Friday, September 23, 2011

English Leagues the 70s: Tottenham Aston Villa League Cup 1970 1971

 Final
27 Febuary 1971
Wembley Stadium, 
London
Attendance: 100,000
Referee: J. Finney
  
Aston Villa are no more nervous about F% playing at Wembley in the League Cup Final than a man collecting his wage packet after a week of hard work. The confidence that rubbed off on them in their memorable Semi-Final victory over humiliated Manchester United has become a permanency in Villa's approach to football. In fact, judged by the outward calm of Team Manager Vic Crowe — is he ever anything else but calm? — the League Cup Final could be on February 27, 1972, instead of this month. Crowe told Shoot: "We have got our priorities right, which means promotion to the Second Division is number one. "The Final at Wembley is number two. I'm not saying we don't want to win it. Nothing would thrill us more. What I am saying is that this match is a long way from our minds at this moment. 

  "Every Third Division match is more important. Then we'll play against Spurs, see how we go, and finally go back to the bread and butter stuff again. "Between the moment of knowing they're destined for Wembley and actually appearing there, some players seem to have nothing else on their minds. "But it could be working the other way with Villa players. They may regard being in the Final as a spur to staying in the side, and no one is relaxing. "I've only played at Wembley once myself — for Wales — and I know how important it is to a player. "In our first five matches after the Semi-Final, we only lost once. I thought that was a very good performance." 

 Villa are clearly not overawed by the task that Spurs will present to them. Manchester United have had plenty to do with that. As Sir Matt Busby said: "They proved how they could raise their game. In the first-leg particularly they played some wonderful football against us." 
  Manager Bill Nicholson will not be content with a Spurs victory alone in the season's first Cup Final at Wembley. His whole outlook on football leads him to think that, in playing at Wembley, a team should justify the honour of appearing on one of the world's great soccer stages, and perform-accordingly. There are managers who are certainly as high in stature, if not higher, than the Spurs supremo. Men like Sir Matt Busby, Don Revie, Joe Mercer, Harry Catterick and Bill Shankly. But none can claim to be more perfectionist than the Yorkshireman who will demand the best in skills from his team when thev meet Aston Villa. 

 To win without entertaining the public is not to win at all for Nicholson, a manager who has survived in the jungle of job-swapping without ever dropping his standards to try to save his own neck. The same Manager who walked into Spurs' dressing-room after the January defeat of Everton at White Hart Lane and risked unpopularity with his own players by saying: "You were lucky today to get both points." Even members of his unequalled League and Cup "Double" team of 1960-61 used to say: "If we score four and miss two Bill would tell us off!" Just what his tactics to smash the challenge of the Third Division upstarts will be remains Bill Nicholson's secret — even from his own players — until shortly before the match. "We don't look at a certain game until we've finished with the last one. Obviously Villa will be watched and weighed up. We've already heard they play attractive football and they must have some ability to have reached the Final," he says. His players know that Nicholson will be far more precise when he gives them his tactical breakdown of Villa before they go into battle. Mighty Mike England, the Welsh international whose centre-half place in Tottenham's League Cup Final team has been in jeopardy for several weeks because of trouble with both ankles, says: "The boss has a happy knack of watching our coming opponents and then breaking down their weaknesses in the most simple terms. "It certainly doesn't confuse you when you go out on the field. Far from it. Believe me it helps you." In their last appearance at Wembley — in the 1967 F.A. Cup Final — Spurs tactically outmanoeuvred Tommy Docherty's Chelsea to win a magnificent game 2-1. That Chelsea team always preferred opponents to come at them so that they could develop their famous counter attacks. Spurs out-thought them by cagily refusing to go forward whenever Chelsea expected them. Or should it be: Nicholson out-thought them'...

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 It was contested between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. At the time, Tottenham Hotspur was riding high in the First Division (the top level of league football in England at that time) and Aston Villa, the most successful club of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras and a traditional heavyweight, was in the old Third Division (then the third tier of English football), to which it had never previously sunk.
Despite the disparity in the teams' league positions, Aston Villa dominated proceedings. According to Peter Morris, in his Aston Villa: The First 100 Years (1974) the team was so impressive that "it was hard to believe they were the same players" who contested Third Division matches. 

 Creating several scoring opportunities, Villa saw a shot by Andy Lochhead cleared off the line and another by Ian 'Chico' Hamilton hit the angle of post and bar with the goalkeeper beaten. However, Spurs' league standing eventually told, as Martin Chivers, scored Tottenham's first on 79 minutes after the ball was deflected into his path close in by a Villa defender. Three minutes later he scored a second, running through a Villa defence worn out by its efforts at marking him. The match finished 2–0 to Spurs.
Tottenham Hotspur, having been presented with the cup despite being outplayed for almost the whole match, took it to the end where their supporters were gathered. Eyewitnesses[who?] confirm that many of the Spurs fans laughed at their own team for parading around the ground with the cup after receiving such a roasting. The beaten Aston Villa players however embarked on a lap of honour around the stadium and were greeted by what Morris described as "the greatest ovation ever given to a losing team at Wembley" (op cit). The Birmingham Evening Mail headlined its report "The day that Villa might have won it


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