Controversy as Tottenham Are Denied In FA Cup Semi-Final 11th April


There was controversy both before and during Tottenham’s first FA Cup semi-final since 1967. Over-crowding issues in the Leppings Lane stand at Hillsborough could have had very serious consequences and Spurs were denied by a late refereeing blunder against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 11th April, 1981.

Glenn Hoddle [Photo:]On This Day

11th April, 1981

Although Tottenham had enjoyed Cup success at home and in Europe during the early 1970s, it was almost a decade and a half since the club had reached an FA Cup semi-final. The FA Cup had eluded them since their 1967 triumph over Chelsea. It was in 1981 that they next reached an FA Cup semi-final, under the guidance of Keith Burkinshaw. Spurs’ progress to this stage had been steady and they were drawn to play Wolverhampton Wanderers at Hillsborough.

Refereeing Mistake

Everyone’s memory of this game is the penalty which was awarded to Wolves in the dieing moments for a tackle by Glenn Hoddle. This gave Wolves the chance to equalise and take the game into extra time. The additional 30 minutes remained goalless and the game ended level at 2 – 2 with a replay required. The fury of the Spurs’ players and spectators at the penalty decision is understandable as it was wrong on two accounts – the tackle was outside the penalty area and Hoddle won the ball cleanly without touching the ‘diving’ Terry Hibbitt.

Tottenham had taken the lead through Steve Archibald after four minutes but Wolves equalised a minute later. Just before half-time, Hoddle put Spurs ahead from a free kick, that could justifiably have been a penalty. Spurs defended resolutely until the referee played his part.

Spurs had been ‘On their way to Wembley’ until the referee, Clive Thomas, intervened with the late controversial penalty decision which almost deprived Spurs of a Wembley return. For some unaccountable reason, the Football Association decided to have the replay in London.

So it was off to Highbury.

Over-Crowding Issues in Leppings Lane Stand

In 1989, Hillsborough was the scene of the tragic Hillsborough Disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died after a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground during their FA Cup semi-final. Eight years earlier, Tottenham supporters who attended the 1981 semi-final against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Hillsborough reported events in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium which could have led to Spurs fans being caught up in a similar disaster.

Supporters made the Football Association and the club aware of what had happened that afternoon and the FA launched an investigation into the crowd control at the match. It is clear that there was a serious problem affecting the Tottenham supporters at the Leppings Lane end of the ground. Unfortunately, the authorities did not take the 1981 warning seriously and were remiss in not following up on the problems reported that day and taking appropriate action to prevent it happening again.

Related article: The Hillsborough Disaster – In 1981 It could Have Been Tottenham!

#knowyourtottenhamhistory  9th April, 1995  Tottenham’s FA Cup Dream Shattered

Over To You!

What are your memories of that day at Hillsborough?