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Pat looks back

Wed 13 November 2002, 12:00|Tottenham Hotspur

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 says he was 'very lucky'. He got away with it. He's the goalkeeping great who played for both sides of the North London divide and is still loved by both sets of fans.

Make no bones about it, Pat sees himself as Tottenham Hotspur through and through. No questions asked. So it speaks volumes for the man that our friends from N5 haven't a bad word to say about him. The feeling from Pat, of course, is mutual.

The legendary figure is still out there on the training pitch at Spurs Lodge, passing his knowledge to goalkeepers at the age of 57, fully 38 years after his first North London derby in 1964.

As the class of 2002 prepare to do battle again at Highbury on Saturday, the Northern Ireland hero happily took a couple of minutes out to look back at derbies gone by.

"It was always the fixture that Bill Nicholson said if we were only going to win two games all season, those were the two in the season we had to win," Pat reflected.

"It was the same in Bill's time as a player and something that has continued through the years.

"It's the same up and down the country of course. We've just seen it in the Manchester derby, Liverpool-Everton, that's the great thing about football, that rivalry.

"It always meant a lot to me because Bill Nicholson always said how important the derby games were.

"The fact that I spent so many years at the club meant it meant more to me as well.

"You know how important it is to the supporters, whatever team you play for. You can't get away from that when you live in the area.

"Wherever you go for up to two weeks beforehand people are starting to talk about it and the whole build up to the match takes over. New players who play in the derby, foreign players coming in, they can't believe the atmosphere.

"Perhaps players who aren't at the club that long, it doesn't mean as much. You then appreciate how much it means to the fans. The sad thing was that the games always seemed to be over Christmas and if you lost, it could ruin your Christmas!"

Pat made the short move to Highbury in 1977.

"I was surplus to requirements at Tottenham when I left," he explained.

"I was going to Ipswich but unfortunately for Trevor Whymark, he broke his leg in a pre-season game in Holland and Bobby Robson rang me back to say that he had to buy an outfield player instead.

"Arsenal went well for me. There was an Irish connection there, that helped. We had great times, four cup finals in my first three years, fantastic times for me when I was supposed to be finished.

"But I can remember going to Arsenal a year before that, as a Spurs player, when I was Footballer of the Year and got a fantastic reception.

"I don't go there too often now, but I've always got a good welcome. Most people realise that I'm a Tottenham man through and through, but I would never criticise Arsenal."

There is no doubt as to where Pat's loyalty lies before Saturday's clash.

"I'm hoping we can win," he added. "We're coming off a bad week, Burnley and Sunderland, a disappointing week.

"We'd promised so much in recent games against Liverpool, Chelsea, that we thought this could be our week. But the opposite has happened.

"But form counts little in a derby. The lads will be up for it. It's a tough game but hopefully we can get something out of it.

"If we manage to do that, it will give everyone at the club and the fans a massive lift."