Bitter-sweet memories for Johnson

BURY Town's most experienced player, Gavin Johnson, has some bitter-sweet memories of the FA Cup.

Carl Marston

Bury Town soccer (with Johnson pic)

By Carl Marston

BURY Town's most experienced player, Gavin Johnson, has some bitter-sweet memories of the FA Cup.

The ex-Ipswich Town and Colchester United star will be hoping to guide Bury to victory in this afternoon's eagerly-awaited FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie. Blue Square South visitors Basingstoke stand between them and a place in the first round proper.

The only other time that Bury reached the first round proper of the FA Cup was 40 years ago, in the 1968-69 season. Johnson would love to emulate that feat.

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Johnson scored some memorable Cup goals during his Ipswich Town career, which stretched from 1989 to '95.

He netted a late equaliser with a bullet header at Liverpool on February 26, 1992, to drag this fifth round replay into extra-time. Jason Dozzell actually put Town into a 2-1 lead early in extra-time, before goals from Jan Molby and Steve McManaman secured a 3-2 win for the Merseysiders.

Two seasons later and Johnson scored in a 3-0 victory against Tottenham. He fired home the second from Bontcho Guentchev's corner in a fourth round tie on January 29, 1994.

But there have been some forgettable moments as well for Suffolk stalwart Johnson, who was born in Old Newton, most notably during his later days at Colchester.

Johnson recalled: “I remember a game at Yeovil (first round tie in 2000). We were drawing 0-0 and playing quite well when I cleared a corner. One of their guys came in with his studs up, and I ended up in hospital.

“I had to have my ankle stitched up, and when I put the radio on in hospital, I found out that we were losing 5-1! The team coach picked me after the match and I remember it was a very quiet journey home.

“Our keeper, Simon Brown, apparently had a bad back in the build-up to the game. But he certainly had a back injury by the end of it!” added Johnson. The U's lost 5-1 at Huish Park, with all the goals coming in the second half.

Back to the present and Johnson can't wait for the visit of Basingstoke.

He continued: “We've been lucky with getting home advantage again, and we are hoping for a big crowd.

“People from the town should come out in force, and hopefully quite a few Ipswich Town supporters will also come along, especially as their team are playing away at Plymouth!

“We haven't played a league game for about a month, so we have got some catching up to do. But we'd rather be in the cup than out of it.

“And if we can get through, then maybe we can draw one of my old clubs in the first round,” added Johnson.

His former clubs Colchester, Luton and Northampton will be in the first round draw, although his other two ex-clubs - Ipswich and Wigan - do not enter until round three.

Bury were involved in several replays in that famous run of 40 years ago. They overcame Great Yarmouth Town (1-0) after a first round replay, before also beating Sudbury Town (3-2) after a second round replay.

Having beaten Gorleston 4-1 in round three, and then Stamford 2-0 in Lincolnshire in the fourth qualifying round, their prize was a first round proper tie at home to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic.

Those were the days when Bury used to play at their old King's Road ground. They held the Cherries, who were Third Division leaders at the time, to a goalless draw on home turf, in front of a crowd of more than 3,000, before losing the replay 3-0 at Dean Court.

Back in 1968, Bury Town's current Club President, Cyril Everett, was watching the game against Bournemouth at King's Road as a fan.

Though not involved with the club at that point, Everett had been supporting the Blues since 1947, and was keyed up for this vital match. Extra capacity had been organised at the ground to cope with anticipated demand for tickets, and the home crowd had high expectations.

Everett recalled: “There was a brilliant atmosphere during the game, with Anglia TV running it as “Match of the Week.” It was a fairly even game all the way through.

“Now the excitement is building up, and we'll give them a good game this weekend.”

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