When Tottenham Met Lyon at White Hart Lane in December 1967 ECWC


When Tottenham first met Lyon at White Hart Lane in December, 1967 it had all looked so promising. A fleeting encounter in France a fortnight earlier had been a tempestuous affair but Alan (Mullery) and Andre (Guy) wouldn’t be around for this second meeting. UEFA decreed that they should stay at home after their little tiff when Andre’s boot somehow connected with Alan’s mouth and caused everyone to participate in a little ruck. It was a perfect match the FA Cup holders, Tottenham Hotspur, against the winners of the French Cup, Olympique Lyonnais.

Tottenham were a goal down going into the second meeting but Spurs were confident of progressing – it was only a matter of becoming accustomed to the temperamental continental ways of their Gallic neighbours. Spurs supporters were eagerly anticipating another glorious European night at White Hart Lane.

The meeting at White Hart Lane started so well. Things had changed a little for Tottenham since the Cup win the previous May. Their long undefeated run had come to an end in early September. After an unbeaten sequence  from the previous January which included the FA Cup Final success over Chelsea, it came to an abrupt and unceremonious end at Burnley by 5 – 1. With Mullery suspended, Dennis Bond was brought in and the injured Mike England was replaced by a young reserve, Roger Hoy.

Tottenham were two ahead by half-time, a one goal advantage on aggregate. Jimmy Greaves provided the goals – the first a drive after 20 minutes and a penalty just before half-time. Early in the second half, Lyon scored which meant, due to the away goals’ rule, Spurs had to win by two clear goals. Within a minute, Cliff Jones had produced the required score with a diving header. Lyon responded five minutes later to bring the score to 3 – 3 on aggregate, advantage Lyon.

Alan Gilzean was next to put Spurs ahead from a Jimmy Robertson cross but ten minutes from time, Lyon spoiled the evening from a Tottenham point of view. With that late goal, it all ended in tears – tears of sadness for Spurs, tears of joy for Lyon. Spurs won 4 – 3 on the night but it was a pointless win, a meaningless victory as Tottenham were knocked out of the competition on the away goals rule, first introduced by UEFA in 1965.

A Parting of the Ways

Olympique Lyonnais progressed to the next round, leaving Tottenham behind with never a parting glance.

Their paths have crossed but once since that evening in December, 1967 – a brief encounter in the hot, sunny days of the summer of 2005 in South Korea for the Final of the Peace Cup which Spurs won 3 – 0 with Robbie Keane scoring twice.

The Valentine’s Day Meeting

Now fate (the UEFA Europa League draw) has decreed that Tottenham and Lyon must renew acquaintances on, of all days, St.Valentine’s Day.

How will it end? Will it end in tears? That will only become clear in just over a week’s time.

 

 

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