After the amazing scenes at the Gornik game we were drawn away in the next round with Feyenoord the Dutch Champions. Tottenham had learn't from their mistakes on the trip to Poland and started to introduce preparations that would leave nothing to chance on future trips abroad. After the near impossible journey of the last round more than a thousand fans traveled to see the game. The game ended with our first away win in Europe 3-1. The press described our performance as ‘a splendid fighting display’ but Bill Nicholson was far from happy. Talking to the press post match he said “we muddled through that’s all I can say, our mistakes there were so many I don’t know where to start.” It could have been so different as the home side hit the woodwork twice in the closing minutes with a hobbling Bill Brown beaten.
The second leg and Mackay was fit again but Tony Marchi had performed so well Nicholson kept him in the side and brought Mackay in at inside-left. The Feyenoord team were caught up in the London rush hour and match day traffic and the game kicked off late. The Dutch showed their more physical side in this game. The Daily Express saying if this was European football we were better off without it. Tottenham struggled to play their natural game. Blanchflower led from the front and had a magnificent game in a drab affair. It was the visitors who took the lead after just 9 minutes when a ball run lose in the box following a shot from distance. It took just three minutes to level. Blanchflower found Mackay whose center is headed home by Dyson. Our fourth European game and Dyson has scored in all of them.
Then on the quarter of an hour Dave Mackay clashes heads with a defender and is left unconscious on the ground. He is rushed to the dressing room leaving us with ten men. After being unconscious for ten minutes he awoke and witnesses claim he sat up looked around and said “What am I doing here.” He then, in his blood stained shirt, returned to the pitch side. His return to the fray was meet with a roar even louder than the usual Tottenham roar and in the words on one spectator that night. ‘I don’t know what it did to the Dutch but it scared the life out of me.’ No surprise the press dubbed him the iron man the next morning. The visitors press but the defence stands firm and the game was to end 1-1, the first time Spurs had not won at home. Tottenham moved on to the quarter finals in the new year.
Jimmy Greaves is signed from AC Milan a few days after the game. The FA and the Football League were unhappy with the transfer and insisted on investigating. The FA relented and he was allowed to play for the reserves. Then finally the Football League granted his registration five weeks after we signed him. This delay meant he was ineligible for the next round.
Then in the new year the draw was made and we would travel to Czechoslovakia to face Dukla Prague. Their side contains several players from the national side and they will reach the World Cup final the following summer. Their season was on a mid-winter break so we were unable to scout them before the tie. That aside Tottenham’s confidence was growing as we became experienced to this new idea of two legged ties.
The ground was covered in heavy snow and Nicholson decided to send out a more defensive minded side than usual. Tony Marchi dropping back to act as a second center half along side Norman (whilst some reports describe his play more as a sweeper behind the defence) with Smith up front largely on his own and Terry Medwin coming in for Dyson.
The Daily Sketch quoted a Spurs director the following morning as saying “it worked but I wouldn’t want to watch it every week.” with Greaves watching from the stands Tottenham would lose on the night by the only goal. On the hour Henry blocked a shot but the loose ball fell kindly for them. It was the first European game we failed to score in. Around a hundred fans made the trip. After the game Nicholson told the reporters “he was well satisfied, the plan worked as I expected.” Another sign of how our perception of European ties was changing. In a game where the side were described as giving a highly satisfactory professional display. The team defended well and forced Dukla to rely heavily on long shots. When called upon Brown in goal was excellent.
We looked dangerous on the counter attack and Smith had a goal disallowed with ten minutes to play. Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones both found themselves on the end of some rough treatment and both were booked for reacting. On one occasion as Smith picked himself up and he threw a snowball at his tackler.
The Second Leg back at White Hart Lane was on a Monday night on a freezing rock hard pitch. We use the same line up but Marchi is moved to left half and Mackay was pushed forward to inside left as we have our more usual formation. Tottenham play a magnificent game of controlled football played at a breathtaking pace. Blanchflower’s free kick is headed on by White and ‘the buccaneering’ Smith levels the tie. Top image Smith scoring at the Paxton Road end for our first goal. Within five minters White finds Mackay who shows superb control and scores with his right, its 2-0 and we lead on the night with just 15 minutes played. A rare defensive mistake just after the break lets Dukla make it 2-2. The scores stay level for just a few minutes when White sets up Smith who heads us back into the lead. Only a few moments later and Baker to Smith, who back-heads it. The ball lands in the path of the on-rushing Mackay and he crashes home again, this time with his left, its 4-1 on the night. Brown is only called on to make two saves all night. White ‘floats like a ghost and displays amazing control’ while ‘Glory Glory Hallelujah’ rings around the ground as Spurs progress into the semi-finals. Danny Blanchflower commenting upon the White Hart Lane crowd during those games “The sound it came from everywhere, it was marvelous.’ Danny when asked about the Dukla side after the tie said “The Czechs are nice people but they play soft football, they are not realistic enough. They couldn’t adjust themselves to the conditions,” In the stands that night there were spies from every other team left in the competition come to spy on the heavily favored Spurs team. We would draw Benfica in that Semi-final and the stage is set for one of the greatest battles seen at the Lane. In case your wondering yes at least one newspaper led with the headline ‘Spurs bounce the checks.’
There are several short newsreel clips of the Feyenoord 1st leg and Dukla 2nd leg games.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume reserved for THFC matters)
Notes 1 - Hotspur Towers 25.
2 - Benfica First Leg, and Second Leg.
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