Bacon’s Bites: Keep your rotation policies and mediocre ambitions, go for glory in the FA Cup!
Mike Bacon remembers the day Ipswich Town won the FA Cup – as 40 years on Town begin another FA Cup adventure...
May 6, 1978.
Now there’s a date forever etched in Ipswich Town folklore.
FA Cup final, Arsenal v Ipswich Town.
It will be 40 years ago, come May, Roger Osborne slammed home that winning goal for the Blues in the 1-0 win at Wembley Stadium over the Gunners – and Suffolk went crazy.
Who remembers it?
As the Blues embark on their 2018 FA Cup escapade this weekend at home to Sheffield United, those memories, for me and no doubt many of you, are just as vivid. Just like yesterday...
... I was in secondary school at the time - a wee nipper.
I enjoyed playing football for my school and youth teams, as well as getting down to Portman Road when I could, or more truthfully, when my mum would take me.
It was a great time to be a Town fan and as a young schoolboy I could not have been luckier to watch my home-town club take on – and beat – the best teams in England - and eventually Europe - had to offer.
My only disappointment about May 6, 1978 is that I couldn’t be at Wembley – not that it mattered.
Back then, FA Cup final day was the only news in town.
We may not have had the internet, but who cared? It was an all-day event on TV, so even if, like me and many of my school pals you weren’t there, you missed little of the action.
One of the very few games to be shown on live TV, FA Cup final day was a treat – and it started early.
By 9am children’s programmes were already encompassing the Cup final.
There were no cookery shows to ‘excitedly’ grab our attention in those days! Saturday morning TV was for kids – and on Cup final day, football-mad kids at that.
Grandstand and ITV Sport were all over the FA Cup final and access to players was no-holds barred. As we sat at home, the TV cameras would follow the teams from their hotels, onto the coaches taking them to the stadium.
The players would play up to the cameras, not a pair of ‘Beats’ headphones in sight – just our ‘Beat’ back then... Kevin Beattie.
In 1978, fans came first, second and third and as a youngster, even in front of my TV screen, I lapped it up.
After the morning TV ‘starters’, it was beans on toast for dinner, a quick kick-about in the garden with a few mates who had joined me for the day.
Most of my friends, like me, played for our school, Northgate High, in Ipswich and, although a few of us had a liking for Liverpool (Kevin Keegan was my favourite player), Arsenal and a few other teams, we were Ipswich boys. Ipswich were ‘our’ team.
We were glued to our screens as the sides arrived at Wembley.
I remember how relaxed the Ipswich team appeared, skipper Mick Mills, ‘The Beat’ and ‘Big Al’, Warky, Mariner, Woodsy, ‘Noddy Talbot’ – the gaffer looking so proud.
And then it was kick-off!
There’s a saying in sport that you should never look back with regret at big events you take part in – whatever they may be. We all know what happened that warm May afternoon.
The Super Blues left nothing on the pitch, and their skill, as well as determination won them the FA Cup, despite being the underdogs - local lad Osborne the joyous hero.
At the final whistle, Ipswich rejoiced, Suffolk rejoiced, Super Blues fans across the world rejoiced. Certainly me and my mates rejoiced. It was a happy, happy time to be a fan of Ipswich Town Football Club.
Even my dad was happy and he hated football!
Today, the FA Cup has taken on an altogether different meaning.
Money appears more important than medals - or if that is not the case, it doesn’t seem that way to the average fan, as teams put out weakened sides in the world’s greatest domestic knock-out cup competition.
Ipswich Town’s recent FA Cup run is appalling.
No win in eight years and we all remember last year’s debacle at Lincoln City. Wouldn’t it be great for the Town to win against Sheffield United this weekend and for Blues fans to at least look forward to the fourth round draw?
OK, so we know Ipswich won’t win the FA Cup any time soon.
But hey? Hands up who thought Leicester would win the Premier League?
Rather than today’s managers ‘concentrating’ on a league most know they will never win, or ‘rotating’ players most know are happy to play, I wish more would dream big.
Back in 1978, Ipswich Town manager Bobby Robson and his staff and players, the fans, including me and my friends, dreamt big. Even though the Super Blues were never favourites to win the FA Cup back on third round afternoon in January 1978, when Town beat Cardiff, 2-0. Most of the Town team played every round and almost every league game.
And our dreams came true. Dreams that are now joyful memories.
Clubs – all clubs – can keep their ‘rotation’ policies and mediocre ambitions as far as I’m concerned.
No money in the world can buy the memories of when Ipswich Town won the FA Cup.