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Posted on 4 February 2002  - 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).

David Pleat's newsletter column reflecting on a lost game followed by a weekend spent sitting in front of the television basking in the joy of creative midfield play...

TO BE STUNNED as late as ten past two with the news that the game was off was a real blow last Saturday when Mr Dunn decided we couldn't go ahead against Bolton in the FA Cup.

Worse still, the time gave us all little opportunity to go elsewhere and catch a game. Chelsea were having an inspection, but David Elleray elected to go ahead, whilst Millwall - the other attractive tie against Blackburn - was too far across London.

Everything else in our area was caught in the deluge of rain and called off due to waterlogged pitches.

On Saturday morning I headed, as normal, to Chigwell to watch the youth team tackle Wimbledon. Approaching Potters Bar I got the dreaded phone call informing me that the referee had decided to postpone.

I then made my way to White Hart Lane to begin my weekend as a 'couch potato'. Watching Middlesbrough-Manchester United was almost surreal. Hardly anyone watching, a strange lack of atmosphere and, in the end, a practice match mistake opened the door for Middlesbrough to enter the 5th round. Manchester United not heading for Cardiff...

At the end of the game I wandered down to the touchline to find that Mr Dunn was waiting for Sam Allardyce to arrive so that he could take considerations from him, as well as Glenn, regarding their view on whether the pitch was playable.

In the end, of course, the referee has the final say - but the better ones always speak with the respective managers. Always bearing in mind the knock-on effects caused by a late postponement.

Unfortunately, we did get caught out. At 11.30am, the groundsman Darren Baldwin assured me that if the rain did not get any worse the pitch at kick-off should not be any different to what it was at that time.

At 1.30pm an even heavier storm broke through as the clouds blackened. We expected Bolton to arrive at that time so a decision could be made. Unfortunately, Bolton's bus was caught up in heavy traffic and it later transpired that many supporters would probably have been late arriving for the game because of the massive problems the inclement weather caused.

When Bolton's bus finally got through, Sam Allardyce made a rush for the pitch and it was already 2pm. Having inspected the pitch the referee took the two managers into his room and then the chief of police emerged with the first notice to inform his forces down the line that the game was off.

So there was no FA Cup fix for us on Saturday afternoon, but there was an opportunity on Sky Sports later to view Celta Vigo vs Real Sociedad. This proved to be the start of a magnificent weekend of midfield play.

Wagner, a player I had not come across playing in midfield for Celta Vigo, played like Gascoigne, Berkovic, Benarbia, JJ Okocha and other stars of the weekend all rolled into one.

With ten men Celta overcame John Toshack's side to stay challenging Real Madrid for the title.

In the African Nations Cup, JJ Okocha playing for Nigeria gave a marvellous display of midfield play. A couple of years ago his skill merited a £13m transfer to Paris Saint Germain, where he has been disappointing and there have been times when his club have sought to offload him and clear themselves of this financial burden.

His form in Mali, however, looked exceptional.

Later that evening I watched a wonderful old Tottenham boy, Paul Gascoigne, surge with all his old swagger through the Leyton Orient defence and create some wonderful goals for the Everton support to savour.

Gascoigne was excellent, and then on Sunday I saw another type of midfield player. Two Manchester City midfield players that made the ball do the work and drifted past their immediate opponents with the ball to open up the opposition for the final pass.

Ali Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic baffled Ipswich, who never got to grips with the problem.

The previous week I had the privilege to watch the duo play for City at Watford and at half-time Gianluca Vialli assigned two markers to each, so effective were they in the first period.

This attacking philosophy of Kevin Keegan is serving them very well in Division One and already they have already scored 81 goals - much due to the creativity of these two midfield orchestrators.

After watching Arsenal-Liverpool, where the major talent was a forward, and Peterborough-Newcastle, where no midfielder stood out, my favourite Monday reflections were of midfield players. Those who can pass the ball quickly with deception as well as accuracy - short and long - and make the ball do the work in a fashion that crowds love.

Despite the bad weather, I arrived at Chigwell for work with a warm feeling that the creative players are thankfully very much still in our midst.

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