excellent performance in the recent Worthington Cup tie against
Liverpool brought back some memories of one of the players who was
instrumental in the Tottenham side at a time when I first began watching
them in earnest.
wet and windy evening of 6th December 1972 saw Liverpool come
to visit White Hart Lane. The match was the 5th round replay
in the old League Cup following the 1-1 draw in the original tie two days earlier and there were fears that their journey
would be in vain, so bad was the rain. I took up my position on the
Shelf, but moved from my usual position at the front to a place further
back to gain some shelter from the driving rain. Having won through
against Huddersfield and Millwall, overcoming Middlesbrough in between
after three matches and two lots of extra-time, the Spurs fans were
hopeful of the team progressing further in the competition against the
visitors, who were to win the League title later that season. Over
34,500 came to the ground that night to witness Tottenham gain a 3-1 win
over their Merseyside rivals and although Big Chiv scored twice that
night, the outstanding moment for me was the long range pile-driver that
left the Liverpool goalkeeper - one Ray Clemence - grasping at thin air.
scorer of that goal was a player who was never regarded as one of the
leading lights of the seventies, when the club enjoyed a period of
trophy success. He was never hailed by the fans like some of his
team-mates. He was never flash nor fancy, but was always there. His
contribution during his long and loyal service should not be
underestimated, for it is players like him that provide the basis for
any glory that comes the club's way.
refer to John Pratt. A man who would run through brick walls for
Tottenham Hotspur and while he was the one to make way for bigger names
that came to Spurs, he was always there to fill in when required. It was
the League Cup that season that perhaps reflected his career. He scored
another goal against Wolves in the first leg of the semi-final and made
the starting line-up at Wembley to face Norwich City. However, his
moment of glory lasted only twenty minutes, as he sustained an injury
and was replaced by Ralph Coates, who, as we know, scored the only goal
of the game. The sight of the injured man making it up the steps to
collect his medal was one that remains to this day.
debut at Highbury in 1969 ended in a 0-1 defeat, but the misery was
erased early the next season when he returned to score in a 3-2 Spurs
win. He chipped in with goals throughout his Tottenham career, rather
than scored regularly, but those he did notch were important or
memorable. An ever-present throughout the Second Division campaign of
1977-8, his goals earned points from close matches that counted towards
promotion at the season's end. He scored in the club's last League win
at Old Trafford in 1976. He got two rasping dives past Gordon Banks in
an exciting 4-3 home win over Stoke in 1972.
returned to the club, after a spell in America playing for the Portland
Timbers, to take up a coaching post, which lead to his promotion as
manager Peter Shreeve's assistant. He left the club in 1986, but still
attends games at White Hart Lane. I saw him walking unrecognised up the
High Road to the match against Charlton recently. I wanted to go up to
him and say thank you for the effort he put in for the club that he
obviously loved and for brightening up that awful wet night in December
all those years ago, but I was too embarrassed.
if you are reading this - Thank You.