Garth Crooks Gary Lineker Forgotten Men of Tottenham’s FA Cup Semi-Finals


Garth Crooks and Gary Lineker have become the forgotten men of Tottenham’s FA Cup semi-final success in 1981 and in 1991. Both would have been expecting to make the headlines as Tottenham reached another FA Cup Final at Wembley but for an unforgettable moment of genius from one of their team-mates.

Garth Crooks, Spurs forgotten star of 1981 FA Cup

When has a player scored two goals in an FA Cup semi-final to assist their team progress to the Final, only to become the forgotten star of that match?

Well, in Tottenham’s case it’s happened twice.

The last two days on HotspurHQ’s #knowyourtottenhamhistory feature, ‘On This Day’, the focus has been on Tottenham’s two semi-final games in 1981 and 1991. Neither Garth Crooks nor Gary Lineker made the headlines in the newspapers on the day following those matches, they were outshone by a moment of genius and a wonderful, never to be forgotten goal from Ricky Villa in 1981 and them by Paul Gascoigne ten years later. They both, however, scored two vital and equally important goals on the day.

Garth Crooks

In 1981, it was the semi-final replay that gave Crooks the opportunity to grab the headlines, scoring two first half goals to set Tottenham on their way to Wembley and a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Highbury. It was Crooks first season at Spurs having signed from Stoke City for £650,000 the previous summer. He had developed an immediate understanding and goal scoring partnership with Tottenham’s other summer signing from Aberdeen, Steve Archibald. Together, their goals helped turn Tottenham from an ordinary team into a team capable of winning trophies. The Tottenham team which had gained promotion in 1978 had struggled to score goals but the Crooks/Archibald partnership resolved that problem.

Crooks made an instant impact on the team. He scored on his debut against Nottingham Forest, scored 4 goals in his first three League appearances and 5 from his first six games.

Crooks scored twice in the replay of 1981 semi-final. He gave Spurs an early lead with a header and then scored just before half-time, running on to a Glenn Hoddle pass. He also scored the equaliser in the Final as Spurs pulled back to 2 – 2 but in both matches his contribution to the success was eclipsed and tends to be overlooked due to the spectacular nature of the goals scored by Ricky Villa in both matches.

Crooks was an important member of the successful Tottenham team of the early 1980s. He also scored in the 1982 semi-final as Spurs returned to Wembley to retain the Cup. He lost form and his regular place in the team and although he did appear more often in 1984 – 85, he was transferred to West Brom for £100,000 in August, 1985. After a short period with Albion he joined Charlton Athletic.

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker and Gazza celebrate FA Cup success. [Photo:]

In Tottenham’s 1991 semi-final win over Arsenal at Wembley, the contribution of one player, Paul Gascoigne, overshadowed everything that every other player did during the game. That includes Gary Lineker who had scored twice to ensure Tottenham’s victory. The first goal came five minutes after Gascoigne’s spectacular free-kick and was from close range after a cross from Paul Allen caused confusion in the Arsenal defence. The second came with twelve minutes to play and ensured Arsenal didn’t mount a late comeback, having scored on the stroke of half-time. Lineker’s second was a solo effort as he received the ball just inside the Arsenal half, he beat his markers and headed towards goal beating Seaman with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.

Lineker had joined Tottenham in the summer of 1989 after three seasons in Spain with Barcelona. He spent three seasons at White Hart Lane, finishing top scorer each time with 80 goals in 138 League and Cup appearances. In his first season Tottenham finished 3rd in the 1st Division, a position they have since failed to equal or better. The greatest disappointment for Tottenham fans and probably Lineker himself, was the departure of Chris Waddle to Marseille shortly after Lineker’s arrival. Fans had been looking forward two the two internationals linking up with the third England star, Paul Gascoigne, at White Hart Lane. Tottenham’s financial problems were starting to have an impact at the club.

In Tottenham’s 1991 FA Cup run, Lineker contributed three goals, scoring in the 4th Round at home to Oxford United. In the Final after 25 minutes, with Spurs a goal down and minus Gascoigne, Lineker had a goal disallowed for offside and then five minutes later he was brought down in the penalty area by the goalkeeper. He took the penalty and placed the ball to the keeper’s left but Mark Crossley dived and kept the ball out. It all ended well with Spurs’ 2 – 1 win after extra time to claim their eighth, and last, FA Cup win.

Lineker’s career started with Leicester City and he then spent a year at Everton before moving to Spain. After his time with Spurs he moved to Japan where injury restricted his performances. During his career he never received a caution from a referee and with England he scored 48 goals in 80 appearances, finishing as his country’s second highest goal scorer, just one behind Bobby Charlton.

Lineker’s time with Tottenham was during a very difficult time for the club. It was short but was significant in Spurs glorious history with an FA Cup win and a 3rd place finish in the League, neither of which the club has managed to achieve in subsequent years.

A tribute to the ‘Forgotten Men’ of Tottenham’s 1981 and 1991 FA Cup semi-final success.

#knowyourtottenhamhistory  12th April, 1967   Spurs score 6 to Reach FA Cup Semi-Final