Sunday, 21 June 2009

"Currie Gives Spurs The Shits"

Do you still get banners like this at Cup Finals? Maybe you do, I've not been taking too much notice. The one in this post's title comes from the 1982 FA Cup showpiece between QPR and Tottenham. I say showpiece, but in truth the game was something of a turkey, and this was the first match of course - after a 1-1 stalemate AET, a Thursday night replay took place which Spurs won thanks to a Glenn Hoddle penalty.

I've just seen the full BBC1 match coverage on an old Maxell Epitaxial 750 Betamax tape, and if the game had been anything like as action-packed as the finals that both preceded and succeeded it (I refer here of course to the replay in '81 and both the Man Utd v Brighton games) and, as with the 1983 decider, finished on 90 minutes, I could've enjoyed an eventually bumped episode of The Pink Panther straight after Grandstand.

And if it hadn't been for the slack Spurs defending that allowed Terry Fenwick to nip in with an equalising header 5 minutes from time, this particular Cup Final would have been decided not only by Hoddle's deflected slip-shot, but by the decidedly meaty Glenn Hoddle tackle (re-read those last five words if you have to) which set the move up. Gary Waddock did well to eventually get up again after said two-footed lunge, and it seems alarming now to note just how many rash challenges went unchecked back then, and were furthermore deemed quite acceptable. Take Fenwick's outrageous studs-up dive in on Garth Crooks earlier on in the match - it wasn't the future Spurs full-back who had his name taken (it would've been a straight red these days), but the hapless Crooks for retaliating.

The man of the match award was more or less impossible to allocate, such was the dullness and ultimately inconclusive outcome to the game. The BBC even held over their viewer's choice until the replay (cut to a trio of telephonists taking votes via headset long after the final whistle, and the rather cumbersome placing of ballot slips into dishes marked with the names of each player). That said, probably QPR 'keeper Peter Hucker laid more claim than anyone else to this particular title, brave and unflappable as he was in the face of increasing Tottenham pressure and a whack in the ribs from Steve Perryman late in normal time. Hucker looked considerably older than his 22 years, no doubt owing to his similarly stoic hair, whose sheer height and volume remained unperturbed at the last in the driving rain.

Incidentally, by '82 supposed footballing laxative Tony Currie was something of a warhorse and spent much of the game staggering across the pitch with various pulls, tweaks and cramps. Surprisingly though the achilles injury which had dogged him in the run up to the big match didn't seem to trouble him, and his only significant contribution (other than serving as something of a talisman to the then second division Rangers) was to divert Hoddle's shot into the net with his thigh on 110 minutes. Sadly for Tone, he was to top this in the replay, when, playing as captain in place of the suspended Glenn Roeder, he gave away the penalty from which Spurs ultimately triumphed.

In the familiar pre-match six-yard box suited & booted player interviews, Currie explained his heel woe to Bob Wilson and considered (somewhat incongruously as it turned out) the similarities between Hoddle and himself. Wilson then talked to the giant centre-back Bob Hazell, before beckoning over a young Clive Allen, a Ranger at the time. In a moving moment, Bob proffers some orange foamy headphones and links the striker up with his father Les, a 1961 Cup hero for Tottenham who's sharing the gantry with David Coleman. A stilted conversation ensues, tailing off into trembling lips and eyes welling over with mighty pride. Close to an entire stand of Allens were in attendance for what turned out to be a disappointing showing for Clive, who limped off early in the second half. Five years later he'd enjoy a coruscating 49 goal season for the lilywhites, but was alas to endure yet more Cup Final heartbreak.

Curious final for kits this as well, with both teams turning out in rare away red/black and yellow strips respectively. They're both fantastic, the Tottenham Le Coq vintage especially.

"Miller Grinds Hazell's Nuts", that was another one.

1 comment:

  1. The banner I remember from that final was "Hoddle is hotter than Currie". Was the 'shits' one visible on-screen?