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The Big Interview - Martin Chivers

Posted on 25 March 2016  - 13:15

Harry Kane’s double against Bournemouth took him beyond 20 league goals for the second-successive campaign – ending a 44-year wait for a Spur to bag 20-plus in successive league seasons. The last player to do it was the great Martin Chivers - so who better to talk to this week?

Martin at the Lane, 2011Martin fires home a beauty against Villa in the League Cup Final, 1971Martin climbs high to head home in the UEFA Cup Final, first leg against Wolves in May, 1972 - he scored twice at MolineuxMartin with Mike England, Alan Gilzean, Ralph Coates and Joe Kinner - and the UEFA Cup - 1972Martin up against England legend Bobby Moore at West Ham - 1972

In fact, only seven players have achieved the feat going all the way back to our first season in the Football League in 1908-09 and only three in the last 50 years - Harry, Martin and the incomparable Jimmy Greaves, who scored 20-plus in seven of his nine seasons.

Third in our all-time goalscoring list with 174 goals in 367 games between 1968-76, Martin had to recover from a serious knee injury before starting to hit the target with a vengeance at the start of the 1970-71 season.

He didn’t look back…

The England international scored twice as we lifted the League Cup at Wembley in 1971 and scored one of the most famous goals in the club’s history to help secure the UEFA Cup against Wolves in 1972 - a piledriver in th first leg that David Coleman on commentary famously described as 'what a shot...pick that one out!' - as he scored 42 goals in 1971-72. We regained the League Cup in 1973 and reached the UEFA Cup Final again in 1974.

Still our record goalscorer in the League Cup – and just nudged off the European record by Jermain Defoe – Martin saw Harry’s talents early as the Academy graduate broke through and 18 months down the line, is delighted to see him follow in his Spurs footsteps with successive 20-goal hauls.

What do you remember about the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons Martin?
Martin Chivers:
“I’ll always remember the 1970-71 season. That was when I got my confidence back after my injury and started to score goals. We finished third in the end. That’s the season Arsenal won at the Lane late on and went on to win the league. That hurt us. I remember that night, there were thousands locked outside.  There were some fantastic teams then, tough teams as well. That great Leeds side of the early 1970s, they had fantastic players, they were packed full of internationals, but they didn’t give an inch. I used to have some real tussles with Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter. I used to love those battles – and I used to score against them! We didn’t quite get it together in the league. It wasn’t that we struggled, far from it, we were always capable of winning games. I don’t know what it was, we were always a successful cup team.”

Below: Martin pictured in 1972

martin_chvers_730x900

We finished sixth in 1971-72, but we were only seven points behind Derby, who won the title. But we won the UEFA Cup and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. What was it like to play so many games?
Martin: “You have to remember that we played 42 league games back then and we always did well in the cups. We always got close in the league but towards the of those seasons, when we had the cup semi-finals and finals, it was difficult to put all our efforts into those games and then find something extra again for the league games , so we tended to falter towards the end. We had four finals in that time and a couple of other semi-finals. It was a lot of games and if you include internationals, I once played 75 games in a season! It was tough, muddy conditions and us forwards were kicked everywhere!”

What was your mindset going into 1971-72 after scoring 29 goals in 1970-71? It’s fair to say that Harry had a few pundits doubting him…
Martin: “I always remember Jimmy Greaves saying ‘you can do it one season, but then you are a marked man’. I braced myself for that in 1971-72. I knew it was going to be tough and I thought the same for Harry. I’m amazed and delighted he’s now come through with 20 league goals again because he wasn’t scoring at the start of the season. If I didn’t score in the first three games of the season I’d start to panic. He scored one in nine and he has an incredible record since then.”

You had a huge injury to overcome (a knee injury ruled him out from September 1968 until August 1969) so what was the key for you to start scoring goals regularly? Once you started, you didn’t stop!
Martin: “Once I got over the injury and into that first ‘full’ season, I knew I was capable of scoring goals if Bill Nicholson selected me. It’s about having the confidence that at some time in the game you will get a chance and score. That confidence factor is so important and I felt unbelievable confidence, especially at home with the crowd behind me. I knew I’d go out there and score goals.”

What have you made of Harry’s progress?
Martin: “Harry strikes a terrific ball, he’s not frightened to shoot and the key thing that he shoots quickly, so goalkeepers aren’t set for the shot. He catches them out that way. One of the main things about Harry in my view is that he can score with both feet. Not all great goalscorers can do that. Harry can also head the ball, so he’s an all-round scorer of goals and that’s a handy ability to have, especially when he gets into the positions he gets in to. He’s found that bit of acceleration as well and that’s important. He’s certainly come alive in the second half of the season, he’s got that bounce back in his game and it looks like he’s got all the confidence in the world.”

He’s a player you’ve been right behind since he broke through last season…
Martin: “Yes, and one important thing I’d also like to add is that this success over the last couple of seasons hasn’t changed him at all, he’s still the most likeable fella you’d want to meet. I had my day, I loved every minute and he’s having his – and I hope he enjoys his career as much as I did mine."