WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN: Cup final memories, by ANDY PORTER
I was still at school and yet to see my first Spurs game when they won their first two League Cup Finals at Wembley. The 1971 win over third division Aston Villa, thanks to two late goals from Martin Chivers, hasn t stayed in the memory bank but I do rec
I was still at school and yet to see my first Spurs game when they won their first two League Cup Finals at Wembley.
The 1971 win over third division Aston Villa, thanks to two late goals from Martin Chivers, hasn't stayed in the memory bank but I do recall watching the Sunday afternoon ITV highlights of the 1973 Final.
The pictures of Ralph Coates celebrating his match-winning goal with a gallop across the Wembley turf remain to this day. A lovely fella Ralph, he still carries his toothless comb around with him.
Fast forward to 1982 and my first League Cup Final. By then Wembley Stadium had become a second home, having seen Spurs lift the FA Cup there and return for the Charity Shield match at the start of the next season. I was also going to many of the England home games so knew my way around the terraces at both ends.
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It did seem unusual going to Wembley on a Saturday afternoon when there were other games being played that day.
In the run up to the game Spurs had seen off Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup, won convincingly in the league at Brighton in midweek and faced a European trip to Eintracht Frankfurt after the final. Four games in different competitions in 12 days.
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I remember Graeme Souness going in hard on Tony Galvin early on - he knew how important Tony was to the team - and Spurs taking the lead with a Steve Archibald goal.
It was late on when Ronnie Whelan equalised and we all knew what was coming in extra-time, with Liverpool adding two more to end our unbeaten record at Wembley.
The defeat spawned one of my favourite Spurs chants, sung over the next five weeks until our European Cup-Winners Cup exit at the hands of Barcelona.
"Sing, sing, wherever you may be, we lost the League Cup at Wembley, but we'll be back to win the other three, and we'll go down in history."
Great song, if not factually correct.
I've always looked back on that season as being one of my favourites following Spurs.
I still say it was the poor weather during December and January, causing fixture congestion later in the season, which stopped us lifting the League Championship.
By the time Spurs reached the 1999 Worthington Cup Final against Leicester, I had progressed from the terraces to the press box.
Little did I know then that this would be my one and only visit to the media facilities in the old stadium.
Housed high up along the Royal Box side of the stadium, below the Olympic Gallery, the press seats afforded a good view. Much of it was forgettable, except for the handbags between Robbie Savage and Justin Edinburgh. With extra-time looming, up popped Allan Nielsen to head home the winner.
I stayed at my vantage point for the next half an hour or so, watching the left-hand end slowly empty while the right-hand end did their best to raise the roof off the stadium.
The noise was as loud as I have ever heard from a Spurs crowd, the stadium was rocking. Post match, David Howells popped his head around the press room door to offer congratulations to all at the club.
Roll forward to 2002 and a rainy day out in Cardiff - a wander around the city centre, a friendly atmosphere mixing with the Blackburn fans.
With the roof closed, it was the first domestic final to be played indoors. It felt strange, a bit claustrophobic, not having a breeze blowing around you.
Again, press facilities were used, in the lower press box of the Millennium Stadium.
I remember Chris Waddle being there. I was nervous about the result, wanting to get back into Europe. It wasn't to be. Christian Ziege equalised Matt Jansen's opener and Andrew Cole notched the winner. The fans turned up, sadly some of the team didn't.
The charter flight from Stansted to the Welsh capital raised one of the few laughs of the day.
On arrival we were informed over the tannoy by a stewardess that we had arrived at Cardiff where the local time was 11am.
Back to the all zones travel card for last season's final and my first visit to the new Wembley Stadium. I got there early and wandered around the perimeter, feeling overdressed in a raincoat on a sunny afternoon.
Plenty of Spurs fans among the early comers, Chelsea fans having already been there before arriving much later.
I took my seat in the lower tier having checked on a friend in the disabled area who had the best view of the day, right on the halfway line.
Rating our chances 30/70 at kick off there was no surprise when Didier Drogba gave Chelsea the lead.
I've gotten used to it over the years. The build up to the penalty incident was right in my line of sight, fortunately, referee Mark Halsey agreed with my view. How cool was Dimitar Berbatov taking that spot-kick?
On to extra time, still fearing the worst. Four minutes in, Jonathan Woodgate's header, GOAL! How long to go, 26 minutes - bring back the golden goal!
The post-match celebrations proved that Wembley's sound system is louder than the old venue but the acoustics are poorer.
The old bowl kept more of the noise within than the current structure with two separate tiers. I ventured out into the rain a happy Spur, with another European campaign to look forward to.