Spurs and the FA Cup – 6th Round
With Chelsea in mind the obvious starting point for a review of Spurs in the FA Cup 6th Round is Stamford Bridge in 1982. Spurs as Cup holders were drawn against 2nd Division Chelsea who had defeated European Champions, Liverpool, in the previous round. A memorable game with Spurs in an all white strip with yellow socks and as the game progressed everything clicked for them. Chelsea had taken a first half lead but gradually Spurs started to show their superior class with Glenn Hoddle giving a master class of ball control. It was only a matter of time before Spurs would score and it came when Steve Archibald poked the ball home after the Chelsea goalkeeper failed to hold a Hoddle free-kick. Spurs immediately stepped up a gear and within ten minutes were 3-1 ahead. The second goal was a masterpiece. Hoddle and Hazard cut through the Chelsea midfield with an exchange of passes and, after Hazard's flick had left them wrong-footed, Hoddle crashed a 25-yard drive past the goalkeeper. Hazard then confirmed Tottenham's superiority with a coolly taken drive and although Chelsea pulled a goal back Spurs coasted home on a wave of possession football. The performance was even greater as the match was played on a bare pitch with a very uneven bounce.
A similar performance and result on Sunday would be very, very satisfying.
In 1901, with fewer teams in the competition, Spurs had already reached the semi-finals but in 1921 they were drawn at home against the FA Cup holders, Aston Villa. Having had a favourable draw in the earlier rounds, this was the first occasion they had met opponents from the 1st Division. The clubs had met at the similar stage (4th Round) a year previously when a Tommy Clay own goal had taken Villa through. This time, Clay and Spurs took revenge and triumphed when right winger, Jimmy Banks, scored midway through the first half, following a run by left winger, Jimmy Dimmock. In his book, Jimmy Seed, the influential Spurs player of the time describes how Banks saved his blushes with the goal. Seed admits that on occasions, in big games, he would ‘freeze’ and in this game as Dimmock crossed the ball, that’s what happened. However, Jimmy Banks sized up the situation and hit both Seed and the ball as best he could. The ball hit his knee and ended up in the Villa goal. A freak goal and another piece of good fortune to take Spurs closer to success.
That match was watched by a crowd of 51, 991 spectators at White Hart Lane but it falls well short of the record attendance for the ground which was achieved in 1938. On 5th March, 1938, Spurs’ record crowd of 75,038 spectators witnessed the team lose by a single goal to Sunderland. At that time Spurs were in the 2nd Division while Sunderland were from the 1st Division. However, a controversial refereeing decision denied Spurs an opening goal. A Colin Lyman shot beat the goalkeeper but Jack Gibbons following up to make sure the ball went in, handled and although the referee gave the goal, a linesman flagged for handball and the goal was disallowed.
However, in 1961 the roles were reversed and the 6th Round game took Spurs to Roker Park to meet Sunderland who were in the 2nd Division and their young team came closest to ending that season’s all conquering Spurs team’s dream of the ‘double.’ By the end of that game Spurs were hanging on for a draw. Cliff Jones had given Spurs the lead after nine minutes with a header from a partially cleared corner. Bobby Smith hit the post just before half-time, but then the famous ‘Roker Roar’ lifted the home team and they equalised at the start of the second half. Sunderland pressurised Spurs to the final whistle and tested them to the limit but where weaker teams would have succumbed Danny Blanchflower galvanized Spurs who held out for the replay. It was a relieved Spurs team who prepared for the replay the following Wednesday and having escaped with a draw, they made no mistakes this time. Sunderland had had their day and now it was time for Spurs to show their superiority. Fans had queued for ten hours to get in and they saw Spurs sweep majestically into the semi-final. Spurs were three ahead by half-time with goals from Les Allen, Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson. After 65 minutes Dyson scored his second and five minutes later Dave Mackay completed the scoring. Burnley awaited in the semi-finals.
In 1962, Spurs had to meet Aston Villa. Spurs had beaten them 2-0 at Villa Park the previous season in the 5th Round and with home advantage recorded the same score this time. In a typical cup-tie, in slippery conditions due to constant rain, Spurs hit the post twice during the first half, with shots from Terry Medwin and Jimmy Greaves. However, Villa defended resolutely and the game remained scoreless but sixty seconds in the second half changed all that. In the 47th minute, Danny Blanchflower scored with a low shot and one minute later, Cliff Jones headed home a cross from Greaves.
Second Division, Birmingham City were Spurs 6th Round opponents in 1967. A visit to the Midlands saw Spurs held to a goal-less draw as the home team battled heroically to ensure Spurs could not play their natural game. The Spurs defence also had be alert to thwart Birmingham and Pat Jennings had to make a number of important saves. In the replay, order was restored and Jimmy Greaves threw off the shackles that had been imposed on him in the first game to score twice in the second half. Terry Venables had scored two early goals and Alan Gilzean made it three before half-time. Greaves’ brace and a final goal from Frank Saul completed the scoring after the interval and took Spurs to a meeting with Nottingham Forest.
In 1981, the draw was favourable to Spurs, a home game against Exeter City from the Third Division. Spurs couldn’t have been more delighted and were looking towards the semi-finals and beyond. Surely, a team with Perryman, Hoddle, Ardiles, Archibald, Crooks and Georgio Mazzon would have too much class for the lower Division team. However, it took two goals from the central defenders to take Spurs into the semi-finals. Exeter made Spurs fight all the way but two moments of Glenn Hoddle magic created the goals for Spurs. Firstly, a Hoddle cross enabled Graham Roberts to score his first goal for the club and then from his free-kick Paul Miller scored after the goalkeeper had made a mistake.
The two recurring themes from the 1991 Cup triumph are Spurs’ worsening financial situation and Paul Gascoigne. As the months passed so Spurs’ future outlook grew bleaker by the day but the one bright spot was the FA Cup and Paul Gascoigne’s ability to overcome injury worries and continue to amaze with his outstanding performances. The 6th Round opponents were Notts County at White Hart Lane and if Spurs were expecting an easy victory over the 2nd Division side, they must have been in a state of shock when County took the lead. Nayim scored to bring Spurs level and then a winner from the one and only, Paul Gascoigne, took Spurs to a semi-final tie against Arsenal.
Dismissal at the 6th Round is particularly disappointing as supporters watch other teams progress to the ‘big’ games of the semi-final and possibly the Final with all the added expectancy and media coverage that accompanies these games. Reviewing Spurs’ games at this stage of the competition, it is surprising to find that many have a claim to recognition, including Spurs’ last 6th Round experience in 2005. That took them to Newcastle and after conceding an early goal Spurs set about rectifying the situation but a certain referee managed to deny Spurs’ claims for at least two penalties and disallowed a goal which would have provided Spurs with the chance to bring the game back to White Hart Lane. Undeserved defeat in such circumstances brings such frustration and disappointment.
An unexpected hero emerged from the five goal thriller at Upton Park in 2001 when Sergei Rebrov showed why Spurs had spent their record transfer fee to sign him. His two goals and one from Gary Doherty gave George Graham’s team a thrilling victory and another chance to play Arsenal in the semi-finals. Everything was up-beat at Tottenham after that win but behind the scenes all was not well and within seven days Graham was gone with Glenn Hoddle to be his eventual successor.
In 1999, the 6th Round draw took Spurs to Barnsley where they had lost in a 5th Round Replay twelve months earlier. This time a David Ginola inspirational run and goal was sufficient to overcome the side that had suffered relegation at the end of the previous season.
In 1993 Spurs had to visit Manchester to play City and it was a memorable game, not just because Spurs won, but because of the football that Spurs played, the hat-trick scored by Nayim and the fact that the game had to be stopped due to a pitch invasion by the City fans. City went into the lead but Spurs were ahead at half-time through goals from Nayim and Sedgeley. In the second half Spurs took control with Nayim scoring twice. Spurs had a goal disallowed and direct from the free-kick City went the length of the pitch and scored. This was the signal for the City supporters to spill onto the pitch. The game was halted and the players left the pitch for thirteen minutes while the mounted police restored order.
Wimbledon have often proved a difficult side for Spurs to beat – they disliked their long ball, high pressured play and often came off second best. However, in 1987 David Pleat’s side showed their worth in a visit to Plough Lane and showed application and commitment that took them through and the skill of Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle provided the goals to ensure the ‘Diamond Lights’ were still shining for the semi-final tie.
Season 1955-56 was disappointing for Spurs in the League but the team showed great endeavour in the Cup and their 6th Round game against West Ham was one to remember. At White Hart Lane on a very heavy pitch Spurs came from 2-3 down to earn a draw after Captain, Danny Blanchflower, moved centre-half, Maurice Norman, forward to assist the attack. It worked and Spurs were grateful to Tommy Harmer (pen), Len Duquemin and George Robb for the goals. In the replay Harmer and Duquemin both scored as Spurs won 2-1.
Three years earlier Spurs were involved in a three game thriller against Birmingham City at this stage of the competition. They had already played five games and in those days extra replays were arranged to determine who went through rather than curtail the process with penalties as happens today. The original match was at St Andrews where Spurs earned a 1-1 draw with a goal from Les Bennett. In the replay at White Hart Lane Bennett again scored and with Len Duquemin ensured a 2-2 draw after extra time. Spurs won the third game with a goal from Sonny Walters and went on to meet Blackpool in the semi-final.
In 1995 Spurs gave one of the truly memorable performances of the decade in their 6th Round game against Liverpool. Having fought back at Southampton Spurs had a visit to Anfield as their reward but it wasn’t a ground with many happy memories for them and Spurs weren’t given much chance. Liverpool took the lead late in the first half but Teddy Sheringham managed to equalize right on half-time. In the second half Spurs played much better and it looked set for a replay but with two minutes remaining, Sheringham put Jurgen Klinsmann through to score the winner. A great result for Spurs as they went on to meet Everton in the semi-final.
Coincidently that victory over Liverpool and the win over West Ham in 2001 took place on 11th March – Spurs are due to meet Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 11th March – here’s hoping that today’s players can take inspiration from those results against the odds and bring further success on Sunday.