This Was The Week

Man City: League Cup Winners
A barometer of English football’s changing face

by Richard D J J Bowdery

Yesterday (2 March) Manchester City won the League Cup for the third time in four final appearances when they beat Sunderland 3-1. But if you cast your mind back to 1970 you will notice a startling difference between the City team then and now.

All England…almost
On 7 March, 44 years ago, Manchester City took to the field at Wembley against West Bromwich Albion in the 10th League Cup Final.

City won that match 2-1 with goals scored by Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe; West Brom’s consolation came from Jeff Astle.

But it was City’s line up that day which proved the greatest contrast to the team that took to the lush turf of Wembley for yesterday’s final.

Back in 1970 the team that lined up for the kick-off comprised off 10 Englishmen and only one ‘Johnny’ foreigner, well Scottish actually so I guess that would make him ‘Jocky’ foreigner. Even the substitute (only one per team back then) and manager were English.

The eleven who lifted the cup that day, managed by Joe Mercer, were:


Mike Doyle celebrates his equalising goal against West Brom in the 1970 League Cup final. Man City won 2 – 1 after extra time

Joe Corrigan (in goal)
Tony Book (c)
Arthur Mann (Scotland)
Mike Doyle
Tommy Booth
Alan Oakes
George Heslop
Colin Bell
Mike Summerbee
Francis Lee
Glyn Pardoe

Ian Bowyer

Interestingly there were four Scotsmen in West Brom’s side that day, with a Welshman as substitute.

Four years after their first win they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final. They could not match their heroics of 1970 and went down 2-1. Hibbitt scored for Wolves in the first half. City’s Bell drew the team’s level with a goal in the 59th minute. But John Richards sealed a Wolves victory, scoring the winner five minutes from time.

This time there were three ‘foreigners’ in an otherwise all England City side. Ron Saunders from Cheshire was City’s manager.

In 1976 Manchester City once again found themselves in the final, this time up against Newcastle United with Malcolm McDonald spearheading the Magpies attack.

City won 2-1, the same final score as their previous two appearances. A goal from number 7 Barnes and a wonderful overhead effort from Dennis Tueart in the second half, sealed the match, with Gowling getting Newcastle’s solitary reply.

Only two ‘foreigners’ made the starting eleven that day.

In the boardroom
During City’s League Cup appearances in the 70’s the predominately English boardroom reflected the team on the pitch.

Albert Alexander was the chairman as the sixties turned into the seventies. Around this time the board faced a power struggle, ignited by deputy-chairman Frank Johnson’s decision to sell most of his shareholding.

The tussle that followed convinced Johnson not to sell and the status quo resumed; that is until ill-health force Albert to relinquish the reins. His son Eric replaced him as chairman.

By the time City lost at Wembley to Wolves a new face lead the business side of the club: Peter Swales. This change was brought about by Eric’s decision to step-down.

Throughout the time of these League Cup appearances the City boardroom was largely English. But it was their lack of success on the pitch under Swales tenure as chairman which led to a revolt by the fans who wanted Swales out. They duly got their wish in 1994 when former City forward Francis Lee, self-made millionaire, purchased £3 million of shares. Swales was ousted, never to return.

In hindsight that revolt could be seen as the catalyst that took Manchester City from being a British run, predominantly English team to the club that now graces the Premiership.

By September 2008 the club was bought by Sheikh Mansour, who has pumped millions into Manchester City that has seen an upturn in the club’s fortunes.

Fast-forward to 2014
Today Manchester City has undergone a massive facelift and is, in many respects, unrecognisable from the club that last reached a Wembley League Cup Final.

Not only has it relocated from its spiritual home at Maine Road, the make-up of the boardroom, dugout and team is dominated by foreign imports.

In City’s starting eleven yesterday there was not one Englishman. The team City fielded was:


City players celebrate their Cup success, achieved with no English input

Pantilimon (in goal)
Yaya Touré

Three of the six substitutes (only one allowed in the 70’s remember) were English but manager Manuel Pellegrini didn’t involve any of them in his three second half substituions.

Who benefits?
Is this good for the game? I guess it depends upon your point of view. I’m sure most City fans to a man would say it is, following their Premiership title, FA Cup win and now their third League Cup success. So, I suspect, would the fans of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

But those battling for Premiership survival without the millions to invest in top class players would probably disagree.

And if you are playing below the top tier of English football how can you get to the top table and stay there longer than the aperitif?

You could ask that cash-in-hand plasterer, Loadsamoney for a wad. Or find yourself a billionaire looking for a new toy to play with.

But what about the England national team. There is an argument that with so many foreign players plying their trade in the English game it hampers local talent.

Maybe, maybe not. Personally I don’t think England has ever fully recovered from the footballing lesson the Hungarians taught us at Wembley in November 1953.

Older readers may recall we were soundly beaten 6-3 even though Walter Winterbottom put out a decent side that day which included Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Alf Ramsey and Billy Wright.

The style of the Hungarians cultured play left those watching the game mesmerised.

Some say that was the day England’s dominance of the game crumbled, apart from the little matter of a tournament in 1966.

What is the solution?
I think it is too simplistic to say limit each club to a set number of foreign players. That in itself will not provide the skillful players England needs.

And don’t forget, the game is no longer about ‘bums on seats’. It’s about TV revenue, branding and global markets.

It is a world apart from the game that as it was in the 70’s.

A final thought…Just think, if Jesús Navas hadn’t scored in the 90th minute all of Manchester City’s four League Cup Final appearances would have finished with the same scoreline, 2-1.

Brian Moore: Our Quintessential Commentator

“After a goalless first half, the half time score is 0-0.” – A look at one famous voice behind our national game

by Richard D J J Bowdery
BrianMoore_306x423Had he lived, the 28 February would have been Brian Moore’s 82nd birthday. For many he was our quintessential commentator, a gentleman behind the microphone.

Who can forget his dignified remonstrations with Brian Clough prior to the England versus Poland World Cup qualifier in 1973? You will recall Clough called the Polish keeper a clown much to Moore’s chagrin.

Brian Moore was unflappable, at least that is how he came over to me. His unruffled manner and calm yet authorative voice made his presentation seem effortless and knowledgeable.

Early Career

Brian started his journalistic career working for the newspapers, latterly with The Times before moving to BBC Radio as a football commentator and presenter.

While at the Beeb he covered the FA Cup Final from 1964 to ’67; the European Cup Winners Cup Final in 1963, won by Tottenham Hotspur and 1965 when West Ham United were the winners; and the 1966 World Cup. He also covered Celtic’s triumph in 1967 when the Lions of Lisbon lifted the trophy.

His successes behind the microphone got him noticed by a new boy on the footballing block.

The Big Match

Moore was enticed from the BBC to London Weekend Television (LWT) by Jimmy Hill, their Head of Sport, to anchor a new hour-long football programme called The Big Match which was launched in August 1968.

Aired weekly on Sunday afternoons during the football season it was LWT’s answer to the BBC’s Match of the Day.

Like Match of the Day it was a highlights show and it superseded Associated Television’s Star Soccer which had been broadcasting to viewers in the London area.

The first programme was to feature Spurs versus Arsenal and be transmitted on Sunday 10 August. But because of industrial action it never aired.

The same thing happened the following week, when the selected match, Chelsea versus West Bromwich Albion also failed to make the small screen: again because of industrial action.

But at the third time of trying, on the 24 August, Brian Moore presented and commentated on Queens Park Rangers versus Manchester City. It ended 1-1 with Bridges netting for Rangers and Doyle for City.

Jimmy Hill and Brian Clough

Jimmy Hill was not only LWT’s Head of Sport – until he left in 1973 to front Match of the Day – he was also appeared alongside Moore as the match analyst; a forerunner of the pundits that are obligatory for all football coverage today.

To replace him the London TV broadcaster turned to Derby County manager Brian Clough – not a man short of opinions. His outspoken comments led to County’s chairman asking Clough to cease all his newspaper and TV work. Instead Brian Clough resigned his position as manager. His next job was at Brighton and Hove Albion, two divisions below Derby.

ITV make-up artist Linda King powders the face of Brian Clough in preparation for his debut appearance as an analyst on ITV's On The Ball programme, as Brian Moore looks on. Photograph: PA

ITV make-up artist Linda King powders the face of Brian Clough in preparation for his debut appearance as an analyst on ITV’s On The Ball programme, as Brian Moore looks on. Photograph: PA

Moore also hosted a Saturday lunchtime football preview programme ‘On The Ball’ as well as commentating on international matches, FA Cup finals and Thames Television’s Midweek Sports Special.

Nearly Retired

In 1998 he retired from ITV. This came about partly because of a health scare which had resulted in his undergoing heart surgery.

However, he didn’t totally forsake his time behind the mic and in front of the camera. During his ‘semi-retirement’ he presented programmes for Talk Sport, BBC Radio Five Live, and Sky Sports.

His retirement also gave him more time to watch his beloved Gillingham FC.

“Goodbye and thank you for watching” – These were the words I remember him saying as he signed off at the end of each programme.

In the end Brian’s poor health got the better of him and he died on 1st September 2001, aged 69. He was buried in the church near his home where he had worshipped for many years.

At the funeral service his close friend and sports journalist Norman Giller said: “Brian was a refined, modest man whose next boast would have been his first. Yet he had much to boast about, a supreme commentator, consummate broadcaster, and, above all, a caring, considerate human being, loyal colleague and devoted family man. A bright light has gone out on the worlds of sport and broadcasting.”

Giller took the words right out of my mouth.

Oh, and about the quote at the head of this column. It wasn’t a Colemanballs, it really was Brian Moore; proving that even the very best can have an off day.


“We’ll meet again, we know where but not when…” Football Casualties of the Weather

by Richard D J J Bowdery.
Everton-v-Crystal-Palace-Premier-League-3139068Last week two Premiership games – Everton versus Crystal Palace and Manchester City versus Sunderland – were postponed because of adverse weather conditions.

On Saturday the FA Cup 5th round tie between Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic also suffered a similar fate. This time because of a waterlogged pitch brought about by heavy rainfall.

Yet despite the flooding and gale force winds that has plagued the country this winter, football has managed by and large to stay unaffected.

But it wasn’t like that back in ’63.

Football Decimated

In the year when John, Paul, George and Ringo took the country by eh, storm, artic conditions across Britain lead to record levels of postponements, decimating not only the League season but the FA Cup as well. Snow drifts in excess of 25 feet and temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade, made sure of that.

The third round of the Cup suffered 261 postponements. Over half of the 32 ties were called off 10 or more times, with the game between Lincoln City and Coventry City finally going ahead at the 16th time of asking. But only after a pneumatic drill was called into action to penetrate the two feet of ice covering Lincoln’s Sincil Bank pitch.

The Football League saw numerous matches fall foul of the weather with one club, Bolton Wanderers, going 10 weeks without playing a competitive game.

Pools Panel

Such was the backlog of fixtures, the authorities set up the Pools Panel whose job was to second guess the results of games that had been called off. On the first panel of ‘experts’ were four former players:
• Ted Drake
• Tom Finney
• Tommy Lawton
• and George Young.

Also on the panel was former referee Arthur Ellis and it was chaired by Government Minister Lord Brabazon.

The panel sat for the first time on 26 January and declared seven draws, 23 home wins and eight away wins.

An Extended Season


Injury ended the professional playing career of Brian Clough in December 1962 during the Sunderland v Bury game

It was three months before a full League programme of matches could be played, on 16 March. By the time the big thaw arrived over 400 fixtures had been postponed, and the season was finally completed at the end of May.

One notable casualty of the big freeze was a certain Mr B Clough.

He turned out for Sunderland in their game against Bury in a Second Division promotion clash on Boxing Day 1962 at Roker Park.

Continuous snowfall had left the pitch in a very hazardous state. But with over 42,000 fans braving the elements the referee probably had little choice but to let the game go-ahead.

Chasing a loose ball Clough collided with Bury keeper Chris Harker. He suffered severe cruciate damage to his right knee and his career was effectively over. He was 27.

A British Record

Despite such decimation of the English game it was north of the border that claimed the record for the most postponements of a single game.

First there was the Scottish Cup 2nd Round tie between Inverness Thistle (from the Highland League) and Falkirk.

The match, scheduled to be played on 6 January 1979, finally got underway on 22 February – after twenty nine postponements. Falkirk won 4-0 at the 30th attempt.

Incredibly it was not enough to cement the match in the record books.

That dubious honour goes to Airdrie versus Stranraer, again in the Scottish Cup, played during the big freeze 16 years earlier. Their match was postponed 33 times – a British record for professional soccer.

At the 34th attempt Airdrie won 3-0.

Chin up

So to all those Palace, Sunderland or Charlton fans who made a fruitless journey across country to watch their heroes play, don’t worry it could have been worse, much worse!


Marvel Moore is England Centurion World Cup Hero Earns 100th Cap v Scotland in Feb 1973

On February 14th 1973 Bobby Moore reached an incredible milestone when he pulled on the England shirt for the 100th time, becoming only the third player to achieve the feat after former captain Billy Wright and Bobby Charlton.

Moore (right) wins his 100th cap as he and Billy Bremner lead the England and Scotland teams out at Hampden Park in 1973

Moore wins his 100th cap as he and Billy Bremner lead the teams out at Hampden Park on Feb 14th 1973

It was an important game for Moore for personal reasons, but fittingly it was also an important one for England as they faced the Auld Enemy Scotland at Hampden Park, a fixture that is never really ‘friendly’ despite the label.

Joining Moore in the England side were two other survivors from the 1966 team; Martin Peters and Alan Ball, but they were overshadowed by some of the newer members of the squad as England inflicted a St Valentine’s Day massacre on the Scots who were swept aside 5-0 – with Moore marshaling the Three Lions defence expertly.

A brace from Allan Clarke, plus strikes from Mick Channon and Martin Chivers plus a Peter Lorimer own goal provided the goals for England in a crushing home defeat for a Scotland team that included the likes of Billy Bremner, Kenny Dalglish and George Graham.

Despite the clean sheet Moore was nearing the end of his reign as England’s main man. Things came to a head three months later in a World Cup qualifier away to Poland when Moore was at fault for both goals in a 2-0 loss.

Moore was dropped by Sir Alf Ramsey for the return game at Wembley which England had to win to qualify for the finals. Famously they could only draw 1-1 and it signalled the end for both Ramsey and Moore. Sir Alf was sacked six months later while Moore made his final appearance for his country in the next match – a friendly against Italy at Wembley. Again England lost, this time 1-0 to a goal scored by the man who would later give David Beckham his 100th cap: Fabio Capello.

When he retired from the international game he held the all-time England cap record with 108 appearances (he has since been overtaken by Peter Shilton on 125), and he equalled Billy Wright’s record of captaining England 90 times.

Two months later he played his last game for West Ham and then left for Fulham where he began to wind down his career before, just as Beckham would 30 years later, he moved to the USA to play where he turned out for San Antonio Thunder and Seattle Sounders.

Like Beckham, Moore was no slouch when it came to commercial opportunities – although this advert featuring Bobby and Tina Moore ‘Looking in at the Local’ lacks the posing-in-your-underwear-to-moody-French-dialogue feel that Beckham has since made his own.

by Karl Hofer.

Taken In Their Prime
The Busby Babes who didn’t grow up

by Richard D J J Bowdery.
Manchester United have had, by their standards, a very poor season so far. To make matters worse, two of their fiercest rivals, Manchester City and Liverpool, are comfortably ahead of them in the Premiership. Could things get any worse? A moment from United’s history is a stark reminder that football is, after all, just a game.

The Crash
This week we remember the Munich air disaster that occurred on 6 February 1958. Manchester United were on their way back from a European Cup tie with Red Star Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia. On the flight home the pilot stopped at Munich’s Riem Airport to refuel his British European Airways plane.

The weather was appalling and on the third attempt at take-off, the plane overshot the runway, clipped a house which caused it to veer into another building, where it promptly burst into flames.

The Dead and Injured
Seven of the Busby Babes – average age 24 – died at the scene along with several club officials and sports journalists.

Fifteen days after the accident Duncan Edwards – who many predicted would become one of the world’s greatest footballers – also lost his fight for life. And for a long while it was touch and go whether the team manager, Matt Busby, would pull through.

Twenty three of the 38 passengers and six crew on board, never returned home.


The Busby Babes, in Denmark in 1955

Promise Unfulfilled
The team of ‘58 were destined for greatness until the accident ripped the heart out of this very talented side.

United had beaten the Belgrade side over two legs in European Cup quarter final. They won 2-1 at Old Trafford and drew 3-3 in Yugoslavia. They were fancied to go all the way and become the first British side to lift this relatively new trophy (UEFA established the competition in 1955).

After the crash the club was determined to complete their season. This resolve took them all the way to the 1958 FA Cup Final. But there was to be no fairytale victory for the men in red. They lost 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers with Nat Lofthouse scoring both goals, one in each half.

From The Ashes
Ten years later Matt Busby walked onto the Wembley turf to embrace his players after they had beaten Benfica 4-1 in the 1968 European Cup Final. One of the scorers that night was Bobby Charlton who had so nearly lost his life a decade earlier.

That victory was a fitting memorial to those players and officials who fell victim to a plane crash in Munich at 4.30 p.m. on 6 February 1958.


Mad Hatters Hit For Six!
But Luton’s Desperados Have The Last Laugh On The Lawman…


By Richard D J J Bowdery

Manchester City’s recent demolition of West Ham in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final might have had the purists drooling – unless you’re an Iron – but it isn’t the first time City have put six goals past an opponent in a cup tie.

And what none of Pellegrini’s players have managed to achieve despite their brilliance, is what the Scottish Lawman did on 28 January 1961: one player, six goals.

The irony is that despite such a heroic effort City still lost the tie. Let me explain…


Law is credited with 42 FA Cup goals, but it could have been 47

Dennis Law, known affectionately as the Lawman by the fans, scored all six goals for City in a 4th round FA Cup match against Luton Town at their Kenilworth Road ground.

After 68 minutes the Sky Blues were winning 6-2. By the 69th minute the referee took the decision to abandon the game because of a waterlogged pitch.

As the game was abandoned Law’s six goals were wiped from the record books.

To add insult to injury when the match was replayed on 1 February Luton Town won 3-1 – with the Lawman scoring his side’s only goal.

Had those six goals been allowed to stand the Dennis Law would have gone into the record books as the FA Cup’s top goalscorer in the 20th Century with 47 goals (assuming he didn’t add to his tally in subsequent rounds).

Instead Ian Rush’s 44 FA Cup goals propelled him into the number one spot, by default.

Another interesting point to note from City’s bygone era, which could be emulated by today’s side, is that in the 1957/58 season the Sky Blues scored 104 League goals in the old First Division. However, they also leaked almost as many by conceding 100 goals. In so doing they became the only club to score and concede a century of goals in the top-flight.

I can see Manchester City achieving the former as, at the time of writing this column, they have scored 63 goals so far this season and are scoring for fun; but surely not the latter!? Although as TV pundit Jimmy Greaves often said to Ian St. John, his co-host on ITVs On the Ball programme, “It’s a funny old game, Saint.”


Never On a Sunday!
Oh all right, but just this once… The Origins of Football on a Sunday

by Richard D J J Bowdery.

Sunday football at the local recreation ground between two amateur teams was one thing. But between two professional sides in a League match?

Well it did happen and it was brought about by an unlikely chain of events.

First there was the Yom Kippur War between Israel and the Arab nations in 1973.


Israeli tank in the Sinai Desert

Britain supported Israel in the conflict and as a result Arab members of OPEC suspended oil delivery to the UK and those western nations who had followed our lead. This caused an energy crisis in the autumn of ’73.

This was compounded by a miners strike the following February which led the Conservative Government to declare a state of emergency.

To conserve electricity a three day working week was implemented which affected everyone including those who played, watched and ran professional football.

Because football under floodlights was banned the footballing authorities had to come up with a solution to avoid a backlog of matches.

Various ideas were floated ranging from Clubs postponing matches until later in the season, to extending the season to the summer. But these and other ideas were rejected.

A workable solution seemed no nearer being agreed when someone suggested playing games on a Sunday. Eureka! Or so everyone thought. You see there was one slight problem with that idea and it originated in 1790 – The Sunday Observance Act.

The Act stipulated that no admission charge could be levied on an event that took place on the Sabbath. So what to do? How could football get around this law?

The answer was simplicity itself. You could get in for nothing but you had to buy a programme at the turnstiles. Guess how much the programme cost?

There were some who thought it was a step too far.


Bob Wall: Against soccer on the Sabbath

Arsenal’s Bob Wall said: “Playing football and making profits on a Sunday is wrong. We will not disturb the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood of Highbury on that day.”

However, others took a different view, most notably the then FA secretary Ted Croker who said: “Football is the national game and we should be concerned to give the public what they want when they want it. A lot of people do want to watch football on Sundays.”

But did they? There were still some dissenting voices who said the crowds wouldn’t come.

That fear was banished on 20 January 1974 when the crowds flocked to watch the first of 12 league matches being played that day.


The programme for the game had to be purchased to gain entry

The first League game on a Sunday featured Millwall versus Fulham in the old Second Division. The game kicked off at 11.30 and the Lions roared their way to a 1-0 win, with Millwall’s Brian Clark becoming the first player to score a League goal on a Sunday.

The following week the first Sunday game in the top flight took place when Stoke hosted Chelsea. Stoke ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a Geoff Hurst penalty.

And in case any of you are left thinking that the football authorities took a risk playing top flight matches on a Sunday without precedent, well that isn’t quite true.

On Sunday 6 January 1974, four FA Cup Third Round ties were played. The first to kick off was Cambridge United versus Oldham. So they weren’t totally unprepared for Sunday soccer.

Remember the next time you’re at a Sunday game, you have a Middle East conflict and a miner’s strike to thank for disturbing your day of rest.


He Was For The Chop – But Served Up Cordon Blue Cuisine Instead!


Howard Kendall celebrates with his team after clinching the 1985 title against QPR.

by Richard D J J Bowdery.

With only six wins from 21 League appearances the natives of Goodison Park were growing increasingly restless. There were vociferous calls for the manager’s head on a platter.

To cap it all his First Division side were facing a banana-skin match: a League Cup quarter final tie against Third Division Oxford United.

It only made matters worse when his side went 1-0 down during the match before Adrian Heath stepped up to level the score and draw the game at one apiece.

Everton went on to win the replay 4-1 and made it all the way to the Wembley Final only to lose in a replay 1-0 to arch-rivals Liverpool.

But a corner had been turned on the 18 January 1984 with Heath’s equaliser and it’s such results that define a manager’s career – you only have to look at Mark Robbins winning goal for Manchester United in an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest to realise that. It was that cup win which saved Alex Ferguson’s United career according to perceived wisdom at the time. And we all know what he went on to achieve.


Heath became Everton’s record signing when he signed for £700,000 from Stoke in January 1982

While some among the Everton faithful still wanted ‘blood’ the board stayed faithful to their man at the helm.

It was a wise decision on their part as it as it turned out. And Howard Kendall rewarded their faith with the most successful period ever in the Toffee’s history.

When Everton FC were looking for their Manager of the Millennium in 2000 they had over a dozen candidates to choose from. The Millennium Giants panel whittled it down to two: Harry Catterick and Kendal.

But even the legendary Catterick couldn’t compete with a manager whose success included:

• Two League Championships – 1984/85 and 1986/87
• FA Cup winner – 1984 (runners-up in 1985 and 1986)
• Charity Shield winners – 1984, 1985, 1986 (shared) and 1987
• European Cup Winners Cup winner – 1985
• Manager of the Year – 1985 and 1987.

So it was Kendall, appointed player/manager in 1981, who was bestowed with the honour of being Everton’s Manager of the Millennium.


Kendall, in his playing days.

He left in 1987 to manage Spanish club Athletic Bilbao, largely because of the ban on English clubs competing in European competitions, but returned for two further spells with Everton in 1990-93 and 1997-98.

During these latter periods, however, he couldn’t rustle up that Midas touch he had once displayed. Even the 1991 Zenith Data Systems Cup eluded him when his side lost4-1 in the final to Crystal Palace.

Although his managerial reign at Everton ended in a whimper it has done nothing to taint the glory years from 1981 to 87 when Everton FC really did reach the dizzy heights of English and European league and cup success.

But there is still one question I have that remains unanswered: did Howard Kendall ever buy Adrian Heath a large drink for that goal he scored on 18 January 1984?

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Adeus Eusebio, Thanks for the Memories

by Richard D J J Bowdery

Every era throws up good footballers, some are very good indeed, but truly great footballers are a much rarer breed. Once such is Eusebio da Silva Ferreira who sadly passed away at the weekend.

Known simply as Eusebio you only had to hear the name to conjure up the maestro in all his footballing glory.

He is part of that pantheon of ‘greats’ which includes the likes of De Stéfano, Matthews, Puskas, Moore, Pele, Best and Charlton. It is an exclusive club which does not admit new members without good cause. Indeed in today’s game perhaps only Ronaldo and Messi look likely to get past the doorman, though you may think differently about that.


Eusebio in action against Arsenal at Highbury

I was thrilled when England won the World Cup in 1966. But if it wasn’t to be them who lifted the trophy then Portugal would have been my next choice; and it was all down to that man Eusebio. He was simply brilliant and could make the ball perform in a way that other lesser footballing mortals could only dream about.

Portugal’s third place was capped off by having the tournament’s top scorer. Eusebio scored nine goals in total including four against North Korea in the quarter finals. If it hadn’t been for his prowess in front of goal Portugal might not have met England in the semi-final as North Korea at one time led 3-0 against the team from the Iberian Peninsula.

And what a phenomenal scoring record he had: 733 goals in 745 professional appearances.

But it was the way Eusebio carried himself that I will always remember. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, on and off the pitch.

Who can forget how he congratulated Manchester United’s Alex Stepney, after Stepney made a do or die save to deny the Benfica legend a match winning opportunity in the 1968 European Cup Final.

His sportsmanship was, for me, the measure of the man – a true gentleman even in the heat of battle.

Towards the end of his life he suffered from heart and respiratory problems. Whereas defenders couldn’t catch him his failing health did.

So sad that someone so lion-hearted could be felled by a failing heart. Yet the memories will never die.

Rest in peace Eusebio – the Black Panther.


Eusebio da Silva Ferreira; 1942-2014


Is the FA Cup third round still a banana skin for football’s elite?

By Richard D J J Bowdery.

This is the week that lower league and non-league footballers dream about; the opportunity to go toe to toe with their more illustrious cousins.

However, for those clubs in England’s top division facing opposition further down the pecking order it was either a stroll to the fourth round or a banana skin upset, resulting in ignominy. Rarely was there any middle ground.

Certainly the press, the pundits, the chairman, the manager and, most importantly, the supporters expected the First Division side to come out on top. But a trip down memory lane is littered with examples of teams from the apex of football’s pyramid falling prey to the minnows in the third round.

Who can forget the ‘mighty’ Sutton United’s humbling of Coventry City who, back in 1989, were playing in the top flight?


Hanlon enters FA Cup folklore with the winner for Sutton

On 7 January 1989 the non-league Conference side, with home advantage, took on the side who less than two years earlier had lifted the Cup after beating Spurs 3-2 at Wembley.

Sutton took the lead through their captain Tony Rains. As news of the underdog’s lead trickled out the shock echoed across the footballing world with people asking if the unthinkable could really happen?

It seemed not when Coventry’s David Phillips equalized. Normal service was resumed. Or so most neutrals thought. That was until Matthew Hanlon stole into the box and fired home a sensational goal that sent the home fans into raptures.

Who can forget Hanlon ripping off his shirt and using it to impersonate a windmill?

Despite a concerted effort by Coventry to draw level – denied by the woodwork on several occasions and some last-ditch defending – Sutton held on to record one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.

At the final whistle the crowd were delirious. And Coventry City were sent to…eh Coventry.

Another milestone in FA Cup giant killing came at Edgar Street, home to Hereford United in February 1972. In some people’s eyes this upset surpassed even that of Sutton, because it was the first time a non-league club had beaten a top-flight team in the Cup since Yeovil Town overcame Sunderland 2-1 in 1949.

What is remarkable about Hereford’s route to FA Cup glory was that as they played in the Southern League their cup campaign started in the 4th qualifying round. Their match against Newcastle United in the 3rd round proper, therefore, was their 7th.

First Division Newcastle, with several international players in their side including England’s Malcolm McDonald, looked odds on to swat these non-league upstarts out of the competition.

In the first match at St. James’ Park the game ended 2-2, the result taking everyone by surprise; not least United’s thoroughbreds. Perhaps a replay should have had the Geordie fans a little worried. But lightning doesn’t strike twice, does it?

At Edgar Street first blood went to Newcastle thanks to a late goal from McDonald. The fourth round was within touching distance. But they reckoned without Ronnie Radford.

With time running out for the minnows Radford picked up a loose ball and from 30 yards fired in the equaliser.

Even now I can hear the excited, stunned, and at the same time, elated voice of John Motson, commentating for Match of the Day.

If memory serves me correctly the home fans with unabated joy flooded onto the pitch. Soon afterwards the whistle blew for full-time.

So to extra-time. Though the pitch was cut-up and boggy the semi-pros managed to find the strength to take the game to Newcastle United, probably carried along more by adrenalin than by stamina and fitness.

It fell to Hereford’s Ricky George to hole Newcastle below the waterline and sink the First Division outfit with the deciding goal of the game. The minnows were through to the fourth round and, in the process, became the stuff of FA Cup folklore.

Could it happen today? Probably not.

The Premier League, with the money to buy the best in the world, is head and shoulders above the old First Division. The fitness levels required of today’s superstars far surpasses the days of yesteryear when a player having a fag in the toilet at half-time was not unheard of.

What was once a more level playing field is now tilted very much in the big boys favour. Could anyone seriously imagine say Salisbury City of the Conference Premier Division beating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium?

But then again this is the FA Cup. And as James Bond once famously quipped: “Never say never again.”

Finally, I would like to wish all the readers of this column and of Bobby FC a very happy New Year.