This Was The Week

May 13th 1960: Madrid Put on Exhibition in Glasgow
Puskás & Di Stéfano run amock

On 13 May 1960 Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in front of a crowd of 135,000 people at Hampden Park in Glasgow to win their fifth consecutive European Cup Final.

Real had an easy enough route to the final although they did have to overcome La Liga rivals Barcelona 6-2 aggregate.

Frankfurt’s path to the final included a 12-4 aggregate demolition of Glasgow Rangers.

The final itself was initially in doubt as the German FA had banned their clubs from taking part in matches with any team containing Ferenc Puskás after the Hungarian had alleged the West German team had used drugs in 1954. Puskás had to make a formal written apology before the match could take place.

Frankfurt took an early lead in Glasgow with a goal from striker Richard Kress in the 18th minute. Real then opened the floodgates, and when you consider who they had up front it’s easy to understand how. Their seven goals came by the way of a hat-trick from legendary Argentinian striker Alfredo di Stéfano (27′, 30′ 73′) and four goals from their equally legendary Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskás (46′, 56′, 60′, 71′).

Puskas (centre) scores Real Madrid's fifth goal against Eintracht at Hampden Park.

Puskas (centre) scores Real Madrid’s fifth goal against Eintracht at Hampden Park.

Puskás and Di Stefano are two of only three players to have scored a hat-trick in a European Cup or Champions League final, with the other being Pierino Prati for AC Milan in 1969.

Frankfurt’s forward Erwin Stein scored two late goals (72′, 75′) in an attempt to add some respectability to the scoreline.

Although one-sided, the match is widely considered one of the greatest European finals in history due to the exhibition Real put on for the vast crowd.

 

April 28 1979 – Ian Rush Makes His Pro Debut

A teenage Rush playing for Chester in the FA Cup against Ipswich in 1980

A teenage Rush playing for Chester in the FA Cup against Ipswich in 1980

By Richard Bowdery.

Ian Rush was a man on a mission, although it took him a little while to get going.

The tall, gangly 17 year old actually made his debut for Chester FC on the 28 April 1979 as a midfielder! But his goal scoring potential was spotted early by Liverpool who signed him in 1980 for £300,000, then a record fee for a teenager.

After signing for the Merseyside giants he suffered something of a goal drought which lasted eight games. In his ninth start for the first team the dam burst when he scored his first goal for the club and his record breaking career began.

Such was Rush’s prowess in front of goal his teammates described him as their first line of defence. They reasoned that if the opposition was tied up defending against the threat of Rush scoring, the Liverpool goal was not in any danger. Makes sense when you look at it like that.

Yet in those early days you would be hard pushed to get a Liverpool fan, especially one of their older fans, to stand up and say that the new kid on the block would overtake Roger Hunt’s record of 286 goals in 492 appearances.

All that changed in the 1981/82 season with his tally of 30 goals in 49 appearances. Not only did it announce his arrival in the only way a striker knows how, it also captured the Kop’s heart. The Liverpool number nine was on his way to becoming a club legend.

But those 30 goals palled when compared with his 50 goals for club and country (two for Wales) in the 83/84 season which earned him Europe’s Golden Boot award. He was the first British player to win it.

Then in 1986 came the shock news that he was moving to Juventus; which resulted in a ‘Rushie must stay’ campaign. Despite the campaign’s best efforts Rush left Anfield and it looked as if Roger Hunt’s club record was safe. But looks can be deceptive.

To the relief of many Liverpudlians, Rush’s Italian sojourn ended after just one season and he made a sensational return to Merseyside.

Rush with his mum in 1986.

Rush with his mum in 1986.

He is reported as saying that: “Moving to Turin was like living in a foreign country.” What did he think: that Turin was just south-east of Bootle? I suppose when you can score regularly at the highest level, as he could, you’re apt to forgive his geographical faux paux.

However, was everyone was pleased to see him return? Rush lookalike John Aldridge, who had been bought in to fill the void left by the goal machine, now had to share top billing.

After two and a half years, the pairing of Rush and Aldridge up front came to an end when Liverpool accepted £1.1m from Real Sociedad for their number eight. In Spain he continued his goal scoring prowess and became a firm favourite among the Basque fans.

The question remains: would he have gone if Rush hadn’t returned? Probably not.

Rush continued as if he had never been away, scoring goals for fun right up until the 95/96 season when he left Liverpool on a free transfer to join Leeds United.

After leaving Leeds his footballing journey took him to Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Wrexham, and Sydney Olympic (in Australia).

But it is his 346 goals scored in 660 appearances for Liverpool for which he will always be remembered in the red half of Merseyside.

Is Rush’s record in danger of being overtaken? In an age when players in the top flight probably move more frequently between clubs than ever before, the answer must surely be no.

But as Charles Dickens wrote in his novel Pickwick Papers: “Never say never.”

@RichardBowdery

April 9th 1988 – Shearer Nets Hat-Trick v Arsenal in First Start

by Richard D J J Bowdery.

A seventeen year-old Alan Shearer made his first start as a professional footballer for Southampton versus Arsenal at The Dell on April 9th 1988. It was to be a day to remember as he scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory for The Saints.

But for an oversight on the part of Newcastle United the young Shearer’s shirt may have had black stripes instead of red ones that afternoon.

He could also have avoided a round trip of over 580 miles that took in the south coast of England and East Lancashire.

On Trial

ShearerSouthamptonAs a 15 year-old schoolboy Shearer was given a trial by the St. James Park club and was asked to play in goal. Unsurprisingly, for someone with an eye for scoring rather than preventing goals, he failed to impress the coaches who were monitoring the game. As a mad Magpies fan it must have broken his heart to be turned away from the club he loved.

Shearer later recalled: “I came for a trial with a lot of other lads and there was a shortage or something, so everyone had to take a turn in goal. I was no different from anyone else, I had my 20 minutes just like everyone else, but I said to someone that I’d played in goal for Newcastle when I was on trial and I’ve never heard the last of it.”

To be fair to Newcastle United, they did rectify their mistake later in Alan Shearer’s career but it cost them a lot more than it might otherwise have done.

Despite this rejection the 15 year-old managed to get trials at other clubs including Southampton who signed him up on the spot.

His performance against Arsenal, who were to be crowned Champions at the end of the season, was an indication of what was to come. At 17 years and 240 days Shearer became the youngest scorer of a hat-trick  in top flight history, breaking a 30 year old record held by Jimmy Greaves.

Two weeks prior to his heroics against Arsenal Shearer came on as a sub against Chelsea to make his professional debut at Stamford Bridge in a 1-0 victory.

During his time at the Dell he scored over 40 goals in 158 appearances. Other clubs were beginning to take notice of this young talent and it wasn’t long before a queue of admirers started to form, all eager for his signature.

England Come Calling

Included among these admirers was the late Dave Sexton, then England under-21 coach. In 1990 he brought Shearer into the squad. Shearer repaid Sexton’s faith in him by scoring 13 times in 11 appearances. This goals-to-appearances ratio brought him to the attention of another influential figure: the England manager, Graham Taylor.

Taylor gave him his senior debut against France, in February 1992. Shearer opened the scoring and Gary Lineker added a second as England ran out 2-0 winners.

Shearer’s performance on the international stage caused his stock to rise significantly on the domestic front which caused a lot of additional work for Ian Branfoot, his manager at Southampton.

With the increasing interest in his striker, Branfoot seemed to spend as much time on the telephone fielding calls from other managers looking to sign his Shearer as he did on the training field coaching his squad.

The SAS

Blackburn Rovers' Alan Shearer celebrates with the Carling Premiership trophy

Eventually the inevitable happened and he was prised away from The Dell by Blackburn Rovers who parted with over £3 million in July 1992: helped in no small part by the financing of Blackburn’s benefactor, Jack Walker.

It was at Blackburn that Shearer was to win his only significant piece of domestic silverware: the Premiership trophy.

In that League winning 94/95 season he formed a deadly partnership with Chris Sutton – known as the SAS. Shearer’s 34 goals alongside Sutton’s 15, ensured Walker’s bankrolled Rovers top spot.

His last game for Blackburn came against Wimbledon in April 1996. He signed off with another brace of goals to go alongside 19 other braces and 9 hat-tricks.

In total he scored 130 goals in 171 appearances during his four seasons at the Lancashire club.

But now another team were keen to employ his prolific services and there was the small matter of a European championship with England, in England.

Euro ’96 & The Toon

The Euro 96 tournament was to be the highlight in Shearers international career. He finished the tournament as top-scorer with 5 goals. Unfortunately those goals weren’t enough to take England all the way to the Final.

Once again Germany stood in the way; although if Gascoigne’s legs had been an inch longer, England would have won on the golden-goal rule and avoided the penalty shoot-out. They weren’t and the host nation lost 6-5 on penalties; more than a shade of Italia ‘90.

By the end of his international career Shearer had played 63 times for England and scored 30 goals (almost one every two games).

Football didn’t truly come home in ‘96 but later that summer Shearer did, and so began his love affair with the Toon Army.

With 5 goals at Euro '96 Shearer was top scorer

But if Kevin Keegan, Shearer’s boyhood hero, hadn’t been the gaffer at Newcastle, Shearer could have become a Red Devil.

Manchester United and Newcastle United had agreed a sale price with Blackburn Rovers. Extended talks between Shearer and Alex Ferguson led everyone to believe that Old Trafford was his club of choice and yet…

Legend has it that Keegan asked for and got one final opportunity to talk with Shearer. Whatever was said Shearer put pen to paper, with Keegan looking like the cat that got the cream.

Shearer was reported to have said, on signing for the Magpies in July 1996: “It was the challenge of returning home and wearing the famous black and white shirt which made up my mind.”

The fans who turned out to greet the club’s new signing confirmed that decision. On seeing the 20,000 Newcastle fans who witnessed his official unveiling as a United player he said: “I wouldn’t have got a reception like this anywhere else in the world.”

Newcastle had shelled out a whopping £15 million – a world transfer record to capture a proven goal machine.

In more than 400 appearances Shearer netted over 200 times: more than justifying his price tag.

Of course eleven years earlier he would have cost significantly less; but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Injury Brings the Curtain Down

In Shearer’s last season at United he broke Jackie Milburn’s record of 200 goals in a black and white shirt. The record had stood for 49 years and cemented Shearer’s place among the pantheon of Newcastle greats.

At the same time Shearer had a dual role as player/coach. It was a role he had hoped to continue in for at least another season, but a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, during the League game against Sunderland in April 2006, put paid to that aspiration and effectively ended his playing career.

Although he was never to pull on that famous number 9 shirt in anger ever again, he still went out on a high that afternoon, scoring and seeing his side beat their historical enemy 4-1.

shearerNUFCBy the time he retired from football Alan Shearer had netted 379 goals in 733 appearances on the field of battle. Of those, 260 goals came in 434 Premier League appearances: still a PL record.

Post-Playing Career

Apart from a stint as Newcastle boss towards the end of the 2008/09 season, Shearer didn’t transfer his footballing prowess to the dugout.

Instead he developed a media career as a football pundit. Today he is a regular on Match of the Day, giving viewers the benefit of his experience, gained in over 18 years as a professional footballer.

Although the Toon Army are still able to watch their hero on television, the one image that will lodge long in their memory is of Shearer wheeling away, arm aloft, as he celebrates yet another successful strike on goal.

To relive that incredible debut by the Premier League’s deadliest finisher way back in 1988 click on the photo above.

@RichardBowdery

Lock, Stock and Three Smoking Seconds!
Vinnie sets fastest card record!

Chelsea’s Vinnie Jones sets a new footballing record

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

vinnie_jones_1

Vincent in his Chelsea days

Vinnie Jones, the former ‘hard man’ of English football, has featured in a few ‘infamous’ moments during his footballing career – a certain Mr. Gascoigne and the Football Association, to name but two, can vouch for that. But one of those moments has entered the record books and will probably never be beaten for as long as the beautiful game is played.

It was 21 March 1992. Chelsea, whose side included Jones the ex-Crazy Gang cheerleader, were playing an FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge against Sheffield United.

The referee had just signaled the start of the game and removed the whistle from his lips when Vinnie Jones had announced his presence by introducing himself to United’s Dane Whitehouse. The referee’s whistle was hurriedly called back into action. Out came the notebook and in went the name of Vinnie Jones: a mere three seconds into the match. That has to be one of the quickest records to rival any other collated by football’s statisticians who record these things.

In his book, ‘Vinnie: The Autobiography – Confessions of a Bad Boy?’ he recalled the incident. He wrote: “I must have been too high, too wild, too strong or too early, because, after three seconds, I could hardly have been too bloody late!” Indeed Vinnie.

A year earlier Vinnie, then a Sheffield United player, managed to get himself booked after 5 seconds against Manchester City at Maine Road – so this was shaving two seconds of his personal best!

As for the game, Whitehouse and company got their revenge by knocking the Blues out of the Cup, winning the game by two goals to one.

As for Vinnie, the incident added another layer to the mystique that was gathering momentum and would one day propel him onto the silver screen.

For now, however, he was just another name on the team sheet, with his steely stare and wearing those boots into the footballing arena where – taking the words from a Nancy Sinatra song – his opponents would fear that “One of these days [his] boots are gonna walk all over you.”

@RichardBowdery

Yes, It Really was Real!
Bluebirds record a memorable victory over the Galácticos

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Nearly 50,000 fans crammed into Ninian Park on Wednesday 10 March 1971 and witnessed club history being made. That night Second Division Cardiff City stunned Real Madrid when they beat the Spanish giants by a solitary goal. And one man in particular wrote himself into City’s folklore. His name? Brian Clark.

It was Clark who scored the game’s only goal in the first leg of that season’s European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final. In the 31st minute teenager Nigel Rees sent over a cross which was perfectly met by Clark’s forehead. That moment of ecstasy engulfed every Welshman in the ground and had the six-time European champions holding their collective heads in disbelief. What’s more, Cardiff could have added to their tally.

For many of Cardiff’s older fans it brought back memories of another triumph against the odds: the 1927 Cup Final at Wembley where City beat Arsenal, again by the only goal of the game. The scorer for Cardiff in that match was Hughie Ferguson who became a club legend. Forty-four years later Brian Clark joined that illustrious club in the minds of those Bluebirds fans.

The South Wales Echo wrote after the match: “Whatever happens in Madrid, nobody can take anything away from the players for their wonderful show.” Yes the minnows from English football’s second tier had humbled one of the best teams in the world!

Don Murray and Leighton Phillips look on as a first half attack by Real Madrid ends with a shot over the bar.

Don Murray and Leighton Phillips look on as a first half attack by Real Madrid ends with a shot over the bar.

In the return leg 14 days later at Real’s Bernabéu stadium the Welshmen could not repeat their Ninian Park heroics and were beaten 2-0, but they were certainly not disgraced.

As for Clark, a Bristolian by birth and a Welshman by choice, he went on to score 91 goals in 240 appearances across two spells at Cardiff City and finished his playing days at Newport County.

Sadly he died in 2010 at only 67 years of age – he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s. But his name will live on whenever Cardiff City fans recall that memorable night when the lowly Welsh dragon slayed one of the world’s most invincible teams.

@RichardBowdery

Remembering Their First Win, 50 years on! Chelsea roll back the years with their latest triumph

McCreadie spent eleven seasons with Chelsea and made over 300 appearances forby Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Chelsea’s victory over Spurs in last Sunday’s League Cup Final came almost 50 years after the Blues first victory in this competition.

Back in 1965 they dispatched Birmingham City, Notts County, Swansea Town, Workington, and Aston Villa to reach a two-legged final against Leicester City.

The first leg was played at Stamford Bridge in front of over 20,000 fans.

Full back Eddie McCreadie found himself playing up front as cover for injured striker Barry Bridges. Things didn’t improve for the King’s Road boys when, 13 minutes into the game, Allan Young was injured. With Young being unable to continue, and given in those days substitutes didn’t exist, Chelsea had to face Leicester with only ten men.

The Blues took the lead through Bobby Tambling before City equalized. Terry Venables restored Chelsea’s one goal advantage but again Leicester evened the score.

With ten minutes left on the clock McCreadie was back in more familiar territory: his own penalty area. He picked up the ball and raced fully 60 yards leaving Leicester City players in his wake before firing a shot past future World Cup hero, Gordon Banks.

Twenty seven thousand supporters turned up for the second leg at Leicester’s Filbert Street. What they saw was a much tighter game where both sides snuffed out each other’s attacking play. With neither side finding the net, the game ended goalless and Chelsea had won their first League Cup.

Including last Sunday, Chelsea have now won the trophy five times, with four of those successes occurring since 1998.

Fifty years ago it was called the Football League Cup. Today it is known as the Capitol One Cup. But, as the Chelsea faithful will tell you, in the heat of a win who cares what it’s called..?

@RichardBowdery

 

Nobby Stiles: England’s One Goal Wonder!

nobby-377152by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Wembley Stadium. Twenty third February 1966. England are playing West Germany in an international friendly, just prior to the World Cup finals.

The game is in the 41st minute. A cross-field pass is nodded firmly towards the German goal by England’s number eight, Roger Hunt from the edge of the six yard area. The West German keeper Hans Tilkowski could only parry the ball into the path of an incoming Nobby Stiles who bundled it into the net.

The 75,000 crowd could hardly believe their eyes. How come with Roger Hunt, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton on the pitch, it was the diminutive Stiles who scored..? Once the shock had worn off the crowd roared their delight and Nobby ran back to take his place at right-half, as if scoring for England was an everyday occurrence. But it was the one and only time he managed to get onto the England score sheet.

Five months later, and wearing his toothless grin, he jigged across the Wembley turf holding the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft – a World Cup winner.

1968 European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium - Manchester United's Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton celebrate as they become European Champions for the first time

Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton celebrate becoming European Champions

He along with Bobby Charlton remain the only two Englishmen to have won both the World Cup and European Cup – after Manchester United defeated Benfica at Wembley in 1968.

But his biggest challenge came in 2013, aged 71. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, though his doctors expected him to make a full recovery, unlike his World Cup winning captain Bobby More, who died from the disease aged 51.

In all Stiles played 28 times for his country and was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to football.

There have been other England internationals who have only scored once for England. But none have climbed to the summit of world soccer as did a certain Norbert (a name Sir Alf Ramsey always used when addressing him) Peter Stiles.

And I for one will always remember his celebrations on the 30 July 1966: an image that will live on in sporting history!

 @RichardBowdery

King Kenny Abdicates
Feb 22nd 1991: His shock resignation stuns the Kop

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Former Liverpool great Ian Rush summed it up best when he said: “No one had a clue it was coming or why.”

When Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager on 22 February 1991 it sent shock waves through the club, the city and the footballing world.

Here was a man who had transferred his winning ways from the pitch to the dugout and everyone loved him for it. He was, in the eyes of the fans, a legend in every sense of the world.

It was just another day for the players and coaching staff. The first-team squad had reported for training after a pulsating 4-4 derby draw with Everton the night before and were in the dressing room getting ready. In walked Dalglish and simply announced his departure. Then he was gone.

kenny-quitsAccording to one of those present it was a shock but they just get on with it as footballers do, as if on auto-pilot. Coach Ronnie Moran broke the stunned silence. “Okay,” he said, “let’s go training now.” And that’s what they did.

Dalglish went on to manage at Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Celtic before returning to Liverpool in 2009 to work in their Academy. He took over as interim manager when Roy Hodgson left.

In January 2011 he was appointed manager once more. But he wasn’t as successful second time around, and a year later he was sacked because of the side’s poor performance in the Premiership.

Despite this set back he was brought back to the club in October 2013 as a non-executive director.

Kenny Dalglish considered man-management as important as tactics. He would deflect attention from his players onto himself so they could concentrate on what they were paid for. Perhaps he took too much upon himself. And let’s not forget, he was in charge when the tragic events of Hillsborough unfolded. That took a toll on everyone associated with the club, particularly the manager who attended as many funerals as he could.

But whatever his reasons for walking away from one of the biggest jobs in football, he will always be a hero to those in the red half of Stanley Park (and maybe a few in the blue half too).

@RichardBowdery

 

Sportsmanship v Gamesmanship
Kanu Causes a Storm in his First Game in English Football

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

KanuArseSheffU

Kanu’s first outing for Arsenal was a memorable one

When is a replay not a replay? When it’s the result of a sporting gesture. But before the gesture came controversy which gave TV’s football pundits a field day. And for fans in pubs and clubs across the country it was the number one topic of conversation.

It was 13 February 1999. Arsenal were hosting Sheffield United in the FA Cup fifth round. The game was one apiece when a United player went down injured. Goalkeeper Alan Kelly kicked the ball out of play so his teammate could receive attention.

Ray Parlour took the resulting throw-in aiming the ball towards an opposing player, as is customary in these situations. However, Arsenal’s Kanu intercepted the throw, raced towards goal and squared the ball to Marc Overmars who scored the Gunner’s winner. Sheffield United’s players and bench were in uproar but to no avail. The referee, applying the letter of the law, gave the goal. It was legal but wasn’t in the spirit of the game.

_sheffieldunited1999Afc

Sheffield United’s players surround the referee after Kanu set up Overmars for Arsenal’s winner

Whatever the rights and wrongs, Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners and were heading towards the Cup quarter-finals.

In Kanu’s defence, it was his first game in English football. He was later reported as saying that he had ‘misunderstood’ the situation.

With the debate still raging, Arsène Wenger, to his credit, contacted Sheffield United manager Steve Bruce and offered to replay the game. His offer was gratefully accepted by the South Yorkshire side and, with no objection raised by the FA, the match was replayed at Highbury.

For Sheffield United the outcome was still the same. They lost by the same margin and their Cup run was over for a second time.

Did Wenger set a precedent for the rest of football? Perhaps. But as money exercises an ever tighter grip on our national sport, making it more cut-throat than ever, I wouldn’t bet on it!

Though, one thing can be said with certainty: his decision has gone down in FA Cup folklore.

@RichardBowdery

 

Hereford Trump Bradford as the Greatest Cup Upset Ever
43 years since Radford’s Rocket

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Following Chelsea’s humbling at the hands of Bradford City last month, many on social media called it the biggest FA Cup shock ever.

But for my money – and without taking anything away from Bradford’s magnificent result – two other clubs have a better claim to that honour: Sutton United and Hereford United. Unlike Bradford who are a League One side, the third tier of English football, when the two United’s made the headlines, it was as Non-League clubs.

SuttonUtd

Sutton’s players celebrate a goal against top tier Coventry in 1989

In 1989 Conference side Sutton beat First Division Coventry City 2-1 in the third round. This coming only two years after Coventry had lifted the FA Cup following their dramatic 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Now on a cold January afternoon in south-west London, they were made to eat humble pie by their lowly opponents.

Yet I believe a greater feat was achieved when Hereford beat Newcastle United in a third round replay.

The first game was drawn two apiece at St. James Park. The replay at Hereford’s Edgar Street stadium was postponed several times with the game finally going ahead on 5 February 1972, before a crowd of over 14,000.

Newcastle took the lead when Malcolm McDonald rose to head the Geordie side ahead with only 8 minutes left on the referee’s watch. It seemed Hereford’s valiant effort would come to naught; that was until Ronnie’s rocket.

Newcastle goalkeeper Willie McFaul's high dive cannot stop Ronnie Radford's stunning shot

Newcastle keeper Willie McFaul’s desperate dive is no match for Ronnie Radford’s stunning shot.

With three minutes remaining, Ronnie Radford played a one-two thirty yards from goal before launching a thunderbolt that left Newcastle’s keeper grasping at thin air. The underdogs had drawn level.

In the first period of extra-time substitute Ricky George, who had come on towards the end of normal time, picked up the ball deep into Newcastle’s half. With only one thing on his mind he took aim and fired Hereford into round four. Cue wild celebrations on the pitch.

In the fourth round they met West Ham United and again the game went to a replay. This time there was no fairy tale ending. West Ham won 3-1 with Geoff Hurst scoring a hat-trick. I guess if you’re going to lose when further glory beckons, then losing at the hands of a World Cup hero might soften the blow a little.

My reason for choosing Hereford’s exploits over Sutton’s is simple: their respective positions on the football pyramid. At the time of their heroics Hereford were plying their trade in the Southern League, the 7th tier of English football. Whereas, when Sutton beat Coventry they were playing in the Conference which is two leagues higher.

Before Hereford, the last time a non-league team knocked out a top-flight club was in 1949 when Yeovil beat Sunderland. And the next after Sutton United? Conference side Luton Town who, in 2013, knocked out Premier League side Norwich City in the fourth round, with the game’s only goal.

Yet despite the big money slushing around at the top of the pyramid, who’s to say another Non-League sides won’t humble a club from English footballs elite? As Jimmy Greaves used to say: “It’s a funny old game…”

@RichardBowdery