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Final countdown - Ralph's goal-den moment

Posted on 27 February 2015  - 12:25

Ralph Coates goal-den moment in a Spurs shirt won us the League Cup in March, 1973 - but the day didn't exactly start as planned for him.

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The attacking midfielder started on the bench as we took on Norwich City in the Wembley showpiece.

"It's funny, football is a life of ups and downs and I started the day disappointed because Bill Nicholson told me I was starting as sub. I had a slight injury and he wasn’t going to risk me," said Ralph, reflecting on the final before he sadly passed away in December, 2010.

"So I made my mind up that I’d be watching the game. It’s a silly situation, you hope you get on but you don’t want to get on because you know the team probably will be struggling."

However, fate would smile kindly on him that day - and, unfortunately, no so kindly for another legend, John Pratt.

"John got injured after 15 minutes which was very sad because he’s a mate of mine, and then I came on and how things change over the course of a few hours, and that day I scored the winning goal against Norwich in the League Cup Final."

Ralph drilled home a wonderful winner from 25 yards and the 1-0 victory helped us create a slice of history as we become the first team to win the League Cup twice.

"It was a terrific moment," said Ralph, who was inducted into our Hall of Fame in May, 2010. "My fan-mail trebled. Afterwards you realised how much it meant to people."

Below: Ralph parades the League Cup with skipper Martin Peters in 1973

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Born in County Durham in 1946, Ralph signed amateur forms at Burnley in October, 1961, making his league debut for the Clarets in December, 1964.

He went on to play 216 times and captain the Turf Moor side before being snapped up by Bill Nicholson in May, 1971.

A mobile and energetic player, Ralph made his Spurs debut at Wolves in August, 1971, and went on to make 248 appearances for us in all competitions, scoring 24 goals before departing for a new career path in Australia in 1978.

He was a member of the Spurs team that won the UEFA Cup in 1972 and reached the final of the same competition two years later.

A regular matchday host at the Lane until his sad passing, Ralph, such a popular figure, will always be remembered for that day at Wembley and his famous Bobby Charlton-style comb-over hairstyle!

And Ralph, who always spoke with great humour, told us back in 2009 how it worked in his favour for his great moment at Wembley.

"It was ironic because I had to stick with it, because people recognised me because of the hair, and the winning goal at Wembley. I had an advantage because it was a long throw from Martin Chivers, flicked on by Martin Peters and it was a swirling wind, and because my hair was falling from right to left, I knew where the wind was going, so I was a step ahead...!"

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