Wednesday, 4 November 2015

1982-83: FA Cup First Round shocks

A look back this week on some FA Cup shocks from the first round of the competition in 1982/83, including a couple of teams in financial dire straits having angst piled upon their misery, giant-killers adding to their growing reputations, and Bede McCaffrey writing his name into the history books of North Shields.

Slough stun Millwall

Sir John Betjeman famously wrote his poem about Slough as a protest against the industrialisation of the new town, and come November 20, 1982, many may well have been in agreement that it wasn't fit for humans now. Millwall arrived, struggling in the relegation zone of Division Three and in financial trouble, bringing with them chaos on and off the pitch. The win for Isthmian League side Slough Town was romantic, but very little else was.

For starters, the behaviour of the players left a lot to be desired, three sent-off during an afternoon when occasionally a football match was allowed to break out on a mud bath of a pitch. Millwall's Dean Neal was first to be given his marching orders, the striker also taking out his anger on a dressing room door, with caretaker manager Barry Kitchener fining him £800 for his ill discipline and door damaging antics. Later on, Dave Martin (Millwall) and Dylan Evans (Slough) were dismissed for fighting, as Kitchener despaired. "What went on was disgraceful and may well have cost me the chance of getting the job".

Certainly Slough's 1-0 win did little to help the cause of Kitchener, teenager Gary Attrell scoring the winner with just three minutes to go, yet come the conclusion, not many were talking about events on the pitch. Throughout the day there was trouble. "At one stage the gates were stormed and people were flooding in without paying," declared Slough manager Terry Reardon, and with a half-time pitch invasion, and further aggro in the local area, it was little wonder that Slough secretary Roger Lee was stinging in his comments about the visitors: "How the hell can any club have anything to do with louts like these?"

In all there were 31 arrests made in what Lee described as "scenes of devastation", although rumours circulated that Millwall fans were provoked by a number of Chelsea supporters who had reportedly made the trip to Berkshire to instigate trouble (Chelsea fans were also mentioned in the Wokingham Town-Cardiff disturbances that occurred on the same day). Millwall chairman Alan Thorne was critical of the playing surface, match officials, and the ground security, but he saved his strongest comments for his team's following.

"Enough is enough. The good name of Millwall Football Club has been dragged through the mud for the last time," Thorne noted in his programme notes the week after the match. "The tragic events at Slough last weekend, regardless of the extreme provocation, were the last straw and unless there is an immediate and obvious improvement in the behaviour of the hooligan element among our fans there will be no club for them or anyone else to support". Thorne threatened to close down The Den, at the same time giving the fans an ultimatum: "I was born and bred a Millwall fan and I don't want to see the club die. Do you?"

Thorne would eventually get matters right on the pitch, appointing George Graham as manager a few weeks after the Slough debacle, the Scotsman leading the club to survival and to future success. Yet the off-field issues refused to leave the club, with the events at Luton in 1985 particularly embarrassing. Slough would go on to lose 4-1 in the next round to Bishop's Stortford, which brings us nicely on to the next shock of the FA Cup first round in 1982.

Reading the writing on the door

Like Millwall, Reading were in a mess both financially and from a playing perspective. Struggling at the bottom of Division Three and up for sale, at least the club were handed a home draw against their Isthmian League opponents Bishop's Stortford. Little good it did them though, as the non-league outfit visited Elm Park and humbled the Royals.

Bishop's Stortford's 2-1 win was clinched in the 88th minute, taxi driver Dave Worrell scoring the decisive goal, as Reading were stunned and left to contemplate a season of turmoil. They would face big battles in the 1982/83 campaign, losing their Third Division status but thankfully resisting the plans of Robert Maxwell to merge them with Oxford United and form the Thames Valley Royals. But there could be no mistaking that losing this particular match was a frightening wake-up call.

Conversely, Bishop's Stortford were thrilled, their manager Trevor Harvey revealing how he had left his tactics scribbled on the back of the shower door in the visitors' dressing room. "We left them behind, so they'll know exactly how they were beaten," declared an understandably delighted Harvey, who led his team to the third round and a creditable draw at Ayresome Park, before bowing out to Middlesbrough in he replay.

Chester stung again

If Telford and Altrincham were gaining a reputation as giant-killers, then Chester were developing the unwanted knack of being the hunted. A defeat against Penrith in the previous year was followed up by another loss to non-league opponents, as Alliance Premier League team Northwich Victoria revived memories of their run to the fourth round in 1976/77.

The hero of the moment was 20-year-old winger Mark Ward, scoring twice in extra-time during the replay to give Northwich a 3-1 win. Ward, who had been on Everton's books, was unemployed at the time, but in less than a year he would be picked up by Oldham's Joe Royle for £9,500, his FA Cup exploits no doubt helping his cause no end.

Northwich would lose in the next round to Scunthorpe, but would go on to reach Wembley in the FA Trophy final. Unfortunately, Telford were just too strong on the day, but even Third Division Wigan could sympathise with that.

A tale of two keepers

That Telford were able to shock Wigan was largely down to the performance of their keeper Kevin Charlton in the first match at Springfield Park. The man who many felt was the best goalkeeper outside the top four divisions, kept his team in the match with some fine saves from Colin Methven, Kevin Sheldon, and Phil Williams.

The goalless meant that both teams went into the hat for the second round draw, and when the clubs were matched with Tranmere, there was a very realistic possibility that the winner of the replay would get a bye, such was the perilous state of the League team. Fortunately it didn't come to that.

If Charlton's performance in the first match had been a major influence on the final result, then sadly the same could be said of Wigan's Roy Tunks in the replay. All looked to be going to plan as John Butler put Wigan in front after 49 minutes, yet two Tunks clangers from corners led to both Telford goals, Walker (70) and Neale (73) capitalising and sending the Division Three team crashing out of the competition.

"We didn't win it with kick and rush," stated Telford manager Stan Storton post-match. "We played good football". More and more League clubs would have to get used to Telford and good football as the years progressed. Tranmere may have survived and then squeaked past Storton's men, but in subsequent seasons the club would reach the fourth and fifth rounds of the FA Cup, taking many scalps along the way.

Altrincham march on

Another Alliance Premier League side that had been involved in their fair share of shocks was at it again in 1982. Altrincham had beaten both Sheffield United and York the year before, and had reached the third round on each of the previous three seasons, so their win over a struggling Fourth Division Rochdale was not a complete surprise.

Altrincham's 2-1 win was eventful, though. Four players were sent off - Gary Anderson and Roger Kenyon (Altrincham) and Eugene Martinez and Mickey French (Rochdale) - as goals from John Davison and Barry Howard put Alty through to the next round. Manager Tony Sanders was as perplexed as many in in the ground that day, questioning the performance of referee Vic Callow.

"It wasn't a dirty game, it was just a keenly contested Cup tie," Sanders protested. "The referee must have been the only person in the ground who thought anyone should have been sent off. Any of my players sent off are usually fined a fortnight's wages but there is no way I can justify disciplining these two".

Sanders went on to bemoan the way in which referees had been asked to clamp down on any foul play, adding that ruling out physical contact would ruin the sport for spectators. What Sanders would think of the modern game doesn't bear thinking about.

Two more for the road

Boston United, who reportedly only had 12 fit players in their squad (enough in the 1980s), still had too much for a poor Crewe team that would finish the season in 23rd place in Division Four. Despite taking the lead through Mark Palios, Crewe collapsed in the second half, Boston's goals coming from Chris Cook (2) and Jim Lumby. Boston would take Sheffield United to a replay in the next round, before the inevitable gulf in class kicked in, yet they exited the competition with their heads held high.

Northern League side North Shields pulled off perhaps the biggest shock of the round, winning 1-0 at Fourth Division Halifax, a wonder strike from Bede McCaffrey putting The Robins into the second round for the first time in their history (they would lose 3-0 at home to Walsall).

Honourable mentions too for Wokingham Town and Enfield, who both took Welsh League teams to replays - Cardiff City and Newport County respectively - but in a round of shocks perhaps seven was enough to keep the FA Cup ticking along.

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