FA Cup hero's 1978 shirt could be yours!

EADT readers are being invited to bid for Town legend Roger Osborne's lucky shirt – the one he wore when he thumped the winning goal past Arsenal in 1978.

Katy Edwards

EADT readers are being invited to bid for Town legend Roger Osborne's lucky shirt - the one he wore when he thumped the winning goal past Arsenal in 1978. Katy Edwards reports.

WHEN Roger Osborne scored the winning goal for Ipswich Town against the mighty giants Arsenal in the 1978 Cup Final he keeled over in shock.

This quiet, unassuming local lad had taken on Goliath and won. Suddenly he was propelled into the limelight - he was an instant local hero, his name would go down in history.

For 26 years the number seven blue shirt he wore on that blessed afternoon would hang in the club's boardroom as a poignant reminder of past success.

Now, however, Roger, 53, who still lives in Bixley Farm with his wife Margaret, has agreed to part with his most prized possession for a charity auction, run by the Suffolk branch of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

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Bids are already being taken on the Breakthrough auction line, with the highest pledge so far at £2,500.

Roger's decision was prompted by a close association with the disease, which he preferred to keep private.

He said: "The ladies from Breakthrough sent me a letter asking if there was anything I could donate.

"This seemed like a good idea. I think they were a bit surprised. I just thought that these days, every family has been affected by breast cancer in some way and Breakthrough does seem to be doing good things with research. I would like to think my shirt could do some good."

Roger, who now manages Rushmere Sports Club, was staggered that his 1977-78 season shirt should be worth so much.

He said: "I hadn't ever really given it a thought. Because it was mine, I didn't really think it was worth much. I suppose it is unique really. It's only ever been worn once."

He has kept few momentoes from the 1978 match, bar a little wooden mascot, which is also at the club. He gave his boots to team mate Allan Hunter, who wore them out and threw them away.

I wondered if Roger's three sons Thomas, 19, who is in Australia, Carl, 23, who is studying to be a teacher and Robert, 25, who lives at home in Ipswich minded him giving away such an important family heirloom.

"They're all in agreement about what I've done," he said, adding: "If I had had only one son then the logical thing would have been to leave it to him, but I didn't."

"The one at university was the least happiest - he'd rather have had the money," he joked.

The short-sleeved Adidas shirt was the second shirt Roger wore on that glorious day. He changed after the first half, from long-sleeves, as the weather was so hot. After the match, he gave the first shirt to Arsenal player Liam Brady, taking the Irish creative midfielder's shirt in return.

"He'll say how can I be auctioning my shirt, since he's got it, but this really is the one that scored the goal," Roger affirmed.

Did he have any preference as to who the shirt should go to?

"Whoever is prepared to give the most to charity," was his characteristically forthright reply.

"That is what this is all about."

For all that, he admitted he did still have some attachment to the shirt. After all, it was on his back on one of the best days of his life.

I asked him to take me back to that afternoon in 1978.

He said: "As a team we'd had seven or eight successful seasons before we won the cup. It was getting to the point where we thought we'd never win anything.

"I was one of only a couple of local lads in the team so it made it even more special that I scored the goal. Also, I scored with my left foot and Bobby (Robson) had always been shouting at me to use my left foot.

"It was a scenario where we had eight internationals in the team. I wasn't good enough to be one of those. The nice thing was that when I look back, the other players were pleased it was me.

"I didn't even play until I was 23. I went from supporter to actually playing for them to scoring the winning goal. It was unbelievable for me."

After bagging the victory for Town, Roger had to be substituted almost immediately. Overwrought by his feat, he was too tired and emotional to play on. The unexpected hero started only five more games in the remainder of his time with Ipswich.

The charity auction was the brainchild of five Town-supporting ladies Sally Balch, Ollie Hatcher, Helen Cook, Linda Grave and Gina Dawson, who are all volunteers for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

As one of Town's chosen charities for the year, Suffolk Breakthrough is staging a party night at the football club "Night on the Town" on March 5.

The girls wrote to as many former Town players as they could think of, inviting them to the party, in the Legends Bar and asking them to support the event by donating items of football memorabilia.

Linda explained: "We were imagining things like old socks and football boots, or signed photographs. We were absolutely staggered when Roger offered us his shirt.

"We recognise what an amazing gesture it was for him to part with that for Breakthrough and were thrilled and honoured that he should want to do it. The five of us are all avid Town supporters and this is obviously a cause very close to our hearts as we have all had experience of the disease in one way or another. It is fantastic for us to be able to tie the two things together in this way."

She added that all the money raised from the auction would go towards the Breakthrough Research Centre in London, a partnership venture with the Institute of Cancer Research.

The charity, which aims to beat the disease through increased awareness and research needs to raise at least £5 million every year to continue its good work.

The girls also raised £1,500 wearing pink bras to the Town match against Wigan on Saturday.

Night On The Town, on Friday, March 5 is open to the public (tickets only). There will be pub games, food, dancing, Roulette and more. JVC have donated a television and Euro 2004 tickets as raffle prizes. The organisers are also hoping a current Town player will attend.

Tickets, including food, cost £15 each. Contact Ollie Hatcher on (01394) 382126.

To place your bids telephone the Breakthrough Auction line on (09011) 102078 leaving your name, daytime telephone number and your bid (in excess of £2,500).

The auction line closes at midnight on February 29.

Keep a track of the latest bids in the East Anglian Daily Times

Terms & Conditions

Editors decision is final. Payment in full must be received and cleared by March 5, 2004

Calls will cost just 25p, less then the price of a first class stamp. Please ask permission from the person who pays the phone bill before calling.

Service provided by TPI Ltd

For further details see the East Anglian Daily Times website at www.eadt.co.uk and Ipswich Town's website www. itfc.co.uk

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