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On This Day In History 17th March Part 2
Tuesday, 17th Mar 2020 11:00

Our second look of the day at memorable matches played on the 17th March , little did we know this one against Everton would see the start a period of turmoil for the club that reverberated for many years.

We start the second part with our last ever St Patricks Day game at the Dell after a poor start to the season Saints had found their feet and were sat in mid table after a 10 game unbeaten run including four wins on the bounce going into this one, we were on a high with thoughts of a top 10 place and a new stadium to move into at the end of the season, but little did we know that things were about to change.

The game itself was unspectacular, it was won with a Jo Tessem goal on 58 minutes and although Everton blustered in the final 20 minutes we hung on for a win albeit an unconvincing one, but a bigger storm was about to blow and manager Glenn Hoddle was cheered down the tunnel for the last time.

After this game there was a two week International break and the first news of the week was good, although Spurs had bid £10 million for Dean Richards, it was revealed that the defender had signed a two year extension immediately after the Everton game.

Spurs also announced that after sacking George Graham on the 16th March that they are going to wait till the summer till they appoint his successor.

That sparked a huge sigh of relief around Southampton as the man Spurs seemed to want was ex hero Glenn Hoddle, the news that James Beattie has also signed a new 4 year contract was almost a secondary thought.

Hoddle himself had gone away for a short break but on his return things took a drastic turn, the Ugly Inside on line then in it's first season on the internet. I had gone to buy tickets at the Dell for forthcoming away game, in the car part at the Dell I took a phone call that would change the situation completely.

Back then TUI was on the rivals network and one of the guys who ran Rivals was an ex press officer for Spurs, he took a phone call from an ex colleague at the club and he then phoned me.

Basically Spurs had invited Glenn Hoddle for secret talks behind Saints back, but having got him in a room to talk about next season, the Spurs PR team were about to leak that news to the press, basically Spurs were going to back Hoddle into a corner and force him to sign now or never.

Of course this is only all allegedly, but I can only tell you all what I was told.

There had been plenty of speculation that Hoddle would return to White Hart Lane, but he himself had stated that he would not leave Saints till the end of the season, we took him as a man of his word.

To continue though, as I ended the call out walked Graham Hiley who told me that he had just been in to see Rupert Lowe, I recounted what I had just been told and Graham said that Lowe himself was completely unaware of this and turned back round to go in and tell him.

I headed home to break the news on the internet ahead of Spurs actual PR leak.

Most would agree that Spurs had acted abysmally, as I said it seems that Hoddle having told them he would come in the summer was expecting to meet with them just to discuss transfer targets for when he arrived, but the Spurs board thought differently.

George Graham being an Arsenal legend was not a popular manager at White Hart Lane, but he had got them to an FA Cup semi final even though their League form was patchy, but if he won the club a trophy then that would make it hard to sack him and the Spurs board wanted Hoddle.

So they sacked Graham and then if you believe what I was told handed Hoddle an ultimatum, now or never and by the way we have leaked to the press that you have gone behind Saints back already.

Initially it did not have the desired affect for Spurs, Rupert Lowe dug his heels in and refused permission for his manager to officially talk to Spurs, meaning that both clubs were in limbo.

A stand off occurred but eventually Lowe relented and allowed Hoddle to officially meet with Spurs to discuss the position.

Lowe would have known this was a formality, but he was livid at the way Spurs had behaved and told the press how surprised he was at the speed that negotiations were concluded, a mere 5 hours from being given permission to speak and then being named as manager.

To further enrage both the Chairman and Saints supporters Spurs then haggled over compensation demands causing further wars of words.

But the feud wasn't over, Dean Richards who as you may remember had only just signed a new contract after the Everton game was tapped up by Spurs at the start of the following season, Lowe refused to sell but was faced by the player himself demanding to go or else.

Faced with a player who was clearly not going to give his all Lowe relented and took the money, but called it a slap in the face for Saints fans and branding Spurs North London Yobbos.

Little did he know that both these situations would not be the last time it would happen to Saints, Pochettino being poached by Spurs in very similar circumstances although allegedly Pochettino did refuse to leave till the summer and stayed true to his word, also the case of Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool was very similar.

The postscript though was that Hoddle lost that FA Cup Semi Final and ironically was sacked by Spurs in September 2003 ironically after Saints had beaten Spurs at White Hart Lane, Lowe tried to bring Hoddle back to the club in 2004, but was blocked by the rest of the board who were swayed by fans reaction to the possibility on social media.

Dean Richards like Hoddle received major abuse every time he played Saints branded as a Judas and he was never allowed to forget it during games, sadly his career was cut short through ill health and he died aged only 36 in 2011, his death softened Saints supporters views of him and usually he is remembered with fondness for his playing career at the Dell and not the manner in which he left.

Photo: Action Images

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