Tottenham may have been hot favorites to win the Cup Final and therefore the Double but every other team that had gone this close had failed. The teams form had dipped badly since winning the league as players minds turned to Final.
It was the clubs first appearance in the Cup final for forty years, having won both their previous Finals.
It was also Spurs first game at Wembley Stadium. The day before the game they had the traditional look around the Stadium. Bill Nicholson took along a ball and insisted the players had a feel of the ball. The Wembley pitch had lush turf and had a reputation of sapping the strength and causing muscle injuries. That evening the team stayed at the Hendon Hall Hotel and went to the cinema to see ‘The Guns of Navarone’ which meant the players didn’t get back to midnight and it was straight to bed.
The following morning most players had a full English breakfast in bed whilst they read the papers. Bobby Smith however had other things on his mind and the story of how he nearly missed the game and hobbled through the last half an hour is told in Bobby Smith's secret, (4).
The rest of the morning was spent practicing their golf putting at the hotel before a lunch of steak then leaving the hotel for the short trip to Wembley. Another walk around the pitch, this time under the gaze of the TV cameras. This did prove helpful and most of the players changed their minds as it looked like rain and changed their rubber studs for leather ones.
In an interview in 1972 Terry Dyson admitted to feeling the butterflies before the game but talking to one of the Leicester players who he knew from his old school team he discovered they were as nervous as he was. During the presentations before the match The Duchess of Kent famously said to Danny Blanchflower that the Leicester's players had tracksuits with their names on them but Spurs hadn't. Blanchflower quipped, ‘I know, ma'am, but we all know each other.’
The game itself was no surprise when it failed to sparkle and was not the advertisement for British soccer that may have been hoped for (1). Tottenham had chances early on and could have had a penalty for what looked like a handball.
Bill Brown only touched the ball twice in the first twenty minutes (2).
The City full back fell victim to the Wembley turf hoodoo as he turned and ran into Allen, the collision leaving him half fit for the rest of the game. Les Allen was visibly upset by the injury and it also affected his game. One doubts this would have any effect upon the final outcome. The full backs Baker and Henry (man of the match) had excellent games.
White saw his drive go wide in the first ten minutes. Then Jones had the ball in the net in the 38th minute from Dyson’s cross but it was (wrongly) ruled out for off-side. Dyson headed over when it looked easier to score, as Bill Nicholson made clear to him after the game. It wasn’t until the 70th minute that Allen and Dyson working in tandem set up Smith whose shot on the turn gave Tottenham the lead.
Bobby described his goal as “I saw Banks moving one way changed my mind and shot the other and then fell over it was only when my pals began to thump me I realized I had scored.”
Then seven minutes later the trophy was secured White won the ball and passed to Smith whose center found Terry Dyson at the back post to head home our second. So on May 6th Tottenham entered the history books as the first in the modern age to win the impossible Double.
Tottenham had had nine corners to City’s four, Brown only handed the ball nine times (mostly collecting crosses, the only dive he made was for a ball that went wide), Banks 22.
Spurs had six attempts on target City 1. Spurs had procession for 43 minutes and City 29.
After Spurs did their lap of honour they found the Leicester players had lined up as a guard of honour at the top of the tunnel, sadly the TV coverage missed this tribute.
Had the game finished level the replay would have been at Villa Park, curse and all (3). Blanchflower said ‘Spurs did not play well but that was due to the conditions Wembley is soft and luxurious it slows the ball sometimes.’
Bill Nicholson claimed he had had an ambition and achieved it. Certainly after the game he was deeply disappointed several players reported when they congregated him he said , ‘yes but we were bloody awful.’ If anything he was disappointed Spurs failed to show the world just how good they were.
After the game the Club had a party for the players at the Savoy. The club ensured members of the 1951 team were present along with four of the players from 1921. Les Allen’s mood still clouded by the earlier incident improved when he received a telegram fro Len Chalmers ‘Forget about it. Congratulations.’
The following day their was an open top bus parade from Edmonton Town Hall to Tottenham. The police estimated there were one hundred thousand people lining the route. Not bad as the players wondered if anyone would turn out to see them.
Danny Blanchflower said ‘I have never seen so many people crowding pavements clinging to trees and hanging out of windows down the three mile route. Here was the real glory. The trust and respect of the fans in their team for a season for skill and style and crowds and the triumph of the first Double this century.
The bus paused for a moment as it passed the ground where the Directors waved from the Board Room windows. Then when the bus reached the Tottenham Royal the band on the balcony played ‘McNamara’s Band.’ On the balcony of the Town Hall each of the seventeen players took their bow, Danny said ’ I never realized before how important football is and what it really means until today.’ The Mayor attempted to make a speech but after his opening comments he was drowned out by the crowd. But to be honest what else was there to say.
There is a concluding article in this series which will appear shortly.
The rest of this series can be found @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/the-double-chronicles
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Notes - 1 - It has to be said watching at the time the game wasn’t not too exciting and re-watching the DVD for research, the opinion doesn’t change.
2 - I’ve taken these figures from a report, I wasn’t going to sit through the game again to check them.
3 - The Curse of Villa Park. -
4 - Bobby Smiths Secret - scheduled 24th March
Flying Down to Rio
History of T.H.F.C.
Tribute to Bill Nicholson
The Road to Turin
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The 100 Year War
Interview with Marina Sirtis
A Long Dark Shadow
By Royal Appointment
School Report: An Insight into the Younger Eric Dier
All Change At Spurs
History Of THFC: Part 1
Passage to India: Rohan Rickets
Thanks For The Memories
Our Tommy Carroll
The AVB Files: Part1
You The Jury
The Hand Of Hugo
Connection - Argentina
Creating a Reputation
Flying Down To Rio