There were some Tottenham fans that believed there was a curse on Tottenham when they were drawn to play the FA Cup semi final at Villa Park in March 1961. Spurs had reached the Semi-finals only four times since winning the trophy in 1921. Three of these had fallen in a nine year spell, all played at Villa Park and all lost with a hint of the fates intervening.
No wonder when we learned our semi-final game in that Double season was to be played there a few fans wondered if the curse would strike again.
Our first semi-final since 1922 was against Blackpool in 1948. Len Duquemin scoring for us that day in the 63rd minute. Then with just four minutes left Morrison scored from what appeared an impossible angle. Extra time saw him score twice more. Worse followed as the league form disappeared and we missed out on promotion. The full story of that cup tie was told in Hotspur Towers 31,(1).
It was Blackpool again in 1953 that ended our dreams. A slip near the end of the game costing Spurs our Wembley trip. The scores were level and Eddie Baily said the teams were thinking about extra time. He felt Spurs had been the better team and wasn’t worried being sure Tottenham would come out on top. The ref awarded a free kick against him for hand ball. He stood there disputing the decision rather than retiring. Blackpool took the kick quickly to the left. Ramsey won the ball then turned and played it back towards the goalkeeper as he always did. It would have been simpler (and safer) to just hit it down field but that wasn’t the Ramsey way (2). His pass was under hit (some say it looked like it come off his thigh) and Blackpool nipped in to score the winner. Eddie Baily later described that game as the greatest disappointment in his career. He had been convinced Spurs were going to the final. Ramsey talking years later said given the same situation he would still have played the ball he did rather than just clear it wildly. Our scorer that day was again Duquemin, while Baily had hit the bar. The press said our team ‘swept and flowed.’ One move was described as a ‘glorious move went the length of the field with the ball on reground and not a Blackpool player touching it.’
1956 - Bert Troutman the Manchester City goalie hangs on to George Robb's leg to stop him putting the ball into the net.
Once again the curse strikes as the Ref doesn't see it.
Top - Ron Burgess with Stanley Matthews in the 1948 semi.
The third failure came three years later and this time it was Manchester City who knocked us out with the only goal. Manager Jimmy Anderson dropped Tommy Harmer before the game thinking he was too light weight. Skipper Blanchflower and a number of fans felt this was a mistake. Fans and press afterwards felt this disrupted the teams rhythm. Then when George Robb was about to score with an empty net in front of him their goalie grabbed his legs and yanked him down. Everyone in the ground thought it was a clear penalty except the ref. The curse had struck again.
Spurs had a good record at the ground in the league and that Double season had already seen us win twice on the ground, one of them being the 5th round tie when we beat the home team 2-0. Then on 18th March 1961 we played and beat Burnley 3-0 to excuse the curse once and for all (3).
Prior to this we had won our first FA Cup game at Villa Park, which was also a semi final in the 1901 campaign when we beat West Bromwich 4-0.
Left - Ramsey
As for other FA Cup games at Villa Park prior to the curse. We won there against Aston Villa in a replay in 1904 after the first game at White Hart Lane had been abandoned. Then in 1907 we played Blackburn in a second round second replay having drawn the first two games 1-1 we overcame them to win 2-1. While 1935 saw us play a second replay there against Bolton when we lost 0-2.
Since the curse was broken, our next Cup trip to that ground was the semi V Leicester in 1982 when we won 2-0. Followed by another semi in 1987 when we beat Watford 4-1. It seems the semifinal curse was truly laid to rest. 1992 saw us play Villa in the Third round there and draw 0-0 before losing the replay at home by the only goal. The last time we met in that competition prior to this seasons victory at White Hart Lane.
Incidentally the only other time we had played in the semi final since that previous Cup win was the year after we won the trophy. The game was at Hillsborough and we lost 1-2 to Preston and even then there was a suggestion the fates were not looking kindly upon us that day when play was stopped for an injury as we were about to score. Their player then jumped up and carried on.
t- Keith 16024542
f - https://www.facebook.com/keith.harrison.9659
You can my full archive at - View Full Bio
The story of that Double season is @http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/the-double-chronicles
2- Alf Ramsey - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-alf-ramsey
3 - We reach the semi in the next chapter of the Double Story which will appear in a couple of days time.
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