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Tottenham Double Winners!

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The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.

Danny Blanchflower, Spurs and Northern Ireland captain.

With just over a week to go until Christmas it feels like the calm before the storm, not only in the footballing world but in my office too. Much of my time in the next 10 days will be spent surfing the internet and tidying my desk between shifts of end of year filing. With this week being an unusually empty one for Spurs there’s little going on as we built up to what on paper should be a game that has at least 10 goals if it manages to escape the winter freeze.

So as I sat at my desk, wondering what I could do to entertain myself I read some of my favourite Spurs blogs, Windy did a piece on why Pavlyuchenko should be our first choice striker in the league and Tottenblog concentrated on possible signings we might make in January in our much maligned forward positions. Both subjects I could write and write and write about, but subjects I couldn’t really enhance upon the job those bloggers did so what would be the point? For the record, I agree with Windy that Pav should be starting more but I’d love Dzeko from Tottenblogs list to be signed in January so we had a world class striker at the club.

We all know what the club currently needs. We may have differing opinions on exactly what that is, but most agree we need something. Whether that’s belief, better luck with injuries or a number of key signings. We’re lucky at the moment that we’re in a purple patch in the clubs history. Given we haven’t actually won anything that sounds a little odd but that’s a sign of just how bad we’ve been in the last quarter of a century. So while we enjoy our recent good form and wonder how we can go about turning that into a period of sustained success I thought it would be a good time to take a look back 50 years to our most celebrated of teams, the 1960/61 double team.

Football’s changed a lot in those 50 years, from tactics and salaries to all seater stadium and coloured football boots, but one thing’s remained constant and that’s the respect the name Bill Nicholson has garnered from players and fans alike. “Mr Tottenham” won 13 trophies in his 33 year career as a player and coach, but surely there was no finer team than his 1960/61 double winning one. The first team to achieve that feat in the 20th century and to do it scoring nearly 3 goals a game he did it the Spurs way. He took charge of 832 matches in total, winning 8 trophies between 1958-1674. He was a born leader off the pitch and gave his life to Tottenham Hotspur, admittedly spending a large percentage of it trying to get his beloved team back to the heights of the early 60′s.

It’s strange to think how football has changed so much in the time that’s passed between then and now. Just look at the image below which denotes the line up and formation our greatest ever side would take up in most of their matches during that season.

The classic pyramid, albeit completely upside down compared to how we would expect a formation to be carried out nowadays. I’m guessing Ossie Ardiles saw this when he was manager and tried to recreate it. If you’re interested in things like this I should point you towards Johnathon Wilson’s “Inverting the Pyramid” which goes into just how we went from the 2-3-5 formation to the more traditional (by today’s standard), 4-4-2 line up.

Just look at those players though. Names that have gone down in Tottenham history as being some of, it not the greatest players to ever wear the lilywhite and cockerel shirt.

Bill Brown is regarded by many who saw him to be the greatest keeper in Spurs history. He wasn’t flamboyant like Gomes currently is but he could catch, distribute and keep the defensive line organised. He did the simple things excellently and made the difficult things look easy.

Peter Baker and Ron Henry were again two of the best full backs of their generation. Neither get the credit of their other better known team mates but being a full back 50 years ago was a lot harder than it is today and neither was very often found wanting when it mattered.

Dave Mackay was probably Bill Nic’s greatest ever signing, even better than Jimmy Greaves. The best thing anyone could ever say about the Scottish international is that since retiring we’ve been looking for a replacement and never really found one. He made the team tick from start to finish, never accepting defeat. If we could’ve cloned one player from this era, Mackay is the one we’d get the most from.

Maurice Norman was a “typical” English centre half. Strong, powerful and a will to win. Michael Dawson would be the closest example we currently have in the team. See’s the ball and win’s it at all costs.

Danny Blanchflower was probably the greatest player in the team. Controlled the game with time and space only the greats get and turned the team from a very good side into the great side it eventually became. Like Mackay, he’s a player and in particular a captain we’ve struggled to replace. A natural leader on and off the pitch, he would make sure Bill Nic’s instructions were completed during a game and would often implement his own to great success. How we could do with him nowadays from the penalty spot, having never missed one. Made the game look easy.

Then there’s the forward line. Quite possibly some of the finest attacking footballers not just at Spurs or of that generation but in football history. I’m far too young and good looking to have seen these guys play live but if you ever get a chance to catch some glimpses of them on old footage do so. Pathe News is always a good source of things like that. With the likes of Cliff Jones, John White and Bobby Smith is it any wonder we scored 115 goals in that title winning season?

That’s not to mention Terry Dyson, who got the second goal in the Cup Final against Leicester to send the team into the history books, or Les Allen who scored 119 goals in his Spurs career and seemed to be the pinnacle of the Allen conveyor belt at the club.

Cliff Jones is still out and about doing the circuit and working for the club on match days. He spends most of his time being asked if Gareth Bale could one day be as good as he was. Regarded as one of the fastest wingers in his day with a superb cross for the likes of Smith to feed off, an eye for goal and being Welsh, it’s hardly surprising the two are being compared, but Bale is some way off the quality Jones showed. One of my favourite all time players.

Finally, two of the now deceased former players, Bobby Smith was an old fashioned centre forward. A giant of a man, ready to do anything he had to to get the ball in the back of the net. How we’d love one of those right now. Sadly died a few months ago. Then there was John White or the Ghost or White Hart Lane as he’s become known. Those that saw him play say he’s one of the most skilful players to ever play for Spurs, even better than Hoddle. Sadly his life was cut short three years after winning the double. Keep an eye out for his son Rob’s book, The Ghost of White Hart Lane, due out early next year and check out his blog while you’re at it.

Some of the greatest players to ever play for this club we love. Unfortunately, being 50 years ago means the majority of fans attending games will have never seen them play live but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember. There are a lot of things that go into making a football club and one of the main ones is history. At Spurs we have a rich tapestry of past events that have shaped the club we know today and none more so than those 12 men who on the 06th May 1961 at Wembley stadium in front of a 100,000 capacity crowd completed what many thought was impossible and won the league and FA Cup double. We salute you.

Submitted by THFC1882.

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