If You Know Your History – Spurs Players Score Four and I Was There (Mostly)

One of the good things about not having a crowded fixture list this season is that when we win, there’s more time to bask in the warm nourishing glow of victory. It’s a great feeling, something which Spurs fans have frankly not been accustomed to over the years. The reservations expressed in my match report about tactical weaknesses somehow ebb away, at least until Matty Taylor bangs one in from 30 yards against the run of play on Saturday, and thoughts turn to past glories.

Meticulous post-match historical research (chatting in the car on the North Circular on the way home) came up with 3 other occasions within the forty year timespan of my support for our beloved Spurs when an individual Tottenham player has scored four: Martin Peters away to Manchester United, Colin Lee in the famous 9-0 versus Bristol Rovers and Jurgen Klinsmann away to Wimbledon. Ironically we forgot the one previous occasion when all three of us had been present, Berbatov’s four against Reading in a mad 6-4 win.

I was present for four of the games, Wimbledon away preventing my nap hand. One thing they all had in common was that they were not exceptional matches. It’s the feat of four that remains in the memory, not the quality of the performance or, particularly, of the goals themselves. Against Burnley we did well, exceptionally so in patches, but we’ve played better and lost.

I saw Peters score all four goals in a 4-1 win in 1972 from the enclosure at Old Trafford. Many clubs had a standing area running the length of the pitch, like the one in the old West Stand at White Hart Lane, the space now occupied by the West Stand Lower seats. In those days you could stand there in safety at away grounds, getting a bit of stick but nothing serious. Liverpool, Old Trafford, Derby, even Highbury and, to truly demonstrate how times have changed, Upton Park, where in the early 70s I and other clusters of Spurs fans openly celebrated a 2-1 victory and lived to tell the tale. Then as now I preferred the view from down the side but also it represented a refuge from the increasing violence in the home and away ends. I watched the hoolies get stuck in from a safe distance.

We were three up well before half time but the only goal I can recall is the fourth, a header at the Stretford end I think. Peters was famed for ‘ghosting in’, in fact a simple manoeuvre that we now expect as routine from midfielders, coming late into the box, and he rose unchallenged to score. I vividly remember the total silence; the ground was stunned. On MOTD you could hear a solitary person applauding. It was me, stood near the cameras.

The 9-0 against Bristol Rovers was another odd one. We expected to do well in what was then the Second Division but this stroll was so easy it was unreal. Basically, everything worked. Again I don’t recollect any stunning football to break Rovers down, merely a succession of crosses converted by Colin Lee on his debut, plus three from Ian Moores. Two men less likely to score seven between them have seldom appeared together in the same Tottenham team. Lee was a round shouldered un-athletic signing from Torquay, willing but often with the touch of a full back in front of goal. Which he duly became as his scoring powers waned. Centre-forward to left back, a remarkable change of position.

Moores meanwhile enjoyed his day, although even when he scored a rare hat-trick, (or as time went on, scoring was rare full stop), he found himself out of the limelight. A signing that epitomised the way our standards and expectations had fallen, Moores was a limited target man, memorable for his beard but sadly not his talent. Think Rasiak without the skill….

Coming up to date, Berbatov’s four came in a crazy game against Reading, lots of fun in the total absence of any competent defending from either side. One goal stands out. In a crowded box, the ball dropped vertically from a great height and Berba, back to the target, swivelled to volley home. A dream goal scored with the lazy insolence of the most skilful player at Spurs since Gazza.

I’ve left Klinsmann to last not just because it was the one that I did not see. The 97-98 table shows that we finished a modest 14th but that does not tell the full story of this desperate season under Christian Gross. We went into this tricky away game, the penultimate fixture, teetering precariously above the drop zone and Wimbledon were hard to beat. Well, in fact, just hard, and they approached this match like the school bully lurking outside a sweet shop for passing year 7s. Defeat and subsequent relegation was the terrifyingly real prospect.

I listened at home on the radio, pacing the floor and cheering every Spurs move. Winning 6-2 was a bonkers result, given our pathetic season. Watching MOTD, the players congratulated Klinsmann, strutting around full of themselves. Even Saib had a good game, that’s how odd it was. Jurgen returned late in the year to save us all and he took his chances in the manner of the true master he was, but I still slightly resent the cockiness of his teammates. You were awful that year, lads.

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29 thoughts on “If You Know Your History – Spurs Players Score Four and I Was There (Mostly)

  1. I also seem to remember Gary Brooke scoring 4 against Southampton at home in the 80’s. It seem like everyone was trying to set him up and the game was drawn 4 – 4.

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    • Thanks for contributing. This has caused a statto outbreak. I’ve checked – we drew 4-4 against Saints on Boxing Day 1980, Brooke scored two.

      By the way, I’m happy for more examples to be added! I’ve gone from memory on the above, and that is all too fallible these days!

      Regards,

      Al

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  2. One other, I think I remember Alfie Conn scoring 4 away at Newcastle in a midweek game in the winter of 75/76. But then again I might have dreamt it.

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  3. Thanks for this, in some ways it’s strange that it doesn’t happen more often – lots more hattricks than 4s. I think Alfie Conn scored 3 out of 5 against Newcastle in a 5-2, it was the only decent result that year. My best Tottenham memory is his two against Leeds to keep us up the year before. I watched the B. Rovers game on MOTD, that was not a great side and nearly blew it in the run-in [after a great early season]. Of all the Tottenham ‘might have beens’ losing B’shaw ia probaly the biggest – he made as many terrible mistakes [letting Jennings go, playing Armstrong, falling out with Archibald] as great ones [Ardiles, Hoddle, Archibald], what’s certain is that Terry Venables was not the Messiah and we’ve struggled ever since KB left [with Martin Jol as almost the real thing and Harry as a notch above].

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  4. I swear that I saw Gazza score 4 against Hartlepool in a league cup game during the early nineties.
    Then again, at my age the memory can play tricks on you.

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    • Rest easy my friend, senility is years away yet. My car is not the magic oracle that I believed it to be, SPOT ON, there’s another one. Gazza did indeed score 4 at home to hartlepool. Was i there? probably not for that one.

      Thanks very much for adding to the list

      Regards,

      AL

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  5. 6-2 Klinnsmann at Wimbledon. I was 24, I went with my uncle.

    Now that game was the first time heard the old “OH WHEN THE SPURRRRRRRRRS…” slowed down as is now the Tottenham way.

    Stood through the whole game, and we were in the middle of the long end along the pitch, at the back of the stand. AND THERE WAS ONE BLOKE AT THE FRONT, WHO TURNED ROUND TO LOOK UP AT THE CROWD – and I swear he CONDUCTED (as in Royal Albert Hall, moving arms up and down) 5,000 TOTTENHAM supporters (we took 9000 away, but there were five in that stand) to sing that song slowly.

    FANTASTIC – confirmation of safety next day when the Filth beat Everton (cheers Scum!) We stayed and drank at the pub down the street from the station. Left at 9.30pm. Great day.

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  6. I’ve followed Spurs since the days of Jennings and Chivers but only got to WHL for one one game: the 6-4 Reading one. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The guy who loaned us his season tickets was very upset. ‘Lazy insolence’ for Berbatov really captures it.

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  7. I was there for the hartlepool game, Lineker scored as well & was lucky enough to see Berba’s 4 – but for my overall highlight. I was there when Robbo scored – shame the fella wasn’t quite up to being one of our greats

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  8. Talking of Greavesie – did he not score 4 in a 5 – 1 win over Sunderland(?) in 69/70 – He hadn’t scored a hat trick since about 1964 and scored 4 (I think) that season against Exeter, Burnley and Leicester 0- the latter included probably the best goal he ever scored for us – beat 4 defenders inside the box before sliding the ball past a young Peter shilton

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    • Greaves did indeed score 4 against Sunderland in a 5-1 thrashing, but it was the year before that in 1968-69, Mike England (with Pancho Villa moustache) played centre forward and scored the other (Martin Chivers had damaged his knee seriously – earlier that season against Forest – in those 14 man squad days!!) . He did indeed score another three hat tricks that season agains Burnley (7-0 Cliff Jones (2), Jimmy Robertson amd Martin Chivers scored the others), Exeter in the league cup (6-3, I think the other goals were scored by Terry Venables and Jimmy Pearce 2).
      The 3-2 win against Leicester did include a wonder goal….a picture of Greavesie sliding the ball under Shilton, with Leicester players dumped on their backsides adorned the programme cover for many, many games!

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  9. Bit sad, but I remember the Sunderland game although not too much about Greavsies goals. I do remember that we had an emerging centre half called Peter Collins (whatever happened to him?) and because of this Bill Nicholson played Mike England at centre forward for this and a couple of other games. In fact, I think England was the other scorer in a 5-1 win at WHL. I also think it might have been 1968 but again not too sure.

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  10. Pete :Bit sad, but I remember the Sunderland game although not too much about Greavsies goals. I do remember that we had an emerging centre half called Peter Collins (whatever happened to him?) and because of this Bill Nicholson played Mike England at centre forward for this and a couple of other games. In fact, I think England was the other scorer in a 5-1 win at WHL. I also think it might have been 1968 but again not too sure.

    Just saw your reply after I’d posted above. I rated Collins – I think he suffered from cruciate ligament damage – along with Roger Morgan and Jimmy Pearce – a career ending injury back then….

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  11. Re. The 9-0 against Bristol Rovers….an amazing match, memory’s of that match other than the seven scored between Lee and Moores….how unlucky Neil McNab was for not getting himself a hat-trick!! He was in majestic form that day – and I think Hoddle was off-side for this goal – but by then the linesman had given up!!

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  12. i can remember a floodlight league match in the 1950s when alfie stokes scored five goals against birmingham city, i think the spurs won 7-1,i believe he is the only spurs player to have scored five in a league match, he was a very underated striker,
    his goals per games ratio was very good,he never commanded a regular place because he was competing for a place atgainst the likes of smith harmer and brooks all fine players. he was a character, when i was a kid i used to collect autographs at the lane, the team coach was ready to leave for an away fixture and alfie was joking with the young kids, he asked me if i would like to earn ten bob i replied yes, he laughed and said go and find a pound note and we will have half each.
    i remember the spurs manager i think his name was jimmy anderson pleading with him to get on the coach as he was making them late, happy days.

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    • Hi Martin,

      I’m not much of a statto, so if anyone has a better (or indeed correct!) answer, please add it it here.

      However, in March 2006 against Uruguay, Robbo and Carrick started, JJ and Ledley came on at half time, then Defoe was on for the last 8 minutes. So that is five!

      Regards,

      Al

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  13. Collins could have gone to Liverpool, the great Bill Shankly wanted to sign him I was told by John Pratt once but he supported Spurs and wanted to stay….broke his ankle at 23! I remember he scored on his debut against Glasgow Rangers…….twice within 8 minutes… Back then Jimmy G used to take the corners…..nice start.

    I read a few books and your right Mike England did spend half a season playing number 9 as Bill didn’t know what to do with Collins and couldn’t be seen to drop Big Mike!

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