Category Archives: Tottenham Legends

Return of the King – Alan Gilzean seen at White Hart Lane

It’s finally happened the King has come out of the wilderness and visited White Hart Lane to see friends old and new and what a reception he received. As we walked down Paxton Road this afternoon word started to spread with a tweet from Paul Coyte being seen by young Mac saying “a true legend here today, just hope I can entice him on to the pitch at HT #kingofwhitehartlane.”

Straight away for me it was Alan Gilzean but would he come out pitch side, now that was another thing altogether. First thought. Is James Morgan, author of the excellent “In Search of Alan Gilzean” here? Immediate tweet to him speedy response, “No but if it is he would love to see it.”

Team announced, Dawson back in and some tempo in our first half performance and a fantasic goal from JD to boot. Half time will it happen? Paul Coyte comes out and stands for what seems an age before announcing a real treat for himself and out comes the great man himself.

Looking around spontaneous applause and a lot of the older supporters who saw his whole career stand to hear what he has to say. Lots of things covered in the book, his desire to play at Wembley in the cup final and Tottenham being the team he thought he could achieve that with, playing in John White’s memorial game for Scotland which helped set up the opportunity for the deal to be done, his love of the stadium, Berba shouldn’t have left Spurs and his favourite Spurs moment, parading the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1967 to the Spurs fans.

Its been nearly 40 years since he attended White Hart Lane and he brought his grandson with him. If he didn’t appreciate the affection with which Spurs fans hold him before today he certainly does now and despite the passage of time his performances and sublime skills have not and will not be forgotten.

If you would like to learn more about Alan’s life and career in football pick up a copy of James Morgan’s outstanding book “In Search of Alan Gilzean” which is published by Backpage Press.  

Gilzean, Gilzean, Born is the King of White Hart Lane.

Those Glory Glory Nights

I had tears in my eyes today. Nothing to do with the away tie of the 2012/13 campaign against Lazio but a picture of a disconsolate Danny Thomas, head in hands after missing his penalty at White Hart Lane against Anderlecht in the 1984 UEFA Cup final. That was one massive crowd at White Hart Lane that night and at that moment the tie turned once more to Anderlecht before Tony Parks rescued it and won us the trophy. Certainly a Glory Glory Night. 

Then there was the disgraceful tie against Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup Semi Final where a full blooded Graham Roberts performance got us a 1-1 draw against a team that looked so unlike the current Barca side that’s its untrue. Never were so many angry fans leaving White Hart Lane over the performance of the opposition. Not a Glory Glory Night but a poignant memeory nonetheless!

Then there was Glenn’s demolition of Johann Cruyff in a 4-2 home victory where we were 4 up by half time and the man we liked to take more care of knocking in 2 goals. A Glory Glory Night if ever there was one.

I have to say that the latest offering from Martin Cloake and Adam Powley “The Glory Glory Nights The official story of Tottenham Hotspur in Europe” is if not the best, one of the best books I have ever read about our famous club.

From the moment you open the front cover to see the first page map of Europe setting out the campaigns between 1961 and 2012 and a list of the matches in each you can tell this is going to be something special. This is a book that ouses style as it charts our history in all the white kit.

I was born days after the Benfica tie and can remember every game after Keflavik. Growing loving football I always looked forward to reading the programmes over breakfast the Dad brought home from those UEFA Cup ties. Teams with unusual foreign names from far away places and players with unpronouncable names. All the programme covers are here matching up with the reports of the games which includes a team sheet and scorers.  

And then there are the interviews with stars from every era, the wonderful Cliff Jones and Terry Dyson, Paul Miller and Mickey Hazard, the great Phil Beal and Martin Chivers and a foreward from Gareth Bale.

There are problems. Anyone receiving this on Christmas morning will find it difficult to put down and is likely to get into serious trouble but that’s not a reason for not adding it to the Christmas list! If you’re still not convinced that you want this book on your coffee table take a look at how it looks by visiting  The Glory Glory Nights book page and clicking on the book cover to reveal extracts of the pages inside.

Ralph Coates – a tribute

Today’s game against Newcastle United included a minute’s applause for Ralph Coates who died after a stroke a couple of weeks ago. Then at half time his ex colleagues Alan Mullery, Martin Chivers, Martin Peters, Pat Jennings, Phil Beal and John Pratt all came out to share memories of the man they all described as a great guy loyal to both Spurs and Burnley his other former club.

As a 9 year old I well remember Ralph’s signing and Bill Nicholson once again paying a large transfer fee for Sam Leitch to report on in Football Focus on Saturday lunch time. As I recall my first Spurs games saw Jimmy Neighbour and Roger Morgan swapping the shirt with Jimmy Pearce also trying to force his way into the side. 

Ralph’s signing should have put paid to that but I recall him struggling as much as the others with our “problem position” out on the left. Alan Mullery’s injury brought him in as his replacement ahead of John Pratt in the number 4 shirt and it is as much for this number as I remember him as for the 11 shirt he was signed to fill. 

Morgan’s retirement through injury pushed him back towards the winger’s duty whilst allowing John Pratt to take over at number 4 and it was in this role that he continued for a number of seasons until he took the number 10 shirt after the signing of Peter Taylor for our relegation season of 1976-77. Following relegation Ralph moved onto Leyton Orient after a period in Australia.

In all Ralph played 248 games for Spurs scoring 24 goals. No goal was more important than the League Cup winner against Norwich for which he struck a tremendous volley from the edge of the area before charging away trade mark hair flowing behind him. These were the days when the League Cup final was not shown live and many Spurs fans were forced to wait for the extended highlights show on the Big Match on the Sunday afternoon. 

When Ralph joined the club we were an experienced side competing on many fronts. Unfortunately that quickly turned to retiring team and those following the household names were unable to keep the team competitive. Similarly a succession of signings failed to deliver the required quality and our relegation was a sad price to play. In that time Ralph was a committed member of the side working hard to deliver his best on the field whilst not building upon the promising career he had built at Burnley.

An important away goal UEFA semi final 1974 first legPerhaps the club was bigger than he was able to deal with as a star player, as is he case with many players, but on meeting him in the executive lounges on occasions he always had time for supporters and it was clear that he was proud of being able to represent the club over a period of time and of his role in scoring a winning goal in a Wembley final or of winning a UEFA Cup medal and playing in the losing team in 1974. 

Ralph played at a time when financial reward was only adequate and like many of his colleagues would still have needed to work. Despite this his mind was rich with the memories of playing alongside some of the best players ever to represent the Club. Whilst he may not have succeeded as Bill Nick would have wanted his name will remain in my memory long after the names of those who represented us 250 times in the early 1990’s have faded.