The fourth defensive challenge match up brings together a partnership that promised much but ended prematurely against one that lasted a single season. Both included Gary Mabbutt who was in the first just setting out on his defensive career and in the middle of it in the latter.
Mabbutt was a team leader, a man whose example was there to be followed. He enjoyed a long career at Spurs and is still remembered for his commitment to the cause and the way he dealt with his diabetes and handled adversity through injury. Always good in the air he combined his initial speed with a good reading of the game to provide defensive strength for most of his Spurs career.
He arrived as a utility player in an excellent squad and helped maintain that position for some time. Having scored at both ends in the 1987 Cup Final defeat he was fortunate enough to enjoy his best moment for us as the Spurs captain lifting the FA Cup in 1991. As time passed the quality of the squad deteriorated and as the senior professional played out his career in a difficult period for the club. Despite this he stayed when others would have taken him and for this reason he will live on in affections. Both the partnerships listed below were unfortunately short lived and both showed promise had they continued. It’s up to you to decide which is best. I’m clear in my own mind.
Gough and Mabbutt
When Richard Gough was signed from Dundee United we all of a sudden had a great defender and leader at the club. But it wasn’t to last. Within two seasons he was back in Scotland with Glasgow Rangers after it was claimed that his wife could not settle in London. Other stories were also told. Dundee United would never sell him to Rangers so a move elsewhere in the short term was necessary to get the ultimate wish. Whatever the truth of the matter it was all a long time ago.
That season was a triumph culminating in a first unfortunate loss at Wembley in the FA Cup final and a third place finish in the First Division. Gough and Mabbutt were superb at the back and Gough was made captain before the season’s end.
We started the next season well but Gough left and we stalled, short of a defender and signing Fenwick as a replacement finishing in mid table but this was also a season of getting used to no Hoddle.
Had Gough stayed would all have been well? One can never tell but he would undoubtedly gone on to secure legendary status at the club.
Mabbutt and Ruddock
1992/93 was the season that Ruddock played at White Hart Lane. In the league there were some bad defeats a 6-0 at Sheffield United, 6-2 at Liverpool but the team came good in the FA Cup reaching the semi final to meet Arsenal once more at Wembley. Unfortunately Tony Adams scored the only goal and they went on to meet Sheffield Wednesday to repeat the League Cup final of the season.
Ruddock was a strong character on the pitch and popular with the crowd. Certainly more popular than with the management for he was moved onto Liverpool in the close season allowing Campbell a way into the side.
As a pairing had these two been allowed to continue they may well have got it right for us. Ruddock provided the steel, Mabbutt a bit more finesse but defending begins in midfield and our group at that time might not have provided sufficient cover leaving us vulnerable and mid table.
So it’s up to you to decide which of these pairings join England and Beal, Woodgate and King and Mabbutt and Campbell in the last four by voting below. You can also leave your memories in the comments box below.