The Curse Of Spurs

Different Decade, Same Painful Outcome

Nothing doing for The Doog in one of the famous early-1970s cup clashes between Wolves and Tottenham. Mike England, Alan Gilzean and Frank Munro are the other men pictured.

How many more times are Wolves and their supporters going to be hurt in matches against Tottenham at Molineux?

It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are in the 21st century or the 20th, the 1970s or the 2020s. The trend is depressingly familiar.

Spurs’ supremacy in such meetings was most dramatically felt almost 50 years ago, first when they set up their UEFA Cup final victory over Wolves and then when they edged Bill McGarry’s side out in another two-leg tie at the last-four stage of the League Cup the following season.

There was something of a hard-luck story in the Molineux camp each time, such was the high level of their performances, with even White Hart Lane boss Bill Nicholson admitting his side had been second best when they got their hands on the European trophy in May, 1972.

Fast-forward to the FA Cup semi-final of the spring of 1981 and Wolves, by now under the management of John Barnwell and Richie Barker, initially survived against Keith Burkinshaw’s Spurs before being blown away by them in a Highbury replay.

No cup challenge against these West Midlanders was too challenging for Tottenham. Following a long absence – the two clubs went a decade and a half without being drawn together in knockout football – they found themselves in opposition in the fourth round of the 1995-96 FA Cup.

And, although Mark McGhee’s side performed spiritedly to hit back for a draw at a bitterly cold White Hart Lane, they were dismantled in the replay in the following midweek by opponents from a division above.

It’s at Molineux that most of the pain in this fixture has been felt, so there was a predictability in how Spurs scraped through on penalties in this week’s exciting Carabao Cup clash.

Only once in the last 12 meetings of the clubs in the West Midlands have Wolves emerged victorious – a 1-0 win in the Premier League by Mick McCarthy’s team in February, 2010 that secured an unlikely home-and-away double.

Spurs have won no fewer than nine of that dozen games, as long as we acknowledge Wednesday’s cup exit as a defeat and not, as some records will show, as a draw.

And, incredibly, it’s over 50 years since Wolves beat the Londoners in a cup-tie – another 1-0 home success, this time in the League Cup shortly before the retirement of Peter Knowles, who had his older brother, Cyril, in the opposing ranks.

John Richards and Steve Perryman shake hands before the 1981 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. No prizes for guessing which side reached Wembley.

We could go on……the 1921 FA Cup final at Chelsea, a 3-1 away win at Molineux on the penultimate Saturday of the 1959-60 campaign that effectively denied Stan Cullis’s side the title and League and Cup double, a 1969 FA Cup defeat in the capital.

Thankfully, Wolves’ record against these highly troublesome opponents has been considerably better in London over recent years especially – and there have been no such terrors in the last few seasons in trips to Southampton!

Thomas Publications
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