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Rovers V Spurs 1963


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When I first started going to football matches the "Chelsea" of the day was Tottenham Hotspur, every player was a top international, they played with style and swagger, they scored goals for fun and they very rarely lost.

They were the first modern team to do the " Double" , so when they played in the Charity Shield they faced the full England 11 , and beat them 2-0. This same Spurs team became the first British team to win a European trophy when they beat Athletico Madrid 5-2 to claim the old Cup-winners cup.

From Bill Brown in goal to Cliff Jones on the left wing they had a starstudded line up, Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay drove them forward in midfield , with England No9 Bobby Smith and the incomparable Jimmy Greaves banging in the goals.

This was the team that ran out at Ewood on Saturday 7th of September 1963, the Rovers team had established stars in Ronnie Clayton and Bryan Douglas as well as some up and coming players who chose this match to stake their claim for future greatness- the three ex- youth team lads , Newton , England and Pickering plus the two Mikes on the wings Ferguson and Harrison. Nobody in the crowd of 20,949 who turned up that Saturday could have possibly predicted what they were about to see.

From the off Rovers were buzzing, knocking the ball about in great style with the little maestro Douglas running Blanchflower ragged, it was Douglas who opened the scoring then McEvoy made it 2-0 from Pickering's pass. In no time at all Douglas had put McEvoy in for his second and after 25 minutes Rovers were beating the second best team in Europe 3-0.

Obviously Spurs weren't going to take this lying down and rallyed, a lucky Greaves goal followed by a rocket from Mackay made it 3-2 at half time. It was one of those halves you don't want to end because you think " we can't play as well as that again and Spurs will only get better ."

Fortunately Rovers roared out of the blocks and took the game back to Spurs, 10 minutes into the second half Mike England rose to power an unstoppable header in to the back of the net from a corner and Spurs wilted. From that moment Rovers and Douglas in particular tore Spurs apart giving them a lesson in passing and finishing- McEvoy twice running through a weary back line to slip the ball past Brown before Pickering administered the coup-de-grace with a rocket into the top corner from another flowing attack ,in all honesty it could have ended 10-2, Rovers were so dominant.

The Rovers faithful rubbed their eyes in disbelief, the mighty Tottenham Hotspur demolished in 90 minutes, never to be quite the same force again. Put to the sword by a team who looked like a footballing version of the Haarlem Globetrotters. What a great team we had in the making, mostly young lads with their best years still to come--------- sadly for various reasons and inspite of some great results and fabulous football this Rovers team never went on to achieve the success that might have been.

This was the most perfect display ever by a Rovers team, certainly in my life time , and I consider myself priviliged to have witnessed it, the football they played that day was truly awesome. Since then I've had my ups and downs with Rovers but nothing has compared with the feeling I had as a 14 year old lad skipping down Bolton Road on my way home about 5 feet off the ground.

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Fabulous memories. I too saw that game at Ewood and it will stay with me as long as I live.

This might raise a few eyebrows, but in my opinion, that rovers side was the best rovers team I ever saw, including the team that won the Premiership title.

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They were a great side Den, without doubt the best attacking team of the two. If only Jack Walker had got wealthy sooner we would have been able to correct our main weakness - a lack of strength in depth, when players got injured or lost form there was nobody really to bring in.

Just think only three cost money, Else £20k, Harrison £20k and Ferguson £2k from Accrington Stanley - what a bargain he was. All the rest came up through the ranks.

How about this for a combined team- Flowers---- Berg, England, Hendry, Newton-----Ferguson, Clayton, Douglas, Harrison----Pickering, Shearer.

Subs---- Else, Le Saux, Batty, McEvoy, Sutton.

That team would take some beating and score some goals!

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Yeah , they played on Boxing Day morning with an 11.30 kickoff I think ( I can't imagine many making the trip down from Lancashire, I know I didn't).From pictures I've seen of the game it was played on a pitch ankle deep in mud but that team could score goals on a quagmire, apparent we had 10 shots on goal and scored eight goals they had about 13 shots and only scored 2. Dougie gave Martin Peters the usual runaround and Peters got dropped for the return two days later.

I went to this one , we were never at the races, typical Rovers we pulled in a big crowd and let them down, West Ham brought a guy called Eddie Bovington in to mark Douglas and he followed him into the Rovers changing rooms at half time he was that close.

We got back in the game at 1-2 after about an hour but then let the Hammers in to score the third and conclusive goal straight away.

I remember on the day of that game the Daily Mail had a cartoon of a guy selling scorecards outside Ewood, like it was going to be a cricket score, maybe the players saw that.

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I meant to say on that Boxing day me and two mates had gone to Turf Moor to watch Burnley thrash United 6-1 ( you could do that then, one mate was a Burnley fan the other was a United fan and we all stood together). I got told our score on the terraces at Burnley and I thought theyd'd got it the wrong way round.

I could be wrong but I think there was a lot of big scores that day, Somebody. Blackpool ?? got 9 and it was the record for most goals scored in one day in the old first division.

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What fantastic reads- how I wish I was taken to that Spurs game!

As for Boxing Day 1963, ten First Division games produced over 60 goals. This is without checking but Fulham beat Ipswich 10-2, there was a 5-5 (Brum v Arsenal?) our 8-2 and Bolton played in a 1-0 so somethings never change!

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I could be wrong but I think there was a lot of big scores that day, Somebody. Blackpool  ?? got 9 and it was the record for most goals scored in one day in the old first division.

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I've just posted details on the West Ham game post that Den started

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  • 1 month later...

Courtesy Of Tyrone Shoelaces:

Rovers: Else, Bray,Newton, Clayton,England,McGrath, Ferguson,McEvoy,Pickering,Douglas,Harrison.

Scorers- Andy McEvoy 4, Bryan Douglas 1, Mike England 1, Fred Pickering 1

Spurs - Brown, Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Saul, White, Smith, Greaves, Dyson.

Scorers- Jimmy Greaves1,Dave Mackay1.

Attendence 20,949.

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