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'It was total football' - Mabbsy on our home-win record, '87

Posted on 26 March 2017  - 11:51

Gary Mabbutt fondly remembers what he describes as ‘the almost but not quite’ season of 1986-87, where the foundations were laid for the Club’s record of consecutive home league wins.

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That 14-match sequence is very much to the fore again as our current team racked up straight home win number 10 in the Premier League with a 2-1 success against Southampton at the Lane last Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are only the fourth team in the Club’s history to make it to double-figures in terms of home league wins on the trot. There were 11 in 1921-22, 12 in 1919-20 and the record of 14 across two seasons in 1987.

That season is famed for a change of tactics under David Pleat, where the manager switched to a five-man midfield and played Clive Allen up front on his own. Clive scored a Club record 49 goals in a season, the team scored 109 in all competitions and finished third in Division One, runners-up in the FA Cup and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup.

The 14-match winning sequence in the league started against Aston Villa on January 24, 1987, and ran into the next season with another five through to Sheffield Wednesday on October 3, 1987. It was ended with defeat against Arsenal on October 18, 1987.

“We played some incredible football,” said Gary, who played 51 of the 57 matches in 1986-87. “I had my best partnership at the back with Richard Gough and across a five-man midfield we had Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles, Chris Waddle, Steve Hodge and Paul Allen with Clive Allen up front – he scored 49 goals that season.

“We were tearing teams apart playing free-flowing, attacking football. We created so many chances.

“Myself and Richard Gough were both footballing centre-halves and played out from the back. We had Danny Thomas at right-back, myself, Goughy and Chris Hughton at left-back. Myself and Goughy hit it off immediately and we were a total football team.

“Everything just came together and it was the ‘almost but not quite’ season when we finished third in Division One, semi-final of the League Cup, final of the FA Cup and won nothing. It was such a shame because we had a wonderful team.”