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Soccer Fixture: West Bromwich Albion Versus Tottenham Hotspur
West Bromwich Albion played their first league game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 7th November 1908, 20 years after the Football League was formed – with Albion one of its founders. This was Tottenham’s first season in the Football League – 26 years after they were founded as Hotspur FC – and they would go on to pip West Brom for promotion to the English Premier League that season. Both teams finished the 1908/09 season with 51 points, but Spurs had a better goal average of just 0.02 goals and thus progressed.
Goal average (the number of goals scored divided by the number of goals conceded) was used before goal difference was introduced in England in 1976, following a successful trial at the 1970 World Cup. Goal average has always been a controversial system for deciding promotion and relegation when two teams finish level on points because, even if they have the same goal difference, it favors the teams who score and concede fewer goals, rather than those who score and concede more goals. Goal difference was introduced to favor an attacking approach to football. (In 1909, Tottenham Hotspur also had a better goal difference than West Bromwich Albion, so it didn’t matter which system was in place).
The game, a Second Division clash, was played at the Hawthorns (at 551ft, the highest pitch in the UK) in front of a crowd of 27,224 and ‘The Throstles’ won 3.0 to go top of the table ahead of local rivals Birmingham City. The goals were scored by Hewitt (2) and Garaty. Billy Garaghty was one of the best players in the game at the time and had previously played for Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Leicester Foss (later Leicester City). He is the great-great-grandfather of current Aston Villa player Jack Grealish.
This was West Brom’s first win over Spurs, having lost their previous two FA Cup matches. They also won away at White Hart Lane that season by three goals to one. Garraty and Hewitt (2) also scored for Albion in that match – played in front of 35,532 on March 13, 1909 – but it was not enough to beat Tottenham in the overall promotion race. The Throstles would have to wait two seasons before returning to the First Division as champions in 1910/11.
West Bromwich Albion’s biggest home league victory against Tottenham Hotspur came on 12 February 1927. Albion won 5.0 with goals from Davies (2), Carter (2) and Short. There were 15,998 visitors at that match. Joe Carter scored 145 league goals for VBA between 1921 and 1936 and is sixth on their all-time top scorers list. West Brom also scored five goals against Spurs five years earlier on October 28, 1922 in a 5.1 win. Jones, Davies (2), Gregory and Crisp scored for Albion on the day, with Sid replying for Tottenham.
Tottenham Hotspur’s biggest league win at West Brom didn’t come until 31 January 2015 with a 3.0 win in the Premier League, with Christian Eriksen and two Harry Kane goals (one, penalty) in front of a crowd of 25,079.
The highest aggregate score in a league game between these clubs at the Hawthorns was in a First Division match on Boxing Day 1963 in a 4.4 draw, which was watched by 37,189 fans. Kay, Clarke, Fudge and Howe scored for the Baggies and Tottenham’s goals came from Smith, Jones and two from Jimmy Greaves.
One of the most exciting games between the two teams at West Bromwich Albion’s home ground took place on Easter Monday 1969. West Brom won 4.3 in front of a holiday crowd of 24,173 with goals from Hope, Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown and Geoff Astle with two. Spurs hit back with two more goals from Jimmy Greaves and one from Cyril Knowles.
Brown and Asl are West Bromwich Albion’s all-time greats, Brown tops the goalscoring charts with 218 league goals and Asl fourth with 137 league goals.
Incredibly, matches between these two old rivals have ended at 4.3 for The Baggies on at least five occasions (including the 1969 match). The game on 23 August 1952 was played in front of a record league crowd at The Hawthorns for a match against Spurs – 56,552 – and included a penalty for Spurs by one Alf Ramsey, who went on to become England’s World Cup-winning manager.
Tony Brown, with 12 goals, is West Brom’s top scorer in matches between the two clubs, including two December hat-tricks at the Hawthorns – on 12 December 1970 and Boxing Day 1966. However, even Brown’s prolific goalscoring exploits have been overshadowed by Spurs. top scorer in these games: ‘Bobby’ Smith with 17. Robert Alfred Smith was a prolific centre-forward for Tottenham Hotspur and a key part of Bill Nicholson’s winning side in 1961, scoring in the 1961 and 1962 FA Cup finals. Bobby Smith is Tottenham Hotspur’s second all-time top scorer – behind Jimmy Greaves – with 176 league goals in 271 games for the club.
The lowest attendance for a VBA v Spurs league match at The Hawthorns was on Tuesday 6th April 1915 in the First Division. Albion won 3.2 in front of just 5,813, although the First World War had been raging for almost exactly eight months by then. Many players and fans from both sides who may have attended earlier were already in France and Belgium, and with the first use of poison gas in Germany marking the start of the Second Battle of Ypres later that month, the Football League suspended league games shortly afterwards . and for the duration of the war.
Similarly, the clubs played a match on 2 September 1939 which also finished 4.3 – but this time to Tottenham – including hat-tricks from Jones for WBA and Morrison for Spurs. Unfortunately for Spurs, the game was declared void due to Churchill’s declaration of war on Germany the following day, and the league program was again suspended: this time due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
When they also met Tottenham Hotspur at home in the league, West Bromwich Albion won the match in two of the three seasons they won the FA Cup: 1954 and 1968; also when they won the League Cup in 1966. Tottenham beat the Hawthorns when they won both their league titles – 1951 and 1961.
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