The fifth classic game I’ve been to: Spurs 5 Arsenal 0 Monday, April 4th, 1983
The sixth classic game I’ve been to: Spurs 5 Arsenal 0 Monday, April 4th, 1983
This match I will never forget.
The match was on Monday (a bank holiday) of Tottenham’s Centenary year (1882/83). But on the Friday before this match I wrote something in my works diary, when I went to next look at it, on the Tuesday I was shocked to see what I had written (more on that later).
Kick-off was at 3 pm
Like always, the day started off reading the papers. One of the newspapers carried a story that Spurs were going to fined Tony Galvin for being sent off against Brighton. This was because we looked like we were going to win, he was sent off, and we lost 2-1. This was on Friday. Keith Burkinshaw had remarked after the match, "We were in the driving seat with 11 against 10. Then you get a stupid, immature fellow like Tony Galvin getting himself sent off as well. Immediately Brighton go and score twice. I'm not saying it was his fault that they got two goals, but it must have helped us to have had 11 against 10." He was pissed. But Buyrkinshaw did add that he thought the referee had been a little harsh in sending Gavlin off when put alongside the very crude tackle by Ramsey on Falco. But we lost.
In 1983 I was married with one child (Martin), two step-children, and the following year my daughter Hayley was born. If I remember rightly, I was working for Micro consultants/ Quantel, which was only around the corner from where I lived. I had taken my wife and my two step-children to matches, but on this occasion, it was just me, myself and I (the three of us were good company). If I also remember rightly, I didn’t have a car then, so I must have travelled to London from Newbury, by train. Once at the ground, I found my friends, and we went to the pub. Once we left the pub, I usually went around to the Programme sellers/ stalls and chatted to them, as I got to know them quite well. Nowadays, only one is still there, Martin, who sells opposite the pub near the ground. Anyway, finally, we made our way to the turnstiles, usually about an hour and a half before kick-off and queued.
Over 43,000 packed into White Hart Lane for our game against Arsenal; 43,642 spectators, were, in fact, our highest home gate of the season. Inescapably there was trouble before the game when both sets of fans began fighting on the Edmonton end of the Shelf. Some of the crowd spilt over on to the grass as the police began escorting Arsenal fans to the Park Lane terraces, but the trouble was under control before the teams came out. There was quite a few bloody faces and injured supporters, who had to be attended to by the ambulance staff.
Even though we had lost against Brighton, we did retain the same eleven that played a few days earlier. The sole change of recalling the more reliable Paul Miller in place of John Lacy to partner Graham Roberts. This meant that both Archibald and Gibson continued in midfield. In the stands sat Garth Crooks, John Pratt, Pat Jennings and Glenn Hoddle, a wealth of Tottenham talent. In the case of Pat Jennings, he is one of the few Spurs players to have left the club who invariably gets a warm welcome on his return to Tottenham, despite the fact he plays for Arsenal. But the difference between him and Sol Campbell was that Jennings didn’t want to leave, while the gobshite Campbell said he would never go and as soon as his contact was up – after promising to sign a new one – jumped ship when gold was waved in his face.
The players came out, suddenly a hush went over the ground, immediately followed by loud cheers when we saw them. The players got into position, and the referee blew his whistle. We let out a loud cheer; actually, a mixture of cheers and boos, depending on who was controlling the ball at any given time. We began the match defending the Park Lane end and promptly grabbed the initiative, which we never lost. Arsenal were evidently thinking of avoiding injury and did not appear to have any stomach for the game (typical Woolwich boys). In vain both Don Howe and Terry Neill were jumping up and down trying to get their lacklustre team to fight, but after that, it seemed the pair had given up all hope of getting anything out of this game. All good so far.
Their goalkeeper Wood was to blame for the first goal. Hughton dashed down the wing, laid the ball off to Alan Brazil, who pushed the ball on to Steve Archibald. Archibald pushed the ball on to Hughton, whose shot was miskicked and trickled past the dead parrot Wood. Our fans cheered, slapped each other on the back and pointed their fist at the dejected Arse wipes. While all this was happening, we could see Wood, O'Leary, Robson and Sansom arguing with each other over whose fault it was. We just laughed at their antics. For this match, there was no TV cameras, sadly. Clemence threw the ball out to the hovering Gibson on the right-wing. Gibson belted down the length of the right-wing, easily bypassing a clumsy tackle from Arsenal's Robson. On the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, he momentarily steadied himself and took a quick glance at the goalmouth. Gibson's cross was perfect, Falco timed his run flawlessly, and Wood was left scrabbling at the empty goalmouth as the ball hit the back of the net. Falco turned to face his teammates, whooping in delight. They were whooping, we went crazy. The bastards were going to be humiliated we shouted in harmony.
Mark Falco disappeared beneath his teammates, while all this was happening Terry Neill sunk back into the gloom of his touch-line seat while Don Howe stood up shouting commands to his dozy team. It had been many years since we had made a dream start against the wankers who were illegitimately squatting on our territory.
Five minutes later, we were 3-0 ahead! Galvin and Hughton played a one-two on the left. Hughton played the ball to Archibald who flicked it back the first time, and Hughton struck the ball firmly wide of Wood before turning away to celebrate first time he scored two goals in a match. Again, another confrontation between Wood and O'Leary to who was to blame. Wood seemed to think O'Leary should have prevented Archibald's pass to Chris Hughton while O'Leary seemed to think Wood had been late in coming off his line. To us, it didn’t matter, they both were wankers, we just revelled in their conducts.
After that, we might have gone further ahead. Talbot very nearly knocked the ball into his own goal and Brazil twice went very close to scoring. Every time we moved forward, the Woolwich defence freaked out and seemed afraid to move or hold the ball at all. Not that we had it all our own way, but every time Arsenal tried to break away, Alan Sunderland was caught by the offside trap, which was sprung by Miller and Roberts. Roberts was revelling in his momentary role of team captain.
With seven minutes to half time, their goalkeeper performed a brilliant save to deny Gibson a goal that would have matched Falco's effort. The ball had bobbled about in the goal area and broke loose for Gibson to slam a shot goalwards that Wood could only finger over the bar. Finally, the referee blew his whistle. No doubt Arsenal went back to a bollocking, while our team went back to congratulations from Keith Burkshinshaw.
We made our way to the bar and got ourselves a pint and something to eat and then back to our standing area. All we could talk about was the humiliation Arsenal was receiving, and what more could Spurs give? We were soon to find out.
Both teams emerged for the start of the second half; it became apparent that Arsenal had withdrawn Chris Whyte and sent on Vladmir Petrovic, withdrawing Talbot from midfield into defence to accommodate Petrovic. Five minutes into the second half, Arsenal made their first telling move of the game. Rix hit the ball from the wing, and Petrovic just failed to get a shot in before Mabbutt hooked the ball away. Good old Mabbutt, you could always rely on him.
Within a minute, we had gone 4-0 ahead. We were awarded a free-kick. Miller hit a long ball high, and as Wood flapped around like an old woman deciding whether to come out or stay on his line, Falco hammered home his second goal of the match with a scorching right foot shot that took his tally to five in four games. As Falco disappeared beneath the congratulations of his teammates, we roared and laughed at the Arsewipes at the same time. Not for many years had we had the luck to see Arsenal so thoroughly humiliated and humbled. And we deserved it.
Four nill ahead and we began to ease off. Arsenal were allowed to creep back into the game, but fortuitously for us, Sunderland was woefully out of form. Yet it was us who came closest to scoring for Arsenal! Clemence was on the far side of his goal area performing exercises when Roberts chipped the ball back. To the horror of the Spurs fans, the ball appeared to be bouncing towards the goal. Clemence tore across his goal in a vain attempt to catch the ball but, thankfully, the ball spun wide for a corner at the last minute. As we were observing this, our hearts were in our mouth, granted, it wouldn’t have made any difference, we would still have won, but we wanted it with a clean sheet.
Up to this point, there had only been one booking. That had been just before half-time when Mark Falco had protested to the referee that Talbot had held him down as he had tried to meet a Mabbutt cross. Falco's booking means he had to serve a one-match suspension on April 23rd. But in quick succession, Robson, for a foul on Gibson, and Rix, for dissent, were booked.
Their goalkeeper Wood pulled off another brilliant save not long after the Rix booking when he fingered a long shot from Galvin over the bar, but he could not do much a few minutes later when Alan Brazil completed the massacre. Robson misjudged a header from O'Reilly and Brazil pounced to slam home his first-ever goal for us. And what a game to get your first ever club goal.
We all celebrated, while the Arsenal fans were either leaving or just stood there like dummies. Suddenly disaster struck – not for us – but those that deserved it. O'Leary went down profoundly during a goalmouth scramble and did not get up. Despite lengthy treatment from the England physiotherapist Fred Street, O'Leary had to be helped off. It was apparent he could not place weight on the ankle, and it took him quite a while to limp to the dressing room. We, as kind, caring supporters, did cheer him off the pitch… or was that boo him off the pitch?
A few minutes after that, we should have gone 6-0 ahead when Gibson rushed through, but Wood timed his run right and stopped Gibson in his tracks. After that, we played out the time.
After the whistle went, we applauded our team, while the Woolwich players slunk off the pitch in humiliation. We also applauded the Arsenal fans, well, OK, not applauded, but sarcastically waved them away.
After their humiliation, Terry Neill refused to criticise his team publicly beyond telling them they had forfeited their day off the next day. I bet he wasn’t so kind in the dressing room? He probably kicked a few in the bollocks, while the others watched and cried in the troughs.
Not since season 1911-12, when Arsenal were called Woolwich, and not in North London, had we thrashed the scum in such decisive fashion. As we left the ground, we had the biggest smiles, while the Woolwich boys hid their scarves and tiptoed away meekly, just like meerkats.
Obviously, the trip back was a delight, couldn’t wait to get home and tell Christine and the kids.
Shall we just repeat the score again; TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3) 5, ARSENAL (0) O
Scorers:- Hughton, 10, 18 Falco, 13, 53 Brazil, 66
Tottenham Hotspur: Clemence; O'Reilly, Miller, Roberts, Hughton; Archibald, Mabbutt, Gibson, Galvin; Falco, Brazil. (Hazard was substitute but not used).
Oh, yes… when I got back to work the next day, I looked in my diary, and you never guess what I wrote: Spurs 5 Arsenal 0—gods honest truth. Of course, I had forgotten what I had written, but when I saw it, I was gobsmacked.
A brilliant result, brilliant day and an excellent memory. We are magic, you know!
That season we finished 4th.
By Glenn Renshaw