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Spurs and the FA Cup 4th Round

Many of the FA Cup ties that linger on the memory are associated with the 3rd Round or the Semi-Final or Final while the games in the intervening rounds tend to merge into one, as the 4th, 5th and 6th Rounds become indistinguishable as part of the journey, which one hopes will lead to success.  As always, there are exceptions with the double spring spectaculars in 1985 at Southampton and Anfield.


Having overcome Cardiff in the 3rd Round Replay, Spurs have been rewarded with a second Cup visit from Southend United.  This 4th Round tie will probably be consigned to join the many games that are overlooked in history unless it becomes memorable for all the ‘wrong’ reasons in that the Championship side gain an unexpected victory or hopefully the game has some spectacular goals which make it a step towards a Spurs’ victory in the Final in May.


It is for the ‘wrong’ reasons that a recent 4th Round game is remembered.  Only three years ago supporters were left reeling after Spurs managed to lose a three goal half-time advantage to ten-man Manchester City.  At half-time supporters were contemplating a 5th Round game at Old Trafford – Spurs were three ahead and City had just had a player sent off - nothing could be more straight forward.  But City staged the most unexpected of come-backs to win the replay 4-3.  The lowest point in a very low season as Spurs with David Pleat as caretaker manager, waited patiently for a new manager to replace Glenn Hoddle.


Unfortunately, even the greatest of managers can suffer the ignominy of such defeats.  In 1973, with less than ten minutes to play, Bill Nicholson’s side were 3-1 ahead in the 4th Round Replay against Derby County at White Hart Lane.  Spurs’ goals had come from Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean and a Mike England penalty but then the Derby centre forward, Roger Davies came to life and scored twice to take the game into extra time.  He then scored a third as Derby completed a remarkable recovery to win 5-3 in front of 53,000 disbelieving spectators.


In 1966 a visiting centre forward who also scored a hat-trick in a 4th Round tie was less fortunate.  Willie Irvine, a Northern Ireland international scored three for Burnley in a seven goal thriller but went home on the losing side when Alan Gilzean matched his hat-trick and Frank Saul added a fourth for Spurs who had been two down early on and were trailing 2-3 with only minutes remaining.


The repercussions from a shock defeat can sometimes be very unexpected.  In 1970 Spurs were knocked out of the Cup by Crystal Palace in a 4th Round Replay.  Only a few weeks earlier Spurs had comfortably completed a League double over their London rivals and so must have assumed that progress to the next round of the Cup would be reasonably straight-forward.  However, Palace achieved a scoreless draw at White Hart Lane and a single goal was enough in the replay.  Manager Bill Nicholson was frustrated with the disappointing performance of his players and for the next game made wholesale changes.  Dropped from the team were Alan Gilzean, Joe Kinnear, Cyril Knowles, Steve Perryman and Jimmy Greaves.  Through time four players managed to regain their places but the other, Spurs’ leading goal scorer, Jimmy Greaves, never played for Spurs again.  By mid-March he had been transferred to West Ham United as part of the deal to bring Martin Peters to Tottenham.  Those supporters present at Selhurst Park that night in January didn’t realise that they were witnessing the demise and swan-song of Spurs’ greatest goal scorer – Jimmy Greaves’ last appearance in a white Spurs’ shirt.


However, games worthy of more favourable mention, include the 2nd Round tie back in 1901, when no-one could accuse Spurs of having an easy ride in the FA Cup.  Having removed 1st Division Preston from the competition in the previous round, they were drawn against Bury, the FA Cup holders.  In the previous year’s Final Bury had brushed aside Southampton, Spurs’ rivals from the Southern League.  Spurs had home advantage but 1st Division Bury took the lead within two minutes, before some of the record crowd of 20,250 had taken their places inside White Hart Lane.  Bury then dominated the game putting Spurs’ defence under constant pressure but after half an hour Spurs managed to score – very much against the run of play.  From a rare foray into the Bury half, winger Tom Smith centred from the right and Sandy Brown scored the goal that completely changed the game.  Spurs were filled with confidence and in the second half were a different team.  Brown scored a second goal and while Bury recovered to fight back in an effort to retrieve the situation, it was Spurs, the non-League side, who were playing the cultured football and deservedly progressed to the next round.


In 1921, the next occasion that Spurs won the FA Cup, their early progress was quite straight-forward.  It had been expected that their 1st Division rivals, Bradford City would provide stiffer opposition than Spurs had experienced in the previous round but despite their defensive display holding Spurs in the first half, they were swept aside after half-time as Spurs scored four goals without reply.  Jimmy Seed was the star, scoring twice in two minutes early in the second half.  He controlled the game for Spurs and completed his hat-trick with a shot from twenty five yards, after winger, Jimmy Banks had scored the third.  It was Jimmy Seed who received the rave reviews in the newspaper reports for his performance and his goals.


In 1961 Spurs had a home 4th Round tie against the side they had met at the same stage of the competition twelve months earlier.  Then Spurs had been drawn away and were relieved to come away from Gresty Road with a 2-2 draw after Crewe Alexandra had twice pulled back from being a goal behind and only a magnificent save from Bill Brown prevented Spurs becoming the victim of a Cup upset.  Les Allen and Cliff Jones scored in the first game and both maintained their scoring in the replay, being responsible for eight of the thirteen goals that Spurs scored that night.  At half-time Spurs were 10-1 ahead and added three more in the second half to record their highest win, 13-2.  Allen scored 5, Bobby Smith got 4, Jones scored 3 and Tommy Harmer completed the scoring.  It is said that Crewe left London Euston from Platform 13 and arrived in Crewe at Platform 2.


A year later, Crewe determined not to suffer another heavy defeat gave a credible account of themselves before losing 5-1 to the Spurs team that was well on the way to recording the first League and Cup ‘double’ of the twentieth century.   Crewe must have feared the worst when Terry Dyson put Spurs ahead after four minutes but their goalkeeper, put in an outstanding performance.  Smith scored Spurs’ second but three minutes later Crewe pulled a goal back.  Dave Mackay scored a third before the interval and second half goals from Jones and Allen completed Spurs’ victory.


The 4th Round draw in 1962 took Spurs on the long journey to Plymouth who were in the 2nd Division.  Spurs won 5-1 with goals from Terry Medwin, John White, Jimmy Greaves (2) and Cliff Jones.


The 1967 4th Round game saw Portsmouth as the visitors to Tottenham.  In the 2nd Division, Portsmouth held Spurs through the first half in spite of early Spurs’ chances and pressure.  It was two goals inside a minute from Alan Gilzean early in the second half that changed the game.  Greaves added a third before Portsmouth scored their consolation goal.


The 100th F.A. Cup competition in 1981 saw Spurs with a home tie in the Fourth Round against Third Division strugglers, Hull City.  Going into this game, Spurs were in a period of impressive form with Archibald and Crooks taking the chances created by a midfield including Hoddle, Ardiles and Galvin, so the result should have been a formality.  However, Hull gave Spurs a scare and the deadlock was only broken when substitute Garry Brooke, who had replaced Ardiles, scored with seven minutes remaining.  Brooke then forced another save from the Hull keeper and set up Steve Archibald’s last minute goal. It was with relief that Spurs progressed to the next round.


The following year Spurs faced 1st Division opposition in a home game with Leeds United.  As in the previous round against Arsenal, it was a very tight game and it was Garth Crooks who again provided the goal which took Spurs through to the next round for their third game against 1st Division opposition, Aston Villa.


The 1991 FA Cup triumph was achieved amid the financial difficulties encountered by the club and the events off the pitch were a major distraction.  However, Paul Gascoigne managed to single-handedly turn everyone’s thoughts back to the football with his outstanding performances in the Cup games, in spite of needing a hernia operation.  It was hoped that he could be nursed through to the end of the season and against Oxford United he showed no ill effects from the problem by scoring twice to give Spurs a comfortable passage to the next round.  The other goals in a 4-2 win were scored by Gary Mabbutt and Gary Lineker.


While Terry Venables masterminded Spurs’ FA Cup success in 1991, his first three seasons at White Hart Lane were not so distinguished.  Spurs were knocked out in the early rounds, showing none of their traditional Cup winning characteristics, including a 4th Round exit in 1987 to Port Vale.  The 3rd Division side, fifty two places below Spurs were two goals ahead after twenty five minutes.   When Spurs wakened up after half-time they scored through central defender Neil Ruddock mid-way through the half but it was too little too late and their humiliation was complete – from finalists at Wembley the previous May to Cup fodder for lowly opposition eight months later – the FA Cup is no respecter of anyone’s reputation.


Spurs’ progress in January, 1979 was proving problematic.  They had the good fortune to receive a home tie in both of the opening rounds but after being taken to a replay by non-league Altrincham, Wrexham also managed to earn a draw at White Hart Lane in the 4th Round.  The replay win over Altrincham had been Spurs’ first FA Cup success for six seasons, since defeating another non-League side, Margate, in 1973 which had been Bill Nicholson’s last FA Cup win as manager.  Spurs and Wrexham shared six goals in the first game with Glenn Hoddle, Chris Jones and an own goal accounting for Spurs’ quota.  Wrexham were deserving of the replay and Spurs were grateful to a hat-trick in successive rounds with centre forward Chris Jones providing the much needed goals to see Spurs through by 3-2 after extra time.


A memorable game from recent times when Spurs’ FA Cup success has been minimal was back in 2001.  Spurs were drawn away to fellow Premiership side Charlton who had won the earlier league game by a solitary goal and had earned a scoreless draw at Tottenham a few days earlier.  Spurs found themselves two goals behind early in the second half but staged a remarkable comeback to score three goals inside six minutes to change the game.  Gary Doherty, Darren Anderton and Oyvind Leonhardsen got the goals while a late strike from Sergei Rebrov sealed the victory.


A defeat in the 4th Round of the FA Cup often signals an early ‘end’ to the season.  This year Spurs are fortunate that they still have the UEFA Cup games and the second leg of the Carling Cup to maintain interest in their season as well as endeavouring to close the gap on those European places for next year.  However, defeat to Southend is not a prospect that anyone at White Hart Lane would want to contemplate so while the temptation will be there to rest important players ahead of next week’s Carling Cup game, Southend must be given they respect they are due.  They showed in the Carling Cup that they will compete for every ball so Spurs must be prepared to dig deep and produce the required effort and application to keep alive the hope that it will be another stepping stone on the road to Wembley.



Logan Holmes





Spurs and the FA Cup, by Logan Holmes