Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Watching tonight's European Cup final, reminded me of another night of glory exactly 21 years ago. At White Hart Lane on a balmy May night, I was one of 49,000 witnessing a tense UEFA Cup final second leg against Anderlecht.

Spurs outplayed the Belgians in the first leg, but could only come away with a 1-1 draw. Outside the ground, battles raged between the rival supporters - it was the eighties, remember - and an innocent Spurs fan was stabbed to death in a bar.

The return leg was peaceful, but noisy and boisterous. I was in the Shelf, disappeared now below seats. Back then it was one of the best standing areas in English football.

The teams played to stalemate until midway through the second half when Andrelecht silenced the Lane snatching a slim lead. Spurs piled forward. Ardiles lobbed a ball into the box, it popped out and Graham Roberts, Mighty Graham Roberts toed it home. Bedlam.

Further bedlam about an hour later. As in Istanbul, the tie went to the dreaded penalties. Pre-St Etienne, pre-Turin, pre-Wembley, pre-Lisbon, pens were then a novelty. Spurs scored 4 out of 5. Anderlecht had scored 3 of 4. That night's hero was, as tonight, a much maligned goalkeeper. Tony Parks. Where are you now? Parks, three yards off the line saved the vital spot kick. Parks raced to the touchline. I was twelve rows down by the Shelf wall.

This was pretty much the last hurrah for a great Spurs side. There have trophies (too few) since then. But, with Manager Keith Burkinshaw leaving soon thereafter, Hoddle gone a few years later. Hoddle, however, didn't play in that final. Captain Steve Perryman missed the second leg with a suspension. Stevie still lifted the cup, as did Stevie Gerrard tonight.

Happy memories. Let's have a few more this century.

Well done, Liverpool.

:: Posted by pete @ 23:11