February started with Fortress White Hart Lane being breached. Leicester would become the first side to take two points away with them and only Tottenham’s third defeat of the season. In the 29th minute City took the lead with a shot from the edge of the box. Les Allen leveled things five minutes later after a pass from Jones. City fought back and a couple of minutes later a high ball in to the box was pushed on to the Spurs crossbar and the rebound bundled home.
At the start of the second half Spurs were given a penalty for a foul on Smith, which the City side protested, Danny Blanchflower bringing us level again. In a game that was becoming bad tempered and saw a number of our players not performing to their usual standard City grabbed a winner with twenty five minutes to play. Spurs failed to clear the ball and in a scramble it was toe poked over the line. After the game the Leicester players talking to the press said ‘Spurs won’t win the double.’
On the Monday, the 6th, the BBC surprised Danny Blanchflower on live TV inviting him to appear on ‘This is Your Life.’ Danny surprised them by declining and walked away, (1).
Left - Leicester score at WHL.
The next week saw Spurs travel to Villa Park for the first of two visits in eight days to meet Aston Villa. The first was our league meeting with Villa and we started looking a little off-colour as we had the week before. Exempt from this was Blanchflower (the brilliant) and Mackay (the dynamo). Villa had set out to stop Spurs playing a detailed a man to man mark Blanchflower and stop him, by any means, but this disrupted Villa more than it did Spurs as he pulled the defence across the park.
Ron Henry appeared to handle the ball but Villa’s penalty shouts were ignored by the ref and Spurs finally took the lead just after half time, Smith who was also shadowed everywhere he went lost his marker and headed home. Dyson added a second goal before Villa reduced the lead from the penalty spot.
Right - The Leicester game and Gordon Banks in Leicester 's goal hands Bobby Smith a bottle thrown from the crowd.
The People wrote after the game, I still cannot see Tottenham winning the Double. Possibly the writer wasn’t aware that another record fell to Spurs that day as we became the fastest side to reach 50 points in the First Division with two for a win.
In the league Villa Park had been a good ground for Tottenham since the war they had played there 20 times without losing, winning 16 times, The following week Tottenham returned there for the 5th Round tie. We had not been so successful in cup games at the ground as we will discover next month,(2).
Below - Stamina training with front to back Cliff Jones, Ron Henry, Les Allen, and Dave Mackay. Bill Watson supervises whist Bobby Smith watches.
This was a much different affair from the week before and Tottenham looked ‘much more alive.’ They started in a manner that few if any sides could have matched with the ball zipping around leaving the home side chasing their own tails. Mackay was singled out by the press one report saying when he entered the field he became ten feet tall.
Whilst another said of him ‘he preformed miracles of delicate ball control and tackled like a battering ram.’ The only surprise was it took until the 18th minute to go ahead when a move started with White’s dazzling run down the wing and a move involving half the team ended with Smith giving us the lead as he smashed the ball in to the roof of the net. The lead was doubled midway through the half when another move involving a number of players saw an unstoppable effort from Jones put us well in control. Villa huffed and puffed with no effect as Tottenham eased up and into the quarter finals.
As a sign of the value the Cup was held in during those days, the gate for the Cup game is fifteen thousand higher than the League game with Villa on the same ground the week before.
Then there was a return to midweek action as Wolves come to North London. Stan Cullis who had praised Spurs earlier in the season tried his hand at psychology by telling the papers he thought Tottenham were about to crack.
From November that season and the Spurs dressing room.
ottenham replied in their usual manner, on the field. Spurs took the lead after ten minutes and another move involving half a dozen players ended when White set Smith free to give us the lead. Ten minutes later and a rare mistake from the skipper saw Wolves spring a counter attack which led to their goal. Smith and their goalie crashed into each and the keeper needed his ribs strapping up before he spent the rest of the match playing on the wing. Tottenham seemed as disrupted by this as Wolves and the game never reached the heights again ending 1-1. Tottenham had not been at their best, Wolves had applied pressure whenever we had the ball but we had not cracked.
Below- FA Cup action at Aston Villa. Cliff Jones (out of view) scores.
The end of the month loomed and Spurs traveled to Maine Road for the Manchester City game. Pouring rain before and in the early parts of the game saw the pitch descend into a boggy mess and the only goal came on the hour Blanchflower finding Medwin (in for Jones) who headed home in a rather forgettable match on the hour. Norman missed his only game of the season as Tony Marchi stepped in.
Another man absent is Bill Nicholson who is in Sunderland to run his eye over them before the 6th Round Cup tie. During the month a telephone line was installed in the Directors Box. Bill Nicholson liked to watch the game from the stand and now he could pass instructions to Cecil Poynton in the dugout.
The month closes with 31 games played and 53 points. The only rivals now were Wednesday with a game in hand, nine points behind, a point ahead of Wolves. Burnley in fourth place trailed Spurs by 18 points.
Top image - Les Allen in action at Manchester City.
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Notes -1 – http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/talking-tottenham-spurs-on-the-telly
2 - watch out for The Curse of Villa Park.
The rest of this series can be found @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/the-double-chronicles
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