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Pat at 60: Glory, glory days

Posted on 5 September 2005  - 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).

Pat Jennings turned 60 this summer and to mark the occason, we look back on the career of the goalkeeper many consider the best in the world...ever.


The facts say it all. 'Big Pat' played 673 games for Spurs between 1964-1977 and another 300-plus at Arsenal before winding down his career in a second spell at White Hart Lane. He also played 119 times for Northern Ireland, including two World Cups.


In his time at White Hart Lane, he won the FA Cup in 1967, League Cup in 1971 and 1973, UEFA Cup in 1972 and on a personal level, the PFA (1975-76) and Football Writers' Player Of The Year (1972-73) Awards.


Part four: Glory, glory days


ONCE AGAIN, ignorance was bliss for me in the early days at Spurs. I just went out and played. You can imagine the step up from playing for Watford in the old Third Division to Spurs in the First Division. The differences were things like when you parried a shot out a striker would be there to follow up and it was in the net. It was learning process and I more or less shared the games with Bill Brown at first before getting into the team in the second half of my second season at the club, 1965-66 and I played all the way through from there. I knew I was good enough and it was just a case of eliminating mistakes.


My compatriot and the great double-winning captain Danny Blanchflower was still at the club but he was just packing up. Jimmy Greaves was unbelievable towards me. He would always put his arm around me whenever I made a mistake and say ‘don’t sorry son, you’ll be the best’ and that was lovely coming from someone like him.


From my point of view, at 18, I didn’t know what was required and we didn’t have a goalkeeping coach or anything like that. Of course, Bill Brown was there but I was more like competition to him and we didn’t really help each other out like keepers do at clubs these days.


So much was expected at Spurs because of the success before. That led to its own pressure in every match because we were always trying to uphold the club’s great name and being compared to the great double team. Looking at it today, no-one has managed to do that. We had a great team in 1967 and won the FA Cup but if we didn’t finish in the top three, it was considered a failure. We were always under pressure and it was tough. You thought so much about it. Of course, the 1967 FA Cup Final against Chelsea was a fantastic experience and it was great to see Dave Mackay lift the trophy, a great achievement.


In those days, the championship and FA Cup were really the only two things to win and it had even more meaning for us because it was the first trophy we’d won after the double side had broken up. We were confident going into that final because we’d had a great run in the league that eventually took us to third. I remember I wasn’t too happy with Chelsea’s goal but looking back, I made a few good saves and we were more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.


The early 1970s were great days as well, the League Cups and European success with the likes of Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean, Mike England. We won the UEFA Cup in 1972 when we beat Wolves over two legs and then reached the final again in 1974. When I look back, my days at Spurs were my best. They were under Bill Nicholson and you can imagine having all those years with him as manager. It was just sad how it all ended.