Final countdown - cup of joy for Phil
24 February 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
The countdown is on for Sunday's Capital One Cup Final against Chelsea at Wembley - as part of our previews, we'll talk to legends past and present about the League Cup, a competition that has been good for us down the years.
Indeed, Sunday represents our eighth League Cup Final and we were the first team to win the competition twice with victories over Aston Villa in 1971 and then Norwich City in 1973.
Phil Beal played in both finals - overcoming a personal misfortune to step out at Wembley.
FINAL COUNTDOWN - PHIL BEAL - LEAGUE CUP WINNER 1971, 1973
Phil Beal ended four years of hurt in the 1971 League Cup Final at Wembley.
One of the club’s great servants, Phil joined the club in 1960, signed professional forms in 1962, made his debut in September, 1963 and went on to make 423 appearances for us until moving to Brighton in 1975.
Initially handed his chance at right-back following double-great Maurice Norman’s career-ending broken leg in 1965, Phil played 21 league matches that season and had started 26 of 30 in 1966-67 when disaster struck against Manchester City on February 25, 1967.
Phil suffered a fracture to his arm in that game, an injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season - including our FA Cup Final victory against Chelsea in May.
Four years later we were back at the famous old Twin Towers for the final of the League Cup and Phil, now a regular at centre-half, experienced the dream that he’d missed out on in 1967.
Martin Chivers struck twice as we defeated Aston Villa 2-0 to kick-start a run of four finals in four years with the UEFA Cup to follow in 1972, the League Cup again in 1973 and the UEFA Cup in 1974.
Having won the League Cup in 1971 we added the UEFA Cup over two legs against Wolves in 1972 and beat Norwich City 1-0 to claim the League Cup again thanks to Ralph Coates’ fine strike in 1973. We finally tasted defeat against Feyenoord in 1974, again over two legs. So four finals, six matches – Phil started the lot and played all-but nine minutes of the six games.
As we prepare for our latest trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in our eighth League Cup Final on Sunday, it’s no surprise that Phil looks back with such fondness at the competition.
“It was a great achievement to win it twice and special for me because I missed the FA Cup Final in 1967 when I broke my arm,” reflected the popular defender.
“It was great to win and a dream to play at Wembley twice.
“The thing that really sticks out in my mind is walking out of the tunnel at the old Wembley. The supporters at the other end of the stadium could see both teams lining up and you could hear the roar from all around the stadium when you walked out.
“The first time we got there in 1971 I didn’t really take it all in. It was a bit of a blur, going up the steps, getting the trophy, I can’t remember too much about that.
“But the second time we won it against Norwich I took more in and it was a real thrill to go up the steps again, supporters patting us on the back as we went and picking up the medal and the trophy and then showing it to our supporters.
“I’ve still got the medal, in fact, it was a small tankard, but those memories stick with me.
“We were there to win and we did that. We thought the League Cup was a big thing, we always played our strongest team and always went out to win it because you knew then you were in Europe.”
Phil is still a regular at the Lane as part of our legends’ matchday hospitality team.
He looks back on his playing days - all under the management of Bill Nicholson - with real affection.
“I was with the club 14, 15 years, came here straight from school and played under Bill throughout all the time I was here,” he said.
“I joined when that famous team won the double and to see all those great players and then play with so many greats in my time here speaks for itself.
“I thought it was great playing for Tottenham and as soon as I put on that white shirt I went out and gave 100 per cent. I didn’t think about what I was getting for this and that, it didn’t come into it. I just thought to put a Tottenham shirt on and to go out and play for Tottenham Hotspur was the proudest moment of my life.”