 Italy, Wembley

Glenn Hoddle’s gamble of selecting Matt Le Tissier was leaked to the media ahead of the game and the spotlight was firmly on the mercurial Southampton forward in the build-up to this World Cup qualifier. Instead it was the diminutive Chelsea man Gianfranco Zola who took centre-stage for the visitors, beating David Seaman’s deputy Ian Walker at his near post early on. The Italians held on to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the following year’s World Cup.

1997 – Italy 0-2 England, Nantes

Le Tournoi in France was the preparatory tournament for the 1998 World Cup – in many ways a forerunner to the Confederations Cup. Hosts France invited England and the two finalists from the previous World Cup, Brazil and Italy, to play in a round-robin contest. The tournament is remembered chiefly for an outrageous free-kick by Roberto Carlos but it was England who won the competition – thanks in part to goals from Ian Wright and Paul Scholes in an impressive victory over the Italians.

1997 – Italy 0-0 England, Rome

England had surrendered the advantage in Group 2 of World Cup qualifying after the aforementioned Wembley defeat to Italy. But goalless draws for the Italians in Poland and Georgia had handed the initiative back to Hoddle’s team. As a result, a draw would be sufficient in Rome for England to guarantee their place at France ’98 and consign Italy to a play-off place. The Three Lions produced one of their more composed displays to fend off the Italians with Paul Ince taking the plaudits after playing on with a visible head injury.

beckham-ince-gazza-1997-600-250

Beckham, Ince and Gazza celebrate qualification for France ’98

When Hardmen Ruled! Jimmy Greaves Reveals Who Was Tougher: Tommy Smith or Ron Harris..?

Jimmy-Greaves

Greaves was guest of honour

by Rob Shepherd.

It was wonderful to be in the company of Jimmy Greaves last week.

Greavsie was guest of honour at a sporting legends dinner arranged by Crystal Palace FC, who plough the profits into their academy.

The former England striker has overcome a mild stroke suffered a couple of years ago and had everyone in stitches when he rose to the mic with a combination of stand up comedy and anecdotes of the old days when as he pointed out: ‘If you were injured the trainer soon got you back on your feet…

The fella would run on with half the innards of a ball filled with cold water and a sponge.

‘Regardless of where you told him the pain was he would pull out the sponge, dripping with freezing water, and slap it right on your b******s. That was so f***ing painful and a shock to the system that suddenly the pain elsewhere had gone and you were playing again!’

Midway through a story of how he managed to stay on his feet – let alone score goals for fun in an era when players like Liverpool’s Tommy Smith would openly intimidate opposing forwards – a heckler from the audience asked: who was harder, Smith or Chelsea’s Ron Harris..?

Seamlessly Greaves answered ‘Harris’.

Chopper 'tackles' Stan Bowles

Chopper ‘tackles’ Stan Bowles

“Tommy was hard but also a good player on the ball. Ron, he was one who if told would just man-mark you with little or no interest about the ball,” said Greaves, who obviously has a disdain for the diving culture in the modern game especially when players try to get others red carded.

‘I don’t know how but I once left Ron flat out after a tackle. The ref called me over. Still Ron laid there.

‘As I get to the ref I am sure he was about to send me off. But then suddenly Ron springs to his feet and runs over: “Ref, don’t send him off. I’m OK.”

‘And Ron persuaded the ref not to give me an early bath. I thought: “You f***ing b*****d”, as Ron looked at me with a glint in his eye as the game re-started…

‘I hated playing in my own half, but for the rest of that game I ended up virtually at sweeper!’

By the way, for all that brutal attention, Greaves still scored 366 goals in 528 games and 44 in 57 England internationals.

Ron Harris and Jimmy Greaves give chase to the ball in their heyday

Ron Harris and Jimmy Greaves give chase to the ball in their heyday

 

Manchester City v West Ham
PLUS Greaves scores twice in Hammers romp at Maine Road

Allerdyce_2097431b

Allardyce – feeling the pressure

By Rob Shepherd.

For West Ham their trip to Manchester City in the semi-final first leg of the Capital One Cup is akin to jumping from the frying pan into the fire in the wake of their FA Cup Third Round humiliation at Nottingham Forest.

Having fielded so many young inexperienced players at the City Ground Sam Allardyce was always likely to gamble away The Hammers interest in the FA Cup.

But even if from a financial point of view Premiership survival is a priority for West Ham – which makes their next league against Cardiff a “must win” -Allardyce surely can’t surrender any interest in keeping the tie alive for the second leg at Upton Park and so having the chance of reaching Wembley and maybe even winning the League Cup.

Such an achievement could easily inspire a revival in the league. The manager then must surely recall the bulk and the best (not that there are too many in that category at the moment) for the City game.

More to the point it would give suffering Hammers fans a taste of honey.

It could also save Allardyce’s increasingly precarious position as manager from the sack.

Survival AND silverware? That is the definition of success for a club like West Ham.

Duty

GreavesDebutWHamvCity

Jimmy Greaves being tackled by City’s Mike Doyle at a muddy Maine Road in 1970

In that sense he has a duty to the club, its fans, the players and himself to field a team strong enough and experienced enough to at least compete with a City side who have been unstoppable at the Ethiad Stadium this season, where they are unbeaten and average nearly four goals a game.

On the face of it the tie looks a shoo-in for the City.

But strange things do happen in the Cup as a weakened West Ham won at Tottenham in the quarter final.

At the very least West Ham should aim for damage limitation so they would still be in with a chance of overcoming City in the second leg.

Hammers Romp

Older Hammers fans will also cling to a fond memory of a day they went up to City and thrashed them in the mud of Maine Road.

It was way back in 1970; the day Jimmy Greaves made his debut for the Hammers after he had been part of the deal which had seen Martin Peters sign for Tottenham.

Greaves, as he did on all his debuts, scored. Twice in fact. The Hammers romped on to win 5-1 in a total mud-bath against what was at the time a very strong City side.

The game is also remembered for Hammers midfield Ronnie Boyce scoring a wonder volley from 40 yards (see below).

Yet the following year, to highlight the Jekyll and Hyde nature of The Hammers back then, they lost 4-0 at Blackpool in the FA Cup Third Round, just to remind younger Hammers fans that Sunday’s collapse at Nottingham did not shock older West Ham fans!

That debacle was compounded by the fact that England skipper Bobby Moore, Greaves, Clyde Best and Brian Dear had all been dropped for the game and would later be suspended and or fined by the club having spent the Friday night before the game at a Blackpool night club.

There is more chance of the Hammers being thrashed similarly by City, not a cats chance of them putting five past City. But if The Hammers can avoid a trouncing at the Ethiad, scrape a draw, even a shock win then suddenly there atrocious season won’t seem quite so bad.

THE ODDS

Man City:  1/5    Draw:  6/1    West Ham:    12/1

Selected Bets:

City to win –  1-0: 10/1,  2-0: 7/1,  3-1: 10/1,  4-0:  10/1

West Ham to win – 0-1: 28/1, 1-2: 33/1

Draw – 0-0: 20/1, 1-1: 12/1, 2-2: 25/1, 3-3: 100/1

First Scorer:

Negredo: 3/1  Dzeko: 4/1  Toure: 6/1  Nasri:  8/1

C Cole: 12/1  Maiga: 12/1  Morrison: 16/1  J Cole: 18/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Dzeko to score first and City to win 3-0:  22/1

 

Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.

 

 

 

Jimmy To The Rescue!
BOBBY Recalls Classic 4-4 North London Derby from 1963

Soccer - League Division One - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Highbury

15th October 1963: Jimmy Greaves walks away after helping to tend to a fan who fainted before kick-off at the Arsenal v Tottenham match at Highbury. The 67,857 crammed into the stadium had filled it to capacity.

Greaves went on to open the scoring as Spurs stormed into a 4-2 lead at the interval with further goals from Bobby Smith (2) and Dave Mackay – Eastham twice pulling the Gunners within 2 in response.

With only five minutes remaining Tottenham still held the two goal lead acquired in the first half but Arsenal pulled one back through Baker and then equalised with a header from Strong at a corner with only twenty seconds of injury time remaining. For the third time in five years the North London derby had ended 4-4.

In the end the point was sufficient to take Tottenham to the top of the First Division, but after that finish it was Arsenal who felt like the victors that night.