Tuesday, 2 December 2014

1983-84 FA Cup: Second round

This piece follows on from my previous blog on the first round of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here.

A look back this week on the second round of the 1983/84 FA Cup, including a couple of derby days, a bit of non-league success, managerial chaos for a club less than two days before their fixture, and an England cricketer of some repute turning out for Scunthorpe United.

Come and have a look at what you could have won

When Windsor and Eton's second round match against Bournemouth was postponed on the Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, little did they know that their disappointment would later turn into excitement. With the draw for the next round taking place on the Saturday night, both teams were given the incentive of a mouthwatering home match against holders Manchester United, both an enticing prospect and such a teasing one too.

"Just the thought of meeting of meeting Bryan Robson, captain of England and Manchester United, is unbelievable," stated Windsor and Eton skipper Bob King. "I'll probably be the first captain to toss up with an autograph book in my hand". The carrot of United dangled tantalisingly for both clubs, adding pressure to the tie, especially for Bournemouth who had the none-too-easy task of getting past their non-league opponents in the first place.

Under Geoff Chapple's reign, the Royalists had improved dramatically, gaining promotion from the Isthmian Second Division and on their way to winning the Isthmian Premier Division in 1983/84. The club's patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, was unable to attend the first match at Stag Meadow on the Monday due to an engagement in West Germany, but he did send a letter of encouragement to the team.

In a tight and tense affair, both teams went close, but the match ended goalless much to the relief of Bournemouth boss Harry Redknapp. "I'm relieved to still be in the Cup. This is a game I've been dreading for the last month".

Eight days later Bournemouth duly finished the job at Dean Court, winning 2-0 with goals from John Beck and Ian Thompson, setting up their date with destiny against Manchester United. But as Redknapp would later comment, the matches against Windsor and Eton proved a sterner test than the FA Cup holders would provide.

Derby days

The 1980s had been unkind to Bristol City. Relegated from the top flight to Division Four in just three seasons, the club almost went out of existence in 1982, saved by the actions of the Ashton Gate Eight who agreed to have their contracts torn up in order to reduce the financial burden on the bankrupt club. By 1983 things were starting to pick up under the management of Terry Cooper, and by the time of the FA Cup second round in 1983, the club were in the hunt for promotion and looking forward to an away trip to local rivals Bristol Rovers.

Rovers were also enjoying a fine season - just three points behind Division Three leaders Oxford United - with 28-year-old player-manager David Williams leading his side to eight wins and a draw at Eastville during the centenary year of the club (Williams, Steve White, and Paul Randall marking the occasion by posing in the papers in old-style black tops with yellow sashes, a nod to the first kit used by the club). But on a passionate derby day Cooper came off the bench to inspire a memorable 2-1 win against the club that had sacked him two years before, Tom Ritchie and Martin Hirst scoring late goals to send the away fans home ecstatic.

The side immediately above Bristol Rovers had a much happier derby day experience. Oxford United's 3-0 replay win over Reading was emphatic, although a Trevor Senior missed penalty in a first match marred by crowd trouble indicated that the Division Three leaders were pushed all the way by their rivals.

It had been a turbulent year for the two clubs. Robert Maxwell's proposal of merging both clubs into the Thames Valley Royals had thankfully fallen through in the spring of 1983, and Reading had suffered relegation to the Fourth Division, but gradually the dust settled and Oxford and Reading were both promoted at the end of the 83/84 season. "Nobody ever doubted there is room for the two clubs," declared Oxford manager Jim Smith after the first match. Very true.

Non-league success

Two non-league clubs progressed to the third round. Telford United defeated Northampton in a replay, manager Stan Storton delighted that his side had made it through to the third round for the first time in their history, after blowing numerous chances in the first match. It looked as if history was repeating itself in the replay as Northampton came back from 2-0 down to level the match, but a Dave Mather penalty clinched Telford's place in the hat.

"Justice was done in the end," stated Storton. "Even though we won with a penalty there was no luck in it. It was tremendous the way we picked ourselves off the floor after giving those two goals away".

Maidstone won the all non-league clash against Worcester in a dramatic match. Taking a 2-0 lead after just 98 seconds, and adding a third after 11 minutes, Maidstone were coasting, but the prolific Paul Moss struck twice - taking his FA Cup tally to 12 in 12 games for Worcester - and despite having Barry Lowe sent off for pushing referee Dan Vickers, Worcester made Maidstone sweat until the end.

Barking mad

File this under 'How not to prepare for an FA Cup second round match'. Isthmian League club Barking were rocked less than 48 hours before their trip to Plymouth by the news that their manager Peter Carey had left the club, either via a resignation or a sacking, depending on which version of events you chose to believe. Barking had recently been taken over by John Poneskis, and rumours were rife that Carey was to be replaced soon by Ernie Walley (former Crystal Palace manager). When Carey approached chairman Peter Thompson for assurances over his job, he was told in no uncertain terms that his days were numbered.

"He (Carey) came to me and asked me if he figured in my long-term plans for the club. I said he didn't," revealed a frank Poneskis, with Carey understandably rocked by the whole episode. "I am bitterly disappointed to leave just before the Plymouth game, but I realised when a new chairman was appointed that there might be changes". The owners stated that Carey had quit his post, although he claimed that he had been sacked. Either way, it was hardly the best build-up to an important day for the club.

Thankfully Carey managed to quell any talk of a player strike before the match. "They are as upset as I am over what has happened, but I want them to go out and do the club proud". And that they did, giving Plymouth a scare in Walley's first match in charge, until an 86th minute winner from Lindsay Smith saw the Pilgrims through to the next round. In the end Walley lasted barely a year, so you do have to question whether all the fuss and nonsense was worth it?

The end of the road

It wasn't a particularly happy round for the non-league. In-form Whitby gave Wigan a run for their money, only falling to a single Taylor strike after 79 minutes, but Chelmsford were hammered 6-1 at Gillingham, and Wealdstone lost 4-0 at Colchester.

A John Aldridge brace for Newport County saw off a brave effort from Harrow Borough, and Altrincham took Darlington to a replay, but were unable to repeat their previous FA Cup heroics of the last decade or so that had seen them draw away at Everton and Tottenham, and reach the third round every year between 1979-82.

Blackpool narrowly avoided a painful exit at the hands of Bangor City, winning 2-1 in a replay at Bloomfield Road, although the win was overshadowed due to the injuries suffered by Bangor keeper Gareth Hughes. After colliding with two Blackpool players, Hughes lost consciousness, swallowed his tongue, was in convulsions and stopped breathing.

"It was very nasty indeed," said Blackpool physio Billy Haydock, who assisted at the scene. "The lad's face went purple and the doctors were actually considering breaking his jaw to get at his tongue". Luckily, Hughes made a full recovery.

Beefy Botham makes his mark

And now to a tale of a true sporting all-rounder. Ian Terrence Botham had previously turned out for Scunthorpe United in the League (his last appearance being in March 1982) but when England Chairman of Selectors Peter May gave Beefy permission to make his FA Cup debut, England's cricketing superstar was delighted. "When I was a kid turning out for Yeovil Town's youth team I used to dream about playing in the Cup," Botham said. "It has to remain one of sport's greatest sudden-death competitions".

Botham was not only selected to boost the numbers coming through the turnstiles, however. Scunthorpe boss Allan Clarke spoke gushingly about Botham's playing abilities and of his presence in the dressing room. Playing at centre back, Botham helped Scunthorpe win 2-0 against Bury, and book a trip to Leeds in the third round with Clarke's former club.

Sadly this is where the story ends for Botham, in terms of the FA Cup at least. By the time of the next round, Botham would be touring New Zealand. "If I could have got back from touring New Zealand I'd pay to fly home for the privilege of playing in the third round at Elland Road". Judging by the unmitigated disaster of the tour, Botham may have wished that he could have signed permanently for Scunthorpe that winter.

In a nutshell

There were plenty of stories from the other seven ties in the second round. For example, Millwall chairman Alan Thorne attempting to attract more away fans to The Den by offering free tea and sandwiches to visiting supporters. Unfortunately for Thorne, Millwall's charitable nature appeared to extend to the playing field too, as Swindon came from behind twice to win 3-2. There was also a postponement of the York-Rochdale match due to influenza spreading through the Rochdale squad; three days later, Rochdale turned up to the home of the runaway Fourth Division leaders, took the lead after 14 seconds through Steve Johnson, and another Johnson strike sealed a surprising 2-0 win.

There was also the curious report of a mole infiltrating the Sheffield United squad prior to their match against Lincoln City. The Daily Mirror carried an article on Sheffield United's apparent plans to keep Lincoln's John Fashanu quiet, a scheme that was allegedly relayed back to Lincoln boss Colin Murphy. Murphy promptly left Fashanu out of the team and the match ended goalless - Sheffield United winning the replay in the 90th minute at Bramall Lane - but seeing as Fashanu had scored a hat trick in his previous home match, Murphy's actions still seemed odd (assuming that the newspaper rumours were true of course).

Brentford defeated Wimbledon 3-2, although progressing to the next round did not stop Stan Bowles questioning his availability for the future. "I'm not sure if I'll be around for the third round," declared Bowles, who had joined the club to help them through an injury crisis (in the end, Bowles stayed until February). Billy Hamilton, who had recently gone through the disappointment of narrowly missing out on qualification for Euro 84 with Northern Ireland, scored twice as Burnley knocked out Chesterfield after a replay. Elsewhere, Third Division Bolton defeated Fourth Division Mansfield, and Rotherham saw off Hull 2-1.

Soon it would the turn of the big boys to join the FA Cup party, although come January some of them were sent packing before the action had truly begun. There would be a shock for the holders, upsets for fallen giants, a much missed 1980s experience of seeing a centre back between the sticks, and a couple of replay epics that are also a thing of the past. Plus a moody 8-year-old boy, who sat through Mother Goose at a local pantomime, and then discovered that his beloved team had yet again ruined his weekend.

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