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A rainy day in Glasgow

Posted on 11 August 2004  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Summer football eh... The debate simmers every now and again when the odd match falls foul of the weather during the winter months and people's minds cast back to those sunny August afternoons watching pre or early season games.

Shirt sleeve football it tends to be described as and this modern romantic notion could well happen one fine season if FIFA ever get their way and harmonise the global campaign.

But let's get to the point. Mid-August in Glasgow, a friendly against SPL champions Celtic - and shirt sleeved football it definitely wasn't!

The Spurs travelling support who made their way to Scotland's capital of football via easyJet emerged from the plane to swiftly discover that the game was in doubt. A call back to the club revealed that the players were aboard the bus just waiting for word back with a yes or no from an early pitch inspection.

Thankfully, the go-ahead was given and we stepped out of the airport into the reason for the doubts over the game going ahead. "Monsoon Scotland" screamed the headline in the Daily Record - and tipping down it certainly was.

A cancelation of this long-planned fixture would have been more than a bit harsh on the Spurs fans who had already forked out for flights for the original Monday date and would have had the justifiable hump had two flights gone for a burton.

We got our game and, for this observer, a first trip to Celtic Park - or is it Parkhead, I'm never quite sure. It was tropical storms - according to the paper - sweeping the region, which is quite fitting since part of Celtic's ground used to be known as 'The Jungle'.

The very welcoming stewards did admit their disappointment over not being able to extend a welcome to Robbie Keane - and it would have been considerably warmer than the one he got across town at Ibrox the other week.

There was a Celtic fan in our number though, Northern Ireland under-21 international Mark Hughes was named in the starting line-up. It was just reward for the tigerish and tidy midfielder who has shone in the ressies over the last couple of seasons and performed with some aplomb in the second Kappa Cup game against Partizan Belgrade in Seville last week.

Also given a start was 17-year-old Jamie O'Hara, just entering his second year in our Academy. We bumped into Clive Allen at the airport - he was off for a bit of scouting - and he told of the disbelieving faces of Jamie, Kieran McKenna and Owen Price when he relayed the news that they would be travelling to Scotland.

"What time are we training," they kept repeating, according to Clive. "No, you're travelling for the Celtic game," their usual coach finally convinced them.

For this night, however - and hopefully a good few more in the future - they were to take their lead from Jacques Santini and his staff. The Head Coach, sensibly, electing to take little in the way of risks with a fairly full treatment room already and Liverpool looming on Saturday.

It was good to see Dean Richards get a run-out again after his injury problems and he, along with Kasey Keller, Goran Bunjevcevic, Michael Brown and Gary Doc offered the experienced heads against a pretty strong Celtic side.

Our makeshift team gave a pretty good account of themselves during the early jostling and we nearly took the lead on 17 minutes when the on trial Edson Silva, Eddie on the teamsheet, met an inviting cross from OJ Mabizela and so nearly accepted the invite - David Marshall pulling off a fine save.

The other keynote chance of the half was at the other end when Henri Camara, on loan from Wolves, unleashed a fearsome drive the Keller managed to palm away for a corner.

McKenna was given his opportunity at the beginning of the second half in place of Brown, while Richards made way for new Brazilian youngster Rodrigo Defendi to introduce himself.

Not having the global knowledge of a Frank Arnesen, we don't know much about Defendi yet but can inform regarding McKenna. A natural midfielder who has been employed in a number of positions for both the Academy and reserves, Kieran's biggest strength - as he would tell you himself - is his workrate and effort. Quick across the pitch, the Northern Ireland under-20 cap is a good passer who rarely gives the ball away and is certainly an intelligent player - as his A-level results also testify!

Unfortunately, the deadlock was broken on the hour by Celtic - and by a player who was once heavily linked with a switch to Spurs. Craig Beattie was allowed to roam too close to the area and worked himself enough space to shake off the attentions of Doherty and squeezed past Keller.

The goal was a blow for the young lads, who appeared to still have a good foothold in the game despite the home side enjoying a bit more territory. The night's learning curve just got a bit steeper and we waited for the reaction.

It was a positive one as Bunjevcevic went galloping down the left and his cross was desperately punched away by Marshall as Silva prepared to pounce. Then, Ricketts played Mark Yeates in to the right of the area and, bearing down on goal, the Irishman smacked his shot against the outside of the post.

The spirited response was dampened when Bunjevcevic played a soft back pass to Keller that was read like a book by Camara and the deficit was doubled.

Despite the eventual scoreline, this was not a performance to be critical of and many of the youngsters on view will take something from the game

Writing this as the game draws to a close and have just about dried off after our pre-match soaking, before we head off to flag a cab. Summer football? Just don't forget to check the weather forecast before you leave.

more images to follow...

By Richard Hubbard