Tottenham Triumph Against The Odds in 1991 FA Cup Success


Tottenham’s 1991 FA Cup triumph came on the back of troubled times at the club. There were major financial problems with the banks threatening to close the club down and in the build up to the final negotiations were going on to try and find a solution to save Tottenham Hotspur.

Gary Mabbutt celebrated Tottenham’s winning goal. [Photo: Logan Holmes]1991 Final: v Nottingham Forest (Wembley) Won 2 – 1 (aet) Stewart, Opp. o.g.

Terry Venables v Brian Clough, Tottenham v the Bankers, Paul Gascoigne v a young Roy Keane were all issues that this game brought to Wembley. Spurs preparations for the game had involved negotiations over the club’s future and a deal to sell their star player to Lazio for £8.5 million.

Tottenham were again relying on the inspiration of Gazza to bring them their eighth FA Cup success and he was pumped up for the game – in the opening minutes his boundless energy took him everywhere. Unfortunately, that was soon to become a problem for Spurs and the player. Early on he made a rash tackle that could have seen him booked and that might have calmed him down but the referee showed leniency and Gazza carried on, unrestrained.  He made another bad tackle on the Forest fullback, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position but injuring himself as well. From the resulting free-kick Pearce scored but Spurs were doubly penalised when Paul Gascoigne fell to the ground, his injury worse than realised. He was carried off on a stretcher and went to hospital with a cruciate ligament injury which would sideline him for a year and jeopardise the deal that was to save the club.

From all of these set-backs Tottenham managed to recover but not until Gary Lineker had a goal incorrectly disallowed and then have a penalty saved. It was looking as if it wasn’t going to be Tottenham’s day. Early in the second half, however, Paul Stewart powered into the penalty area from midfield and equalised for Spurs. No further goals took the game to extra time and after four minutes Tottenham got the winning goal. It was an own goal from former Tottenham junior, Des Walker. He jumped with Gary Mabbutt for a corner but only deflected the ball beyond his own keeper. It was justice for Mabbutt who in 1987 had scored the winning goal for Coventry in Spurs only FA Cup Final defeat. Mabbutt who had been with Spurs for nine seasons who fought a constant battle with diabetes was a loyal servant to the club and a real ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs held on and Mabbutt lifted the Cup to give them a then record equalling eighth win in the competition. To date, that is Tottenham’s last FA Cup Final win or appearance.

Team: Thorstvedt; Edinburgh, Howells, Mabbutt (Captain), Van den Hauwe; Allen, Gascoigne (Nayim), Sedgley, Samways, Stewart; Lineker

The Road to Wembley

3rd Round: v Blackpool (a) Won 1 – 0 Stewart

In stormy, wintery conditions Tottenham managed to withstand the gale force winds and everything that Blackpool could through at them. A goal from former Blackpool player, striker come midfield player, Paul Stewart secured Spurs passage into the next round.

4th Round: v Oxford United (h) Won 4 – 2 Mabbutt, Lineker, Gascoigne (2)

Paul Gascoigne’s scored two goals and created the others to ensure Tottenham’s victory over Oxford United at White Hart Lane – the start of his contribution to this Cup winning season.

5th Round: v Portsmouth (a) Won 2 – 1 Gascoigne (2)

A difficult match for Spurs against 2nd Division Oxford United. Tottenham lost experienced full back Terry Fenwick prior to the game, having broken his ankle in the pre-match warm up. It was Gascoigne again who provided the goals in a class performance from the country’s most exciting player who was struggling with injury but kept producing excellent performances.

6th Round: v Notts County (h) Won 2 – 1 Nayim, Gascoigne

A semi-final place was achieved through goals from Nayim and Gazza – his fifth in the competition but he had been playing with an injury and required surgery so Tottenham’s worry, along with their worsening financial situation, was whether he would be fit to play in the semi-final against Arsenal.

Semi-Final: v Arsenal (Wembley) Won 3 – 1 Lineker, (2), Gascoigne

The first FA Cup semi-final to be played at Wembley saw Tottenham take on Arsenal who were favourites to win the League and Cup ‘double’. Spurs’ good news was that Gascoigne had made a speedy recovery from his operation and was fit to start. From the off, Gascoigne ran the game and Spurs took Arsenal by surprise with their play and took the lead after five minutes with a thunderous free-kick from thirty five yards by Gascoigne. Tottenham continued to dominate and went further ahead five minutes later when Paul Allen crossed from the right for Gary Lineker to score. Gradually Arsenal came into the game and managed to score with a header on the half-time whistle. In the second half with ten minutes remaining Lineker scored his second, breaking from half-way and shooting from the edge of the box.

Paul Gascoigne who left to a raptourous reception when he was substituted having run himself out after an hour had been the catalyst for this victory. Spurs were going to Wembley but would the football club survive their financial problems?

FA Cup Hero

Paul Gascoigne took Tottenham to Wembley almost single-handedly. He was the inspiration through the early rounds with crucial match winning goals. his presence in the semi-final against Arsenal was essential and he provided the moment of magic with the goal which set Spurs on their way to the Final.

It was a very difficult time for Paul Gascoigne and while he recovered from his injury and went to Lazio the following summer in a renegotiated deal for £5.5 million which helped to preserve the club’s future under the Chairmanship of Alan Sugar, with Terry Venables as Chief Executive, his football never really had the same spark about it that it had had that season.

Gascoigne has known troubled times throughout his life and football was his life. Hopefully with the help and support of others he will now find a real purpose in his life away from football.

The FA Cup success gave Spurs their eighth win from nine Finals, at the time it was the record number of wins by any club. Even now over twenty years later without an additional FA Cup success, Spurs sit third in the list of all-time winners, behind Manchester United (11) and Arsenal (10) who have dominated the competition from 1992 through to 2005.