Season 98-99 January - May

MANCHESTER UNITED 2  THFC 1   - Sunday 16 May 1999

Attendance: 55,189
Weather ; Sunny   
Man Utd: Schmeichel, G Neville, May, Johnsen, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes (Butt 70) Giggs (P Neville 79) Yorke, Sheringham (Cole 45) Subs not used: Van De Gouw, Solskjaer.  
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Scales (Young 78), Campbell, Edinburgh, Freund, Anderton, Sherwood, Ginola (Dominguez 9, Sinton 72), Ferdinand, Iversen. Subs not used: Baardsen, Clemence.  

At a tense 'Theatre of Dreams' only Spurs stood between Man Utd and the Championship. The one problem being that if Spurs took anything from this game then the Gooners could become Champions. Many of the Spurs fans made their feelings known from the start; Spurs to give a good account of themselves, but under no circumstances allow the championship to return to Highbury. Mission accomplished. Before the match we had a local opera singer entertaining the crowd and lifting the atmosphere. The scene was set. There was some early tension, but United looked as if they meant business. In the 9th minute Ginola seemed to be caught on the heel by Neville and the Player of the Year left the proceedings almost immediately. Rumour has it he had some shopping to do in the Megastore before catching the 5 o'clock flight to Cannes.  Walker decided to test the nerves by delaying his clearance and then kicking the ball against Yorke and watch it spin onto the post. 'Don't make it so obvious' cried a Spurs wag.  As United launched wave upon wave of attack Spurs made the occasional break. Then in the 25th minute Walker hit a huge kick forward which Iversen helped on to Ferdinand. Les resisted Johnsen's challenge and looped the ball over the advancing Schmeichel into the far corner of the goal. Muted celebrations from the Spurs fans realising the implications of the goal. 'Come on Villa' they chanted. Typical Ferdinand, where has he been all season when we really needed him?  Spurs taking the lead seemed to inspire United even more and we were then treated to some magnificent reaction saves by Walker as he frustrated their attacks. Eventually however a breakthrough had to come and Beckham hit an unstoppable shot across goal. Despite getting his hand to it Walker could not stop it.  

Half Time 1-1.

Cole for Sheringham was the half time substitution. Teddy had been cautioned in the first half for a bad tackle on Campbell and was lucky not to be punished further for a challenge on Dominguez. How quickly the substitution paid dividends though.  Two minutes after coming on Cole had collected a pass from Neville and scored. It looked impossible for Spurs to bounce back. Then news of Kanu's goal at Highbury saw United a little shaken. Spurs could have had a penalty for a tug on Dominguez but no one was really appealing. Opposition do not get penalties at Old Trafford.  Spurs fans stayed behind to watch the extremely well organised and expensive celebrations organised by Carling. Sheringham was booed when he received his medal and it was the end of the classic song 'Oh Teddy Teddy went to Man United and he won .....'

A good day out . George will know he has a lot to do if we are ever to challenge for League honours.   

MEHSTG TOP MAN (and my Man of the Season) - Sol Campbell 

Eric the Viking

THFC 2 CHELSEA 2 - Monday 10th May 1999

A bogey side which we have failed to win against at home in the 90's. Just the way to finish our home fixtures. Looking at these games at the start of the season, I really hoped we would be safe from relegation before we started the run-in to the end of the season. Luckily we were and this game was perhaps the most surprising, but then Chelsea did play an XI which would not be their usual starting line-up. However, Tottenham began brightly, but after only three minutes found themselves behind. A foul for an innocuous challenge out on the left wing was given as a free-kick by Mr. Elleray (who after sending Denis Irwin off for kicking the ball away was extremely reluctant to yellow card anyone and blatantly ignored the offence of kicking the ball away all evening) and Zola swung the ball in to find Poyet lose Iversen and Walker not quite getting there. The ball ended up in the back of the net. A repeat of last Wednesday threatened, but Spurs started to put some good football together, causing Chelsea quite a few problems. 

Ginola was running free on the left and Ferrer had a tough time keeping him in check, but the balls into the box were rarely to a Tottenham player. Iversen had a wild shot, Armstrong failed to control the ball as it came to him and Freund hit a ball in from an acute angle, which forced Hitchcock into a save. Then out of the blue, Spurs scored - from a corner !! Anderton and Ginola worked it short and David's low cross, was poked home by a twisting Iversen. Walker produced a good save from Flo, managing to get the ball over the bar from a low shot by the Norwegian. He also had a clear chance to score when he got in front of Taricco, but his header went straight at Walker.

The second half saw Poyet open up by getting a weak header straight at Walker and Elleray started to book players (mostly Chelsea players it must be said). Every Spurs player (especially Freund) were very nice to Denis Wise. Couldn't understand that. Anyway, things were going OK for Tottenham. Armstrong outpaced Le Saux and put a low ball in, but it unfortunately fell just behind Iversen, then the Norwegian rounded Desailly, but dragged his left-foot shot wide of the post. 

It seemed as though Tottenham would not get a second, but a mistake by the obnoxious Lebeouf (who spent most of the night pretending to be injured in an attempt to get Spurs players booked and also moaning to the ref) let in Ginola who hit a low shot so hard it ripped past Hitchcock, who didn't even move and hit the back of the net a full couple of seconds before the crowd realised it had gone in. The fact that he was substituted after Goldbaek had hit a 30 yard screamer past Walker was surprising in that, despite only five minutes remaining, he appeared our best chance to win the game. The replacement of him rather than Armstrong in the last few games has been somewhat perplexing for the fans and Ginola looked decidedly unhappy when his number went up.

A draw was a reasonably fair result and a surprising point against a team we don't normally get that good a return from. The match finished and some minutes afterwards, the Spurs squad came out to do a lap of honour - not for drawing with Chelsea, but for the season almost behind us - and they were accompanied by the Worthington Cup. Sol seemed reluctant to give it up; GG walked along applauding the fans and having a joke with Ledley King, Taricco and Carr; Shirts were thrown to the crowd; David looked sullen and afterwards on Sky was interviewed saying it was not certain he would be at Tottenham next season; even Ramon appeared - suited and booted - to join in the end of term fun. A decent way to end the season, which recently has turned as sour as it started.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DAVID GINOLA

Pete Stachio

THFC 1 ARSENAL 3 - Wednesday 5th May 1999

What can you say apart from we were totally outclassed. It showed a huge gulf between the two sides which will take a long time to bridge and in the end we were lucky to escape with only three goals in the "against" column. In fact, without an inspired display by Ian Walker, we could have been six or seven down by half time.

The atmosphere was decidedly heavy as the two teams met in such an important game for a few years. The threat of violence erupting off the field was heightened by the Old Firm match the previous Sunday and although I was told that the route back to Seven Sisters saw some fights, it appeared to be reasonably absent within the crowd. What went on on the pitch was sometimes bordering on the illegal. The spat just after half-time, when a free-kick was awarded against Vieira and Petit ran 20 yards to push Sherwood in the chest, was out of order. To compare it to Justin's dismissal at Wembley would not have been too far from a true reflection of what happened. Vieira then showed what an absolute berk he is by dropping his shorts in front of the Spurs fans in the East stand (didn't Fowler once get done for that - amongst other things) and made faces at the Tottenham supporters throughout the remainder of the game. Then Vieira and Sherwood spent the rest of the match trying to have a go at each other. One particularly late and high challenge by the French international was only avoided by a timely leap by the Spurs England midfielder, who inadvertently landed on Vieira's back with his studs. Winterburn too, will find himself answering to the FA for his celebrations in front of the Spurs bench and his comments in the next day's papers ("If anyone tries to stop me celebrating they'll have a fight on their hands" - such considered words).

But by then the damage was done. Bergkamp's deep role, which nobody tracked, allowed him to carve open the Spurs defence and if Overmars could finish, the game would have been over by the time the clock had reached 15 minutes. Walker denied him and Anelka, before Petit ran onto Bergkamp's pass to lob over Walker. The second goal followed shortly and a through ball found Anelka racing clear of the square Spurs defence to slip it past the Spurs keeper. The same player also had a header come back off the bar. Tottenham threatened rarely. Iversen could not react quickly enough when a ball fell to his feet. One back-pass was latched onto by Armstrong, but he could not force the onrushing Seaman into a save. Then, Taricco found himself on the edge of the Arsenal box, but an Arsenal foot just got it away before the Argentinian could make contact.  It was a real surprise when Anderton hit a 25 yard free-kick, which eluded the wall and slipped beneath a slow-diving Seaman, who appeared to let the ball go under him.

For all that, the second half was much tighter, although it started in much the same vein as the first - Walker saving as Overmars pushed the ball too far in front of him. For Tottenham, there was a lot of hard work from the midfield, but the ball was conceded too often and too easily, which played into Arsenal's hands as they tried to hit on the break. Iversen had a good chance, after Jose's cross was missed by Dazza, but lifted the ball into the side netting. The yellows came thick and fast, but the end of the contest was confirmed near the 90 minutes, when a ball was played into Kanu, who flicked the ball over Young and lashed it past Walker. It was a fitting way for the game to end. There is still a long way to go for Spurs and this season can't really end quick enough.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - IAN WALKER.

Pete Stachio

LIVERPOOL 3 THFC 2 - Saturday 1st May 1999

Attendance: 44007
Weather ; Sunny   
Liverpool : Friedel, Kvarme (Gerrard 45), Carragher, Staunton, Matteo, Thompson (Bjornebye 88), Redknapp, Ince, Leonhardsen (Song 75), McManaman, Riedle. 
Subs not used: James, Dundee.  
Spurs: Walker, Carr, Campbell, Nilsen, Taricco, Freund (Sherwood 67) Anderton, Clemence, (King 45) Dominguez, (Fox 81) Armstrong, Iversen. 
Subs not used: Baardsen, Ginola.  

Cheated. That is the only way to describe this defeat for Spurs. 2-0 up and coasting as half-time approached with Liverpool looking beaten, then Stephen Lodge the referee decided he would intervene and sent off Taricco for a second yellow card for an innocuous looking tackle on McManaman. This followed the first yellow card, which was also harsh. Significantly both offences were close to the Kop ... and we thought the infamous influence Anfield crowds had over referees had passed. No way. Lodge even brandished the cards with a flourish. Mr. Lodge was wired for sound in this game; the first time ever for a referee. It did not help his performance which was a classic 'Homer'.  

Spurs took the field with Sherwood and Ginola rested, which meant Clemence made his return to midfield with Dominguez also starting the game.  It looked as if this make-shift side would have too much for Liverpool as we cruised to 2-0. The first goal on 13 minutes saw an excellent run and cross by Iversen trickle into the net off Carragher, although to be fair he was under pressure from Armstrong.  Chris then had a clear-cut opportunity when put clean through the middle by Iversen. With just the keeper to beat, he somehow managed to strike his shot straight at Friedel with the goal yawning. A bad miss. With Spurs well in control a second goal arrived courtesy of Iversen who smartly nodded in Anderton's cross. A strong penalty appeal for handball was denied by Mr. Lodge who then decided to make his mark by dismissing Taricco. Half Time 0-2.

Ledley King replaced an under performing Clemence during the break and tucked in at left back to make his debut. Within five minutes, Lodge had awarded Liverpool a penalty, which Redknapp scored. Walker was adjudged to have brought down Riedle and received a yellow card. Freund also got a card for arguing and was clearly incensed at the referees approach.  Obviously this goal lifted the home side, particularly playing against ten men. As the pressure mounted Liverpool scored twice in quick succession with Spurs struggling to cope. Young Ledley King made a tentative start but showed plenty of promise. Freund was replaced by Sherwood before Liverpool's second and before he talked himself into getting a red card.  Overall Stephen Lodge's antics contrived to deny Spurs what at one stage looked a comfortable away win.   At least George Graham did not have to put up with it. He was apparently away on club business and left Stewart Houston in charge.  I wonder who he was watching ?  

MEHSTG TOP MAN - SOL CAMPBELL  

Eric the Viking

THFC 1 WEST HAM UNITED 2  - Saturday 24th April 1999

What do clubs think when they are facing Tottenham these days ?? We think our season is over - despite what GG says - and that the final games will only be worth it when we play the Gooners and Chelsea, then roll over and die for Manchester United to win the championship. For 70 minutes of this match Tottenham hardly managed to get out of first gear. It was only when the Irons went 2-0 up that the team stirred themselves to get back into the game. Even without playing that well, we should have been able to get something out of this match; the fact that Shaka Hislop was the man of the match says a lot. Unfortunately, by the time West Ham were one up, they had already split the Spurs defence open down the middle twice. Walker's dash out to thwart Sinclair resulted in the ball falling to West Ham's ex-England striker who lobbed it back into an unguarded net. Shortly after Walker had to rush out to force Lampard to shoot wide after they had once again strolled through the centre of our back line. 

At the other end, apart from the referee making a total fool of himself by trying to make a name for himself (I'm afraid that I have several, but all are too rude to reveal here) by booking Ginola for diving, when Berkovic was outshining David in that particular department, Tottenham looked to spurn all their best opportunities. Ginola was put in at the far post by Sherwood's flick on, but blazed wildly over first time and then Tim pressurized Pearce into a mistake and headed over Hislop only for Ferdinand of the Rio variety to be there to clear. Tottenham's build up seemed slow and Ginola was having another "do it myself" day, but even then Anderton drove over, a few crosses failed to find a Spurs head and West Ham passed prettily, but without much result, although Taricco was having a torrid time down his flank.

Second half started in much the same vein, with Spurs on the back foot. From a corner that never was, Keller drove a shot against the post and it was the same player who extended the lead, running virtually half the pitch without a Spurs player tracking him, to slide the ball past Walker. It was then that Tottenham decided to wake up. Dominguez had a shot tipped round the post by Hislop, Nielsen had a diving header saved, Sherwood headed just over, Campbell headed just wide twice, Ginola crossed but nobody was on the end of it. Perhaps most frustrating of all was when Hislop sliced a clearance across his own goal to Iversen, but the ball had so much spin on it that it went away from Steffen off the turf like a leg-break !!! All this came either side of Ginola's goal - a 20 yard drive that left Shaka standing. However, it wasn't enough in the end and truthfully speaking our performance would have not deserved a draw.

 Having said that, the 20 minutes towards the end had West Ham quaking. They picked up some yellow cards as panic set in and Moncur, trying to play the hard man throughout, received a red card for a crude and unnecessarily bad tackle on Dominguez.  His applause for the Hammers fans really should be reported to the FA (as should Lomas' obscene gesture to the Spurs fans in the East Stand, with the ref just ten yards away).  West Ham should have made it certain after Ginola, in trying to be too clever, was robbed and there was a three on one break, but Lazarides strayed offside and the score stayed close.

The game appeared to be mimicking the Charlton match four days earlier, but Tottenham could not come back this time. For all the talk of a striker who can poach, the service to those playing today was not good enough. Ginola was active, but ineffectual. Anderton seemed to be finally coming into the game when subbed. Dominguez perhaps finally sealed his squad place, but his value as a regular starter must be doubtful. Taricco looked to have a bit of trouble playing the simple ball out of defence, while Sherwood, Freund and Young all seemed a bit below par. Iversen again looked like a forward in desperate need of a partner. Galling to lose to the Irons, but it really shows that although the club has come a long way, there is still a long way still to go.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : SOL CAMPBELL

Pete Stachio

CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1  THFC 4  - Tuesday 20th April 1999
Attendance: 20,043
Weather ; Heavy Rain   
Charlton : - Petterson, Tiler, Rufus, Powell, Bowen, Kinsella, Jones, Mortimer (Barnes 67) Stuart, Hunt, Pringle (Mendonca 76) Subs not used: Brown, Barness, Salmon.  
Spurs: - Walker, Carr, Campbell, Nilsen, Taricco, Sherwood, Freund (Nielsen 72), Anderton, Ginola Armstrong (Dominguez 72) Iversen. Subs not used: Baardsen, Fox, Young.  

Torrential rain at The Valley persisted for most of the match only really stopping to allow Tottenham to score four times and record their best away win of the season - so far ! The game was delayed for 15 minutes due to traffic congestion and visiting fans were greeted by the intimidating 'security skinheads' employed by Charlton, whose objective seemed to be to create some aggro if things got a bit quiet. Spurs started the game slowly and Charlton took an early lead. They exploited the space available and static nature of the Spurs defence to score a well taken goal after only five minutes. The game then assumed a familiar pattern with Spurs creating and failing to finish numerous chances. Half Time 1-0.

At the start of the second half Charlton had opportunities to extend their lead but Walker made some fine saves in difficult conditions.  Then after just under an hours play Iversen scored an excellent goal.  He dribbled into the box exchanging passes with Ginola before firing into the corner of the net. 20 minutes later Spurs took the lead, when Campbell bent low to head a corner which had eluded the Charlton defence. Further saves by Walker denied Charlton an equaliser and their heads began to drop. For once Spurs exploited the situation and hit two late goals. Dominguez on as a substitute to score his customary goal. Not to be outdone after having an earlier superb shot well saved, Ginola netted the fourth. A good win where class told in the end.

' We're all going on a European tour ' sang Tottenham followed by ' You're all going on a Nationwide tour ' Charlton look relegation material.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : IAN WALKER

Eric The Viking 

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0  THFC 1   - Saturday 17th April 1999
Attendance: 25,181
Weather ; Cloud & Rain   
Nottingham Forest : Crossley, Louise-Jean, Edwards (Stenhaas 73), Gough, Chettle, Bonalair (Woan 20), Johnson, Rogers, Van Hooijdonk, Shipperley (Harewood 80), Freedman, 
Subs not used: Beasant, Mattson   Spurs; Walker, Carr, Campbell, Young, Taricco, Nielsen, Sherwood, Freund, Ferdinand (Anderton 46), Armstrong, Iversen. 
Subs not used: Baardsen, Fox, Nilsen, Ginola  

This had been billed as a game no one was interested in. It did not take long to understand why. Spurs left Ginola and Anderton on the bench and started with three forwards although Iversen played wide right. Luke Young retained his place ahead of on loan Roger Nilsen.  

A typical Spurs league performance saw them create all the early chances but fail to score. Armstrong was the main culprit throughout the game although Ferdinand and Iversen also managed to miss their fair share. Midway through the first half we were wakened by a penalty appeal that was turned aside by the referee Mr. Willard (Are you Durkin in disguise?). As half time approached Iversen was felled by Gough and this time a penalty was awarded. After what appeared to be some debate up stepped Nielsen to stroke a soft kick to Crossley's right which he gratefully grasped without too much trouble. Why Nielsen took it I do not know, but hit it he most certainly did not. 

Half Time 0-0.

Anderton was on at the start of the second half for Ferdinand who had taken a knock. Darren's influence was appreciated as he started to pass the ball around and create further openings. Eventually Iversen forced Edwards into an error, relieved him of the ball and drove a fine shot past Crossley. Further chances followed and were all missed. With Walker in fine form, the Forest forwards would not have scored if they had played all night. With the exception of Richard Gough they are a poor side heading for the Nationwide.  Spurs recorded their first away win in the league under George Graham - a welcome three points.  

MEHSTG TOP MAN : STEPHEN CARR

Eric the Viking

NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 THFC 0 - FA Cup Semi-Final (Old Trafford) - Sunday 11th April 1999

So close, yet so far. One refereeing decision and a hatful of chances missed away from our second final of the season, but in the end there could really be no complaints about the result. After all the build-up, Tottenham probably did enough to win, but didn't have a striker on the pitch to put away the opportunities that were created against a frankly ordinary Newcastle side. Whichever team gets through from the other semi should proceed to win the Cup, unless they have an off day or Newcastle suddenly produce some sort of form from somewhere. They never looked like scoring until Sol had a rush of blood and knocked the ball away with his hand in the second period of extra time. Shearer put away the penalty, than near the end broke away to punish Spurs with a powerfully hit second. This came straight after Armstrong had been put through and could only hit a weak shot straight at Given.

Tottenham started the brighter and could have taken the lead within a couple of minutes, with Given producing an excellent diving save to tip Anderton's long-range thunderbolt over the top. He was by far the busier keeper in normal time, having to deal with efforts from Armstrong on a number of occasions, Ferdinand, Sherwood and Iversen. Ginola played like he wanted to win the game himself and this didn't really help the rest of the team. Having played tight to the touchline, when he did beat his marker, there was invariably another waiting for him. His crosses rarely found their target and after receiving a heavy tackle in the second half, he limped off to be replaced by Sinton. He followed in Ginola's footsteps, by having to be replaced when injured by an awful tackle that restricted his involvement to a half hour. This didn't help when others were struggling and Newcastle seemed intent on rough-housing the Spurs players every time they had the ball.

It was only at the end of normal time and into extra time that Les started to put himself about and forced Given to make saves. At the other end, the Magpies finally stirred themselves and Walker had to make smart saves from long shots by Hamman and Griffin. The game was starting to open up and play swung from end to end. Tottenham's midfield kept plugging away on tired legs and it seemed that the tiredness was spreading to their minds. Sol's involuntary handball was most uncharacteristic and he was crestfallen when the penalty went in, but even then chances fell to Spurs. Freund had a volley go wide, Nielsen's first action was when a ball fell to him in the box from a corner, but it slipped through his legs and a cross from the left was flicked up by Given (a la Keller), but went just behind Nielsen as he raced in at the far post. I suppose it just wasn't going to be our day. The second goal sealed it and it was left for the formalities of the final whistle and the Geordie celebrations.

The handball by Dabizas seemed pretty obvious to all in the ground, except the ref. Having him admit he missed it is no consolation, but the game should have been won by then anyway. The only thing to come out of the game followed an incident on the pitch (which I can't even remember now), but led to Gullitt and Graham having a bust-up from their technical areas. This prompted the Spurs contingent to launch into a five minute burst of "Georgie Graham's Blue And White Army" that was so loud and long that the Newcastle fans stood in stunned silence. I think that only he could have turned this club around as he has and full credit to him. With one trophy and Europe already in the bag, the disappointment of losing was a little easier to take.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CARR.

Pete Stachio

NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 THFC 1 - Monday 5th April 1999 
Attendance: 36,655
Weather ; Mild & Dry (Fortunately)  
Newcastle:Given, Hughes, Griffin, (Barton 45), Charvet, Dabizas, Solano, McClen, (Georgiadis 57), Speed, Domi, Maric, (Saha 57),Ketsbaia. Subs not used:Harper, Brady  
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Campbell, R Nilsen, Taricco, Anderton, Sherwood, Freund. Sinton, Armstrong, Iversen. Subs not used: Baardsen, Nielsen, Fox, Dominguez, Young.

Spurs fans were greeted with seats in the open corner of the ground. St James park is undergoing further development to increase the capacity which has necessitated the removal of the roof in the west corner. So in true fashion this has become home for the away fans. Fortunately it did not rain. It was however a little spooky at times sitting in a full St James park with no roof over your head and a deathly hush all around as Spurs silenced the home fans. Where's the Roker Roar taunted the Tottenham following.

Talk beforehand was that this could be a dress rehearsal for the semi-final. No chance. Spurs left Ginola & Ferdinand out of the squad and there was no sign of Shearer or Ferguson for Newcastle.

The first half saw the usual Spurs domination with plenty of chances going begging. The second half came to life after Anderton put Carr clear down the right. As the full back advanced on goal Warren Barton, a half time substitute, made a desperate lunge and conceded a penalty. Up stepped Darren to just beat Given low to his right and give Spurs a deserved lead. Further chances were squandered by the Spurs forwards and as we were dreaming of an away win Ketsbaia was allowed far too much space and hammered a long range volley past a groping Walker. Roger Nilsen made his Spurs debut having come on loan from Sheffield United and looked pretty impressive, comfortably dealt with the nights events and picking up a yellow card for a vigorous challenge. Sol had his usual solid game. Andy Sinton seemed to struggle and looked off the pace. Armstrong and Iversen again worked hard but did not produce the final product. Most of the Geordies left to go home worrying about Ginola.   
Spurs song of the night : 'You're only going to Europe cos of us'  

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DARREN ANDERTON (Penalty goal, hard work and some decent passing)   
Eric the Viking

THFC 0  LEICESTER CITY 2 - Saturday 3rd April 1999
LEICESTER CITY 0  THFC 1 - WORTHINGTON CUP FINAL -  Sunday 21st March 1999

Well, what a day. The match was as dreary as ditchwater, which the wet weather would have caused to overspill and hidden the tears of the muddy Foxes. All in all, the result was the right one - Leicester got what they deserved. Exactly nothing. They came with a game plan to stifle Ginola and snuff out Tottenham's midfield, which worked, but they showed no imagination or adventure of their own and by settling to take Spurs into extra-time, shot themselves in the foot.

The ground has changed a lot since 1991 and before they tear it down we had an opportunity to savour the old grace and poor plumbing of the National stadium. Even the Wembley Park tube station was no easier to get into after the match. However, the game itself was poor fare. From the start, Ullathorne was detailed for man-marking duties on Ginola and everywhere that David went the sheep was sure to go. Not only that, but every chance that came the Midlands side's way, they would try and fly into tackles to attempt to put him out of the game. The Nationwide League referee had obviously believed all he had read in the papers the week leading up to the final and failed to caution anyone for a foul on Ginola. Izzet's late studs-up challenge was well worthy of a yellow. As far as goalmouth action was concerned, Ramon Vega saved Spurs from going behind, when Sol failed to cut out a through ball to Heskey and the back injury seemed to cause him to hesitate before shooting, leaving just enough time for our Swiss centre-half to block his effort. Apart from that it was another peaceful 45 for Walker and Keller was hardly tested, having to wait until the 39th minute until Tottenham got their first effort on target - Anderton's free-kick finding Iversen's head making the Yank go low to collect the ball. Elliot was booked for a late tackle on Vega just before the break and everyone settled down for a better second period.

In truth, although Leicester stepped up the pace, there was little more excitement. Their best chance came when Ullathorne cut inside to unleash a low shot which skidded off the wet turf and slipped out of Walker's grasp. As Cottee raced in, Ian recovered well and blocked his follow-up, collecting it at the second attempt. Les had an opportunity at the other end, but it lobbed gently to Keller and Freund hit a shot wide when a cross fell to him on the edge of the box. It was following a 30 second burst of fierce tackling that the ball broke to Edinburgh near the centre circle. As he played the ball, Savage lived up to his name and hit Justin late and with his arm into the Spurs defender's chest. Edinburgh got up and swiped at the Welshman. He caught the back of his neck and quite a lot of hair. Savage turned to berate Edinburgh, then suddenly started holding his face around the jaw and bent over as if in agony. The ref produced a yellow for Savage and a red card for Justin. In all respects, if you raise your hands to an opponent, you will get sent off, but this in no way excuses Savage's behaviour and the referee let him get away with his play-acting. The same Leicester player found it necessary to abuse Ginola after he had fouled him on the touchline. The same Leicester player found it necessary to take a dive because he did not have the pace to reach a ball going into the Tottenham penalty area. Not only that, but when the same Leicester player went in studs up on Freund and caught his foot, then had some verbals with him because he didn't like it - all bookable offences, which the referee saw fit to let go. No wonder the Spurs fans barracked him and the Tottenham players let him know they were there in no uncertain terms.

The sending off left Tottenham one man light at the back. But GG didn't bring on a defender to replace Justin, he just moved Anderton to cover that area when required and moved Iversen out to the right wing. It was Iversen who almost broke the deadlock, with a right foot volley from a half cleared ball which nestled in the net, but only the side netting. Frankly, Leicester didn't have a clue what to do and lumped long balls up to Heskey and his replacement Marshall. One was headed across the goal with nobody there to take advantage, another was running through to Walker until he slipped and Cottee raced after it to fire it across the goal, again which was empty of Leicester players. Tottenham were doing all the meaningful attacking and Leicester were happy to settle for the extra 30 minutes against ten men, but when Martin O'Neill subbed Savage to save him from getting the red card he deserved, Tottenham capitalised. Les released Iversen down the right and he outpaced the Leicester captain, Walsh. His cross-shot was firm and should have been held by Keller, but he could only manage to palm it upwards onto the head of the on-running Allan Nielsen. His diving header went past the two Leicester defenders on the line and it was celebration time. The photos in the papers have frozen that moment in time and it could have been a computer-altered picture of the Houchen goal in the 1987 FA Cup final. All the frustrations and injustices of the last half hour were released as the injury time goal meant that there was hardly any time for the Foxes to dig themselves out of the hole they had dug. The ball was quite well manoeuvred by Tottenham in the remaining minute or so and it stayed up the Leicester end. Then came the final whistle and mass jubilation. Eight years of misery was wiped away and full credit to George Graham, the man who has turned the club around in double (I hope so) quick time. The crowd even sang his name at the end, contrary to nearly every newspaper report I have read. It was a moment that we and the team will never forget; a victory against the odds and one which means Tottenham will be back in Europe next season. While the Foxes slid off to the dressing room and the Spurs fans asked "Savage, what's the score ?", the Tottenham team frolicked and sang until they were virtually dragged from the pitch. The clock was rolling around to about 5.30 as we left to wander down Wembley Way as winners.  It was a nice feeling and one that we would all like to experience again.  It may be May; it could be another eight years, so enjoy it while we can.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ALLAN NIELSEN.

Pete Stachio

BARNSLEY 0  THFC 1 - Tuesday 16th March 1999 

Attendance ; 18,793
Weather ; Mild & Dry  
Barnsley: T Bullock, Moses, De Zeeuw, Morgan, Eaden, McClare, (Van Der Laan 66), Blackmore (M Bullock 76), Sinclair, Jones, Dyer (Sheron 81), Hignett. Subs not used:Leese, Appleby  
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Vega, Campbell, Taricco, Anderton, Sherwood, Freund. Ginola (Sinton 89) Armstrong, Ferdinand (Iversen 76). Subs not used: Baardsen, Nielsen, Young.  

So finally we returned to Oakwell, scene of Spurs departure from the FA Cup last year. This time we were much more optimistic. There was no sign of snow which caused the original postponement. There was for some strange reason an abundance of free Pepperami being distributed outside the ground as a promotion stunt (the only promotion Barnsley are likely to see this year). In the first half Barnsley fought with passion and little else, as they contained Spurs and Ginola. Oh how the Barnsley fans cheered when he was tackled and booed when he retained possession. Eaden was deputised to mark Ginola and was backed up by Moses. It was a grueling first half with Barnsley failing to threaten and Spurs spurning chances. The main culprit was Armstrong closely followed by Ferdinand, who both worked tirelessly but faltered in front of goal. 

The second half belonged to Ginola. Early in the half he was fouled by Moses. Not a bad foul, but bad enough for George to emerge from the dugout, as he does, and remonstrate with Mike Reed, the referee. This caused the Barnsley bench to have a go at George. They have short memories having encouraged Mr. Reid to caution Carr in the first half. No sooner had Moses received one yellow card  and he chased Ferdinand to the corner and with man and ball going nowhere dived in to send Les crashing to the floor. Mr. Reid duly obliged with a second yellow followed by red. A case of Moses sees red rather than Moses and the Red Sea. The game erupted. Police were involved in keeping the two dugouts apart. Ginola became even more determined and you sensed he would do something special. It was very, very special. Receiving the ball on the left close to the half way line he proceeded on a weaving run beating five defenders and rolling the ball past the keeper for a tremendous goal. Reminiscent of Ricky Villa at Wembley. An immediate contender for goal of the season. Oh how he celebrated removing his shirt and running to the bench. That was it. Barnsley never looked like scoring. We missed a few more chances. The tannoy unbelievably announced that their man of the match was Bruce Dyer who was not even on the pitch at that stage. 'There's only one Bruce Dyer' sang the Spurs fans. A second trip to Wembley beckons.   

MEHSTG TOP MAN : Ginola, Ginola, Ginola, Ginola, Ginola.  
Eric the Viking 

THFC 1 ASTON VILLA 0 - Saturday 13th March 1999

Unfortunately, the referee managed to spoil a pretty poor game. I would have said he lost it in the first five minutes, but I don't think he ever has it to start with. Within six minutes of the kick off, Tottenham should have had a penalty when Les was sent sprawling in the box and Walker should have been dismissed when he charged out to fell Thompson as he approached the penalty area. From then on the ref just went from one error to another mistake. He failed to play on when there was an advantage and let play go when there was no clear possession. Even into the second half, when Ferdinand was again pushed over by Scimeca, he ran away with his arms firmly by his sides. The fact that Tottenham got the three points they deserved from this match was due to maintaining their efforts on goal and no thanks to the men in charge. From the outset, Les had the aerial power to upset the Villa centre-halves. His low header was smothered by Bosnich (roundly booed every time he went near the ball/crowd/ref/one of our players/etc) and his second powerful header from Ginola's perfect cross was only just over the bar. 

Among other first half chances, Sol swung and missed as the ball fell from a corner, Ginola forced Bosnich to save his shot, Armstrong saw an effort fly wide and everyone missed the ball as it fizzed across the penalty area. All Ian had to do was gather a Thompson free-kick that was hit straight at him. There appeared to be an edge to Villa's play that no doubt arose from frustration. Hendrie, Draper and Stone (for persistent fouls on Ginola - no surprise there then) all received cautions and Merson laid Taricco out off the ball (but then he was a Gooner). A scoreless first half was a surprise to anyone watching the match. The only thing that was a surprise was the song "You're mad and you know you are", which was a nice invention from the Paxton.

The second looked as though it might be a repeat of the Derby County match. Sleepy from the restart, Villa had their best spell, but even then were unable to force Walker to break sweat and make a save. At the other end, Tottenham were struggling to make decent chances, with the final ball too often being misdirected. Anderton was having an off day in the middle of midfield, Nielsen (who took a nasty clattering in the first half) seemed to be a little bit off the pace and I'm afraid that Les and Chris do not seem to link that well together. There was one incident when a low cross by Carr caused confusion in the box and the ball came out wide right for another cross, which evaded all the Spurs men attacking the ball. 

It was only after GG's triple substitution that Tottenham got the goal they deserved. Steffen Iversen came on and received the ball outside the box, lining up a shot. His drive was only parried away by the Villa keeper and Sherwood was on hand to tuck away the rebound. But, no. His diving header hit the post, bounced across the goal to where he saw Bosnich block his next effort. Then it fell to Wright, who tried to hack it clear only to hit Tim and then be scrambled into the net. Not the prettiest goal we will score this season, but a welcome three points and well earned against a Villa side, who made it difficult for Spurs, but rarely showed the form which saw them head the Premier League for so long. One more win now and we should be safe from relegation.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL (Had the madman in his pocket)

Pete Stachio

LEEDS UNITED 2 THFC 0 - Wednesday 10th March 1999

Attendance ; 34,521 Weather ; Cold & Damp  
Leeds United: Martyn, Woodgate, Wetherall, Radebe, Harte, Haaland, Batty, Bowyer, Kewell, Hasselbaink,Smith. Subs not used:Wijnhard, Halle, Jones, Robinson, McPhail.    
Spurs  ; Walker, Carr, Young, Campbell, Edinburgh, Anderton, (Nielsen 76) Sherwood, Freund. Ginola (Sinton 76) Armstrong, (Ferdinand 76) Iversen. Subs not used: Vega, Baardsen.  

This was the fourth meeting this season between these two teams with Leeds still to win a game. Spurs came in to the game on the back of a 16 match unbeaten run. George Graham returned to his old club with his new club unbeaten in 1999. All that ended at Elland Road as Leeds completely dominated the game and left Spurs well beaten. A poor Tottenham performance. Leeds started  hungrier for the win and were fiercer in the tackle, especially with Batty making a return. For much of the first half it was backs against the wall for Tottenham as they held Leeds at bay. There was a tough contest in midfield as Freund, Sherwood, Batty and Haaland all saw yellow in the first period. A melee broke out after Sherwood was accused of stamping on Bowyer but quite frankly it was no more than the annoying little toe rag deserved. As half time approached Spurs had a number of chances. Sherwood saw his under hit volley easily saved by Martyn when he should have scored. Armstrong missed a sitter with his head from Ginola's cross.  Another header by Sherwood was well saved by Martyn and Iverson was slow to respond to the rebound. With 2 minutes of the half remaining Leeds scored when Smith was on hand to volley home after Walker had saved from Kewell.  

The second half continued with the same pattern and the inevitable second goal arrived on 68 minutes. Haaland was allowed to cross and Kewell beat Carr and Young to score with his head at the far post. Spurs hardly threatened even after three substitutions in the 76th minute. Oh, how the Leeds fans enjoyed taunting George. In the first show of support for their Manager Spurs fans sang:
"
Man in a Raincoat's Blue 'n White army 
Man in a Raincoat's Blue 'n White army 
Man in a Raincoat's Blue 'n White army"    Says it all.  

MEHSTG TOP MAN :- Sol Campbell (tamed Hasselbaink again)
Eric the Viking
 

THFC 3 SOUTHAMPTON 0 - Tuesday 2nd March 1999

A full moon shone down on a less than sparkling display by Tottenham, but one which was still good enough to reap a handsome win over a very poor Southampton side. With the South Coast club struggling (Struggling Southampton, as they will henceforth be known), you would have thought that they would be scrapping for points, but in truth, they are the worst side I have seen at White Hart Lane this season. There was nothing there for the many Saints fans who had made the journey to get excited about, as Spurs proceeded to make lots of chances, most of which were not exploited.

Things had started fairly quietly, with a couple of wayward shots from Tottenham, before they got a free-kick about 25 yards out. Ginola stood over the ball and with the defence expecting a drive or a cross, he slipped the ball along the ground to Armstrong, who spun off the end of the wall and shot low under Jones for the first goal. Walker had another quiet night, taking some crosses, coming out of the box to sweep up again and a few weak long shots. Tottenham meanwhile were throwing away golden opportunities. Jones fluffed a clearance straight to Iversen just outside the box, but taken by surprise, Steffen's control let him down and the Southampton keeper redeemed himself by smothering the ball. Then Benali, sporting a plaster-cast on his arm, let the ball slip past him and Armstrong was away, producing a fine low save from a hard struck shot. Another mix-up left Armo one on one with the keeper and from pretty close to Jones, he tried to lift the ball over him, but another save denied him. Freund had a shot fly wide and Ginola cut inside to hit a curling drive that would have crept just under the bar, had not Jones got a touch to the ball to divert it over the bar.

The second half started with Tottenham going forward, but not quite getting it together to produce a clear shot. Then the visitors suddenly started to get into the game. They had a spell of around 15 or 20 minutes when they had a lot of the ball, but while their midfield passing was effective, they failed to do any damage in the last third of the pitch. The only real action Walker saw all night was a 25 yarder from Marsden, which was well hit, but straight into the Spurs keeper's chest. Then Tottenham scored against the run of play. A corner was won on the left and Ginola received the ball short. He jinked inside his man and crossed to the far post, where usually no Spurs player can be found, but on this occasion Iversen rose, almost jumping backwards to get to the ball and looped his header over Jones. It was a goal that the young Norwegian needed to boost his confidence and hopefully, will see him go on from here. The game then became a bit of a procession, with Tottenham passing the ball around and Ginola trying out his fancy footwork on a demoralised So'ton defence. He made a couple of dazzling runs and tried outrageous shots, but these flew wide. Armstrong had another couple of chances, but didn't trouble Jones unduly. It was only when Jose came on for Ginola that the crowd began to buzz again and he didn't disappoint. Within a minute, he had added the third, when Armstrong went down the right, pulled the ball back across the goal and although Iversen missed it in the middle, Dominguez arrived coming in from the wing to score with a shot into an unprotected net. His head over heels shows how much he enjoys playing for Spurs and I hope he stays as he is an exciting player who has the opposition worried when he runs at them.

It was somewhat surprising that Hughes couldn't be bothered to put himself about like he normally does. Le Tiss was patently unfit and the young players failed to show any evidence that they will be able to help the club escape what is surely coming. Among the Tottenham team there were a few changes, with Taricco switching sides, Young in for Vega and Nielsen replacing the rested Anderton. All seemed to perform well and GG will have some selection decisions to make for the Barnsley Cup tie, but I'm sure that he will be happy with Tottenham's first League win of 1999 with three goals and more competition for places to boot.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA

Pete Stachio

THFC 1 DERBY COUNTY 1 - Saturday 27th February 1999

Another game, another draw. Another two points lost, because in truth there can rarely have been a game in which one team has so much of the possession and fails to win. From the start, Spurs had opportunities to score with the following being the best : -

  • Armstrong through, but pulled the ball across the face of the goal.
  • Armstrong hits the ball too close to the keeper and he saves.
  • Iversen through and forces the ball just wide.
  • Freund hits a hard drive over the bar.
  • Ginola's low cross is diverted goalwards by Schnoor and the keeper saves, then kicks the ball away while laying on the floor.
  • Anderton's fierce 25 yarder is pushed up onto the bar and Prior beats Ginola to the rebound.
  • From an Anderton corner the ball is headed on and cleared off the line by Carbonari.
  • Ginola heads a corner into Hoult's arms.
  • An Edinburgh cross eludes everyone coming in and there is nobody at the far post.
  • Iversen stretches to meet a cross at the far post and puts it over the bar.
  • Vega had a clear header from a corner, but it went across the goal rather than towards it.
  • Ginola whipped in a shot from the left which went over.

There was little for Walker to do except field back passes and run out of his box to clear for most of the game. The chances for Derby in the first half fell to Wanchope and Carsley, but they were both wide. That all changed just after the break when a free-kick by Dorigo was nodded back across the area by Wanchope and Burton was alone to steer it past Walker. There wasn't really much of another sniff of a goal for the Rams. It was only when Dominguez came on and ran at the Derby defence (like he did on his home debut last season) that things started to happen. His first contribution was to set up Sherwood with a ball slipped through the back line and Tim shot low past Hoult from just inside the area.

The only other thing of note in a match that lacked the thrust of Wednesday's Cup replay, was the erratic refereeing of Jeff Winter. Being there, it appeared that Justin had got to the ball first in a challenge where both players were moving fast and were fully committed. The television evidence showed he did get there a little late and therefore his second yellow saw him leave the field. However, just prior to this the ref had taken it upon himself to treat Deon Burton like a little child, when he discovered (in the 86th minute) that he had been wearing a chain. He made him take it off and then pass it to one of the Derby staff off the pitch. not content with this, he made Burton leave the field when Spurs had a corner. His protests earned him a booking. Then shortly after Edinburgh's dismissal, Wanchope, already on a yellow, hacked Taricco down from behind to concede a free-kick, but the referee let this pass unpunished. The lack of consistency and with this referee, the lack of common sense in allowing play to continue when the team fouled still had possession (and that applied to both sides) made it a frustrating afternoon of stuttering football. Do we really pay our money to see a man in black rule over all he surveys in an overbearing manner ?? No, we don't. We realise that laws have to be enforced, but a little thought could go a long way to making the whole event more enjoyable.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - JUSTIN EDINBURGH (despite being sent off).

Pete Stachio

THFC 2 LEEDS UNITED 0 (FA Cup 5th Round Replay) - Wednesday 24th February 1999

The visiting side started much more sprightly than Tottenham and Walker had to be on his toes to save from Kewell, Hopkin and Haaland. The slow start was broken when Iversen and Anderton had headers go over. The turning point came when, for the second time, Les and Wetherall went up for a high ball and clashed heads painfully. Both were flat out and Ferdie left on a stretcher, while the Leeds defender had to be helped off too. Spurs' best chance came when the ball fell to Iversen at the far post, but his strong shot was parried away by Martyn. The game was being played at 100 mph, with the consequent loss of the ball the result of trying to control it at such a pace. Vega was somewhat surprisingly selected in front of Young, but stood up well to the strong-arm tactics of Hasselbaink, who also managed to wind up Freund. The niggling and lateness of their tackles was worthy of the "professional" Leeds side of the 70's. For Giles read Bowyer, for Allan Clarke read Harry Kewell and for Billy Bremner read Hopkin. Unfortunately, the Leeds side of today couldn't touch that side when it came to playing the game though.

The second half started in stark contrast to the first. Tottenham took the game to Leeds immediately and never really looked back. Armstrong and Iversen hardly had a kick all night, but closed down and chased until the end. It certainly didn't look to be David's night, when he took a throw from Anderton in front of the East Stand and embarked on a mazy dribble across the face of the area, finishing at the corner of the penalty box in front of the West Stand and unleashing a ferocious drive, which Martyn barely got a finger to. He just got enough on it to push it against the post and the ball bounced away from the Spurs players following in. However, shortly after, another foul on Ginola, this time by Halle, gave Tottenham a free-kick that David took quickly. His square ball to Dazza, 30 yards out, was powerfully driven into the left hand side of the net, beating the Leeds keeper all ends up. As soon as he hit it, you could tell it was going in. The place went wild. With a goal in the bag, Spurs opened up and Ginola's run to the edge of the box, produced another rasping drive that beat Martyn, but rebounded off the upright. He did get his reward a few minutes later, when Iversen harried Radebe near the sideline and the ball broke for Sherwood. His cross was half cleared, but looped up for Ginola to smack a 25 yard volley past Martyn to give Tottenham a two goal lead. If the crowd were pleased with the first goal, the roof was almost lifted off with the reception for this one !! Leeds almost scored straight from the kick-off, with Walker doing well to push away a Kewell drive from the edge of the "D". He also denied a curling Hasselbaink effort and all night came well to command his box, catching all the crosses which were slung in. The only two occasions he didn't get to the ball were when Justinho cleared away from the line and when the Dutch striker's shot hit the post and Edinburgh and Sherwood threw defensive blocks to keep the Leeds shots at bay.

In truth, Tottenham let it slip a bit after the second goal and although Leeds could not break through, the defence stood relatively firm, with good assistance from the midfielders, who all worked back to put more shirts in the way. It was best summed up by a free-kick and another shot from Hasselbaink, which both veered wide of the mark and in with the Leeds supporters. Among all the outstanding performances the Spurs team produced, there was always Sol. His towering frame refused to be battered out of his role of stopper and more than once he appeared from nowhere to block players bearing down on goal. He just gets on with what has to be done, with the minimum of fuss and lets the others indulge in the glory.

One final word for the mindless minority of Leeds fans who tried to provoke trouble. It was rumoured that 200 turned up without tickets and before and after the game, there were incidents where they tried to get involved in fights. I don't tar all their fans with the same brush, but this sort of thing died out years ago lads. If we wanted to take a trip back in time, we'd all go to the Natural History Museum to see the Neanderthals there. There were more police about than I have seen for many a year and their idea to stop Spurs fans getting to the High Road via the Park Lane would have been fine, if only they hadn't let the Leeds fans down the Worcester Avenue.

Anyway, onto Barnsley and the quarter-final. This is just like the old days. The season ending in late January may be a thing of the past, but let's enjoy it while we can and credit should go to the Leeds team for trying to take Tottenham on, producing a cracking cup-tie in the process. If only all their fans had seen it that way ??

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL

Pete Stachio

MIDDLESBROUGH 0 THFC 0 - Saturday 20th February 1999

Attendance ; 34,687                         Weather ; Bright with a Cold Wind  
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Cooper, Vickers, Pallister, Stockdale, Mustoe, Gascoigne, Townsend, Gordon, Moore (Ricard 58), Beck (Campbell 75) 
Subs not used: Beresford, Maddison, Kinder    
Spurs  ; Walker, Carr, Vega, Campbell, Taricco, Anderton, Sherwood, Freund. Ginola, Ferdinand (Armstrong 46), Iversen. 
Subs not used: Baardsen, Nielsen, Sinton, Young.

A record attendance at The Riverside Stadium (They have now filled the corners of the ground), but most went home disappointed. Spurs were the first away team to win a league match when this was a new venue. It looked early on as if there would be another Tottenham victory. The game was there for the taking but throughout the 90 minutes we never quite rose to the occasion to beat a poor Boro side coming into this game on the back of a 5-0 drubbing by Everton ... yes Everton! Taricco started, in for Edinburgh. Sherwood returned for Nielsen. Within a couple of minutes Taricco had a glorious chance and saw his shot beat the keeper only to be cleared off the line ( just like Les last week). Spurs dominated , Boro rarely threatened. Vega hit the post with a good header from a Anderton corner. Boro left the field at half time with many of their fans booing. 

The interval saw some abysmal 'entertainment' by a local folk singer. At least I think he was local and I think he was a singer. The Spurs fans joined in with 'Kay sera sera" and chorused him from the field with ' Your s**t and you know you are'. 

Spurs dominated throughout the second half. Armstrong on for a concussed Ferdinand almost scored with a far post header. Pity the Spurs fan who ran on the pitch to celebrate ... only to be immediately arrested and see the ball in the side netting. As time ran out an excellent cross by Armstrong was met by both Ginola and Sherwood and the chance was missed. Ginola seemed to be having one of those days when he is determined to do it all himself. Mistakes followed and were greeted with cheers by the Boro fans who had taunted him all game.  There were 7 yellow cards - three for Spurs; Iversen, Carr & Vega. Gascoigne was applauded by the Spurs fans at the start and he played well, coming the closest to scoring after a jinking run. His ability to beat players and hit telling passes is still there, but he can not lose players and is looking slow and weary. His yellow card was after he had been easily caught and dispossessed by Carr, who he then fouled.  At the end of the day a point which could have been three if we had upped the tempo a bit.  Vega had a steady game, Freund worked hard as usual and Walker kept a clean sheet but most Spurs players were below par. 

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL (Coped easily with everything)   
Eric the Viking

WIMBLEDON 0 THFC 1 - Worthington Cup Semi-Final 2nd leg - Tuesday 16th February 1999

As Chef in South Park would say, the journey to Selhurst is like making love to an ugly woman - it's best done in the dark. The suburbs of South London are not the height of attractiveness when seen from a railway line and therefore, despite the tube strike, it was a journey that was improved by the gathering night. Arriving at the ground with fifteen minutes to go, the atmosphere had already built up, with Tottenham fans outsinging the sprinkling of home fans before the teams came out. Like all games here, standing was compulsory - if you wanted to see anything that is. The pitch was scrubby and from the start it was obvious that any runs from Ginola would be doomed to failure - if not thanks to the pitch, then the brutish challeges from the Dons defenders. There was little to get excited about in the early exchanges, with Wimbledon getting the ball into the area and causing Spurs some slight panic in clearing and Euell hit a volley from outside the box that Walker pushed over (which is where it seemed to be going anyway). Tottenham's best chance came from Les' swivel and shot in the 19th minute, which forced Sullivan to push the ball wide. The breakthrough was made in the 39th minute, when Steffen Iversen was played in by a Dons defender on the edge of the box and he immediately looped a perfect parabola over the stranded Wimbledon keeper. Stef had been offside, but as the pass came from an opponent, the goal rightly stood. We went mad !! The goal was what we needed, because now they had to score twice to win and they hadn't looked like doing that in any of the five games recently. Straight from the restart, it became obvious that the home side were out to get some revenge, as they realised their chance had gone. Tackles, on and off the ball, were made, with little concern for punctuality or legality. Ref, Gary Willard, seemed unable to bring himself to give Spurs anything and for a while I thought I was watching "The Simpsons" - he was such a homer.

The second half was fairly tame in comparison. They came out and tried to hit Tottenham with the high ball treatment. Sol was outstanding in the centre of defence and for all the half-clearances and nervy challenges, Vega performed well alongside him. Perhaps most effective, but not necessarily the most obvious contribution came from Steffen Freund. He ran himself into the ground, taking the blows and getting up to close their midfield men down again. One block from a free-kick in a dangerous position was particularly needed. The Wimbledon side hoped for a knock down or a half chance and they did get them. A low ball pulled back into the box was skied over and near the final whistle, a half-cleared ball fell to Earle on the edge of the area and his drive skimmed off the crossbar and over. But Walker hardly had a real save to make and although Tottenham did keep the ball at the other end for periods, there were no real clear opportunities. The end came and a roar louder than all the singing that had gone on throughout the game signalled a pitch invasion that left some of the Spurs players without their shirts. I didn't see GG's reaction at the end, but I should imagine that even though he is only part way towards his vision of the Tottenham future, he must have been pleased to have one Wembley ticket booked so soon.

Special mentions should be made of Ferdinand, Edinburgh and Ginola, who all worked tirelessly to close down and harrass the Dons players when they looked like making a dangerous move forward. But for keeping his cool against niggly opponents and coming out on top ....

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEFFEN FREUND

Pete Stachio

LEEDS UNITED 1  THFC 1   - Saturday 13th February 1999

Attendance ; 39,696  
Leeds United; Martyn, Radebe, Woodgate, Wetherall, Haaland (Korsten 84), Hopkin, Bowyer, Kewell, Harte, Hasselbaink,Smith.

Subs not used: Granville, Halle, Jones, Robinson
   
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Young, Campbell, Edinburgh, Anderton, (Nielsen 82) Sherwood, Freund, Ginola (Sinton 85) Ferdinand,  Iversen. 
Subs not used: Armstrong, Vega, Baardsen
  

A 'warm' Yorkshire welcome awaited George Graham on his return to Elland Road. Well, it seemed warm by Yorkshire standards - they only booed him a little and threw in the usual banter. The usual road-works on the M1 frustrated Spurs fans on their travels as all roads led to this area on 5th round day. As well as Leeds v Spurs, we had Huddersfield v Derby, Barnsley v Bristol Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday v Chelsea all in close proximity and all well supported on the motorway. Tim Sherwood was chosen for his full debut ahead of Alan Nielsen and Ginola returned to the side to be man marked by Lucas Radebe. George was obviously aware of young Alan Smith in the Leeds front line and preferred Luke Young ahead of Vega. Spurs started well and should have gone ahead in the 2nd minute after Ginola carved an opening, Sherwood fed Ferdinand and Les saw his shot pass Martyn heading for the far corner of the goal, only for Harte to make a last ditch clearance off the line. A few minutes later Ferdinand was close again challenging Martyn in the air the Leeds keeper just managed to punch away Ginola's cross. Ferdinand was subject to some robust treatment by the Leeds defence and received a yellow card himself after letting the referee know his feelings. As half time approached Spurs had an outstanding opportunity. Ginola from just inside the Spurs half flicked a tantalising ball to the overlapping Edinburgh. Justin made his way to the by-line and sent over an excellent cross which Ferdinand flicked on to the waiting Iversen at the far post. Steffen contrived to get on top of the ball and hit it into the ground and over the bar. A sitter missed. Iversen works hard but on occasions at present looks sluggish and one wonders whether he is fully fit?

The second half started with Ferdinand charging down the right and hitting a shot across the goal which again beat Martyn and also the far post. Then, in the 53rd minute Spurs scored. Iversen was put away down the right, where he held the ball up well and fed Anderton. A quality cross by Darren was met early by Sherwood under challenge and the ball looped off his foot in to the far corner of the goal. Oh how we celebrated. But back came Leeds in the 73rd minute to earn an equaliser from Ian Harte. After a run which forced him inside he was allowed to shoot with his right foot and nestled the ball in the bottom corner beyond the unlucky Walker. The final result was a predictable 1-1 draw and a replay at White Hart Lane (again!!). Spurs deserved at least a draw having battled well and made the best chances. Walker make a couple of good saves and the defence played well. Campbell returning from illness shackled Hasselbaink, while in midfield Sherwood was outstanding, Freund worked well, Ginola showed in patches and Anderton just looked tired after his England exertions. There was an amusing exchange of chants between the fans which went as follows;
Leeds - some garbled Yorkshire stuff which no one could comprehend
 
Spurs- 'English, we only speak English' 
Leeds - 'Yiddish, you only speak Yiddish' 
Spurs - 'Yid Army' !!!

A good Spurs following who got behind the team if not fully behind the Manager - yet!  As Spurs fans exited the ground there was the heaviest Police presence I have seen for some time with many in full riot gear and a police film crew located on top of a nearby building to film events. 

MEHSTG TOP MAN :- Tim Sherwood ( for his presence, hard work & goal )   

Eric the Viking

THFC 0 COVENTRY CITY 0 - Saturday 6 February 1999

In the preview for this game, we predicted that Tottenham would enjoy a three goal victory. But for wayward finishing it could have been all that and more. For the first fifteen minutes Tottenham ran the game. Sol had a soft header drift just wide of the post, Nielsen had a shot straight at Hedman and the best opportunity was when Anderton's fierce half-volley whistled past the post. However, Coventry did rally and had their best chance of the game when Huckerby got away from Young, but was twice denied by Ian Walker's legs. Apart from that and a free header from a corner by Breen which went wide, they did little else to threaten the Tottenham goal. Meanwhile, at the other end, Les had a diving header go close, Freund had a couple of drives go wide and Darren had another good shot blocked. The closest Spurs came to a goal was kept for last, when, with half-time approaching, Sinton cut in from the left and curled a shot against the bar. The follow-up fell to Sol, who put his over-head kick over the bar.

Half-time came at just the right time for the Sky Blues as it broke Tottenham's momentum. They had a few corners and during the rest of the half they did manage a couple of counter-attacks, which were either dealt with by Young and Campbell or ended with crosses, which might have been dangerous if they had got people up to support the strikers. Tottenham produced more chances, but were wasteful in converting them. Iversen's prod at the far post went over somehow, when it seemed easier to score; had Nielsen connected with Anderton's cross with anything other than his knee (not as accurately as Tuesday this time) it would have gone in; Anderton had a left foot drive go wide and Freund surprised Hedman with a low shot on target, which he spilled in front of the goal, but there were no Spurs players on hand to stick it away. Les at the start of the half and Armstrong towards the end both had chances, but pulled the ball wide of the goal. Come the end of the match, it was disappointing that we did not take all three points and these are the sort of games Tottenham must win to be considered seriously. Coventry had only taken four points away all season and it wasn't hard to see why. They reinforced their defence with two huge players in the second half - one was David Brightwell and the other, Bosnian Mohammed Konjic. Surely a case of Mohammed being the mountain here ! Their playing staff look better on paper than they play and with some of the talent there, it is difficult to see where the problem lies. But that is their problem. Ours is to turn possession and territorial superiority into victories.

The bonuses form the game were a solid debut by Taricco, another excellent display by Carr (how long can Eire ignore him ??) and Luke Young's dogged display against the pacy Huckerby. Freund had his best game yet and looks as though he is settling in well, despite his theatrical responses to fouls on him. Sherwood did get on for a few minutes at the end, but had little chance to do anything. I'm sure his opportunity will come soon. Iversen looked a bit out of touch and Armstrong came on to replace him, but again didn't have much time to do anything spectacular. Perhaps the team were saving their best for next Saturday and the following Tuesday !

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CARR

Pete Stachio

THFC 3 WIMBLEDON 0 (FA Cup 4th Round replay) - Tuesday 2nd February 1999

“ More of the same”, someone said to me outside the ground, before the two adversaries met for the fourth time in eighteen days. ”You never know what might happen”, I said half-heartedly. Well, blow me down, if Andy Sinton hadn’t scored a scorcher of a goal after three minutes to set Tottenham on their way to Leeds in the next round !! Coming after all the dull and dreary fare served up in the three previous games, this set the tone for a Spurs win that was reasonably comfortable. Ardley had forced Walker to a sprawling save before the match had hardly begun, but Sints’ powerful shot gave Tottenham the basis for the result they required. Other opportunities arose for Anderton and Ferdinand, but the ball ran away from them as they homed in on goal, with Carr, Freund and Edinburgh all having shots go wide. The only real worry for Spurs had been a powerful swerving shot from Kennedy which went the wrong way as far as he was concerned and flew wide of the post by inches.

Into the second half and Earle was a whisker away from getting a touch to a cross-shot, but was flagged offside anyway. Then, breaking from a throw-in at the other end, Les shrugged Perry easily off the ball, before unselfishly squaring for Nielsen to tap home from two yards out. A similar chance came about when Ferdie, playing his best game in a Spurs shirt, got past Blackwell in the same circumstances, but his ball into the six yard box was slightly behind Iversen. Only a half-hit free-kick from Ardley from outside the box forced Walker into action and Edinburgh cleared from in front of goal when Earle knocked the ball in from out wide.

The icing on the cake to knock Wimbledon out of the FA Cup came when Nielsen went to make a tackle on the edge of the box and Euell’s clearance rebounded off his knee, rocketing past Sullivan low into the corner of the net. It was a moment to savour after 540 minutes of frankly poor football. However, let’s hope we haven’t used our full allocation of luck and there will still be some to come in the second leg of the League Cup semi. And all this without Ginola ...

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LES FERDINAND

Pete Stachio

BLACKBURN ROVERS 1  THFC 1   - Saturday 30 January 1999

Attendance ; 29643
Weather ; Mild & Damp
 

Blackburn Rovers: Filan, Kenna, Henchoz, Broomes, Davidson, McAteer, Dunn (Peacock 85), Wilcox, Duff (Marcolin 62), Ward, Jansen (Davies 63)  
Subs not used: Croft, Flowers.  
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Campbell, Vega, Edinburgh, Anderton, Freund. Nielsen, Sinton (Armstrong 85), Ferdinand,  Iversen. 
Subs not used: Baardsen, Fox, Taricco, Young.
 

Bit of a novelty this - not playing Wimbledon. Blackburn included two debutants in their side ; Matt Jansen and Jason McAteer, both of whom had been linked with Spurs in the recent past. Tim Sherwood did not play due to suspension, but will he be a Spurs player soon? Chris Sutton did not play due to injury, I would dearly like to see him at Spurs.
The game started with Rovers having the early chances. Spurs then established themselves and created numerous openings - all spurned. Ferdinand had an excellent opportunity only to head straight at Filan. Iversen also missed. As half time approached the Spurs defence seemed to freeze and allow Matt Jansen to bring down a looping pass, swivel and hit a left foot volley past a motionless Walker in to the corner of the net. Jansen may have been offside, but in any event Sol should not have allowed him to turn.
 

During the interval, we were entertained by countless re-runs of the goal on the Blackburn Jumbotron accompanied by the ranting of the local commentator who had decided it was the best goal in the Premier that day !  Spurs gradually built up the pressure in the second half and you could feel the goal coming. It arrived courtesy of Iversen's head after Filan had fumbled under pressure from Ferdinand. Almost immediately Jason Wilcox let his frustration get the better of him by committing a ludicrous foul on Nielsen close to the halfway line which earned him a straight red card.  Blackburn were reduced to ten men. Were Spurs going to record their first League away win under George? No.  Rovers defended resolutely and we could not break them down. Overall a fair result and another well earned point.  Now back to the Dons (Groan).

MEHSTG TOP MAN - Steffen Freund ( for his involvement & commitment)  
Eric the Viking

THFC 0 WIMBLEDON 0 - Worthington Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg - Wednesday 27th January 1999

Goodness, this is getting boring. How many times can you say the same thing without getting repetitive?? You can have too much of a good thing you know !! Still, only two more meetings this season with the most dreadful side in Christendom. All talk of Wimbledon playing football must surely be taken with a sizable helping of Calcium Chloride. The fact that in the last three games, they have hardly been able to create a decent effort on goal (apart from Earle's overhead at home) speaks volumes. However, having said that, Tottenham have hardly been a lot better. While trying to play against a team out to spoil is never easy, there has been little fluidity in the passing from our boys. Indeed, in the first half, they could hardly string three passes together for most of the time. The best attacking moment was down the left when Justin put Ginola away, but David overran the ball.

The second half was only marginally better. A half-hearted cry for a penalty was waved away when Cunningham made a good tackle on Ginola and Dazza hit a 20 yard free-kick against the post. In a final flurry, Les was denied by a sliding Thatcher intervention and then at the death, put a header straight into the arms of Sullivan. The Dons only real shot on goal came from Hughes, who hit a long range drive into the side netting. Ardley wormed his way through, but could only produce a weak dribbler that went wide of the goal.

In truth, these sides appear to know each other too well. There is little enough opportunity for any spark of genius to open up the tie as heavy marking and closing down is the order of the day. It may come down to a mistake that will settle this semi or it will go all the way to penalties. Of course, a repeat of the result of the FA Cup tie would see Spurs through in the second leg, which is a nice thought, but the journey home from South London after extra time and penalties would be interminable should Tottenham not make it.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CARR.

Pete Stachio

WIMBLEDON 1 THFC 1 - FA Cup 4th Round - Saturday 23rd January 1999

Only in the Cup can you relive the old days when you get drawn away at a lower league ground where you can stand and see your team play on a pitch like a ploughed field. This was it. What a disgrace Wimbledon are to the Premier League. If they sang "No-one Likes Us", no-one would be surprised. The nature of the game came as no surprise either, with the Dons launching an aerial bombardment to try an unsettle the Spurs defence. However, a clever flick by Earle put Euell in after 4 minutes and his first shot was blocked by Walker, but as the ball looped up off his body, the England Under-21 striker could only head against the outside of the post. In the previous round the ball had fallen for Watford, this time not for Wimbledon. Later in the half, Carr cleared off the line when Leaburn had headed on a corner, but apart from that they offered little direct threat. Tottenham had a goal ruled out as the line judge called Iversen offside when he slipped home the rebound from Ginola's fierce shot. Anderton had a rasping drive go not far wide early on and Carr dipped a forty yarder that had Sullivan scrambling across his goal. On the disciplinary front ,Justin was cautioned for a late challenge and two Wombles were booked for late tackles also.

The second half was a bit better, but not a great deal. Either side of the home team's goal, Armstrong had chances. The first a shot, following Iversen's long run out of defence, which was saved and then Sullivan also denied him a diving header when Ginola whipped in a wicked cross from the right. Vega looked to be at fault for their goal, being beaten in the air, but Freund left Earle space to overhead kick the ball past Walker. The Spurs response was emphatic. Ginola seemed to be going nowhere ,when he drifted right of centre and from twenty yards unleashed a rocket of a drive that whizzed into the net about a foot off the floor the whole way. Sullivan didn't stand a chance. After that there were some worrying moments in the Tottenham defence with one Walker clearance smacking Vega in the face and luckily rebounding away from goal. At the other end the only worry was if Justinho would stay on the pitch; a tackle from behind bringing a stern lecture from the referee, but no second yellow with matching red.

So, a fifth game is added to the rubber and boy, oh, boy, how we all look forward to these matches with Wimbledon. Don't go away now because there will be another one along in a minute....

MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA

THFC 0 WIMBLEDON 0 - Saturday 16th January 1999

It may have been 0-0, but there were enough talking points in this match to keep us going. The early chances fell to Chris Armstrong, who headed successive crosses from Ginola against the post and low down forcing Sullivan to save. Apart from that the first half was all about the visitors strong-arm tactics in trying to rough Spurs up. Glad to say that it didn't work apart from Sinton's injury caused by Hartson's horrendous studs up, over the top challenge which earned him a booking, but should have got him sent off. Even more so when a short time after he raked Freund down the back of his ankle. Wimbledon, in truth, created very little and that meant that Walker had a fairly solitary afternoon, just picking off the odd cross here and there.

The second half was little better football-wise, with the Dons hitting the long ball trying to unsettle the Tottenham back line and although Spurs tried to open them up, there were just too many bodies in the way for most of the time. Ginola set up Edinburgh with a back-heel and the defender's run ended with the ball flashing across the face of the goal. Iversen headed just over and Freund had a couple of long range efforts fly too high. Freund was busy closing down and tying up the midfield and Taricco looked good going forward on his home debut when he replaced Clemence. The final whistle would have come as some relief for the football purist. But this is what we can expect in the next three encounters with the South London side. It won't be pretty and Tottenham must show as much commitment as they did today and a darn sight more constraint.

Ginola had the Wimbledon defence terrified every time he ran at them. They proved this, by doubling up the marking on him and tugging at his shirt and flying in with tackles to try and put him off his game. The drag back that left Thatcher skidding off the pitch was a dream and the turn that left his two markers before he was strongly challenged in the box, a delight. He must, however, give some end product to his play and I'm sure that this will be what GG will emphasise to him over the coming week. His dribbling ability has the potential to win all the upcoming games against this lot, but his theatrical falls only serve to detract from what he does so well. It gave Kinnear the opportunity to deflect flak away from his side's physical approach to the game and left the referee doubting any claim for fouls that would have been awarded to other players (i.e. the last foul, which should have been a free-kick on the edge of the box in a central position). Not only does he do himself a disservice by such actions, but he does the team out of set-pieces in dangerous areas. He must really concentrate on winding the opposition up by using his skill, rather than getting himself wound up by not being given free-kicks and penalties and going up to confront the ref at the end of the game. The scuffle between Chris Hughton and Mick Harford in the tunnel at the end of the match is a typical example of Wimbledon's bully-boy tactics and it was good to see that the Spurs assistant coach was not intimidated by his opposite number at Wimbledon.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DAVID GINOLA

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0  THFC 0   - Saturday 9th January 1999

Attendance ; 28,204  
Sheffield Wednesday: Srnicek, Atherton, Thome, Walker, Hinchcliffe, Alexanderrson, Jonk, Stefanovic, Rudi, Humphreys, Carbone.

Subs not used: Pressman, Newsome, Sanetti, Briscoe, Sonner.
 
Spurs; Walker, Carr, Young,  Campbell, Sinton, Anderton (Clemence 27), Freund, Nielson, Ginola (Edinburgh 67), Ferdinand (Armstrong 9),  Iversen. 
Subs not used: Baardsen, Calderwood
  

Hillsborough was the venue for Steffen Freund to make his Spurs debut similar to another German. (Remember that Klinsman goal). Freund looked efficient and combative. He was booked in the second half for a robust tackle on Alexandersson, but in the early stages he, like the rest of the Spurs midfield, struggled with the pace and movement of Wednesday. Carbone was running the show and even beat Luke Young in the air on occasions. The lack of goals was as much down to poor finishing by Wednesday as Spurs defending. The situation was not helped by early changes. Ferdinand went up for a ball with Iversen outside the area and fell awkwardly in the 9th minute. He could not continue and was replaced by Armstrong. We always seem to have one of the three strikers unavailable. 

After just under half an hour Anderton was replaced by Clemence. Darren had struggled all afternoon to get in to the game and must have been carrying the calf injury which caused his removal. Spurs did not look like winning the game and clearly George decided to settle for the draw when he replaced Ginola midway through the second half. To be fair Ginola had drifted in and out of the game with no one able to feed him the ball. Added to that Sinton looked exposed at full back and it is easy to understand why Edinburgh was brought on and Sinton moved further forward. The Spurs goal attempts consisted of one excellent header by Iversen from a Ginola cross which was cleared off the Wednesday line and a penalty claim from Ginola denied.

Overall a bit of a bore draw and some Spurs fans booed at the end. They have short memories. Last season Wednesday beat us at Hillsborough in a similar game and they won at White Hart Lane 3-0 in August. This was a hard earned point and a clean sheet gratefully received on a day when we did not play well. Hopefully both Ferdinand and Anderton can recover for the Wimbledon marathon.   

MEHSTG TOP MAN: IAN WALKER (for the clean sheet)  

ERIC THE VIKING

THFC 5 WATFORD 2 (FA Cup 3rd Round) - Saturday 2nd January 1999

What an afternoon ! It was the game that almost had everything. A goal by Watford after 53 seconds wasn't exactly what we expected, but the ball bounced down off the bar to be pushed forward and be saved by Walker before Johnson shot home from close range. It wasn't long before Tottenham's timbers were rattled again, Hyde hitting a powerful drive against the post when the ball fell invitingly for him in the box. The play changed to the other end where Steffen got his head to Darren's cross from the right wing and guided it past Chamberlain and then a minute later, Anderton's cross was handled by a defender at the far post. Dazza stepped up to drill the penalty home to give Tottenham the lead. With just twenty minutes gone, the lead was further extended, when a ball into the box from Anderton was lashed home by Iversen. The fun didn't stop as Iversen, Anderton and Ginola (a rasping half-volley) went close, while Fox got a volley 20 feet over the bar !! Walker produced a good reflex save from a long shot to push the ball up onto the bar, but later a cross from the right found Kennedy unmarked to head home the second Watford goal. It was just before half-time that a botched clearance from the Hornet's defence fell to Nielsen on the edge of the box and he hit a low shot in off the post to give Spurs a 4-2 lead at the break.

The second half started sprightly enough, but could not hope to live up to the excitement of the first period, despite Rocket Ronny Rosenthal's introduction. There was some theatrics from the weather, as the sky clouded over, lightening lit up the stadium and then a torrent of large hailstones pelted down stinging the crowd and the players. The ref walked off to talk to the managers, but returned to play on. As the game progressed, Sol made some last ditch challenges to prevent any further goals for the away side and going forward Fox struck the post when he only had the goalie to beat, Les had a header cleared off the line and the keeper made a flying save to deny David. Watford were restricted to long range efforts and one slipped just past the post, but it was Tottenham who had the final word. Having earlier sliced a volley sideways when on the penalty spot, Fox finally got one in, after good work by Iversen left him on his own two yards out. He steadied himself before prodding in number five.

It was a comfortable win in the end, but Watford did provide a few scares along the way. There were wobbles in defence, especially down our left hand side, but we looked good going forward, especially Anderton and Iversen. Although Les did not score, he played an important part in the build-up play and linked well. Here's to the next round, wherever and whoever that may be.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : STEFFEN IVERSEN

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