Tottenham Hotspur v Nottingham Forest, 1979
The visit of European Cup holders Nottingham Forest to Tottenham Hotspur for a First Division fixture in October 1979 saw one of the goals of the season at White Hart Lane. Glenn Hoddle, the young Spurs midfielder earning a reputation for spectacular strikes, scored a masterpiece on his 22nd birthday to beat England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
Hoddle had opened his account for Spurs in February 1976 with another fine goal past Shilton on his first Football League start at Stoke. 1979-80 was a successful season for the midfielder, who scored 19 goals and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Hoddle made his England debut the month after this game, which he marked with a trademark goal at Wembley against Bulgaria. He remained at Tottenham until 1987, enjoying Cup success but never a league title, when he left for Monaco, where he won the French Championship and was regarded as one of the league’s best players. In England he was widely admired, not least by Forest’s outspoken manager Brian Clough, who declared “It takes moral courage to play the way Hoddle does”. Despite his undoubted elegance on the ball, passing and shooting ability, Hoddle was unable to fully establish himself as a major international player, suffering from doubts about his work-rate, and playing in an era where poor pitches and tough tackling were the norm.
Nottingham Forest under Clough and his long-time assistant Peter Taylor were one of the country’s strongest sides and reigning European champions. They enjoyed a 42-game unbeaten League run between November 1977 and December 1978, a record only surpassed by Arsenal in 2004. Clough had made his name at Derby, guiding them to their first-ever league title in 1971-72, before an ill-fated 44-day spell at Leeds United in 1974. After taking over at Second Division Forest in January 1975, Clough and Taylor oversaw promotion in 1976-77 before taking the City Ground side to a sensational First Division title the following season. That meant Clough had taken two provincial sides to their first-ever League Championships in the same decade, an unprecedented feat in English football. Forest went on to lift the 1979 European Cup, after knocking out holders Liverpool in the first meeting of English clubs in Europe’s top competition.
Meanwhile Spurs were slowly re-establishing themselves in the First Division after relegation in 1977, ending this season, their second back in the top flight, in 14th place. The signings of Argentina’s World Cup winners Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in the summer of 1978 was a statement of intent from manager Keith Burkinshaw, in charge at White Hart Lane from 1976 to 1984. Paired with Hoddle, his Tottenham side entertained with a stylish midfield but were plagued by defensive frailties. This was not the case at Forest, where England’s best keeper, Peter Shilton, had been brought in behind a defence featuring the young international full-back Viv Anderson and the rugged duo of Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns, Footballer of the Year in 1977-78. This formidable unit conceded only 24 goals in their 42 League games when winning the title. Forest were unable to repeat their League Championship triumph, finishing runners-up the following season and 5th in 1979-80. However they emulated Liverpool by retaining the European Cup when they beat Hamburg 1-0 with a John Robertson goal in May 1980. Clough remained in charge at the City Ground until May 1993, when Forest were relegated at the end of the first Premier League season.