Tottenham on This Day: Spurs Win ‘Battle Of Bucharest’ In UEFA Cup


Jimmy Pearce scores in Bucharest [Photo: Logan Holmes]15th December, 1971

A week earlier Spurs had defeated Rapid Bucharest at White Hart Lane in the 1st leg of the UEFA Cup 3rd Round game. With a comfortable three goal advantage from the first game thanks to two goals from Martin Chivers and one from Martin Peters, Spurs were expecting a comfortable passage to the next round.

The Romanian team, however, had other ideas and were determined to make a fight of it and the match became a very physical battle with the home team’s ruthless display greatly annoying Bill Nicholson.

Spurs were put under early pressure and Pat Jennings had to perform heroics to keep the score sheet blank. In the second half, the game turned nasty after substitute Jimmy Pearce had scored to increase Spurs’ overall lead. The home players protested that Chivers had been off-side when he set up the goal and had two players booked. Within minutes Pearce and a Romanian player were sent-off for fighting and from then on, the Romanians kicked everything in a Spurs shirt. Chivers completed the scoring with six minutes remaining after Peters had missed a penalty.

Team: Jennings; Evans, Knowles; Coates, Collins, Beal; Pratt, Peryman (Naylor), Chivers, Peters, Gilzean (Pearce)

After the game an infuriated Bill Nicholson described them as ‘the dirtiest side Spurs had ever played.’

In Martin Cloake and Adam powley’s book, ‘The Glory Glory Nights’, Nicholson is quoted as saying,

"After the game there were bodies lying everywhere in the treatment room. I have never seen a dirtier team or a more vicious attack on a team of players than that. It was so bad Bucharest have refused to hand the film of the game over to the BBC."