draw’s been made, the voucher is in the post, the short trip to
Leicester is planned. Its FA Cup time again! I still love the third
round but it has to be said that some of its magic isn’t there any
more. No doubt Burton Albion are chuffed to bits at getting Manyoo at
home, but which United will they play ?
George Best once scored six goals on his own when a full strength
United team slaughtered Northampton 8-2.
That would never happen now.
Best and his like would be rested while the “shadow” squad
took on the minnows. I know the reasons, and if, please God, we at last make it in
to Europe next season I would expect our cup team line-ups to reflect
the new status of these competitions in the pecking order of things.
Sad, but that’s the way it is.
ease of getting a ticket for cup-ties is all such a stark contrast to
the way it was. FA cup-ties were the season’s highlights to cherish
and look forward to and when I started watching in the sixties and I and
everyone else would have been amazed to know that 40 years on the league
would be the big thing, with cup football a consolation prize only. I
imagine that some younger fans can’t imagine the reverse being the
norm and that’s a shame. They really have missed out on some
incredibly intense dramas and occasions.
are a cup team.” It’s
been said over and over again so much its become a cliché (no…not a
Clichy, pay attention). Its
true. The FA cup has
produced fantastic moments for us fans. Who can forget the Ricky Villa
goal in 1981 or Gazza’s semi-final scorcher in 1991 ?
me FA Cup football began in 1964/65, with a thumping 5-1 third round
replay against lowly Torquay United, in front of almost 60,000! On third
round day In January 1965 Spurs had squandered a 3-1 lead at Torquay and
conceded two late goals by the home side to force a replay at the Lane.
There was much talk that Spurs had “eased off” on the day and been
quite happy to rake in another payday in a replay. Cynicism is not a
modern invention! The replay was scheduled for the following Wednesday.
The heavens opened that evening. I watched the rain beating down on the
windows and my old Dad gave me a look as much as to say “if you think
I’m taking you out to stand on the terraces in this you’ve got
another think coming!”. Much pleading and bargaining (yes I’d be
good, yes I’d wash up all next week, yes, yes, yes) ended with a
stand-off. I could only go, said Dad, if I wore my school cap to protect
me from the rain. Even then, before the words “cool” and “street
cred” had been invented I wasn’t sure I could take that humiliation.
I’d only worn my Tottenham County cap once before, on the first day of
school, and the thought of bumping into school friends with this thing
on my head was too much to bear. Or was it? I think it was then I
realised how much Spurs meant to me because, sod it, it dawned on me
that I could stand the humiliation if it meant that I could go…and I
did! The irony was that half-way to the ground we were met by a number
of rain-soaked fans coming in the opposite direction who informed my
relieved Dad that the game was off, pitch waterlogged. The cap came off
immediately on hearing the news ! On a much drier night the following
Monday we witnessed the aforementioned 5-1, with the G-men: Gilzean and
Greaves, scoring all the goals between them.
were drawn at home to newly relegated Ipswich Town in the fourth round
and the match was played, if memory serves me correctly, on the day of
Winston Churchill’s funeral. The match programme was bordered in
black and it was the first time I had witnessed a minute’s
silence. Nowadays a minute’s silence is commonplace (as detailed
in a previous issue of MEHSTG) but then it was very rare. The
sombre mood was broken by a scintillating 5-0 drubbing of the Town and I
was convinced we were off to Wembley.
was an odd season though. We won almost every home game (just drawing three from
memory) but away from home we couldn’t win at all.
Just one pathetic 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest all season.
So it was with dismay that the old codgers in the FA rattled
their balls (ahem!) and drew us away to Chelsea in the next round.
The draw is much too slick nowadays for its own good.
Real entertainment was watching the octogenarians dropping the
home team, mispronouncing the opponents and totally ill at ease with the
TV cameras when they finally replaced the radio broadcast.
Chelsea were the surprise team of the season.
With their fancy new kit (same shirts and shorts, woooo) and
their outspoken manager (Tommy Docherty) they seemed so modern then.
Add to that the young team they had assembled (including Messrs.
G. Graham and T. Venables) and you’ll understand it wasn’t a dream
draw for us. But after 13
goals scored in the first two rounds, surely we could do it.
I queued for five hours from 5 a.m. on the Sunday for a ticket
(thanks again Dad) and got to Stamford Bridge on the day at mid-day for
a 3 p.m. kick-off (silly me, they were all 3 p.m. then).
I perched on a crush barrier at the back of the ground and was
totally absorbed by the atmosphere building as the time ticked slowly
towards kick-off. No
segregation then and a season or two before hooliganism crept in.
Almost 70,000 at the Bridge, with almost half of them willing
Spurs to win. It was not to
be. The loudest noise I had
ever heard greeted a goal from England international Barry Bridges to
end our cup run. I was sad
but not devastated. The
occasion seemed the all-important thing then.
In any case some 17 years later I smiled when the hurt of that
defeat was erased with our 3-2 quarter-final win there.
it was not to be in 1965. Two years later we lifted the pot, but that’s another story
for another edition. For me
the FA Cup is still special. The
memories and images created are unsurpassed in any other competition,
especially for Spurs. I
hope it stays that way.
live the FA Cup !