Tottenham On This Day: Spurs Defeat Burnley In 1961 FA Cup Semi-Final


Tottenham defeated reigning League champions Burnley in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park to reach their first Wembley Final.

Bobby Smith celebrates his first goal [Photo: Logan Holmes]Tottenham on this Day

18th March, 1961

Burnley 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3 FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park

Scorers: Smith (2), Jones

Team: Brown; Baker, Henry; Blanchfower, Norman, Mackay; Jones, White, Smith, Allen, Dyson

At the fourth attempt, Spurs returned successfully from a semi-final tie at Villa Park. Spurs had lost the last three they had played there in 1948, 1953 and 1956. The two top teams of the time met to decide who would be in the Final at Wembley. Burnley were the reigning Champions and Spurs were well on the way to claiming their title. The League game at White Hart Lane in early December had been a classic. Spurs had gone four up but Burnley clawed themselves back into the game to earn a draw.

In the semi-final Spurs took the lead after half an hour when a defensive mistake allowed Bobby Smith through on goal. They went further ahead early in the second half when Smith scored his second. This deflated Burnley and Cliff Jones added the third before the end following good work by John White and Terry Dyson.

Despite the scoreline, it wasn’t all Spurs and Burnley felt hard done by on three occasions. First, they had a goal disallowed just before the interval when the referee awarded a free-kick for a push on Maurice Norman at a time when it would have brought the teams level at 1 – 1. Then they thought they should have had a penalty when the ball hit Peter Baker’s arm but the official decreed it had been accidental. Finally, Burnley claimed the ball had crossed the line when Bill Brown fell on the ball after claiming a high cross.

Bill Brown to the rescue [Photo: Logan Holmes]Spurs had reached the 1961 FA Cup Final for the first time in 40 years and were on their way to Wembley for the very first time. Over the next number of years Tottenham Hotspur were to become regular visitors at the famous stadium.

1961 FA Cup semi-final Spurs v Burnley [Photo: Logan Holmes]