The Big Interview - Mark Falco
16 April 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
Mark Falco was the last home-grown player to score 20 league goals in a season 30 years ago - and the similarities between his campaign and Harry Kane's are uncanny.
Turn the clock back to April 13, 1985 and Mark had just scored his 18th goal in Division One against Leicester City - Harry scored his 19th in a hat-trick against the Foxes on March 21.
Mark went on to score 22 in the league in his 29-goal total. Harry remains on 29 in all competitions with six matches remaining - six matches to notch that one goal that will make him the first home-grown striker since Mark to hit 20 league goals in a season.
Now 54, Mark knows better than most about the journey Harry has taken from youth team to first team at Spurs and he'd love more than anything to see the 21-year-old to hit his next target.
Indeed, Harry's exploits have seen Mark thinking back to his 29-goal season of 1984-85 and there is more than a hint of regret when he recalls a serious title challenge that eventually faltered on home turf...
First of all, let's go back to 1984-85. The team went out of the League Cup and FA Cup early, reached the quarter-finals in defence of the UEFA Cup, losing out to Real Madrid and with 12 games remaining, were fighting it out with Everton for the Division One title.
Mark Falco: "We were so close. We felt we had it in us but we just ran out of legs in the end. We were playing three times a week from March to May and when we lost at home to Everton (April 3), that was the big turning point. If we’d have beaten them, it would have given us the confidence to go on and win the league. That was our best chance.
"A lot of people forget that Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles, Clive Allen were all injured for periods of that season, but we were strong all-round. We had the experience of Steve Perryman and Ray Clemence, Gary Stevens came into his own, Gary Mabbutt, Micky Hazard, Graham Roberts, Garth Crooks. We had a good squad and we felt we should have done it really. That’s one big regret."
Below: Mark in action against Real Madrid, March 1985
Nine of the last 13 games were at home, but it was it was home form that cost the team that season as we lost five of those nine matches and ended up third...
Mark: "You’d think it would be a huge advantage but teams came here and wanted to frustrate us. They shut up shop and tried not to lose. We were a top team and wanted to win every game so we had to gamble and it became difficult for us. Teams sat in and we had to try and break them down. We’d won trophies and we didn’t doubt we could do it, we just ran out of steam."
It was a superb season for you personally. You were ever-present, cracked 20 goals in the league and scored 29 in all competitions. What was that like for a Spurs fan?
Mark: "I loved it. Everyone knows it’s my club - always has been, always will be - and Spurs run through our family. To actually play for the club was amazing. Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves stuck by me through thick and thin and to score 29 that season was special.
"We had a great team and I have fantastic memories of my time playing here. I stood over there on The Shelf (points from our spot in the West Stand), scored a penalty in the UEFA Cup Final in front of Paxton Road and scored a volley against Arsenal just down there. To put the shirt on and help the club win things was a dream come true for me."
Turn the clock forward to 2015 and a certain Harry Kane is following in your footsteps...
Mark: "Yes, we're similar in many ways. We're both local lads, for a start. I'm from Hackney, he's from Walthamstow and he has that close-knit family as well, which really helps when you are breaking through. It's always tough for home-grown players to make it. As a club, we sign so many great players. In my day, we bought strikers like Steve Archibald, Garth Crooks and then Alan Brazil, Clive Allen. I'd always think 'here we go again, another scrap on my hands to get into the team' and it was sink or swim for me every time I played, but I relished it."
What are your thoughts on what Harry has done this season?
Mark: "He has to be the most improved player we’ve seen for a while. I’m sure he will crack 30 goals soon and that’s a real achievement, perhaps it's even harder these days as well. I just hope he keeps going, quickly gets over 30 goals and pushes towards 35, that would be great.
"It’s been brilliant to see him progress. He looks like he’s enjoying it, he’s delivering on the pitch and we all hope he goes further and further. He’s a fan at heart and you can see he’s enjoying what he’s doing. There is nothing better than playing and scoring goals for your club - that's a feeling I know well!"