Biggest Tottenham Hotspur Scandals
We all like to think that Tottenham Hotspur are whiter than white – Lilywhite in fact – but the truth is that all clubs have endured something of a murky past. Sometimes, as we will see in the following examples, Spurs have been the wounded party but on other occasions, it’s fair to say we have been the perpetrators of the scandal in question.
So, let’s take a moment to consider five occasions when our beloved club was caught up in some murky goings on.
The Goal that Never was
Years before goal line technology was finally introduced, we became used to seeing perfectly good goals ruled out when they had clearly crossed the line. At times, the decisions were marginal while others, such as Frank Lampard’s effort against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, were blatantly obvious.
Years before Lampard’s strike was ruled out, Spurs were on the wrong end of one of the more glaring calls for that crucial technology to be brought in. Back in 2003, Tottenham were away to Manchester United on an Old Trafford ground that had produced little reward over many seasons.
At 0-0, both teams seemed to be settling for a point when Spurs midfielder Pedro Mendes sent a speculative shot sailing from beyond half way to the United goal. Keeper Roy Carroll seemed to have it covered but it spilled out and dropped more than a foot over the line. Despite that, Carroll did a quick job in deception and the game continued, eventually finishing at 0-0.
In fairness to the linesman at the time – Rob Lewis – the goal was almost impossible to give as he just couldn’t keep up with the play. As Lewis said in the immediate aftermath of the event – he just couldn’t give what he couldn’t see.
The injustice took some time to resolve: Goal line technology would not come in to the game for more than a decade after Mendes’ ghost goal. Since then, we’ve benefitted to an extent with our first goal of the 2018/19 campaign – Jan Vertonghen’s eighth minute opener against Newcastle that crossed the line by the narrowest of margins.
Comings and Goings
Many fans on both sides of the North London divide cite Sol Campbell’s move from Spurs to Arsenal as a great scandal. There are many reasons why that should be the case but, throughout history, there have been some controversial trades between the two clubs.
Was Emmanuel Adebayor’s switch to White Hart Lane any less scandalous than Campbell’s transfer? What about Pat Jennings who was discarded by Spurs in 1978 but left for Arsenal and still enjoyed another eight years of top flight football?
In total, there have been 18 players who have featured for both clubs with the first of these being Tom Pratt way back in 1899. Perhaps the most controversial of the deals saw a transfer involving both Spurs’ Jimmy Robertson and Arsenal’s David Jenkins in 1968. Robertson had scored the winner for Tottenham in the 1967 FA Cup final and it’s been said that he had to leave the club for reasons that weren’t necessarily related to football.
Spurs certainly got the worst of the deal: In two seasons, Jenkins played just 17 games for the club, scoring twice, while Robertson featured more for the Gunners.
All deals, therefore, raise eyebrows but the manner of Campbell’s switch to North London was definitely the most shocking. For many Spurs fans, it wasn’t even a case of where he ended up but the fact that he allowed his contract to run down is the reason why most will never forgive him. He walked away on a free and the fact that he walked down the Seven Sisters road to Highbury just served to rub it in.
Get up and Carry On
The subject of concussion in football is a tricky one and an area where we have to tread carefully when discussing such issues. Back in 2013, Spurs were, once again, at the forefront of an aspect of the game that would eventually lead to a rule change but not before the club were labelled as ‘irresponsible’ by much of the press.
As winter approached during the 2013/14 campaign, Tottenham were away to Everton at Goodison Park in a game that finished in a 0-0 draw. In an otherwise uneventful match, the issue of Hugo Lloris’ head injury was, therefore, a big talking point.
In the 78th minute, Hugo’s head made contact with Romelu Lukaku’s knee and after staying down for some time, it seemed almost certain that he would be taken off on a stretcher. However, after a long delay with Lloris discussing with the medical team, he came back on with a view to seeing out the game.
Tottenham’s manager at the time, Andre Villas-Boas, said that this was a mark of his character while adding that the medical team had given the crucial all-clear. However, the club’s actions drew criticism from a number of quarters including the brain injury charity Headway who alleged that Spurs had shown an ‘irresponsible and cavalier attitude’.
Bad Boy of Football
Everyone loves a bad boy but Spurs have rarely signed a player with a shocking reputation. There have been isolated incidents of bad behaviour including Hugo Lloris transgressing with the traffic police but in general, we like to play it safe.
We do know that our legendary manager Bill Nicholson had an aversion for long hair and wasn’t particularly endeared to Alfie Conn or Steve Archibald. Presumably, therefore, Bill would have been horrified at the antics of Serge Aurier.
The right back joined the club from PSG in August 2017. Most fans knew very little about him but we were aware that he came with something of a ‘reputation’. When we delve a little further, we can find out the extent of those misdemeanours.
In 2016, he verbally attacked his teammates and the manager Laurent Blanc in a tirade that would endear him to no-one. Worse was to come a year later when the player was given a two-month suspended prison sentence in France for attacking a police officer.
Controversy followed him onto the international stage too and unfortunately, it masked what seems to have been his one heroic gesture. In October 2016 while playing for the Ivory Coast against Mali, Aurier rushed to the aid of his opponent Moussa Dombia who was stricken with an epileptic fit. It earned some plaudits which were quickly lost as he celebrated a goal with a throat slitting gesture.
Nobody really knows what happened on the night before the final league game of the 2005/06 season but the events have gone down in Spurs folklore for all the wrong reasons. After a productive campaign under Martin Jol, Tottenham only needed to match Arsenal’s result to get into the top four and play Champions League football for the first time in their history.
Unfortunately, many of the team reported ill on the morning of the game and the blame was firmly pointed at a dodgy pre-match meal. The night before the match, the squad gathered at a hotel and, as part of an evening buffet, a lasagna took centre stage. By the morning, Jol reported that he had only four fit players.
From there, the outcome was inevitable: Arsenal duly won a simple home tie against Wigan Athletic while Spurs went down 2-1 at Upton Park. With all efforts to postpone the game having failed, Tottenham players were visibly struggling on the pitch but, despite their sincere beliefs that the food had been tampered with, conclusive proof could not be found.
We were left with a sense of what might have been; Michael Carrick, who could barely walk on the morning of the game, would soon depart for Manchester United while Martin Jol was denied the Champions League place that his efforts as manager truly deserved.
To this day, those involved, still suspect sabotage and this is arguably the biggest scandal of all involving Tottenham Hotspur.