Saturday 6th May 1961 Tottenham Hotspur had already done enough to win
the 1960/61 season Football League Championship and were facing Leicester
City at Wembley Stadium in the F.A. Cup final in an attempt to become
the first club to achieve the cup and league 'double' in the 20th century,
Aston Villa having previously achieved the elusive feat in 1897.
international left back Mel Hopkins broke his nose while on international
duty and was replaced by Ron Henry and further summer changes by Nicholson
resulted in Terry Medwin being dropped.
Cliff Jones was switched to the right wing to support John White and the
left wing position was given to the diminutive Terry Dyson. Summer signings
included John Smith from West Ham who was intended to replace the supposedly
ageing Blanchflower but, in the event, he only made 21 appearances in 4
years as the evergreen Danny carried soldiered on and on, eventually retiring
Spurs made an immaculate start to the 1960/61 season, winning all of their first 11 fixtures. The twelfth game against Manchester City ended in a draw, but they resumed their winning ways with another four victories before eventually losing their first game of the season 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday. The run up to Christmas was only blemished by a 4-4 draw with Burnley after leading 4-0!
At the turn of the year they were already 11 points clear of second-placed Sheffield Wednesday and the championship seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
Spurs started their assault on the F.A.Cup on 7th January at home to Charlton Athletic where two goals from Allen and one from Dyson saw them to a narrow 3-2 victory.
Another home draw in the fourth round on 28th January was somewhat easier and goals from Mackay, Jones, R.Smith. Allen and Dyson despatched Crewe Alexandra 5-1. A 2-0 win away at Aston Villa on 18th February thanks to Jones and an own goal by Neil rewarded them with a quarter-final place away to second division Sunderland on 4th March where they were lucky to earn a 1-1 draw (Jones) before demolishing the lower division side 5-0 in the replay at White Hart Lane (Mackay, Smith R, Allen, Dyson 2) on the 8th.
semi-final was played against Burnley (who ended the league season in 4th
place) at Villa Park, Birmingham, on Saturday 18th March.
A brace of goals from Bobby Smith and another from Cliff Jones concluded
the event fairly comfortably, Spurs winning 3-0 in front of nearly 70,000
people and putting them through to their first final since 1921.
Their opponents were to be Leicester City who had a much more torrid route
to the final by way of:
Third Round home to Oxford United 3-1, Fourth Round home to Bristol City 5-1 (First game abandoned due to water logged pitch),
Fifth Round home to Birmingham City 2-1 (Replay after 1-1 draw away), Sixth Round away to Barnsley 2-1 (Replay and extra time after 0-0 draw at home) Semi-Final versus Sheffield United: 0-0 at Elland Road, Leeds Semi-Final replay 0-0 a.e.t. at City Ground, Nottingham Semi-Final second replay 2-0 a.e.t. at St. Andrews, Birmingham.
With their attention and best efforts apparently on the cup competition Spurs league form slumped and by the Easter weekend their lead in the table had been cut to three points. There had been a lot of recent speculation in the press, to an extent fuelled by some public criticism by Bill Nicholson, when Spurs took the field against relegation strugglers Preston North End on 1st April and they answered the criticism with a hat-trick from Jones. Additional goals from John White and Frank Saul made for an emphatic victory that stretched Spurs' lead at the top with six games remaining.
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April 17th 1961 the two championship contenders went head to head at White
Hart Lane. Spurs still held a significant point lead but it was a 'must
win' game for Wednesday and they took the lead through Don Megson following
a free kick. Their celebrations were short-lived, however, as Bobby Smith
grabbed an equaliser within minutes and Les Allen followed it up almost
immediately with what was to prove the winner.
The scenes at White Hart Lane were as if Spurs had already won the Championship with fans thronging the pitch and being rewarded with the sight of Blanchflower and his team appearing on the West Stand balcony.
Spurs were to lose two of their remaining three games, performances which were to cost them a record point total, only equalling the 66 point mark set by rival North London side Arsenal exactly thirty years previously. However, this didn't prevent them from being crowned League Champions by a margin of eight points from Sheffield Wednesday and the 31 wins they achieved was a record for a 22 team league.
The feat was remarkable for other reasons as well. Spurs used only 17 players during the course of the season, three of them only once. There was no 'squad' situation as there is these days, just 'first team' and 'reserves'. International matches were always played on a Saturday and First Division fixtures were not suspended.
This had the advantage of giving reserve players (Marchi, Medwin, Clayton, Brookes, Hopkin, Hollowbread) a run out in the first eleven but even some of these were also required for international duty. It is quite likely that if not for this, the same eleven men might have played in all of the 49 League and Cup games during that season.
Blanchflower and Frank McLintock led their teams out on Saturday 6th May
and the F.A. Cup Final kicked off at 3:00 p.m. The teams were:
Tottenham Hotspur: Brown, Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Jones, White, Smith, Allen, Dyson Manager: Bill Nicholson
Leicester City: Banks, Chalmers, Norman, McLintock, King, Appleton, Riley, Walsh, McIlmoyle, Keyworth, Cheesebrough. Manager: Matt Gillies
Apparently wary of the Wembley pitch's reputation for injury on big occasions, both teams started the match cautiously, if not nervously. There were, of course, no substitutes allowed during the game at that time, so any player succumbing to injury had to do his best to carry on or leave his team a man short on the field of play.
Following a collision between Les Allen and Len Chalmers midway through the first half the Leicester man required substantial treatment. Despite Spurs pressure and a goal from Cliff Jones that was disallowed for offside the game was still goalless and in the balance when the referee J.Kelly blew his whistle for half time.
The second half carried on in much the same way until the 66th minute when Terry Dyson threaded a pass through to Bobby Smith who turned and crashed his shot past Leicester's legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks. With a lead established Spurs continued to press and the sequence was reversed in the 75th minute when Smith crossed the ball for Terry Dyson to score with a header. Fifteen minutes later Spurs had achieved the first cup and league 'double' of the 20th century.
In the spirit of true sportsmanship the losing finalists formed a 'guard of honour' for the victorious Spurs side in recognition of their outstanding achievement.
League Results 1960-61
20 Aug H v Everton W 2-0
22 Aug A v Blackpool W 3-1
27 Aug A v Blackburn Rovers W 4-1
31 Aug H v Blackpool W 3-1
3 Sep H v Manchester United W 4-1
7 Sep A v Bolton W 2-1
10 Sep A v Arsenal W 3-2
14 Sep H v Bolton W 3-1
17 Sep A v Leicester City W 2-1
24 Sep H v Aston Villa W 6-2
1 Oct A v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 4-0
10 Oct H v Manchester City D 1-1
15 Oct A v Nottingham Forest W 4-0
29 Oct A v Newcastle United W 4-3
2 Nov H v Cardiff W 3-2
5 Nov H v Fulham W 5-1
12 Nov A v Sheffield Wednesday L 1-2
19 Nov H v Birmingham City W 6-0
26 Nov A v West Bromwich Albion W 3-1
3 Dec H v Burnley D 4-4
10 Dec A v Preston North End W 1-0
17 Dec A v Everton W 3-1
24 Dec H v West Ham United W 2-0
26 Dec A v West Ham United W 3-0
31 Dec H v Blackburn Rovers W 5-2
16 Jan A v Manchester United L 0-2
21 Jan H v Arsenal W 4-2
4 Feb H v Leicester City 2-3
11 Feb A v Aston Villa W 2-1
22 Feb H v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1
25 Feb A v Manchester City W 1-0
11 Mar A v Cardiff L 2-3
22 Mar H v Newcastle United L 1-2
25 Mar A v Fulham D 0-0
31 Mar H v Chelsea W 4-2
1 Apr H v Preston North End W 5-0
3 Apr A v Chelsea W 3-2
8 Apr A v Birmingham City W 3-2
17 Apr H v Sheffield Wednesday W 2-1
22 Apr A v Burnley L 2-4
26 Apr H v Nottingham Forest W 1-0
29 Apr H v West Bromwich Albion L 1-2
Football League Division One Table 1960-61
1 Tottenham Hotspur 66
2 Sheffield Wednesday 58
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 57
4 Burnley 51
5 Everton 50
6 Leicester City 45
7 Manchester United 45
8 Blackburn Rovers 43
9 Aston Villa43
10 West Bromwich Albion 41
11 Arsenal 41
12 Chelsea 37
13 Manchester City 37
14 Nottingham Forest 37
15 Cardiff City 37
16 West Ham United 36
17 Fulham 36
18 Bolton Wanderers 35
19 Birmingham City 34
20 Blackpool 33
21 Newcastle United 32
22 Preston North End 30
Played: 42 Won: 31 Drew: 4 Lost: 7
Goals For: 115 Goals Against: 55
Football Association Cup 1960-61
Round 3 7th Jan H v Charlton Athletic W 3-2
Round 4 28th Jan H v Crewe Alexandra W 5-1
Round 5 18th Feb A v Aston Villa W 2-0
Round 6 4th Mar A v Sunderland D 1-1
Replay 8th Mar H v Sunderland W 5-0
Semi-Final v Burnley at Villa Park
18th Mar 1961 W 3-0
Final v Leicester City at Wembley
6th May 1961 W 2-0
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