Last but by no means least we welcome another of the game’s glamour clubs – Tottenham Hotspur. Fittingly for concluding my ‘we meet again series’ Tottenham are one of our oldest opponents, a rivalry dating back to the Southern League days.
Spurs at home – a perfect conclusion to a Christmas weekend!
Tottenham, along with Brighton, West Ham, Southampton and Watford (from this seasons opponents) were one of the clubs that we played in our first season as a professional outfit, 1905/06. A mixed bag that season we beat them 4-1 at home on 14th April 1906 before losing 3-0 away three days later.
We bettered that the following season with a 5-0 victory, which to date, is still our biggest winning margin against the Spurs. That season they finished sixth to our eighth, while the following year, despite dropping a place to seventh, Tottenham were elected to the Football League and into Division 2. It was a move largely driven by geography and potential, although Spurs did have some pedigree winning the 1901 FA Cup (the first and only non-league side to win it after the establishment of the Football League).
It was in the FA Cup that we would next play Spurs and it was the non-leaguers (us) that emerged victorious beating them 3-2 in the 2nd round. Tottenham are renowned for their success in the FA Cup over the years and the special relationship that the competition holds with their supporters. On that basis it may surprise many that City hold the upper hand in FA Cup meetings, winning three and losing just the once.
One of those cup wins came in the legendary 1958/59 cup run, which has continuously featured in my weekly series. Of all the games in that incredible journey to the semi-finals, the Tottenham win is probably the most impressive.
Firstly, Norwich were drawn away, playing at a packed White Hart Lane on Valentine’s Day 1959. Secondly, a draw meant they had to do it all again at Carrow Road and, finally, much of the Spurs team that City beat 1-0 went on to complete the League and Cup double just two years later.
Playing centre-back for Spurs that day in ’59 was Maurice Norman. Born in Mulbarton and schooled at Norwich, Norman enjoyed a stellar career at Spurs winning the double as well as another FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963. Throw in his 23 England Caps and Norman is arguably the greatest player ever to come from Norfolk.
Our next meeting with Tottenham was the club’s first in the top-flight. On 14th October 1972, almost 35,000 squeezed into Carrow Road and were treated to a 2-1 win.
Later that season, on 3rd March 1973 almost three times that gate witnessed Norwich’s first-ever game under the twin towers of Wembley. The 1973 League Cup was a huge game and even bigger moment in the club’s history. Unfortunately, City came into the final on a poor run with five defeats on the bounce and a late Ralph Coates winner made it six losses in a row as Spurs won the game 1-0 and lifted the Cup.
Tottenham captain that day was World Cup winner and Norwich City Hall of Famer – Martin Peters. In a week where Peter’s sadly passed away, it’s fitting that two of his former clubs should meet to pay their tributes.
From Norwich’s perspective, Peters was simply one of the greatest players to ever wear the yellow and green jersey. He won the Barry Butler Player of the Season twice and helped establish Norwich in Division 1, including, a then-record, tenth-place finish in 1975/76.
Peter’s scored three goals against his former club, who suffered a shock relegation in 1976/77 meaning that for one season only (1977/78) City played in a league above their more illustrious rivals.
Other Norwich/Tottenham connections during that time included Martin Chivers and Jimmy Neighbour. It was a unique link between two clubs that grew and blossomed throughout the 1980s.
Ian Crook, Ian Culverhouse and Mark Bowen all rose from the Tottenham academy to become the backbone of the great Norwich teams of the late ‘80s and of course 1992/93. With 1,186 appearances between them, the Tottenham hierarchy must be kicking themselves at the loss of talent, plundered from under their noses, by the canny management of Ken Brown and his team.
Another signing that Norwich made in that time from Spurs was the purchase of the highly-rated midfielder, Gary Brooke. Much was expected from Brooke after he had made the transition from youth to first-team but in contrast to Crook and co, Brooke would feature only 14 times for City before moving overseas to Holland.
You can later add Jon Polston, Paul McVeigh and Gary Doherty to that list, making in total five Norwich Hall of Famers who started as apprentices at The Lane.
Norwich had a good record against Spurs in the 1980s, losing just once at home in the entire decade. The last of those was a 2-2 draw on 23rd September 1989 where a certain Gary Lineker scored his first Tottenham goal.
Then in 1994, it was the turn of the famous five, well four of them Anderton, Barmby, Sheringham and World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann. That 0-2 Spurs win took place on Boxing Day 1994. Since the Premier Leagues formation, Norwich v Tottenham has become a regular part of the Christmas festivities. Six meetings have been played on either Boxing Day or the 27th December with Spurs leading that yuletide head-to-head with four wins.
Norwich’s one Christmas success came on the 27th December 1993 when goals from Chris Sutton and Efan Ekoku secured a 1-3 away win, a result that was symbolic of the way City were performing, particularly on the road, during the Mike Walker days.
There have been other successes notably a 1-2 away win in April 2012 and the most recent victory, a 1-0 home win under the management of Tottenham old boy Chris Hughton.
The last time Spurs visited Norfolk, Harry Kane scored a double in a convincing 3-0 win. He has certainly come a long way since his brief loan spell with us.
Tottenham now have a world-class manager and a world-class stadium. The first visit to the new White Hart Lane was top of many Norwich supporters’ must-do away games when the fixtures were first announced. But before that adventure a Christmas cracker under the Carrow Road lights.