Time for Spurs to Renew their Love Affair with the FA Cup - Spurs and the FA Cup 3rd Round
The first Saturday in January and the FA Cup 3rd Round go together hand in hand and has always been a special day in the football calendar. The Final in May is a memorable occasion for two clubs and their fans but 3rd Round day includes everyone. The excitement would have started a few weeks earlier when the draw was made on a Monday lunch-time in early December – there was so much more tension listening on the radio as the reporter entered the inner sanctuary of FA headquarters than there is now with former players trying to put on a show. Then on 3rd Round Saturday as it used to be, there was the excitement of scouring the papers to see if any of the journalists would tip your team for success at Wembley and there was always a new sense of expectation and hope for every fan as they truly believed that, no matter how poorly their team had performed over the first five months of the season, that ‘this could be the year’ when their team would win the Cup.
The 3rd Round weekend reminds us of the true romance of football – the Premiership clubs finding it uncomfortable when visiting some of the less well off teams, the opportunity for the ‘giant-killer’ to have their day or a player returning to a former club to show what he could have done had he not been released. All the ingredients are there and they’ll be put into the mix again this weekend.
Incredibly, it is almost sixteen years since Spurs last won the FA Cup. The images are also still so vivid in the memory that it’s hard to believe it is so long ago - Gazza and his free-kick in the semi-final at Wembley, followed by his celebrations after the win over Arsenal and then his self-inflicted injury at Wembley before it all turned out right on the day with Gary Mabbutt lifting the Cup. On that Saturday in May, Spurs were collecting the trophy for the record equalling eighth time, drawing level with Manchester United for the record number of wins and Spurs’ reputation as a ‘Cup’ team was further enhanced.
However, it had only been in the previous thirty years that Spurs had acquired that reputation – in the first seventy eight years since formation they had only won the Cup twice, as a non-league side in 1901 and twenty years later having just escaped the 2nd Division the previous summer. At the start of the 1950s, Arthur Rowe’s ‘Push and Run’ team won the 2nd and 1st Division championships in consecutive seasons but the fans clamoured for the cherry on the top of the cake, an FA Cup success – but it wasn’t to be.
A team that wins the Cup will have its moments of good
fortune and often they can occur in that very early round. In Spurs’ last Cup win in 1991 the 3rd
Round tie was a game made for a Cup shock.
Spurs who were having an indifferent season were drawn away to 4th
Division Blackpool. To make matters
worse the game was played in extremely stormy conditions and there had been
doubts over whether the game would even take place. Spurs were not known for handling such a
tricky situation but they showed determination and character. They managed to overcome the weather and
Blackpool with a goal from the former
In 1901, the 3rd Round equivalent was the 1st
Round and the match wasn’t played until early February due to the death of
Twenty years later, following promotion, Spurs, after a
disappointing start to the season, were coping well in the 1st
Division. Their first game in the FA
Cup (1st Round) saw them drawn at home to Bristol Rovers who were
in the 3rd Division, their first season in the Football
League. The two clubs had met at
Over the next forty years Spurs reached the semi-finals on a number of occasions but always fell short and so it was not until the ‘Double’ year that Spurs managed to get to another Final. On that occasion in 1961 their 3rd Round opponents were Charlton Athletic from the 2nd Division. As Spurs were well ahead at the top of the 1st Division, this game was regarded as a formality but Charlton had other ideas and made the mighty Spurs fight all the way. It took two goals from Les Allen and one from Terry Dyson for Spurs to come through with a 3-2 success.
The following year as Cup holders Spurs were drawn to play
1st Division opponents,
The opening to the 1966-67 had seen little of note or any
sign of impending success but then in mid-January Spurs struck a rich vein of
form which took them all the way to Wembley.
Spurs 3rd Round opponents made it very difficult for them
at The Den. Millwall were in the 2nd
Division and it was a typical cup-tie and Spurs were glad of a number of
saves from Pat Jennings to foil the home side and with relief escaped back to
In similar fashion, the 1980-81 season had proceeded through the opening months with little of note when Spurs were faced with a 3rd Round game at Loftus Road against Queen’s Park Rangers. After what was called a ‘sterile’ contest ended in a scoreless draw against the 2nd Division side, few would have expected Spurs to make much progress in the competition. Spurs won 3-1 in the replay with the goals scored by Tony Galvin, Glenn Hoddle and Garth Crooks.
It was different twelve months later as it was a season when Spurs were striving for trophies in four competitions. Also the 3rd Round game had so much extra importance as Spurs as Cup holders were given the tie of the round – at home to North London neighbours, Arsenal. The two clubs had only met on one previous occasion in the FA Cup, Arsenal having won 3-0 in a 3rd Round game at Highbury in 1949.
A crowd of 38,421 watched a match that was settled by a Garth Crooks goal
which went under the body of former Spurs goalkeeper, Pat Jennings.
That unusual mistake was only part of
The romance of the FA Cup came to
Another non-League opponent was
Not all 3rd Round games have been so fortuitous
for Spurs, last season they contrived to lose a two goal lead at
In 1999 Spurs departed the FA Cup before Christmas. The 3rd Round ties were played
in December and after drawing 1-1 at home with
More recently, in 1953 Spurs met Tranmere Rovers, a mid-table team in the Third Division North and they held Spurs to a 1-1 draw at home. The replay was a different matter as Spurs won 9-1 through goals from McClellan (3), Duquemin (2), Hollis (2), Baily (2). The successful team of the early 1950s had not made any impact in the F.A. Cup and many thought that this could be their year but after nine games, including four replays, having scored 21 goals, Spurs failed in their fifth semi-final.
In 1979, Keith Burkinshaw’s side suffered a similar fate
as they drew 1-1 with non-League Altrincham at
In 1993-94 Spurs were grateful for penalties as they defeated Peterborough United at home after two 1-1 draws. Spurs held their nerve and scored all five penalties.
Other memorable 3rd Round ties were games
against Manchester United. In 1968 a
difficult 3rd Round tie at Old Trafford saw Spurs earn a replay in
a thrilling action-packed game through a last minute equalizer from Martin
Chivers. Mike England returned, having
been out for two months with injury but Jimmy Greaves was left out and Phil
Beal played as an extra defender.
Chivers scored for Spurs after four minutes but United equalized
within two minutes. Half way through
the second half, United took a lead which they looked like holding until
Chivers’ last minute strike. The
replay was a very tight and combative affair.
Jimmy Greaves was re-instated to the Spurs team but the match remained
scoreless after ninety minutes.
Meeting four days after the original match, some old scores had to be
settled and in the second half Joe Kinnear and Brian Kidd were sent off for a
tussle in the Spurs penalty area. In extra time the match was settled by a
disputed goal from winger, Jimmy Robertson – United players felt that
In January, 1980 Spurs and United had drawn 1-1 at Tottenham in the 3rd Round, Ossie Ardiles scoring, but Spurs progressed the hard way. The replay was scoreless, in spite of Glenn Hoddle having to take over in goal for the injured Aleksic. Hoddle played confidently and as extra time was drawing to a close, Ossie Ardiles managed to summon a last ounce of energy to score the winner. Spurs, under Keith Burkinshaw, were now beginning to re-establish themselves in the 1st Division although further Cup success would have to wait for another season ending in ‘1’.
The FA Cup 3rd Round memories are endless, so
perhaps it’s time for Spurs to rekindle their love affair with the
competition and make a successful trip to the Final wherever it’s
played. The 3rd Round games
are so much more memorable when there’s a winning Final at the end of all the
‘Spurs are on their way to Wembley’
Spurs and the FA Cup, by