Cliff Jones: "I never thought I would say it, but..."
Thu 10 January 2019, 14:24|Tottenham Hotspur
The symmetry of football...
Harry Kane scored his 160th Spurs goal to win our Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg against Chelsea on Tuesday and overtake Cliff Jones into fourth on our all-time goalscoring list. Cliff scored his 159th and final goal against Manchester United over 50 years ago on 9 October, 1968. Who do we play next on Sunday? Of course, it’s United.
This wasn’t lost on Cliff, one of the Club’s all-time greats, as he spoke in glowing terms about Harry's achievement this week.
Indeed, the Welsh wizard uttered the words he admits he never thought he would say.
“Yes, it’s true, I never thought I would say it...” he smiled.
“... but Harry could, could overtake Jimmy Greaves’ goal total for Spurs (266). I never thought anyone would get anywhere near it. Harry has a chance - a good chance. And then you are talking about something very special.”
As for Harry overtaking his 159, Cliff added: “This has been coming. He’s such a prolific goalscorer but not only that, he brings other players into the game as well. He’s an all-rounder, Harry, a goalscorer and a goal-maker. He has a terrific temperament and he has values. He’s one of the best. He’s one of the greats already.”
Back to October, 1968, White Hart Lane. Cliff buried goal 159 from close range that night to open the scoring, Alan Gilzean made it 2-0 but United, European Cup winners earlier that year, hit back with goals from Pat Crerand and Denis Law to draw 2-2. We finished sixth in the old Division One that season, United 11th, Leeds won the title.
It was an emotional night for a player who had lit up the Lane in the 'glory, glory years' under Bill Nicholson, winning the league and FA Cup double (1961), two more FA Cups (1962, 1967) and the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1963). His 159 goals came in 378 appearances in all competitions after signing from Swansea in February, 1958.
“That was my last game for Spurs, the end of an era!” recalled Cliff. “United had Charlton, Law, Best, Stiles, Crerand…what a game to go out on. It was a midweek match, a Wednesday night and by the end of Thursday, I’d signed for Fulham.
“Over 50 years ago as well. It’s amazing where the time has gone.”
Did Cliff have a favourite goal? He didn’t have to think too long for his own slice of Club history.
“I go back to our first match in the European Cup away to Polish side Gornik Zabrze in 1961 (13 September, 1961) and we got beat 4-2 in the first leg over there,” he said.
“I scored the first goal in that first leg, so I became the first Spurs player to score in the European Cup – in fact, the first Spurs player to score in European competition.
“Then, in the second leg, I got a hat-trick as we beat them 8-1. It was the perfect hat-trick as well – left foot, right foot, header, all within the space of 20 minutes. That's the one that sticks in my mind. Gornik were a top side. They were 4-0 up in the first leg before we scored two late goals.
“That night… the crowd, they were amazing. The noise... Gornik looked a goal down before we kicked-off. I’ll never forget that game, 8-1, unbelievable. Mackay, White, Blanchflower, Smith all in their pomp. We would have beaten any team that night.”