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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

40th anniversary of Ipswich Town's FA Cup win: Stuart Watson's cup final match report from Wembley

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 May 2018

Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Town's FA Cup win in 1978. Picture: ARCHANT

Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Town's FA Cup win in 1978. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

On the 40th anniversary of Ipswich Town's famous FA Cup Final win over Arsenal this weekend, chief football writer Stuart Watson pens a match report on the game with a modern twist.

Match-winner Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Ipswich Town's FA Cup win in 1978. Picture: ARCHANTMatch-winner Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Ipswich Town's FA Cup win in 1978. Picture: ARCHANT

Justice

When Pat Jennings’ flying body, elastic arm and shovel hand somehow denied George Burley’s thumping close-range header deep into the second half the initial instinct was to laugh. Just how were Ipswich Town not in front?

Then fear quickly took over as the over-riding emotion. Perhaps the footballing gods were simply not on the Blues’ side.

Number seven Roger Osborne scores the most famous goal in Town's history, the one that won the FA Cup! Picture: ARCHANT/OWEN HINESNumber seven Roger Osborne scores the most famous goal in Town's history, the one that won the FA Cup! Picture: ARCHANT/OWEN HINES

Town had rattled the woodwook three times – Paul Mariner firing against the bar from close-range early on, with John Wark rifling against the left-hand post with carbon copy strikes from the edge of the box after the restart.

Jennings had also pushed David Geddis’ dipping shot around the post and tipped Kevin Beattie’s towering header over the bar.

Then, finally, the breakthrough came in the 77th minute of a pulsating final that must go down as one of the best.

Arsenal's Malcolm MacDonald loses out to Town keeper Paul Cooper. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTArsenal's Malcolm MacDonald loses out to Town keeper Paul Cooper. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Geddis darted to the byline and delivered a dangerous low cross. The backpedalling Willie Young could only stick out a foot and divert the ball back into danger. Then, as time seemed to slow, Roger Osborne fired into the bottom corner.

When the final whistle eventually sounded there was a mixture of sheer joy and relief. No doubt about it, this was as comprehensive a 1-0 win as you are likely to see.

Town skipper Mick Mills wins a robust challenge with Arsenal's Alan Sunderland. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTTown skipper Mick Mills wins a robust challenge with Arsenal's Alan Sunderland. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Underdogs

This was not in the script.

The Blues came into this game off the back of a 6-1 thrashing at Aston Villa. They’d just finished 18th following an injury-hit and below-par Division One campaign. The bookies made them 3-1 shots.

John Wark is all smiles with his FA Cup winners' medal. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTJohn Wark is all smiles with his FA Cup winners' medal. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Bobby Robson’s men were meant to be just enjoying their big day out at Wembley – the club’s first-ever outing beneath the Twin Towers – following an emotional semi-final triumph against West Brom at Highbury.

Arsenal had Irish magician Liam Brady in midfield and the barrel-chested England international Malcolm Macdonald up front. Their considered, energy-efficient passing game was said to be better suited to the expansive, rain-soaked pitch than Town’s all-action approach. They were the team less likely to be over-awed by the occasion. They were even wearing their ‘lucky’ yellow and blue strip.

How wrong all the pundits were. Ipswich played like a team possessed from the first minute to the last.

Paul Cooper and Mick Mills show the FA Cup off to Town fans at Wembley. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTPaul Cooper and Mick Mills show the FA Cup off to Town fans at Wembley. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Unlikely but fitting hero

Scoring proved to be Osborne’s final act. After hitting the back of the net he promptly fainted and, after being brought back around by smelling salts, was replaced by Mick Lambert. It was as if he’d even surprised himself.

Ipswich Town players celebrate their remarkable FA Cup win over Arsenal. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTIpswich Town players celebrate their remarkable FA Cup win over Arsenal. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Osborne is used to being the unsung hero after all. His job was to shackle pass-master Liam Brady just as he had done with Barcelona’s Johan Cruyff last November.

It looked like he may not even be picked last week. And now his is the name forever written in folklore. You couldn’t pick a more popular match-winner.

This is the man from a family of 12 who was playing for Grundisburgh in the Suffolk & Ipswich League little more than six years ago. Afterwards he was proudly telling reporters that he was from Otley (one wrongly assumed he meant the better known town in Yorkshire).

Paul Mariner steers an effort goalbound. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTPaul Mariner steers an effort goalbound. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

How fitting that a proper Suffolk boy gave the people of Suffolk such joy.

Built from the back

Allan Hunter wins a tackle with Arsenal's Alan Sunderland. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTAllan Hunter wins a tackle with Arsenal's Alan Sunderland. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter were pumped with injections pre-match and both full earned their cigarettes on the post-match lap of honour.

The central defensive duo – dubbed ‘eggs and bacon’ by Robson – were imperious. Full-backs George Burley and Mick Mills were equally unbeatable.

On the rare occasions Arsenal had half a look at goal the door was quickly slammed shut.

Allan Hunter wins a towering header. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTAllan Hunter wins a towering header. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Tactical masterclass

Robson deserves huge credit for devising the game-plan which left the Gunners firing blanks.

Paul Mariner exclaims as a Town shot goes wide of Pat Jennings' posts. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTPaul Mariner exclaims as a Town shot goes wide of Pat Jennings' posts. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Abandoning the two up top system favoured for much of the season, he pushed Geddis out to the right in order to keep marauding left-back Sammy Nelson pinned back. It worked a treat.

Woods, out on the opposite flank, was given the freedom to drift. Paul Mariner constantly dropped deep to knit play. Town’s defenders pushed their team-mates up the pitch.

Arsenal were faced so many defensive conundrums that they never once were able to focus on their own attacking play.

Town fans at Wembley in 1978. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTTown fans at Wembley in 1978. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Town ratings

George Burley in action in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in 1978. Picture: OWEN HINESGeorge Burley in action in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in 1978. Picture: OWEN HINES

1) Paul Cooper: Little to do. Crucial stop at feet of Sunderland in second half – 8

2) George Burley: Barely put a foot wrong. Bombed on. Denied by super Jennings save – 9

5) Allan Hunter: Passed fit on day. Early crunching tackle on Macdonald set tone – 9

6) Kevin Beattie: Read the game superbly. Won all his duels. Towering header tipped over – 9

3) Mick Mills (cpt): Captain fantastic was calmness personified. Nothing got by him – 9

7) Roger Osborne: Shackled Brady then popped up as unlikely goal hero. Promptly fainted – 9

8) John Wark: Rattled post twice after a quiet first half. Typically box-to-box – 8

4) Brian Talbot: Non-stop running. Kept finding reserves of energy – 8

10) David Geddis: Tricky teenager’s dart and cross led to deadlock finally being broken – 8

9) Paul Mariner: Roughed up defenders, dropped deep, a menace throughout. Hit bar – 9

11) Clive Woods: Mesmerising skill. Constantly on the move. Terrorised Rice – 10

Man of the match - Clive Woods

Experienced winger had the game of his life on the biggest stage of all. Primarily on the left, but drifted all over the pitch – especially in the frenetic opening exchanges..

Ball stuck to his foot like glue and he consistently spun on a sixpence, jinking this way and that, to leave defenders dazzled.

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