Saturday 2nd January 1993 should have seen Spurs walking out to warm up under the watchful gaze of not only the people in the main stand at Alfred Davis Ground, but of the large number of Red Kites hovering overhead, having been reintroduced to the area during the previous decades. The pretty home of Marlow FC certainly had little in common with White Hart Lane, which, although its capacity was reduced due to implementing the changes from the Taylor Report, still held more than ten times the number that Marlow could have hosted- but it was historic, beautiful and home to the club who had been drawn first out of the velvet bag. Sadly safety concerns had forced the clubs arm, with the emergency services and local authority being quite clear that the numbers expected to arrive for the tie could neither be accommodated nor segregated if Marlow played the match at home. The match was therefore moved to the home of Tottenham, and the little club was vilified by one tabloid for casting aside tradition for big bucks. Oh, the irony!
Marlow were no strangers to FA Cup glory. Indeed, only the previous season they’d made it to the First Round, and been rewarded with a trip to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion; an outing that hadn’t ended particularly well, as the visitors lost six-nil. The Baggies at that point were in Division Three (the equivalent, for those who can’t remember life before the Premier League, of League One).
Marlow v Spurs- the cover
On this occasion they had cast aside Sittingbourne (after a replay), Salisbury (after a replay) and VS Rugby (after a replay) to get to the Third Round, and must have been so worn out we’re surprised they didn’t ask for a bye directly to the Fourth Round!
Spurs, of course, were playing their first match in this season’s competition. They’d won the cup two years previously, defeating Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest at Wembley in a match which became almost as well known for Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne’s injury as for the outcome.
The previous season had seen Marlow finish sixth in the Diadora Isthmian League Premier Division, thirty points behind the champions, Woking.
The Chairman speaks!
They lined up as follows, under manager Dave Russell:
G Lester; J Franks (J Regan, 56 min), C Ferguson, B Hubbick, K Stone, A Dell, D Lay, J Caesar (K Glasgow, 82 min), M Watkins, A Bushay, A-J Hannigan.
Goalkeeper Gary Lester had played against Spurs before- in his own testimonial match for Wycombe Wanderers, for whom he’d made five hundred and twenty appearances. He was one of a number of former Chairboys in the Marlow ranks; defenders Kevin Stone, Billy Hubbick and Al-James Hannigan had also worn two shades of blue at earlier times in their career.
Captain David Lay was a Spurs supporter, and used his page in the programme to speak of growing up watching football on The Shelf, the first match he saw live- against Ipswich Town in February 1974, and of playing at White Hart Lane for Reading Reserves earlier in his career. He also used that time-honoured phrase which is regularly trotted out on such occasions:
Marlow's oldest fan
Tottenham Hotspur lined up as follows, under manager Doug Livermore:
E Thorstvedt; D Austin, J Edinburgh, V Samways, G Mabbutt, N Ruddock, D Howells, N Barmby, Nayim, T Sheringham, P Allen (D Anderton, 71 min).
There are too many instantly recognisable names in that squad for us to need to give you any background on them, but this was a year that ended in the law courts for Spurs. Doug Livermore, in tandem with Ray Clemence, was managing the side, but as you’ll notice the managers page in the programme was completed by Terry Venables, who was involved with the first team but was technically the club’s Chief Executive, working under owner Alan Sugar. On May 14th 1993 Sugar sacked Venables, allegedly over his business dealings- a decision which saw El-Tel take the then computer magnate to court, initially win an injunction against his dismissal, but ultimately lose a High Court hearing which upheld Sugar’s decision.
Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock led a player rebellion against the sacking of his former boss, even going so far as to protest outside Sugar’s home. He stated: “We're 100 per cent behind Terry. I've even torn down my Amstrad satellite dish and stuck it in the dustbin,” whilst his wife Sarah held up a banner which proclaimed, “We want T, no Sugar.”
The Marlow squad on a fold out page
Marlow, rather unsurprisingly given the talent arrayed against them and having had to give up home advantage, lost the match by five goals to one. Nick Barmby got two goals, Vinny Samways also picked up a brace, Teddy Sheringham got the other.
Marlow’s consolation was scored by their skipper, David Lay. Twenty six and a half thousand fans turned up to watch, with three thousand supporting the ‘home’ team.
The Spurs squad- who didn't win the cup because of the absence of the number one at the end of the year
It’s difficult to tell whether it’s a Marlow programme or a Tottenham Hotspur programme given the content, but it’s thirty two pages of glossy wonderment, including- and perhaps this is what makes it a collectors item- two fold out squad photographs, one of each side. Marlow Chairman Michael Eagleton talks about his faith in the Marlow squad, there’s a feature on Marlow’s oldest fan- Len Roblett- who first watched the club in 1909 when he was five years old- and we’re introduced to the young mascots, Mark Russell calling on his family connections to get the gig- thank you Uncle Dave- and for Spurs, Carl Bauer, goalkeeper for the 40th Chingford Cubs.
The Marlow manager gives his view, alongside- as mentioned- a certain Mr Venables, Gary Mabbutt does his captains bit opposite David Lay, and there’s a crossword to complete if you get bored.
Marlow finished their campaign in fifteenth place, only four points above the relegation positions, which were filled by Bognor Regis Town, Windsor and Eton and Staines Town. The following season they got to the First Round, where they lost to Plymouth Argyle, and in 1994-95 they reached the Third Round again, this time bowing out to Swindon Town after defeating Sutton United, Oxford United and Woking. They’ve never reached the First Round of the competition since.
Marlow's Captain's Log
Tottenham Hotspur didn’t win the FA Cup, because the year didn’t end in one. They did go on to defeat Norwich City, Wimbledon and Manchester City, but were removed from the competition at the Semi-Final stage, losing to Arsenal. This was the inaugural season of the Premier League, and Spurs ended it in eighth place, twenty five points behind winners Manchester United- but ahead of Arsenal, which was probably more important. Aston Villa were runners up, Norwich City came third. Teddy Sheringham was, however, the Golden Boot winner, and his team mate Darren Anderton got the second highest number of assists, behind a certain Eric Cantona, who started the campaign with Leeds United and ended it at Old Trafford.
Nick Barmby was runner up in the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.