This is the Tottenham Hotspur team which started the 1981 FA Cup final against Manchester City, the game finishing 1-1 after extra time, with Manchester City’s Tommy Hutchison putting his side ahead only to score a second-half own goal.
We had never heard of goalkeeper Milija Aleksic before – after losing his place to Ray Clemence the following season, he would end up joining non-league Barnet in 1982 – but otherwise most of the names would be familiar. Despite wearing 9, Tony Galvin played on the left wing, with Garth Crooks up front alongside Steve Perryman.
The following Thursday evening, the sides were back again, in brighter weather as you can see. Commentator John Motson described Spurs as being “absolutely unchanged”, but he had missed one alteration – captain Steve Perryman was now wearing number 6 instead of 5, having swapped with Argentinian midfielder Ricky Villa.
For a few years, the reasons behind the switch were perplexing, but thanks to Lee Hermitage, an authority on all things Spurs and more, we have been able to dig deeper.
Until the end of February 1981, John Lacy wore 5 as he partnered Perryman in defence. Villa had been in and out of the team with injury, often wearin 9, but he took 5 in the spring as Graham Roberts, capable of playing in midfield or defence, dropped back alongside Perryman with 4 on his back.
However, for whatever reason, the match programme for the cup final had Perryman down as 5 and Villa as 6, so presumably they felt it best to go with that.
Villa didn’t enjoy the best of games and was substituted in the 68th minute – perhaps he needed a song to inspire him like his compatriot Ossie Ardiles – and, like all top sportsmen, he knew that the reason had to be external. He and Perryman reverted to their usual numbers for the replay and, well…
The goal was a boost to the pub-quiz industry too, as it gave rise to the question, “Sunderland did it in 1979 and Villa did it in 1981, who did it in 1980?”, with the answer being Trevor Brooking of West Ham United, who followed in the footsteps of Alan Sunderland by scoring the winner in the cup final.