One Over The Eight

This article originally featured in MEHSTG Summer Special May 1992

The start of the 1977-78 season heralded a few changes at Tottenham Hotspur. For a start, Spurs were in the Second Division, following a disastrous season (which included a 2-8 defeat at Derby County, a 3-5 reversal at West Ham and a 0-4 thrashing at Everton) at the end of which they found themselves propping up the rest of Division One and duly suffered relegation along with Sunderland and Stoke City, Secondly, the traditional kit of plain white shirt, navy blue shorts and white socks had been "Admiralised". That is to say kit manufacturers Admiral had put their logo all over the strip. There will little "Admirals" on the V-neck and down both sleeves on the shirt (and one on the front), more little "Admirals" down the sides of the shorts (and another on the front) and even more of the things on the top of the socks. Thirdly, the official programme had also undergone a major facelift. It was bigger in size, 50% more expensive (15p compared to 10p the previous season) & featured a colour picture (which was changed every few games) on the front cover. Lastly, Pat Jennings was no longer Spurs goalkeeper, He'd been transferred during the summer (after thirteen years at White Hart Lane), and if that wasn't bad enough, he'd gone to Arsenal, where he was to continue as a top-class goalkeeper for a good few years. Selling Pat Jennings (obviously of the opinion that he was finished as a First Division goalkeeper) was probably Keith Burkinshaw's biggest error of judgement in the transfer market. He did make amends though, by signing the likes of Villa, Ardiles, Archibald and Crooks for Tottenham.
Spurs had made a good start to life in Division Two and had won all of their first five home league games, including a 5-1 victory over Oldham Athletic. The sixth home league game turned out to be the only Spurs game I saw that season. It came a week after a 1-4 defeat against Charlton Athletic at The Valley and the visitors at White Hart Lanewere Bristol Rovers, who the previous weekend had beaten Blackburn Rovers 4-1, It was only my fifth ever Spurs game, and the previous four had all ended in draws (2-2 versus Manchester City in 1975-76, & 3-3, 2-2 and 1-1 against Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland respectively, during the relegation season).

On the Thursday before the Bristol Rovers game, manager Keith Burkinshaw had signed unknown forward Colin Lee from Torquay, for a fee of 60,000. He went straight into the team and partnered Ian Moores in the Spurs attack. On the morning of the match Spurs were third (behind Bolton and Luton) in the Second Division, with Rovers fifth from bottom. By half time Spurs were 3-0 up, having dominated the match from the start. Lee had scored the first two goals, the opener came after Moores had nodded down a Glenn Hoddle cross, with the second a powerful header. Just before half time another excellent cross from Hoddle was headed in by Peter Taylor. During the half time interval I wondered if, at my fifth attempt, I was finally going to see Spurs win, obviously my pessimistic streak, which is prevalent these days, was also present at the tender age of eleven as I expected a second half revival from Bristol Rovers, who would score three times, prevent Spurs from netting again and thus draw 3-3, depriving me of a seeing Spurs win a game. I needn't have worried, Peter Taylor crossed for Ian Moores to score the fourth in the 56th minute, then in the last fifteen minutes Spurs rattled in five more, Lee completed his hat trick for 5-0, two more from Moores made it 7-0 before Lee again and finally Glenn Hoddle, (who looked suspiciously offside but deserved a goal) rounded off the scoring for 9-0.

I had a chance to re-live the game that evening as it was featured on Match of the Day. The other game shown was a 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Everton. At the end of the season Spurs were promoted thanks to a 0-0 draw at Southampton (who went up as champions) on the last day of the season. That game was also shown on Match of the Day, and at the end of the programme the nine goals from the Bristol Rovers game were shown again, as Spurs had pipped Brighton for the final promotion place by virtue of having a superior goal difference of nine goals!

And what of Mr Lee, he of the fairytale debut? Well, he made another twenty three appearances for Spurs during the 77-8 season, plus two more as sub, scoring a further seven goals. In the 78-9 season Lee scored seven more goals, and moved to right back. After eight more games the following year he moved to Chelsea.

ANDY FORD

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