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TONY GALVIN

Posted on 26 November 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).

Tony Galvin endured a frustrating two years after joining Spurs from non-league Goole Town for £30,000 in January 1978.

Plagued by pelvic problems that severely hampered his early progress, the earnest Yorkshire man had considered quitting. But by January 1981 he was fit and ready to play a part in one of the most successful chapters in the Club's history.

Neale Harvey meets a man who played an often unheralded, but vital, role in our glory, glory nights of the early-80s...

Two mid-table Division One finishes had followed promotion from Division Two in 1978 and ahead of the 1980-81 campaign Spurs boss Keith Burkinshaw was under pressure to deliver our first silverware since 1973.

Hopes were high but after being dumped out of the League Cup by West Ham at the start of December, indifferent league performances over the festive period meant, once again, only FA Cup success could keep our season alive.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man and that man was Tony Galvin. Although he was often underrated by comparison with more acclaimed and technically gifted ball-artists such as Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles, like his robust compatriot, Graham Roberts, no-one should ever underestimate how instrumental Tony was to giving our team of sophisticates a hard, winning edge.

"We were a sleeping giant and to win the Cup that year was so important," said Tony, 45, as he looked fondly towards the twin-towers of Wembley from his six floor office at the College of North-West London where he now teaches leisure and tourism.

"When I was a young lad Tottenham were one of my favourite teams and you could see what winning the Cup meant to the supporters.

"We weren't doing very well in the league and the Cup became a priority. I came in on the left side for the third round match at QPR, after Ricky Villa got injured, and scored in the replay. We got on a roll and started to play some really good football. It was a dream for me as a wide player because Glenn was a magnificent passer from right to left, similar to David Beckham now, and I thrived on it.

"Garth Crooks was very, very quick and Steve Archibald was sharp around the box and a deadly finisher.

"We beat QPR, Hull, Coventry and Exeter but my best game was the first game against Wolves in the semi-final. We should have murdered them before they got that poxy penalty at the end.

"In extra-time we were knackered, mentally gone, but the lads just kept saying to give it to me because I could keep the ball. We murdered them 3-0 in the replay which was good, especially at Highbury!

"The build up to the Cup final was special, but very nerve-racking, and when you emerge from the tunnel and hear the noise that 100,000 fans make, you get a bit wobbly.

"We were favourites and played well most of the game but Manchester City got a goal and we got edgy. We were fortunate to get an equaliser in the end."

Ricky Villa's winning goal in the FA Cup final replay goes down in most people's books as the greatest ever Wembley goal but, with Spurs under the cosh, it was Tony's penetrating run down the left that set up the chance and he recalls having the best view in the house of what happened next.

"I ran it up, gave the ball to him and watched in amazement really. I couldn't believe what he was doing but with Ricky, that was often the case. He did unpredictable things, which could be infuriating, but he went instinctively and I was right behind him.

"Crooksy was shouting for a pass but he only had one thing on his mind after getting past the first man. When it hit the net I felt relief more than anything because we'd been under pressure. We had as long and as good a night as I can remember after that!"

With silverware on the shelf, the monkey had been lifted off our backs and it was a confident Spurs team that set out on the glory trail in 1981-82. Head down, arms pumping and socks often rolled down, Tony's wholehearted sorties down the left flank were a reassuring sight as we waged a four-pronged, 65-game, energy-sapping assault on four fronts - League, European Cup Winners' Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.

Having lost to Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley in March, Spurs suffered the heartbreak of losing out by the odd goal in three to mighty Barcelona in the ECWC semi-final a month later and as a thin squad struggled to cope under the weight of fixtures, we fell away to finish fourth in the league.

A season that promised so much looked set to end in crushing disappointment before we finally overcame grinding exhaustion to retain the FA Cup.

"We played very well over two games against Barcelona but were very down after going out and the first game at The Lane was a travesty.

"They kicked s*** out of us and the referee was so weak it was appalling. They should have had three sent off at least but because it was Barcelona the ref was just talking to them, not yellow-carding them.

"They came to kick s***, got away with it and got a goal that went through Ray Clemence's hands.

"It was magnificent playing in front of 90,000 at the Nou Camp and it wasnÕt for the want of trying we lost 1-0 in the second-leg, but they were a good side and we couldnÕt break them down.

"Then in the Cup final against QPR we played all right in the first game but were thumped in the replay and I thought we were lucky to win.

"It was a bad game but we were gone, knackered, and just hanging on. It was a funny occasion because of Ossie's situation with the Falklands War but it would have been disastrous to end up with nothing.

"We had a great season but in the end the squad wasn't big enough. We didn't have enough cover and we all had injuries because you're playing so many games. We were knackered basically."

For Tony, however, the best was yet to come. After a second consecutive fourth place league finish in 1982-83, Europe beckoned once more and, with manager Keith Burkinshaw vowing to leave the Club at the end of 1983-84 following a well publicised boardroom spat, the scene was set for one of the greatest nights in Spurs' history.

With Tony in his pomp, Feyenoord, Bayern Munich, Austria Vienna and Hajduk Split were seen off as Spurs marched to the final of the UEFA Cup, where we met a powerful Anderlecht side over two legs.

After a 1-1 draw in Brussels, Graham Roberts' late equaliser forced a similar outcome at The Lane before goalkeeper Tony Parks became the hero of the hour as we won the cup in a heart-stopping penalty shootout.

"That was the best and most memorable night of my time at Tottenham. It was a fantastic atmosphere and they were a bloody good side. We should have beaten them over there but, here, they were the better team and their centre-half, Morten Olsen, was outstanding.

"Feyenoord had been my best match because they had Johan Cruyff in their team and I scored twice at home and once away, but the Anderlecht game was my favourite night at Tottenham.

"It was like the olden days - the glory, glory nights - and I remembered watching on the telly when we beat Atletico Madrid in the 60s. It was special, especially with Parksy saving the penalty.

"It was also special for Keith, who signed me and had his ups and downs with the Board. I got on very well with him, he was a good coach and I had a lot of respect for him.

"Keith was very honest and heÕd tell you if you'd done something wrong. You could have a row with him because he was the old fashioned sort in that respect. He knew the game inside out, though, and to go out on a high like that was terrific for him."

Things were never the same for Tony at Spurs after Burkinshaw left. Despite the excellent league campaign of 1984-85 the feeling always persisted that new manager Peter Shreeves was on borrowed time.

Tony admits he 'felt sorry' for Shreeves, who was chopped at the end of the 1985-86 campaign and as he became more of a fringe player under David Pleat he accepted a move to Sheffield Wednesday in September 1987.

A Republic of Ireland international by dint of an Irish grandparent, Tony played in the side that famously defeated England in Euro 88 and earned 29 caps before injury caught up with him again in 1990.

Having joined forces with Ossie Ardiles at Swindon Town the previous year, he sadly missed the Republic's famous Italia 90 World Cup campaign and was forced to call it a day at the age of 34.

After working as assistant manager to Ardiles, first at Swindon, then Newcastle, Tony dropped out of professional football after the pair were axed by the struggling Geordies in 1992.

He left the game and spent two years in teacher training before taking up his current position, a job he has held for the past seven years. Next month, however, he will gaze out over the now derelict Wembley for the final time after gaining a promotion to Uxbridge College.

Tony still visits The Lane for matches and to enjoy a few pints with some old mates. He also turned out regularly for Martin Chivers' ex-Spurs XI until arthritis in his left knee curtailed his participation six months ago.

"I joined Spurs at a good time, although it was hard to settle in. But Ossie and Ricky arrived that summer and there was a lot of euphoria. As soon as you arrive at a big club you have to get your head down, but with the injuries I had early on getting in the first team seemed miles away.

"But I had a wonderful nine years at Spurs and I think the fans appreciated me. Obviously, when you're on the touchline you hear all the comments but I didn't get too much stick and I think I gave value for money."