Friday, January 18, 2008

Sunderland Aim to Spoil Spurs' Party Again!!

Saturday’s game at White Hart Lane will be the 100th competitive meeting between Spurs and Sunderland with Tottenham holding a slight advantage in the overall record with 38 wins ahead of Sunderland’s thirty five.

Through that record, Sunderland have a history of spoiling Spurs’ hopes and ambitions.

Back in 1938, no I wasn’t there, Sunderland travelled to London for an FA Cup 6th Round tie. Sunderland were the 1st Division side and the FA Cup holders while Spurs had dropped down into the 2nd Division three years earlier and White Hart Lane recorded the highest ever attendance – 75,038 were packed into the ground as the players took to the pitch. Such a scenario, a record crowd, deserved a home win but Sunderland had other ideas, however their victory was not without controversy.

Today’s television commentators would have been in their element trying to assess if the Spurs’ forward had handled the ball before or after it crossed the line. It was into the second half of the exciting game when a cross shot from Colin Lyman was handled by Spurs’ Jack Gibbons as it crossed the line. Was it a goal? The referee awarded a goal but after consulting the linesman, he ruled against Spurs. Sunderland having escaped that scare won the game late on when one of their most famous players, Raich Carter, scored the only goal.

In September,1969 after a poor start to the season, Spurs manager, Bill Nicholson, gave a debut to a young home grown player for the visit of Sunderland. His name was Steve Perryman. Unfortunately, Sunderland rather spoiled his first game by again winning 1-0 through an own goal from Spurs’ Welsh international, Mike England. At least the early set-back to his career didn’t upset Perryman who went on to become Spurs’ captain and to be a vital member of the successful Spurs’ teams in the early 1970s and 1980s as well as make a record 854 appearances for Spurs in all competitions.

In 1961, 2nd Division, Sunderland almost achieved something that the top clubs of the day failed to do. They made Spurs fight all the way in the FA Cup 6th Round tie at Roker Park. Spurs had taken an early first half lead through Cliff Jones but after half-time Sunderland came roaring back, fully supported by their fans who created an incredibly atmosphere in the ground. Sunderland equalised through Willie McPheat and by the end Spurs were greatly relieved to escape Roker Park with a draw but they managed to win the replay in mid-week to continue on their way to the ‘Double’.

Spoiling Spurs’ ambitions – Sunderland don’t have to go back any further than last August, the opening day of the season and a deserved win with a last minute goal from substitute, Michael Chopra. Spurs went in to that game with such high hopes for the season but they fell flat in the face of a determined performance from Sunderland.

Sunderland will be hoping to do the same on Saturday and deflate Spurs’ tentative recovery under Juande Ramos. Roy Keane will demand total commitment and hope to add further misery to Spurs’ season.

Having remembered some of Sunderland’s finer moments against Spurs, I will just mention a Spurs’ legend. Jimmy Greaves loved playing against Sunderland – 10 goals in total, including four in a game in 1968. Perhaps, Berbatov could take over that role, if he’s in the mood.

Enjoy the game!!!!


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