Every kid in our schoolyard wanted to be Jimmy Greaves, even the West Ham boys.
Such was the esteem he was held in back in those days. It might have been 20 a side but whoever scored they yelled out ‘Greaves gets another.’
He was simply the best striker I’ve ever seen. In full flight he resembled a big cat chasing down its prey. The ease of movement, no energy wasted here was a goal machine at its peak.
The myth, fed by himself, is that he didn’t work hard and a large number of his goals did come from being in the right place and up close. There were games he wouldn’t do much for 89 minutes before popping up and winning the game. There was also the jinking runs that left defenders looking lost. There was one against United (1), Highlights below and some of the other goals are not bad. Another playing against Leicester he picked the ball up wide and just slalomed his way through their team leaving them like rabbits looking into headlights. He even took it round the ref before leaving Shilton flapping at empty air. Or scoring direct from a corner (2).
While he broke every record and scored on every debut at every level. The story isn’t just about goals, even if there are a lot of them, Jim liked to play with a smile and believed the game was there to be enjoyed. Caught off-side he would link arms with a defender and turn round or pick the ball up and present it to the goalie.
At club level he set records at Chelsea and Tottenham. He was the first player to top the First Division scoring charts for three consecutive seasons between 1963 and 1965, finishing top six times, another record. He is the youngest player to reach 100 top flight goals. In between there was the brief spell at AC Milan. He was not happy everything was too regimented. Drinking and sex was banned for three days before a game. I always wondered how they monitored that second one. He still bagged 9 goals in 12 games.
Tottenham outbid Chelsea to bring him home as Bill Nicholson knew that he could improve the team that had just won the Double. It then took the Football League three weeks to confirm the move. His first game at Plymouth in the reserves drew a 14,000 crowd.
At Tottenham he ended with 266 from 379 games that’s a ratio of 70%. (220 in the League). Having won two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup. His career total stands at 422 in 602
In 2009 he received a World Cup Winners medal having been a member of the 1966 squad. After he retired he took part in the 1970 World Cup rally driving from Wembley to Mexico and came 6th. He battled a well-documented alcohol problem, finally quitting drinking in 1978. He gives a very moving account of this fight in his book “Greavsey”. He later went on to become a TV pundit and still regularly undertakes sell out theatre tours with his one mans show. Jim turns 74 this week. Very happy Birthday Jim.
Notes - 1- Next -Manchester United, 29/11/13 2- Next - Liverpool, 13/12/13
Thanks - THFC, THOS, Bob Goodwin, Top Spurs, England on Line, Daily Mail.
Images - 1 & 3 Press Association.
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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