Posts Tagged ‘Spurs’

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.

 

THUNDERBOLT!
Gazza Steals The Show at First Ever Wembley Semi

by Rob Shepherd.

Next Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash between Arsenal and Tottenham evokes memories of the famous 1991 semi-final.

Given the enormous interest, a pointless exercise of both sets of London fans travelling north to Old Trafford was avoided, meaning it became first semi-final to be staged at Wembley.

It was a thrilling game best remembered for Paul Gascoigne’s astonishing 5th minute free kick to open the scoring – seemingly all the way from Willesden (see belolw).

Gascoigne had been a massive doubt for the game because he was recovering from a hernia operation.

A couple of weeks before I met up with him in the South of France where we had been watching Chris Waddle score the goal that saw Marseille beat AC Milan in the quarter finals of the European Cup.

Gazza gave me an interview insisting he would be fit for the semi-final which at the time seemed wishful thinking.

But he fulfilled his pledge. While he was not fit enough to last the distance, Gascoigne on his return to action at Wembley produced a whirlwind display that blew Arsenal – who would win the title that season – away.

Apart for the astonishing opening goal he later paved the way for Gary Lineker’s second. Alan Smith (yes, he’s on telly too now) pulled one back but Lineker then clinched a 3-1 triumph for Spurs.

Gazza’s joy at the final whistle is clear for all to see in this brief interview;

In the final Spurs beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. It was a game which for Gazza would be in stark contrast to the joie d vivre exuded that semi-final day…

 

United v Spurs: 3 Great Games
We preview the New Years Day encounter at Old Trafford

TimSherwood

A rare win at Old Trafford for Spurs would be a tonic for Tim

by Karl Hofer.

Nothing cures a New Years hangover like a decent game of football and we look set for a good one in 2014 as the live match on the box sees Tim Sherwood’s Spurs (sounds weird…) travel to Old Trafford to face David Moyes’ United (still sounds weird…).

These two usually serve up entertaining matches, and the team at BOBBY have searched through the archives to pick out three of the best from down the years to prove the point. Before we give you the odds and our prediction have a look back at these classic encounters:

Oct 16th 1965  Tottenham Hotspur  5-1  Manchester United

A match graced with legends all over the pitch including Mackay, Greaves and Gilzean for Spurs who took on the league champions with Law, Best and Charlton in their ranks – and ran riot with a 5-1 win at the Lane in front of 58,000.

Many people will tell you that Glenn Hoddle scored the greatest goal ever between the two sides when he volleyed home in a league cup tie in 1979, but in my opinion Jimmy Greaves takes the accolade for his goal in this match as he waltzed through the United defence and slotted home in the relaxed manner that was typical of the man (see link below).

It was a tremendous win for Bill Nicholson’s side, but The Red Devils would get their revenge with a 5-1 win at Old Trafford just a couple of months later.

Sept 29th 2001  Tottenham Hotspur  3-5  Manchester United

This was one of the most extraordinary matches in Premier League history, and it helped create an aura of invincibility around Fergie’s Manchester United team. It is also a result that has ensured that Spurs fans will never be able to relax against United, whatever the score may be.

Spurs were enjoying one of their finest performances in recent memory after blasting into a 3-0 lead at the interval. Spurs were coasting through goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege.

The problem was the job was only half done, and in the second half United launched an astonishing comeback. After the restart Andy Cole grabbed the all important early goal to instill belief. Spurs were then blown away by the visitors as United fought back and then took the lead with goals from Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron. David Beckham completed the comeback in a match Sir Alex described as his most memorable during his long tenure at Old Trafford (highlights below).

It would be fair to say that this result had a bit of an affect on Spurs, who wouldn’t beat United for another 11 years.

Dec 7th 1986 – Manchester United  3-3  Tottenham Hotspur

One of the greatest clashes between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur came in a league encounter 27 years ago that really had it all. A topsy-turvy thriller that saw both sides wrestle control from each other at one stage or another before having to settle for a draw. United stormed into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Norman Whiteside and Peter Davenport, before Spurs hit back with a diving header from Gary Mabbut in the second half.

Shortly afterwards Kevin Moran inadvertently turned a Glenn Hoddle shot into his own net and then Clive Allen put Spurs 3-2 ahead.

There was to be one final twist, though, as Davenport held his nerve to equalise with a last minute penalty. You can enjoy the highlights (and the wonderful commentary from John Motson) below.

(By the way, that match was played on December 7th despite what the graphic at the start says…)

THE ODDS

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Wednesday January 1st 2014, 5.30pm, Live on BT Sport

The head-to-head record between the two very much favours United who have 85 wins against Spurs over the years. Spurs have won only 47 and there have also been 47 draws.

United in fact had an astonishing 33 match unbeaten run (which included 28 wins) against Spurs in all competitions from 2001 to 2012.

MANCHESTER UNITED  6/10   DRAW  14/5   TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR  4/1

FIRST GOALSCORER:

Van Persie 3/1, Rooney 7/2, Welbeck 9/2, Januzaj 7/1

Defoe 7/1, Soldado 7/1, Adebayor 8/1

CORRECT SCORE

United to win: 1-0 13/2, 2-0 7/1,  2-1 7/1, 3-0 11/1, 3-1 12/1, 3-2 25/1, 4-1 22/1

Draw: 0-0 11/1, 1-1 7/1, 2-2 16/1, 3-3 66/1, 4-4 200/1

Spurs to win: 1-0 14/1, 2-0 28/1, 2-1 16/1, 3-0 66/1, 3-1 40/1, 3-2 50/1

BOBBY’S BETS OF THE DAY:

Rooney to score first @ 7/2

United to win 3-2 @ 25/1

 

Odds courtesy of William Hill

 

Aston Villa v Tottenham Preview: Spurs Look to Bounce Back

by Rob Shepherd

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur,  Sunday October 20th  4pm

AndrosTownsend

Townsend inspired England in their crucial qualifying games

Having propelled England to the World Cup finals Andros Townsend is now charged with the task of re-booting Tottenham’s title challenge.

After such a convincing start to the season post-Bale Tottenham saw their title odds tumble from the 25-1 you could have got in July. But a fortnight ago came a wake-up call when Spurs were humbled 3-0 by West Ham at White Hart Lane.

It’s how pace setters bounce back from such set backs which separates them from being contenders or also-rans.

An away trip to Aston Villa, whose form thus far has been volatile, is a litmus test to see if Tottenham have the mettle. If his two game-breaking displays for England against Montenegro and Poland are anything to go by then Townsend is likely to be the key figures in Sunday’s clash at Villa Park.

After three years spent as a nomad having played for NINE clubs on loan it remains to be seen whether 22 year old Townsend has the stamina to sustain the early impact he has made in this his first senior for Spurs.

But one thing he has proved is that and old fashioned style out-and-out winger who wants to run and take on full-backs at pace, send over crosses, or cut inside and shoot still has a place in the modern game.

Indeed despite the decline of old style number 7’s or 11’s whose main brief is to attack – often many modern wide men get bogged down and worn out by having to “tracking back” – teams that win titles still tend to have a winger.

75 Cliff JonesCertainly when older fans of Spurs and Villa look back longingly at the last time their teams won the league then it “woz wingers wot won it”.

In 1960-61 when Tottenham last won the title (sorry to remind Spurs fans again) they had a brilliant all round team playing a very old fashioned 2-3-5 system but it was so often the wingers, Cliff Jones on the right and Terry Dyson on the left, who opened games up for them.

Both men remain revered even by many Spurs fans who didn’t even see them play. Their names have been handed down from father to son.

After England’s “wingless wonders” won the World Cup in 1966 many team refrained from using two wingers, some none at all.

During the Seventies a “lop sided” 4-3-3 system evolved whereby, one of the wide men would be a winger, the other would “tuck inside” on the other flank.
Aston Villa perfected this style in 1980-1 – the year the Midlands club last won the seventh of their titles.

1980 Panini Football 80 Tony MorleyGordon Cowans, Des Bremner and Dennis Mortimer provided a solid midfield three which allowed Tony Morley to run foot loose and fancy free down the left.

It was the thrilling, intelligent Morley who set up so many goals for Gary Shaw and Peter Withe that season and he scored several himself.

While this season Villa have plenty of pace upfront they perhaps lack the extra dimension an out-and-out winger offers.

In Townsend, though, Spurs have a wide boy who can make Tottenham title contenders.

THE ODDS

Aston Villa:  11/4   Draw:  5/2   Tottenham:  Evens

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Correct Score 2-2: 12/1

Selected Other Bets:

Both Teams to Score –  Yes:  4/6   No:  11/10

To Come From Behind & Win –  Aston Villa:  16/1   Tottenham:  9/1

Correct Score –  1-1: 11/2    2-1:  10/1    1-2:  15/2

Scorecast – Benteke to score first and 2-2:   50/1

First Scorer;

Soldado:  5/1

Benteke:  6/1

Weimann:  9/1

Townsend:  10/1

 

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower

 

Sir Alf – England’s General

 

Sport. Football. pic: September 1948. Southampton right back Alf Ramsey.

It’s international week and once again England have some make-or-break games to negotiate. So this time we’ve gone with a photo of a man who all England fans owe a debt of gratitude to.

When we think of Sir Alf Ramsey we immediately think of him as the man behind England’s lone international success on the football pitch.

But his legacy stretches back a lot further than that, indeed all the clues were evident in his playing career that this was a man who was very capable of masterminding success from the dugout.

Unlike most images you see of him, our photo of Sir Alf is from his playing days, this one is from 65 years ago when he was at Southampton. Ramsey signed professional forms with The Saints in 1944 and stayed until 1949 before he moved on to Tottenham for £21,000 – a record for a full-back in those days.

At White Hart Lane he established himself as a quality defender who compensated for a lack of genuine pace with excellent positional sense. Ramsey helped the north London club to a Second Division and a First Division title in successive seasons.

Unlike many other players, Ramsey was a keen student of the game and of tactics. His natural leadership (captain of both England and Tottenham) and his influence on the field earned him the nickname of “The General” and he orchestrated Tottenham’s free-kicks in an age where set plays were neither commonplace or considered offensive opportunities.

As with everything, there were lows along with the highs. His regular use of the back-pass to disrupt attacks got him into trouble when, in the FA Cup semi-final of 1951, his stray pass set up Blackpool for a goal that denied Tottenham the opportunity of an early crack at the “Double”.

He also won 32 England caps and was a member of the side that played three games in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, most famously the 0-1 defeat by the USA, then the most surprising defeat in the whole of football. His England playing career ended on something of a sour note, with his last game being the 3-6 defeat at the hands of a Hungary side featuring Ferenc Puskas at Wembley in 1953.  It was England’s first defeat at the national stadium by a foreign side and there were lasting shockwaves, Ramsey found he was a casualty of those despite scoring one of his country’s goals in that match.  That match had a lasting effect on Ramsey and he was not to forget the movement and passing the “Magnificent Magyars” demonstrated that day.

Champions

After hanging his boots up he began his managerial career with Ipswich Town in 1955. The Tractor Boys were in the third tier and Ramsey used it as a development ground for his style of playing to dramatic effect. In 1961 Ipswich were promoted to the top flight as Champions of division two and Ramsey’s side wasted no time taking the division by storm and winning the Championship at the first attempt, repeating what he had done as a player at Spurs.

Before that season had begun Ipswich had been tipped by all and sundry to be relegated, making their triumph one of the greatest achievements in top flight history.

The way Ramsey lined his side up with a player “in the hole” behind the strikers and with no real wingers was a blueprint for what the Press would christen his “wingless wonders” of 1966.

The FA appointed Ramsey as England manager in 1962. His claim that “England will win the World Cup” under his stewardship seemed like nothing more than misguided bullishness after they were swept aside 5-2 by France in his first competitive game. However, over the following years, Ramsey confidently went about building a team that would fulfill his prophecy.

Ramsey was a firm but fair manager and a master tactician. He also liked to keep his players on their toes, with one player bidding farewell with a “See you next time, Alf” – only to get the response “Will you..?” from the England boss. Ramsey made sure that no player was confident of a place in the final 22 for the World Cup, which resulted in players performing at their highest level. His decision to appoint a young Bobby Moore as captain also showed Ramsey’s ability to see great potential in young players.

Sir Bobby Robson called Sir Alf “the greatest British football manager ever” and, despite the fact that the two men were never close friends, showed his respect for Ramsey by paying for his medical care towards the end of his life.

 

by Karl Hofer

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

Spurs v West Ham Preview + Who Scored All Four for The Hammers in ’81 Romp at The Lane?

Hammers to Fall…?

by Rob Shepherd

Back in July, before the Gareth Bale saga neared its conclusion, most bookies were offering 25-1 for Tottenham to win the title.

The odds barely moved when all the new signings started to be made ahead of Bale’s £86 million departure.

BalevWestHam

Bale broke West Ham hearts with a late winner back in February

A stronger squad on paper perhaps, but could Spurs do without the Bale magic..? Statistical evidence from last season showed Bale’s equaling or winning goals were worth 24 points for Tottenham.

One of Bale’s “three pointer” strikes was a stunning long range last minute shot at Upton Park in the spring when Spurs won 3-2.

According to the stat men without Bale, Spurs – who finished fifth – would have finished tenth. That said if the contribution of the top goal scorers of their rivals were taken out of the equation then Spurs would have finished third.

But thus far, as Bale finds his feet at Real Madrid, Spurs have hit the ground running and are one of the pacesetters in the title race.

Carroll

Carroll is a big loss for West Ham

For the first time since the mid-eighties – when teams managed by Peter Shreeves then David Pleat went close – Spurs are in a position where they could make a real and sustained challenge for a prize that has eluded them since The Double season of 1961.

Their best finish since (third again) was under Terry Venables in 1989 but that Tottenham team was never part of that famous run in when Arsenal pipped Liverpool with the last kick.

Now with Manchester United and City stumbling Tottenham’s odds have been slashed.

And Spurs must expect to maintain their momentum with a win at The Lane against a West Ham side who have slumped towards the foot of the table.

Instead of moving on from their solid 10th placed finish last season the priority now for The Hammers is averting a relegation battle.

West Ham’s big problem is a lack of goals. The prolonged absence of injury prone Andy Carroll is painfully obvious.

When Carroll did play last season West Ham were a vastly superior team. If he wasn’t that prolific himself it was the chaos he caused in the opposition’s box and chances he set up for team mates.

And for those who don’t think a “Big Centre forward” like Carroll has ever been part of the West Ham way then they should look back to this clip of when David Cross – aka Psycho- tortured Tottenham at The Lane in 1981 when he scored FOUR times in a 4-0 win.

There’s a good chance the score line will be the other way around this time…

THE ODDS

Spurs: 4/9   Draw: 10/3   West Ham: 13/2

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY:  First Goalscorer – Sigurdsson: 11/2

Selected other bets:

Correct Score – Spurs 0-4 West Ham: 500/1

Correct Score – Spurs 4-0 West Ham: 17/1

Scorecast – Paulinho to score first & Spurs to win 3-0: 45/1

First goal to be an own goal: 22/1

Spurs to win title: 15/2

West Ham to go down: 11/2

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power

 

Spurs v Chelsea: Hoddle’s Verdict

GLENN Hoddle believes that Christian Eriksen is the creative No 10 who can “unlock the door” to Spurs success this season.

Hoddle believes that Spurs have a better team all round – and a stronger squad – since the sale of Gareth Bale enabled the acquisition of so many new talented players, with Eriksen the key signing.

Hoddle was discussing the Saturday clash between the London clubs he managed, Chelsea and Spurs, at the launch of his own young talent search – ‘Zapstarz!’ – at Planet Hollywood in London on Thursday.

Hoddle said: “Spurs are now a stronger squad, and possibly team, without Gareth Bale and much of that is down to the signing of Christian Eriksen. They needed somebody to unlock the door, the type of player Spurs haven’t had for some considerable time.

christianeriksentottenham_205x285

Eriksen: Hoddle is a big fan

“In fact, I was asked today whether he is the No 10 that has been missing since the days of myself and Ossie Ardiles.”

The question was posed with Hoddle standing next to his old friend Ardiles with a battery of cameras and journalists’ microphones picking up his every word.

Hoddle avoided that question, as it is not for him to say – and Ossie smiled!

But Hoddle does believe that the young Dane could be the game-changer Spurs have been crying out for. Before the ex-Ajax star’s beat-the-deadline signing, Hoddle believed Spurs’ other signings had given them more strength and power – but they still lacked a major creative spark. Then Eriksen arrived.

“Eriksen is making a huge difference to Spurs’ style of play,” he said, “notably in the creativity department. I am really looking forward to this one as it has the look of a fascinating encounter which could go either way.

“I’m expecting an exciting game. Naturally as I managed both the clubs I will be keeping a keen eye on this match.  Spurs look as though they have a really strong squad, while Chelsea have already had a strong squad for the last couple of years.

“But Spurs are progressing and I really do think they are going or make the top four this season, they might even be considered title contenders, who knows?  Much depends on the next few results, and if they can keep their confidence levels going.

“I saw Spurs earlier in the season and I was scared for them. They had just sold Gareth Bale and everyone was looking to see how that would affect them.  If they had kept Bale maybe they would now have a chance of winning the league because the arrival of Eriksen has provided them with the creative player they have been missing.

“With Eriksen and Lewis Holtby coming into the picture they look as though they are strong in midfield. Eriksson, though, has taken them to another level.”

Hoddle  believes Chelsea, despite teething troubles since the return of Jose Mourinho, have the quality available to win the title.

mata_tottenham_300738503

Mata destroyed Spurs last year, but will he even figure this time..?

“Chelsea could win the League because they have so many good players although it is a big surprise they are not playing Juan Mata,” he said.  “Maybe there is some kind of political reason for it, I don’t know, but he has been such an excellent footballer for Chelsea for the last two years and he has elevated them.  I cannot believe he will be out of the picture for much longer.

“Perhaps with Chelsea’s early-season troubles this is a good time for Spurs to be playing Chelsea. I am not sitting on the fence because I managed both teams but I see it being a draw, but a very entertaining draw, maybe even a high-scoring draw.

“Spurs have spent a lot of money because they let Bale go but they look good for bringing all those players in.  It looks like money well spent. It looks good enough for me to believe they can make it into the top four – and might even challenge for the title.

“For me, the title is more open than it has been for the past two years which makes it all the more exciting.  Spurs would love to win this one as they are at home and Chelsea are not yet firing on all cylinders but. I see Chelsea getting a draw.”

The Odds

Tottenham: 13/8 Draw: 9/4 Chelsea: 17/10

History is very much on the side of The Blues for this one. In 3,780 minutes of Premier League football – that’s 42 games in old money – astonishingly Spurs have won just thrice!

By my reckoning that would suggest odds of around 14/1 on a home win, but alas the bookies see it differently and you’ll get a little under 2/1 for your money if you fancy a home win.

If after reading Glenn Hoddle’s words you think it will be a score-draw and honours even, then you can get 12/1 for a 2-2 final score.

Of course the team here at BOBBY very much respect history, for that reason we’re going for three points for The Blues with a correct score of Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea at 9/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Samuel Eto’o to open his Chelsea account with the first goal of the game at 6/1

Other selected bets:

Paulinho to score first: 12/1

HT/FT: Chelsea/Draw: 12/1

Chelsea to come from behind to win: 12/1

Soldado to score 2 or more goals: 17/1

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

Stat of the Day: Tottenham have conceded more Premier League home goals to Chelsea (38) than any other team.

BOBBY BONUS: Below are the goals from Chelsea’s win in the League Cup against a Spurs team featuring Lineker and Gazza back in 1990.

Can Bale come close to the Black Prince of the Bernebau..?

Bale

Ole! Bale gives Real fans a glimpse of what they can expect

by Rob Shepherd.

Gareth Bale’s imminent move to Real Madrid elevates him to the status of Galactico, at least until the business of playing the game, rather than the transfer roulette table, starts.

Many in Spain have already cast doubt about the wisdom of the Spanish club spending so much (in the region of £86 million) on the back of just two exhilarating seasons for Tottenham.

A big fish from a small pool? Few if any see him as remotely in the class of Cristiano Ronaldo or for that matter Brazilian Neymar, a player Madrid courted but who opted to sign for Barcelona for a transfer fee of ‘just’ £49million this summer.

And off the pitch it’s difficult to imagine how Bale can match either on the commercial front especially when it comes to selling shirts, a significant factor in the mega money that has been spent on the 24 year old Welshman.

After all – and this is not Bale’s fault of course – this is a player who won’t be playing at the World Cup finals next summer.

A Lot to Prove

While there are many who will argue that David Beckham never really lived up to the billing of Galactico on the pitch, he overwhelmingly did deliver for Madrid when it came to flogging merchandise, especially in the Far East.

becks

Beckham: Sold shirts. Oh, and he played a bit as well

So Bale has to hit the ground running if he is to win over some of the most demanding and influential fans in the world.

On that front he is hindered by the fact that he has not had a proper pre-season because of injury and the protracted transfer saga.

The pressure on Bale is not helped when the money involved in his move has been dismissed by Barcelona’s coach Gerado Martino as “A lack of respect for the world we live in.”

If he doesn’t produce magic from the off – by definition Galactico’s have to be more than just star turns – then he could suffer in the way Michael Owen did whose move from Liverpool proved a disaster.

Jonathan Woodgate is one of five British players to preceede Bale at the Bernebau but he probably remains baffled how he ever ended up there in the first place.

The Other Two ?

Well, Steve McManaman did better than most think and has two European Cup winners’ medals and a great goal in one of the finals as evidence.

And there was the first: Laurie Cunningham.

It was in the summer of 1979 that Cunningham moved from West Bromwich Albion to Real Madrid for what was then the staggering fee of £950,000.

He was an instant hit. In his first season Cunningham, who like Bale was just 24 when he joined the club, helped Madrid win a league and cup double.

Although a sequence of injuries undermined him thereafter, Cunningham remains a legend among the Madrid fans of that era.

Spain’s current national coach Vicente del Bosque puts Cunningham into huge context by comparing him favourably with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Del Bosque says: “I don’t think his qualities were any less than Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He came to Real Madrid after having played a great game against Valencia for West Bromwich Albion in the UEFA Cup, and Madrid viewed him as one of the most distinguished players in Europe.

“I think that was a period in Madrid’s history where there weren’t many international signings and the club made a big effort, financially, to sign Laurie, to sign a star because all of the rest of us were from the youth team.

“Truly, he was fast and agile, very dynamic, had a good shot and he could head well.”

LaurieC

Cunningham was good enough for Real Madrid but not for England apparently

Although Cunningham was the first black player to represent England when he played for the under 21 side in 1977 he was shockingly overlooked by Ron Greenwood, not just because of some injuries but because he had opted to play in Spain and made just six full international appearances.

As former England star John Barnes points out, Cunningham was not just ahead of his time in terms of breaking down racial barriers in English football but also in terms of the way he played, which despite race issues in Spain still made him so popular in Madrid.

“He was probably ahead of his time in English football in terms of the way he played, not just as a black English player” says Barnes.

“I suppose that Laurie didn’t really have the impact for England that he should have had. For a winger to have played with the flamboyance that he did, also to come in field and do what he did, he was like Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I mean, this Fancy Dan with all of these tricks and skills, everybody loves that now but Laurie was doing that back in the ’70s. He was standing on the ball, and rolling his foot over the ball, but he wasn’t appreciated because that wasn’t what the good old English players do. We just get stuck in…”

Bale does a bit more than get stuck in but it remains to be seen whether his style, based on surging runs rather than subtle chicanery, and over reliance on his left foot will come close to wooing the fans like Cunningham did or Ronaldo does.

Cunningham returned to England in the mid-Eighties but then drifted around Europe until ending his career with Wimbledon.

cunningham-lead89-694551_478x359

Laurie Cunningham: 1956-1989

Having graced the Bernebau, playing at Plough Lane really was a case of shifting from Culture Club to the Crazy Gang. But there was a bonus; Cunningham, who began his career with east London club Orient, picked up an FA Cup winners medal coming on as substitute in the 1988 final victory over Liverpool.

Tragically Laurie Cunningham, who had returned to live in Madrid, died in a car crash the following summer. He was just 33.

 

Coming soon; History of the Galacticos.

Alan Mullery
“Alan Mullery: The Autobiography”

MulleryBook

Publisher: Headline
ISBN 978 0 7553 1482 9

Alan Mullery was the first player to be sent-off representing England.

It’s hardly how he would want to be remembered but Mullers doesn’t shy away from the incident when in the last minute of the semi-finals of the European Championship, which England lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia in 1968, he lashed out in retaliation after an opponent slashed open his calf with a crude studs up lunge.

“I lost control and deserved go. No doubt about it,” said Mullery. “As I walked off I felt ashamed. I’d let Alf ( Ramsey) down. I’d let my country down. And I’d let myself and my family down. I could forget playing in the World Cup (1970) that was for sure…”

Mullery tried to keep out of Ramsey’s way in the dressing room fearing the worst; a bollocking then being dropped.

“I felt a hand grab my hair and lift my head up. Alf was looking down at me. I braced myself this was it. But all he said was “I’m glad somebody decided to give those bastards a taste of their own medicine.”

Those were the days!

This read-in-a-day autobiography charts Mullery’s rise from the tough streets of post war Notting Hill (long before the Hugh Grant types pranced in and gentrified the area) to captaining Fulham and Tottenham, his England experiences as the player who took over the Nobby Stiles mantle and his roller coaster managerial career at Brighton, QPR and Charlton.

In summary it reads like you are sat at the bar with Mullers, and that is always good fun.

BB Rating: 8/10