Exiled in Toronto Posted November 6, 2010 Share Posted November 6, 2010 When I was following Rovers around the motley grounds of the Third Division, I never dreamt that, one day, matches against Tottenham Hotspur would be both regular and run-of-the-mill. But here we are, preparing for our 33rd league meeting since 1992. I have always had a grudging respect for Spurs, ever since watching them win the 1967 cup final. Jennings, Mullery, Greaves, Gilzean, England, Mackay – what names! I got a free ticket to the 1981 cup final – the 100th - and, supporting City for the day, watched a rather lifeless 1-1 draw. But who could watch the dramatic 3-2 replay win and not enjoy their victory? Probably Joe Corrigan for one. I also like Spurs because they have history. The first southern team not affiliated with a public school or the army to win the F.A. Cup. The first club in the 20th century to do the Double. The first English club to win a European trophy. The first English club to win two different European trophies. The only club other than Man Yoo to have won a major trophy in each of the last 6 decades. No doubt that knowledgeable section of our away support will be singing “You’ve won ****all.” Thanks to sitting down and doing a bit of research, I now know why they are called Hotspur. Prior to moving to White Hart Lane, they played at Northumberland Park, bang next door to the current ground on land originally owned by the Percy family, once Earls of Nothumberland. The most famous family member was Sir Henry Percy, aka Harry Hotspur, who fought and died in rebellion against King Henry IV, hit in the mouth by an arrow having just opened his visor for a quick fag. Shakespeare gave him a more glamorous ending and beefed up his role a bit such that he is a standout character in King Henry IV Part I, 'reknowned for his bravery but flawed in his excessive commitment to honour', so it is after him that they are named. I have been to White Hart Lane once, though not to watch the Rovers. I had lunch there in 1989 on a wet Tuesday when there was no midweek match, and the vast restaurant was heaving. It seemed like a different world to the crumbling Ewood, one that we couldn’t even aspire to one day inhabit. And it looks like Spurs won’t be inhabiting it for much longer either. Plans are afoot to build a new ground on the land that comprised their previous Northumberland Park ground. Indeed, a part of the new ground will be built over a corner of the current ground footprint. It all sounds a bit Elland Road / Molineaux-ish to me but I expect their budget won’t run out and leave some ridiculous pitch/stand alignment. Venky-doubters might be interested to hear that Chairman Levy has already announced that the rebuilt and relocated ground will not be called White Hart Lane but will bear some sponsors name. They also completely redesigned their club crest in 1983 and once again in 2006. Amazingly, the club survived such blows. The first time I saw Spurs in the flesh was when they managed to get themselves relegated to the old second division and were our opening home fixture in 1977. The game ended 0-0 and all I can remember of it is what seemed like thousands of flash cockney gits swarming all over the place, all seemingly aghast at being transported back in time by 70 years. To be fair, it was probably no different to how we had swaggered around the Shay, Spotland and Haig Avenue a few years earlier. We got tubbed 4-0 in the return as they disappeared over the horizon back to the upper echelon and seemingly out of our lives forever. Until Jack Walker. In the Premiership era, there are only a few games that stick in the memory. My personal favourite was our visit there in 1993/1994 when we steamrollered them 2-0 as our surge to nearly catch up a runaway United was gathering pace. The next year, they easily beat us 3-1 not least due to Booby Mimms being back in goal when Flowers was injured. Our 4-0 victory there in the final game of 2003 was a stand-out result as was Samba’s injury time winner in 2007. Of course, we must mention 24th February 2002. Our team for that day looks surprisingly weak at the back – Nissa, Tiny, Berg and Stig – but I’d take all 6 players in front of them over anyone we currently have – Gillespie, Dunn (Mk I), Hughes, Duffer, Jansen and Cole. Since then, of course, Spurs have spent billions while we have sold any player who can still run. Looking at their squad now, pretty much single outfield player in their first team squad would be the first name on our teamsheet. So it’s another backs to the wall job. Interestingly, the two managers who have been most forward in advancing their claim to be next into the England hot-seat will be having a kind of job interview play-off. And each, it could be argued, is the right man for the job, but at different phases of competition. Qualification is mostly about a vastly superior (on paper) England having to break down 10 players behind the ball, which will be ‘Arry’s task on Saturday. Once in the finals however, England usually fail when confronted by superior opposition, so Sam’s knack of getting useless dollopers to grind out a result by fair means or foul will be put to the test also. Perhaps they should be joint England managers? So, will the Spurs cockerel forcibly inseminate the Rovers chicken?? Unfortunately, I can’t see any other outcome at the start of an incredibly tough run of fixtures that could see us adrift by the end of the month. 0-3. To gain further insight from the other side of the hill on this fixture, I have roped in my good friend and fellow English expat, Dave, who is a life-long Spurs fan. Before the miracle that is Setanta Canada, we would usually meet up in a pub at 9.30am for whatever was the televised PL game of the week, though it would rarely be Spurs vs Rovers. Even the 2002 cup final wasn’t shown here, so we shared the angst of huddling round my computer listening to the Radio Rovers commentary. So Dave, After the distraction of meaningless European games against teams no-one has heard of, it must be exciting to get back to the glamour of the Greatest League In The World facing a team like Rovers? Yeah...., right.... John whatever you say. In 1884 your team adopted the blue and white halved shirts made famous by the Blackburn Rovers team who were on their way to winning the F.A. Cup 3 times in a row. How much of Spurs subsequent success do you attribute to having modelled yourselves on us? None after 1930. Shame our teams haven’t excelled recently. Since 1974 you have had, including caretakers, a staggering 19 managers. Were any of them any good at all? Depends what you mean by “good”, Pleaty was good at curb crawling and incorrect pronunciations, Ramos didn’t communicate very well(at all) and most yids wanted to stick that scum gooner George Graham where the sun doesn’t shine. But apart from them and um Gross wasn’t the best either but the rest weren’t all bad. Jol, Burkinshaw, Venables and of course the current “bottom of the league to beating Inter Milan in two years” Harry! We both appointed England wannabe managers after disastrous starts in 2008. Any regrets over going for Harry, who has failed to win 50% of the games during his reign? See above. As you may know, Rovers fans are split in their opinion of Sam. Some think him to be an arrogant hoofballing dinosaur whereas other simply can’t stand him at all. What’s your view of him and the job he has done for Rovers? He would fit in well in the Spurs post 1974 list. I actually quite like Sam especially with what he has to work with and that he is not in charge at Spurs. Now Rovers have a Chicken farm to choose from, I guess he will either run around headless or produce a golden one. There have been some great players who have worn both the Spurs and Rovers shirts – Mike England, Ossie Ardilles, Steve Archibald, Paul Robinson and, of course, the peerless David Bentley. Who out of your current ranks do you think is capable of stepping up and perhaps one day playing for Rovers? Bale........ha ha ha........ dream on You are slightly ahead on overall premier league record against us: 14 wins to 11, and you’ve finished ahead of us in 9 seasons compared to 7 for us. Have there been any stand-out games between us in your eyes? Afraid not that I can remember. Google didn’t help much either. Keane was voted third in best goals in last ten years (it was against Blackburn Rovers). On to Saturday’s game. Who, apart from the PG Tips-sponsored Gareth Bale, should we be especially worried about? VDV and Modric. What plans do you think ‘Arry ‘as to cope with the anticipated aerial bombardment? “It was triffic game, great game, Welllllllll you knowwwww it was just one of those things it was traffic well yeahhh you know, well anyway as it happens I managed to get ‘old a two trampolines from some geeza this week you know one for Modric and one for weee Lennon so they can help out at the back, triffic will be andy when we come up against the Rovers.” Prediction? 2-1 to Spurs Most importantly, your place or mine to watch the game? Seeing as the game is at the Lane how about at our place. And finally, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Sunday, 24 February 2002 – still feeling the pain?” Not as much as on the day; this week has helped to numb the pain though Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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