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John Pratt remembers previous Norway test

Posted on 28 November 2013  - 15:00

This evening marks only the second time we’ve ever played a competitive game in Norway.

John PrattJohn in action for us

A repeat of the first – a 6-3 victory against Lyn Oslo in the UEFA Cup first round first leg on September 13, 1972 – certainly wouldn’t go amiss in the Europa League tonight, as we come up against a Tromso IL side that’s still smarting from a tough domestic campaign.

One of our goalscorers from that victory in the Norwegian capital was John Pratt, who maintains a strong involvement with the club to this day as one of our matchday hosts at White Hart Lane.

And much like our lads when they touched down in Norway on Wednesday, John and his team-mates had to quickly adjust to the freezing temperatures ahead of what was our first European match of the 1972-73 season.

“To be perfectly honest I can’t actually remember the exact conditions but I’m sure it wasn’t a sunny experience!” said the 64-year-old, who made 415 appearances for us between 1969 and 1980.

“It was cold, but nowadays all the teams are very well equipped with thermal clothing. I’m sure that the kit man will have every conceivable item of clothing to stop the boys getting cold, although to be fair when you’re running about you shouldn’t get too cold anyway.”

We were the defending champions of the UEFA Cup in 1972 and although we emerged victorious from a high-scoring game in Oslo, it was the home side who took an early lead before being swiftly pegged back through Martin Peters. John would then put us 2-1 ahead and we went on to win the match with relative comfort, with Alan Gilzean and Martin Chivers bagging two each.

“They applied themselves very well and really at times the goal difference flattered us in the sense that they played some really good football,” said John, who also played in the second leg a fortnight later, which we won 6-0.

“The games were good for us in the sense that we did score a load of goals and it’s always nice to play against a Norwegian team.”

John revealed that, although the Lyn Oslo excursion marked our first competitive fixture on Norwegian soil, it wasn’t the first time the club had visited one of Europe’s northernmost territories.

“We used to go there every pre-season because the Norwegians were half-way through their season and it was good practise for us,” added John, who headed stateside to play for Portland Timbers upon his departure from the Lane in 1980.

“Technically they were quite good but also around our pre-season time, during the end of July, they were very fit sides as well, so what they may have lacked in technical ability or team context they more than made up for by being very capable physically.”