Classic games that I've been to; Spurs 9 Bristol Rovers 0
This is my third article on classic games that I’ve been to. This one happened on the 22nd October 1977, and we were in the Second Division.
The previous article can be found by clicking on the link below
The preceding season (1976/7) we finished rock bottom in Division one (22nd). Above us, but also relegated, were Sunderland and Stoke City. Liverpool won the league that season. So, the following season we were hoping to bounce back straight away, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
Before the start of the football season (22nd August) I had just turned 22. One thing I remember above all else, apart from Tottenham, was that 1977 was the year that many famous singers died. Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan (T-Rex) and Bing Crosby. As a music lover, that was a terrible blow. Elvis died on the toilet, Bolan’s last hit was a tree, and Bing Crosby had a heart attack.
Also died that year was Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Jean Hagen, Groucho Marx and opera star Maria Callas.
In the charts at the beginning of the football season was Float On by the Floaters, Angelo by the Brotherhood of Man, You got what it takes by Showaddywaddy, Way Down by Elvis, I feel love by Donna Summer, The Crunch by the Rah Band, We’re all alone by Rita Coolidge, That’s what friends are for by Deniece Williams, Nights on Broadway by Candi Staton, Nobody does it better by Carly Simon and Ma Baker by Boney M. All those records I had purchased and still got. Showaddywaddy I had seen live in Reading. A year or so later I had seen Boney M (Hammersmith Palais), but we’ll say no more on that.
So, we started the season with eight games and no defeats. Then we faced Hull City away, where we lost 2-0. After that game on the 8th October, we beat Oldham at home 5-1. Our next game, and before the Bristol Rovers game, was away against Charlton Athletic. We lost that match 4-1. The following Saturday it was Bristol Rovers at home.
We had just signed Colin Lee from Torquay United (the home of Basil Fawlty). He cost us £60,000 two days earlier. He was 21 years of age and was seen as a player for the future.
But let us go back a bit first to the summer of 1976; it was then that Keith Burkinshaw was appointed our manager. Sadly, in his first season, we suffered the disappointment of relegation. But lucky for us, our directors kept faith with him.
Back in August of that year, I lived in Thatcham, Berkshire. I had lived there since 1974. Anyway, a group of friends and I on that match day went to Thatcham station, then to Paddington and eventually to Seven Sisters. From there we walked to the stadium (about 20/ 30 minutes). I was fitter then, no walking stick. Today pain killers help with the walking.
In those days I wasn’t a season ticket holder, as it was easy to get in by paying at the turnstiles (if you got there earlier enough). When we arrived, we found a pub and got something to drink and eat. Chatted to other Spurs supporters who we had got to know over the years and just bided our time until we were let into the stadium. I also remember going to the Spurs shop, which, back then, was a little pokey shop on the corner of the High street and Paxton Road. We probably purchased our programmes there as well. Or maybe we got our programmes from one of the programme sellers on the street. Who remembers what one was precisely doing on a particular day all those years ago? It was 42 years ago, after all.
So, to the stadium and queued; eventually, the turnstiles opened, we paid and got in (I can’t remember how much we paid). We then made our way to the Shelf. For those of you who don’t know where the Shelf was, it was a place in the West Stand. Anyway, it was demolished in the 80s under the then director of the club, Irvin Scholar, to make way for Hospitality Boxes (the start of things to come).
This was the first time that Spurs and Rovers had met in a League competition. And what a memorable game it was. It was also the debut for Colin Lee. The game got top billing on ‘Match of the Day’ that evening and showed us at our very best.
Injuries to John Duncan and Chris Jones meant that Lee made his debut two days sooner than anyone had expected. He opened the scoring after twenty minutes and headed his second four minutes later. Peter Taylor scored before half-time. Finally, the whistle went; we were over the moon. We thought, if we were lucky we might get another one or two, but nothing like what came. We made our way to the food area and got whatever was the flavour of the day. Then back to our standing area (unless somebody had pinched it… not that anybody would take away that piece of space and transport it to another destiny – that would be silly! – but if somebody was standing in our spot). Usually, we were right up the front, another reason for getting there early.
Players were out and the second half commenced. Colin Lee got two more, Ian Moores scored a hat-trick, with Glenn Hoddle (remember him?) got the ninth goal. Hoddle had also created so many chances throughout the game.
Before you could say Jack Shit, it was over. We went stir crazy, in those days you just slapped one another on the back, did a jig or whatever, but at least we were going home on cloud nine. There was no hugging, at least I can’t remember any. Unless there was a pretty girl nearby, but that is a different story.
This was Spurs’ record Football League winning margin and what a vital result it proved to be; come the end of the season when we won the final promotion place on goal difference from Brighton, exactly nine goals better than the south coast club. You couldn’t have written it any better than that.
The team that day was: Daines, Naylor, Holmes, Hoddle, McAllister, Perryman, Pratt, McNab, Moores, Lee, Taylor.
It was a fantastic start to life for Colin Lee, and he played regularly that season making 25 League appearances and scoring 11 goals. When we returned to the 1st Division, he found life more difficult. He scored just seven goals in 26 appearances. He eventually reverted to playing at right-back, a position he had filled earlier in his career with Bristol City and Torquay. After a time out of the team, he returned to play the last four matches in that roll. His versatility was useful to Burkinshaw, but he never held down a regular position in the team. He was eventually transferred to Chelsea in January 1980 having made only 71 League and Cup appearances for Spurs, scoring 21 goals.
Tottenham Hotspur 9 Bristol Rovers 0 (2nd Division)
Scorers: Lee (4), Moores (3), Taylor, Hoddle
After the game, we made our way to the fish & chip shop near the entrance of the stadium, got our fish and chips, and ate them as we walked to Seven Sisters station. Finally getting to Thatcham station, where friends parted, and I made my way home. Probably about a 30 minutes walk. That evening I relived the game again on Match of the Day. I probably watched it with my mum and dad. In those days there was only one family TV, and that was in the living room.
You can’t remember precisely every game, but it was because of that great score/ memorable event, that gave our memory better clarity.
Bolton Wanderers ended their 14-year exile from the top flight by clinching the Second Division title in a tight promotion race between the top four teams. Southampton went up as runners-up, while we, as highlighted, secured the final promotion place following a final day draw with Southampton. Brighton missed out on a First Division place on goal difference, forcing them to prepare for a fresh assault on reaching the First Division for the first time in their history in 1979.
Hull City, Mansfield Town and Blackpool went down to the Third Division.
Tottenham joined the 2nd Division, from the Southern Division, in 1908/9. Our second season saw us enter the 1st Division. We were there until 1918/19 when we were relegated to the 2nd Division (1919/20). But went straight back up the following season by topping that Division. From 1920/1 to 1927/8 we stayed in that Division. Finally getting relegated and rejoining the 2nd Division. We were in that Division from 1928/9 to 1932/3.
Back up for two seasons (1933/4 to 1934/5), and then from 1935 to 1950, we were in the 2nd Division. Our final year in that Division (1949/50) saw us win the 2nd Division title. After that, we were only once out of the top flight, and that was in 1977/8. The start of season 1992/3 we left the 1st Division and entered the newly created Premiership (later changing its name to the Premier League).
Since the start of the Premier League in 1992, seven clubs have never been relegated from it: they are Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. However, there are no English clubs currently in existence that have never been relegated from the country's top Division.
Look after your loved ones and stay safe.
By Glenn Renshaw