Jimmy Greaves

This article originally featured in MEHSTG Summer Special - May 1992

 

In the beginning there was the word, and the word was "GREAVES". The terms "World Class", "Magic" and "Pretty Good" just don't begin to describe this goalscoring "God". He was "The Master". He was my idol, the genie in the white shirt. Chivers, Hoddle, and the rest; Good? yes, Great? yes, but Genius? No.

Spurs were getting beaten by crap sides they should have slaughtered, winning cups and playing attractive football; some things just don't change. Oh yes, we used to win at home fairly often, you probably won't believe me when I say that during some seasons we didn't lose at home. Added to all this it DIDN'T matter how badly we played because we were always likely to score goals. Why? Because 'He' was on our side.

Jimmy Greaves was beyond compare. Whenever and wherever he got the ball the crowd hushed in anticipation, (well I did anyway). Just a goal moocher some disbelievers said, those who somehow forgot the goals where he glided from the half way line, leaving defenders in his wake, and slid the ball past the keeper as he came out to narrow the angle, or just waltzed past him and side footed the ball home, before saluting to the crowd.

Poetry in motion!

He scored "Once In A Lifetime Goals" every season, beating player after player in those mazey  ribbles that were so electrifying. Who could want for a greater hero? Always the gentleman, playing the game with a smile and a laugh. Someone to admire from afar. Who could forget the cheeky penalties and free kicks that just relied into the corner of the net when the keeper or defenders were looking the wrong way. Then it was one arm raised and the trot back to the centre circle. No hugs or kisses - we're talking about Dave Mackay, Martin 'gappy' Chivers and Mike England here you know - not a pretty thought.

Greaves v. Lineker. Who's the best? No competition.

In the box both are/were brilliant, always being in the right place at the right time and sniffing out goals, but outside the box GL's not in the same class. The dip of Jim's shoulder sending defenders the wrong way, before the sprint into the area was nothing short of usual.

After he'd retired, I made a pilgrimage to Herne Bay on the Kent coast to see him in a testimonial game. After standing around watching for 50 minutes or so, he scored two typical goals in as many minutes. The magic was still there as he went past defenders as though they weren't there.

The worst moment of my life? When we sold him to West Ham? - No. (and we just knew that he'd score against Man. City on his debut - not to mention against us the next season). No, it was in a Birmingham book shop where he was signing his Booker Prize winner, "It's a Funny Old Life", (always great at everything!). Mandy, my wife, who happened to be passing, strolled in, chatted to him, and got him to autograph a copy of his book as a birthday present for me. I am now constantly taunted with the casual, off-hand remark - "Of course, you've never met him have you!"

I still live in hope.

DAVE BALLANTYNE

Back to homepage