In mid-March 1962 Tottenham were in a strong position, challenging for three trophies but defeat by Ipswich Town cost Spurs the chance of retaining the league title and a second ‘Double’ win.
Tottenham on this Day
14th March, 1962
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Ipswich Town 3
Team: Brown; Baker, Henry; Blanchflower, Norman, Marchi; Medwin, White, Smith, Greaves, Jones
Earlier in the season Spurs had lost 3 – 2 at Ipswich to Alf Ramsey’s team who had just been promoted. Going into this game Spurs were three points behind second placed Ipswich with Burnley a further two points ahead. The defeat left them 5 points behind which was too big a gap to close with ten games remaining.
Spurs were without Dave Mackay and lost the drive that he always brought to the team. Ipswich went ahead after 9 minutes through Ray Crawford. A few minutes later Danny Blanchflower created the chance for Jimmy Greaves to equalise. Ipswich then took control and regained the lead with a header by Ted Phillips just before half-time. They added to their advantage in the 7ist minute when Phillips got his second. The Ipswich strike partnership of Crawford and Phillips had now contributed 61 goals between them to the Ipswich title-winning cause.
If Spurs had won the game 1 – 0, come the end of the season, they would have retained their title on goal average and with the FA Cup win over Burnely, it would have made it a second successive ‘double’ for Bill Nicholson and Tottenham.
There was a great rivalry between Nicholson and Ramsey from their playing days at Tottenham and to counter Ipswich’s ploy of playing withdrawn wingers, Nicholson had wanted to change his team’s tactics but instead took advice from both Blanchfower and Mackay, not to make any changes. It proved costly as the Ipswich centre forward Crawford commented in an article in the press many years later. He said,
Even after losing at our place, Spurs didn’t tumble to the way we pulled our wingers back. They didn’t change their tactics at all, but still left Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay to attack, not realising that our withdrawn wingers were pulling the backs apart. That’s how I scored my first goal.
Spurs had just qualified for the FA Cup semi-final and were in the European Cup semi-finals but they were unable to cope with Ipswich’s unorthodox game plan. If Nicholson had gone with his own plans it could have been so different as it was in the Charity Shield at the start of the following season. Under Nicholson’s changes Tottenham ran out 5 – 1 winners at Ipswich.