Forget the cups, the glory, glory European nights and the personal accolades, when asked about the most important match of Pat Jennings’ great career, the legendary goalkeeper goes back to 1975 and the night Spurs avoided relegation by beating the great Leeds United at the Lane.
An official crowd of 49,886 raised the roof at the Lane and helped inspire their struggling team to overcome reigning champions Leeds United 4-2 on Monday, April 28, 1975 and therefore beat the dreaded drop.
Cyril Knowles was the inspiration with two goals with Alfie Conn – who famously sat on the ball during the match – and Martin Chivers also on target.
Leeds were soon to play in the European Cup Final but still included all the names – Cherry, Madeley, Hunter, Lorimer, Bremner, Frank and Eddie Gray and their goalscorers that night included a certain Joe Jordan, now our first-team coach.
As we prepare to face Leeds at the Lane again this time in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, Joe joined Pat in turning the clock back 35 years and recalling that great escape.
“I’ve described this result as being better than any of our cup wins,” said Pat. “That was how important it was for me, because I didn’t want to be part of a team that took the great Tottenham Hotspur down.
“We were struggling that season and quite simply if we lost, we were relegated.”
“As Pat will tell you, Leeds United didn’t play ‘just another game’ at that time,” said Joe. “It was significant for us because we knew the consequences were so severe if Tottenham lost.
“We went into it the same way but on the night, we were just beaten by the better team.
“It was a traumatic season for us, the season Brian Clough was in charge (for 44 days) and we had a horrendous start. Jimmy Armfield came in and steadied the ship and we had some great victories in Europe, but not the same consistency in the league. There was a lot of upheaval at the club and it was the first season in many years that we’d finished outside the top four.”
Pat added: “In a way we were lucky because Leeds were going into the European Cup Final the week after and like Joe said, they’d had their upheavals.
“But they were still reigning champions and still a great side. When we looked at the team that night it was still Bremner, Hunter, Lorimer, Gray, Joe…and we needed to beat them to stay up! That’s why I go so much satisfaction out of the result.”
The full, four-page special on 1975 with Pat and Joe is in this Saturday’s official matchday programme against Leeds.