Steve Perryman’s Controversial Goal Against Hull In 1978 Was Vital For Tottenham’s Future


It might not have been a Cup Final winning goal but when Steve Perryman scored against Hull City on 26th April, 1978 it was just as important as without it Tottenham would have been condemned to a second season in the 2nd Division.

On This Day

26th April, 1978

Tottenham Hotspur 1  Hull City 0 (2ndDivision)

Scorer: Perryman

Tottenham v Hull April, 1978 [Photo: Logan Holmes]It was the final home match of the season and Tottenham were in a four way battle for promotion after one season in the 2nd Division. For much of the 1977-78 season Spurs had been sitting comfortably in the top two places in the 2nd Division. In fact, from early February through to the previous weekend they had held top spot. Fortunes changed dramatically for Spurs in April. At the beginning of the month they defeated Bolton who would end up as champions, 1 – 0 at White Hart Lane but two defeats in a week at challengers Brighton and at home to Sunderland saw them drop to third. These defeats seriously  increased the pressure on Spurs in their promotion bid so there was no room mistakes against Hull City who were bottom of the Division and already relegated.

They say that fortune favours the brave and this was the case as the only goal was scored by Spurs captain, Steve Perryman. The game had reached the final minutes with the Hull goalkeeper standing firm to deny Tottenham a goal. The goalkeeper caught a cross from a corner but when a Spurs forward challenged him he dropped the ball allowing Perryman to score.

The relief around White Hart Lane was unbelievable.

Steve Perryman in his autobiography, ‘A Man for All Seasons’, remembers that match and the importance of his goal,

‘Bolton and ourselves were playing on the Wednesday; Southampton and Brighton the previous night – Southampton drawing at Orient which, with their goal average, was enough to guarantee them promotion and Brighton beating Charlton to keep up the pressure.

These results meant that Tottenham had to win on the Wednesday. Our opponents were Hull, who were already relegated, but promised beforehand that they would make us fight every inch of the way; and before a tense almost hysterical crowd of 36,913 they did just that. The game was a physical, irritable one throughout, a far cry from the football which had taken us so close to the First Division, and with time running out I pushed myself forward. It paid off five minutes from time as we were flinging bodies madly into the Hull area, and as John Duncan and the Hull goalkeeper clashed after a corner I was able to stab the ball home for my only goal of the season and one of the most vital of my career. Hull protested bitterly that the goal should have been disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper, and they might have had a point. In that atmosphere, it would have taken a brave referee to disallow it, however, and we were not concerned about how the goal came, only that it did.’

That result left Tottenham needing a point to claim the final promotion place, ahead of Brighton. The following Saturday’s tense scoreless draw at Southampton was sufficient to see Tottenham reclaim their place in the top flight.

What if?

If Steve Perryman hadn’t scored that controversial goal against Hull, in all probability Spurs would have missed promotion and been consigned to another season in the 2nd Division. Would Perryman and Glenn Hoddle have remained at White Hart Lane for another season without 1st Division football? The team which was relegated had stuck together at the end of that season but would they have been prepared to give it another year to try to gain promotion? Nobody knows and fortunately Keith Burkinshaw was able to build on the promotion and bring success to Tottenham in the early 1980s.

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