Posts Tagged ‘FA Cup’

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.


Blues are World Wide thanks to Webb How Chelsea Owe it All To Dave Webb


Here’s a tremendous shot of Chelsea defender Dave Webb, back when proper footballers were seriously hairy creatures, seen here in preseason training in Mitcham, South London, before the 1970-71 season.

Webb initially failed to make the grade with West Ham but went on to play professionally for over two decades, turning out for Leyton Orient, Southampton, Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, Leicester City, Derby County, A.F.C. Bournemouth and Torquay United.

But it is for his six years at Chelsea that Webb is best known, particularly for his role in landing Chelsea their first ever FA Cup success in 1970. Having been given a torrid time at Wembley by Leeds winger Eddie Gray, manager Dave Sexton moved Webb to centre-half for the replay, meaning Gray would instead enjoy the company of Ron Harris at Old Trafford.

The move worked wonders and Chelsea played much better in the replay, with Webb emerging as the unlikely hero, heading in Ian Hutchinson’s long throw in extra time to win the cup and cement his place in Chelsea folklore.

A change of positions was nothing new for Webb who during his time with The Blues played every number from 1-12 (back when numbers indicated positions) apart from 11. That included a few games at up front – from where he hit a hat-trick against Ipswich Town in December 1968 – and even a full game in goal three years later (also against Ipswich) in which he remarkably kept a clean sheet.

What a lot of people forget is that Webb also managed Chelsea. It was twenty years ago in fact when Webb received the call from Ken Bates to take over from Ian Porterfield, who had been relieved of his managerial duties with Chelsea in free-fall and under threat of relegation without a win in two months.

Under Webb Chelsea found some consistency and strung some good results together to finish in a comfortable 11th place at the end of the season. Chelsea fans were keen for one of their greatest heroes to get the job full time, but ‘Cuddly Ken’ had other ideas…

Risking the wrath of the Chelsea support (not for the first time) Ken appointed Glenn Hoddle, the Spurs legend, as Chelsea’s player-manager for the following season.

It was that brave appointment that transformed Chelsea, certainly in the eyes of the movers and shakers in European football, with Ruud Gullit signing for Hoddle’s Chelsea revolution in 1995. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Would Chelsea have become such an attractive investment opportunity for Roman Abramovich 10 years later if Bates had bowed to supporter opinion and given Webb the job full-time back in 1993..? It seems unlikely…

Of course you can also argue that Chelsea would not have been able to attract Hoddle to the managers job had Webb not saved them from relegation in the first place. So perhaps Chelsea are now World Wide thanks to Webb.


by Karl Hofer

Palace Are Back! But what happened to ‘The Team of the Eighties’…?

The cover of the compilation CD ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ shows Malcolm Allison2001_cigarettes2_cover_big clad in a sheepskin coat and wearing a fedora gesticulating in Churchillian style celebration towards Crystal Palace fans.

The year was 1976.  A new wave of music was about to explode and so too it seemed were Palace. For most of it’s history Palace had been a Cinderella club tucked away in a south London suburb. Suddenly, even though they were still in the third tier, Palace were having a ball, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup and beating the might of Leeds and Chelsea on the way. The Cup run had been achieved with an intoxicating mix of flowing football and showbiz bravado.

Manager Allison reveled in playing the intellectual coach by day and playboy by night.

When he spoke of champagne football he meant it – on and off the pitch – famously once celebrating a victory in the dressing with some bubbly, a cigar and glamour actress Fiona Richmond.


Malcolm always liked to play with two up front…

Even though Palace lost in the semi finals to eventual winners Southampton, The Eagles were in flight, moving up to the Second tier.

And when Allison moved on to take over as manager at Manchester City it only seemed to get better as a young player- coach Terry Venables took the helm and lifted Palace into the top flight in season 1978/79.

There was a huge excitement and buzz about the team essentially based on young players who had emerged through the ranks such as Kenny Sansom, Gerry Francis, Jerry Murphy and Dave Swindlehurst. The team produced some exhilarating football and established themselves in mid table of the old First Division.

The feel-good factor was such that Jimmy Greaves dubbed them the ‘Team of the Eighties’. The tag proved to be an Albatross around The Eagles neck.

Venables would soon leave to take over at QPR and Palace were relegated. The club seemed to be blighted by all that ‘Team of the Eighties’ hype.


“As long as we don’t get United in the final we’re laughing Boss!”

But as the Eighties came to and end The Eagles were back competing at the top table with a team better than at the start of the that volatile decade, under another bright young boss Steve Coppell. It was a team spearheaded by a the prolific strike duo of Ian Wright and Mark Bright who took the old second division by storm to win promotion then thrive in the top flight.

And in 1990 the team would stun the might of Liverpool by beating them 4-3 in the FA Cup semi-final to reach their first ever major final.

Alan Pardew, now the manager of Newcastle, recalls: “We had developed a wonderful team spirit with a strong identity and way of playing under Steve Coppell’s guidance.

“Of course much of the focus was on the goals of Wrighty and Brighty but we had a strong midfield that could defend then hit teams on the break with attacking outlet on the wing like John Salako and Eddie McGoldrick to serve the front guys . We were disciplined at the back.

“Mind you it didn’t seem like that when went up to play Anfield in the league early in the season and lost 9-0.

“It was a tribute to our team spirit that not only did we bounce back and survive rather than go straight back down we ended up getting out own back over Liverpool and getting to Wembley. They were great times.”

In that semi final at Villa Park against a Liverpool side, that as it turned out would win what has since proved their LAST title that season, Palace were given little hope. But in a stunning “ding-dong” game Palace would win the game in extra time with Pardew getting the winner.

“I didn’t get many goals so it’s fair to say in terms of context it was my best” said Pardew.

Palace faced Manchester United in the final drawing 3-3 in another dramatic David and Goliath game. United won the replay 1-0 – the first trophy of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

That is another story as United became the team of the Nineties, the Noughties and the Now.

Finances meant that the Palace side gradually broke up, their players being picked off by bigger clubs.

As the Nineties wore on Palace entered an era of becoming a yo-yo club. Yet despite stretched resources, changes of ownership and a decaying stadium, the club are back in the big time under the guidance of maverick manager Ian Holloway.

Few have given them a chance of surviving especially as they had to sell young star Wilfred Zaha who helped inspire them to promotion via the play offs. But in their opening game they were not disgraced in 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham.

John Salako one of the heroes of that 1990 team says: “It will be very tough of course and I know most see them as favourites to go down, but don’t write Palace off. The most important thing though is for the club to use all the extra money they get this season to establish a new foundation.”

“There is no point spending all the new money on players. I am sure the owners plan will be to try and re-invest the money and redevelop the stadium somehow so whatever happens next season within a few years the club will be in a very strong position.”

Click on the below for some classic Palace clips from the 80’s to the music of The Jam;

The Big Match: Chelsea v Manchester City
FA Cup Semi Final, Wembley

The striking image of George Best clad in a Manchester City shirt on the front page of Bobby may seem strange. To some heresy even. But had Best been around now even Manchester United’s greatest ever pin up would have been tempted by the lure of the riches Manchester City can now offer.

Certainly City’s Abu Dhabi owners, the Mansour family, would have made Best their number one target.  Would Best have taken the Sheiks silver? Well, Wayne Rooney almost did last year and let’s just see what happens this summer on that front. And it should be remembered that by the early Seventies Best had started to grow tired of, as he saw it, propping up an ageing and ailing United side which was in steady decline since winning the European Cup in 1968. A move and a huge pay hike could well have suited Georgie Boy.

Indeed in the early Seventies it was suggested to Best that a move to Chelsea, with a team garnished with flamboyant kindred spirits such as Peter Osgood, Alan Hudson and Charlie Cook, would suit him on and off the pitch. It didn’t materialise then but could well have done now given Roman Abramovich’s resources, although Best would soon end up living just off London’s trendy King Road, a free kick away from Stamford Bridge, after eventually being kicked out by United.

It’s a case of what-might-have-been for Best and City or Chelsea then, had the pound note power of English football been as it is now with both club’s finances underwritten by overseas billionaire owners, because at the start of the Seventies both clubs were on what should have been the start of a sustained era of success.

City had emerged from United’s shadow by winning the League title in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969 then the European Cup winners’ Cup in 1970 inspired by their three Musketeers in Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee. Chelsea were on the rise too having won the 1970 FA Cup and playing in a style that was a football version of the Rolling Stones.

So when the two teams were drawn together in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January of ‘71 a classic clash was anticipated. As it turned out City trashed Chelsea 3-0 at a rain swept and mud caked Stamford Bridge with the brilliant Bell (Steve Gerard is the closest modern day equivalent) scoring twice and Ian Bowyer, who would later go on to achieve great success with Nottingham Forest, scoring the other.

Chelsea v Manchester City – FA Cup 4th Round – 0-3 – Jan 23 1971

City though would lose at home to Arsenal in the next round, The Gunners going on beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final then clinch the Double two days later when they beat Tottenham.

Chelsea recovered from that blow and ended the season by lifting the Cup Winners Cup beating Real Madrid 2-1 in a replay in Athens. And within a couple of years both clubs, like Best himself, would go into sharp decline.

That City win at The Bridge is the last time the two clubs have met in the FA Cup ( there are only two previous encounters), a competition which in recent seasons Chelsea have turned into their own with four wins in the past six years. More incredibly, excluding penalty shoot-out defeats Chelsea are unbeaten in 29 FA cup ties which is an all time competition record. Given those statistics and the manner of their Sixth Round win of over Manchester United, Chelsea look in the mood to salvage another chaotic season in the FA Cup.

But for City, having surrendered the title to United, the Cup which they won two years ago for the first time since 1969 to kick start this new era, is vital too. It’s unfair on Wigan and Millwall but the clash between City and Chelsea actually feels like the final.

So how does Bobby’s Bets see it…?

Latest odds: Chelsea  11/8    Man City  12/5   Draw  3/1

Bobby’s Bets of the day:

Carlos Tevez to score first: 11/2

Yaya Toure to be named Man of the Match: 10/1


Did You Know…

– Manchester City are yet to concede a goal in the 2013 FA Cup.

– The Blues have won each of their last eight FA Cup matches played at Wembley.


Previous FA Cup meetings:

Jan 1971   4th round    Chelsea 0-3 City

Jan 1948   4th round    City 2-0 Chelsea (aet)

Feb 1915  3rd round    City 0-1 Chelsea

FA Cup wins

Chelsea 7 Man City 5

Punters Poser: In that 1971 FA Cup clash why did both Chelsea and City wear their away strips?

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