In the summer of 1995 whilst everyone else was sunning themselves on the beach Tottenham took part in UEFA’s Intertoto competition. Tottenham agreed to take part against its better judgement in a good will gesture which ended when we were banned from European competition. Less than 13,000 people in total saw the clubs four games, and half of them were at one game. As players from St Mirren and Barnet were amongst those wearing out colours. While UEFA proved a written agreement isn't worth the paper its written on.
Tottenham’s only venture into the Intertoto Cup came in the summer of 1995. It was played against a backdrop of political intrigue and quickly descended into farce. It will be long remembered in the clubs folklore much more for the off field activities than the performances on it.
The competition had started during the 1961/62 season and ran throughout the summer each year. The competition was the brainchild of the same people who had devised the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1). This time they acted at the bequest of the European Pools companies who wanted fixtures to fill their coupons. The competition was open to teams who had failed to qualify for the main UEFA tournaments the following season. At the time it was described by the Swiss press as ‘the cup for the cup-less.’ It was not until 1995 that the competition came under the control of UEFA who offered the top two teams (out of sixty) entrance to the UEFA Cup.
Britain's Daily Mail described the trophy as the smallest and most pointless trophy.
None of the Premier League teams were Keen to take part. They felt it would disrupt their preparations for the approaching season. At this point UEFA ‘suggested’ that if no English teams entered they might be inclined to ban all English teams from all UEFA competitions. Emergency meetings were called and the FA and League ‘persuaded’ three teams to take part. Wimbledon, Sheffield Wednesday and ourselves. The PL issued a statement that the clubs had volunteered to take part.
One newspaper suggested this was unlikely and our Chairman Alan Sugar had only agreed as he thought that he might be able to use it at a later date if needed in future dealings with the FA /UEFA. Even then this was only after it was agreed the club would not play at home. White Hart Lane was being used for American football and would need all the ground-staffs skill to prepare the pitch for the coming season. We would not be required to use a full strength side and we could include loan players from other clubs. Phil Sour in his official history of the club claims that the FA, PL and UEFA all agreed to this in writing and it seems unlikely (to me at least) that Alan Sugar would of agreed otherwise.
Thus when we named our squad it included loan players from Charlton (Alan Pardew, the current Palace manager) Northampton, Barnet and St Mirren. It was as our regular third choice goalie who was drafted in to the side, Chris Day, described the team , “a bunch of 18 and 19-years-olds and some lads who were coming towards the end of their careers”.
Thus it was that on June 25th we stepped out at Brightons old Goldstone Road ground in front of a crowd of less than two and a half thousand against a full strength Lucerne side. Spurs had two goals disallowed and actually held out till the last twenty minutes when they scored twice.
The first of July saw as travel to Slovenia and play Rudar Velenje. They took the lead in the opening minutes and we equalized after 15 through Northampton’s Sampson. We won the game when John Hendry scored on the hour. Next up was Oster from Sweden down on England's south coast. Gerard McMahon scored for us but we lost 1-2. This in front of a smaller crowd of only 2,143.
Tottenham never took this competition seriously and do not class the games as first team fixtures nor do they include the statics in their European record, whereas UEFA do.
This explains why Rudar were not mentioned when we played a EL game in Solvenia and we still have to meet a Swedish team in UEFA competition.
The last group game came on the 22nd July in Cologne. The Germans took the competition seriously and in front of more than six thousand thrashed Tottenham 8-0. Chris Day played for Stevenage against Spurs in the FA Cup in 2012 and before that game he remembered the goalie at the other end had played in two world cups. “I actually had a half-decent game but they were just a class apart. It was Tottenham reserves against World Cup players. I think they had 14 World Cup players….” This left Tottenham fourth out of five in the groups. Cologne were knocked out in the next round at home to Innsbruck.
Interesting note that last game came on the same day as the first teams first of their pre season tour of Denmark and Sweden.
If Alan Sugar had hoped to gain some goodwill from the venture on this occasion it backfired on him. UEFA were not impressed and showed what they thought of written agreements by banning both Wimbledon and Spurs from all UEFA competitions for not trying. England also had their ‘fair play’ place removed. Wednesday did try but none of them had reached the knock out stages. On appeal the ban was changed to a heavy fine which the PL ensured was paid equally by all the PL teams. After all we were only doing them a favour in the first place.
Tottenham’s team did include a young Seven Carr who was the only player to go on and become a first team regular. Chris Day did play over 450 league games but never appeared for Tottenham's first team.
Jamie Clapham also played 400 league games but only made one appearance for Spurs from the bench. Of the others, Gerard McMahon did play five games and become a Northern Ireland international. John Hendry scored five goals for the club including two at Highbury in a 3-1 win. Andy Turner, Kevin Watson, Steven Slade, and Paul Mahorn did all feature for Tottenham.
As for the competition in 2008 it was scraped and converted into four additional qualifying rounds of the Europa League.
Keith Harrison. HT45
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume reserved for THFC matters)
Notes -1 – Inter-cities Fairs Cup, Hotspur Towers 12.
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