I had always wanted to get to one of these Legends Nights and now one was coming to my own doorstep – well twenty five miles up the road in the Rosspark Hotel at Kells, near Ballymena.
The Spurs Legends Night hosted by Richard “Crackers” Cracknell came to Northern Ireland. Graham Roberts and Steve Sedgley were the special guests of the event organised by the Lisburn Spurs Supporters Club.
It was a great evening with Roberts and Sedgley in good form recalling fondly their time with Tottenham. Sedgley was a late replacement for Micky Hazard who was unable to attend. Both played for Spurs, Roberts in the early 1980s and Sedgley almost a decade later. Both suffered disappointment early in their careers – Roberts had been rejected by Southampton as a youngster and went into non-League football where he was spotted by Bill Nicholson and recommended to Spurs who signed him from Weymouth. Sedgley who was a Spurs supporter had a trial at the club but wasn’t taken on so went to Coventry and moved to white Hart Lane for £750,000 in 1989.
Graham RobertsRoberts played in central defence or midfield and in whatever he position he played, he always gave total commitment. This made him a great favourite of the fans in the early 1980s. Roberts even took over in goal in an FA Cup tie when Ray Clemence was injured. The game ended scoreless and Roberts played his part in achieving the draw.
Roberts wasn’t just a hard-man – he had skill aplenty and played alongside, Villa, Hoddle and Ardiles in midfield. Paul Miller who Roberts described as “a hard player”, and Roberts were a strong central defensive partnership in the 1981 Cup Final win against Manchester City but by 1982, Graham had moved into central midfield. The 1981 Cup win was special to Roberts as it came only a year after he had been in non-League football.
He could also score but none of his goals was more important than the one in the 2nd Leg of the Final of the 1984 UEFA Cup. Anderlecht had taken the lead late in the game but Roberts burst through a packed defence to equalise and take the game into extra time. With no further goals, the game went to penalties.
Roberts, captain on the night for the suspended Steve Perryman, again led by example. He stepped up to score the first penalty and with Tony Parks saving two of the visitors penalty kicks, Spurs won the trophy for Keith Burkinshaw who was in charge of Spurs for the last time. European nights at White Hart Lane were great occasions and for Roberts this was an extra special match as he was captain and for his contribution to Spurs lifting the trophy.
The appointment of David Pleat saw the end of Graham Roberts at Tottenham. He told how he received a call from Pleat at 4am on the morning of a game to inform him that he wouldn’t be needed and that he had been sold to Rangers. Pleat made some unnecessary comments on Roberts’ departure which Graham has never forgotten! Roberts had served Spurs loyally and many were sorry to see him go.
Steve SedgleySedgley was in the same Tottenham team as Paul Gascoigne, winning his second FA Cup winners medal in 1991. He had been an unused sub for the 1987 Final when Coventry unexpectedly defeated Spurs but he says that medal has little importance to him as he didn’t get on to the pitch that afternoon. His medal in 1991 is treasured as he played his part as the team came through a difficult season and overcame losing their best player early in the Final to lift the Cup. After Gazza departed early on a stretcher the team grew stronger that day in their determination to win the final.
Sedgley made over 180 performances for Spurs and says that leaving Tottenham to move to Ipswich was the biggest regret of his career. He had many stories of the exploits and pranks of Gazza including the day he brought an ostrich to the training ground.
Sedgely differs from Roberts in his view on Tottenham’s chances of winning the League in the near future. While Roberts thinks they could do it this year or next, Sedgley thinks that it will require further investment and need time for the new players to come together as a team and become accustomed to English football.
Micky Hazard‘Crackers’ called Micky Hazard on the phone at one point during the evening and he was given a warm reception by everyone there. Hazard grew up through the Tottenham youth scheme. He was another member of the team in the early 1980s but suffered through competition with Glenn Hoddle, Ardiles and Villa. A very skilful player with an outstanding passing ability who could score vital goals. He played in the 1982 FA Cup team and the UEFA Cup winning team of 1984. In 1985 he joined Chelsea but returned to Spurs towards the end of his career when Ossie Ardiles was manager.
Roberts told the story of how Hazard missed out on an England cap against Scotland at Hampden Park through the forgetfulness of England manager, Bobby Robson. Selected for the squad after the 1984 UEFA Cup win, Hazard was told to warm up but having spent the whole game preparing to come on he never got that international cap.
Both Roberts and Sedgley have a great affinity and love for the club. They appreciate the history of Tottenham, something they feel that modern players are not aware of. Both appreciated the importance of Bill Nicholson to the club and the standing he had even after his time as manager.
A very enjoyable evening, excellently organised in a great venue, with many funny stories of their time at Tottenham and in football with their own views on the club, managers and the team.