It’s a tough start. Potentially our best pairing today against the first pairing I remember and first watched live. My emotions are already torn and I’m not out of the first paragraph!
Dawson and King
When Michael Dawson first came to the club, as part of the Andy Reid deal from Nottingham Forest, he was described as the makeweight. A good friend of mine – and a female Forest fan – told me, “Oohh Michael he’s luuvly”, “but can he play?” I asked to be told “Oh yes he’s really good, luuverly boy that Michael!”.
It was not long before we wondered if it was the other way around as Dawson was superb and Reid was overweight and he kept Naybet out of the side with his superb performances. Martin Jol was delighted. Having got the flow of goals reduced through Naybet he now had a young Englishman in the side aiding Ledley. At last we looked secure, more secure than we had for years. Dawson is a Spurs player – as is Ledley – a 100% player who always gives his best. He can make mistakes – and had two seasons of them once Ledley’s knee cartilage turned to mush – but since Harry Redknapp started motivating him he has shown his best form once again.
Ledley began as a defensive midfielder before stepping back to defence and still holds the record for the fastest premier league goal. His partnerships at the back have been in the main secure and his ability on the ball is first class. When Ledley plays the team feel his confidence and play with more comfort on the ball. Even with no knees England are considering if he can do a job for them in South Africa.
So as a Partnership I think with the right management they’ve been really good. With Harry they’ve helped get us back up the table and keep us competitive. Under Jol until the wheels came off they were very good indeed and kept the improvement up in the team. For me I like to see them on the pitch together. Both are good in the air – Dawson is rarely beaten and both are happy to try and play balls out. Ledley is also able to carry the ball comfortably from the back to put pressure onto the opposition. He’s also one of those unusual through the ranks players that we really ought to have more of. In my opinion Ledley’s main weakness is his captaincy which relies upon quiet example rather than the leadership I understand – but he has Daws for that!
England and Beal
Phil Beal started of life at Spurs as a right back – and then he broke his arm. Little Joe got a run in the side and did very well. Dave Mackay moves on to Derby County and Beal gets another chance but this time in central defence alongside Mike England. In between time was the 1967 FA Cup final so Beal missed out on the chance of a winners medal. Having returned Spurs were once more rebuilding and was part of a solid back four platform got built into the side.
Beal was a major part of this and if not for Bobby Moore must have won England caps. In days of TV highlights and no live matches his contribution is only known to those who saw his career. They remember him with a fondness reserved for our best and most loyal players. He always came out last and I remember the second half kicking off at Portman Road once before he and a colleague ambled out onto the field!
Big Mike was signed from Blackburn Rovers in 1965 as a replacement for Maurice Norman, though unlike Maurice the side he played in didn’t allow him a chair to watch the game from. England was a Welsh international and great in the air and when fit was the mainstay of the defence for nearly 10 years. His aerial prowess allowed him the opportunity to score goals as well as defend them.
With England and Beal at the helm we had only lost 4 games by Christmas (when Mike was injured) in 1970/71 when we finished third, we won the UEFA Cup the following season and the League Cup the next. Big Mike scored in the home leg of the UEFA Cup final in 1974 before we lost in Rotterdam under the cloud of rioting.
When I first picked my best Spurs team of players I had seen play for us about 10 years ago they were my centre backs because of their longevity and consistent success. These days I’m not as convinced. It’s always hard to decide the attack in these sides but the defence often picked itself. Both these pairings would be in the last knockings because they’ve played over seasons and all are true Spurs not someone passing through or a serial mover.
As I said at the start, I’m torn and I might need to see a few of your comments before deciding how to vote.