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Great post. Falco the original Peter CrouchGraham Roberts’ Q&A this week was with Mark Falco, albeit Robbo was unable to attend.
Mark is a Bethnal Green boy, and first plied his trade on Hackney Marshes, where he first met Paul Miller. He comes from a long line of Spurs supporters and would watch games with his dad, uncles and cousins from the Shelf. He remembered his first game was against Sheffield Wednesday but didn’t catch what year it was (coincidentally so was mine, in 1969).
He looked very sheepish when he had to admit that he was actually on the books of that lot down the road, before being scouted by Dickie Walker.
His debut was May 1979 against Bolton and he scored the first goal in a 3-1 win. Keith Burkinshaw did not let him know he was going to play, he thought he was just going along for the ride and to help the kit man. His best playing partner was Archibald as they complemented each other, Archie with his lightning pace and Mark as slow as a donkey (his words!). He admitted he could be moody but they got on.
The dressing room was full of leaders, with the more senior players being vocal towards anyone they perceived to be slacking, no-one was allowed to sulk, and bought in line very quickly, proving a good example for any youngsters.
Keith was very ‘black and white’, very clear in his directions, and a very dirty 5-a-side player. Peter Shreeves was an excellent coach, very intuitive and had a cutting wit.
Winning the UEFA Cup in 1984 at the Lane was his career highlight, thinks we should have been 3 up after the first game. What surprised everyone is that he has never watched a replay of those games, says the memories are still vivid in his mind. He took one of the penalties and said he was a bit nervous because he had missed one in the semi final (but scored the rebound). They had practised penalties on the morning of the game, nothing left to chance. They celebrated late into the night, leaving the Chanticleer at 10.30 the next morning.
Like several others of that era, he was especially scathing of David Pleat. Called him a coward, as he never had a conversation with him ‘man to man’, couldn’t handle ‘big names’ and had more faces than Big Ben.
He enjoyed his time at Rangers, as it enabled him to play in the European Cup.
Thinks we need a couple of players every season to freshen up the squad, as ideally you’d have two decent players for each position, and move certain players on (Lamela and Aurier were mentioned). He’d give Dele a couple of months at the start of the season, as he believes that Dele has a mental issue with his hamstring, which is affecting his play. Our midfield needs to be more dynamic, too many ‘samey’ players at the moment. Willian would have been a good addition for us, and in January, he was definitely coming to us, but looks like money swayed him, again.
As a fan, Mark would love us to go for all the big players, but he appreciates it is a business, and COVID will affect all clubs and the way they are run financially for a while to come.
He was shocked as anyone when Poch left, and he thinks that Levy was star struck with Jose. Seems a strange marriage, as Jose’s reputation is to buy a team, and not one to give youth a chance. He has a fantastic record for winning trophies, but not so good recently.
He was asked who was the best player he played with, difficult to answer as how do you compare a keeper/defender/midfielder/striker? He opted for Glen and Ossuary ie as a pair, with an honourable mention to Maradona, when he played in Ossie’s testimonial.
Best player in any team – Glen and Ossie again.
His best manager was Keith, as he won us trophies.
His best Tottenham goal was against Woolwich, when we beat them 5-0, Easter 1983 (one of my top five moments at the Lane).
His hardest opponent was Kevin Beattie (Ipswich).
The manager he would loved to have played for – any England manager!
In the Messi – Ronaldo argument, his preference was for Messi.
He wasn’t a fan of the Amazon documentary and would not have been happy if cameras were in the dressing room as footage can be distorted and taken out of context.
As the questions I wanted to ask had already been mentioned, I asked him what he would take from the modern game to his time playing and vice versa. He said that he would loved to have been able to play on today’s pitches. He played at the new stadium in the game against Inter Legends and it was like playing on a carpet. From his time, he would love to see good tackling as it is a lost art these days.
I then asked him what he thought of VAR, and he absolutely hates it, killing the game and if a ref isn’t making decisions, why is he on the pitch (my thoughts exactly!).
Someone else asked him about leadership, and Mark said Stevie P was the best captain, he was a superb player, a great person off the pitch too (told ya!!). He had a good football brain, and had Keith’s trust in changing tactics if needed. He had the respect of all the players, at every level (my hero!).
Mark’s sojourn into management only lasted a year, he was at Worthing with Gerry Armstrong. He felt it wasn’t successful because the players would not listen to directions and/or guidance, so he prefers to coach. He thinks that having ex-Spurs on the coaching team is a great initative, and hopes that Ledley’s appointment is not just a PR stunt and he will get a proper chance to share his experience.
He fears Tanguy may not have a strong personality and he needs to get himself fit.
He thinks we may underestimate Hugo’s influence on the team, but we definitely need more voices in the squad.
He now leads the Legends side, started by Martin Chivers in 1991, and they have raised over £3m for charity. He still gets a thrill pulling on the shirt and loves the camaraderie and the competitiveness never goes away. He was a member of the team that won the Masters 5-a-side, another trophy or the sideboard. Someone referred to the rumours about Poch going to Barcelona, and how Poch swore he would never go there due to his connections with Espanyol, Mark said that you can never say never in football.
The one player from the past to improve our current team – no question, has to be Glenn – Harry would love it.
His hero growing up was Jimmy Greaves, and he’s organising a golf day for him in September.
The players from that era have an amazing bond, they are still very close, and other clubs are quite envious of this.
The final question was would he put up with boring football for a year if it got us a trophy. Yes he would, hopefully by getting the first one in the bag would lead to bigger and better things, although we are the current holders of the Audi Cup!
Mark came over as genuinely one of us, with a wicked sense of humour. Lovely lad, not sure he was appreciated as he should have been by some supporters.
He scored everywhere he went.I always thought he was a very under-rated player back then.
Couldn't believe the amount of so-called fans who'd give him some terrible verbal abuse at matches.
Think he scored on all his Spurs debuts. Juniors, Youth, Reserves - and of course at Bolton.