A nice guy who scored the winner at Wembley

IN the first of a new monthly series, former Ipswich Town striker James Scowcroft tracks down ex-Blues. He starts with FA Cup-winning hero Roger Osborne...

“taking the defender on and winning, Osborne, 1-0” is without doubt the most famous commentary of an Ipswich goal in the club’s rich 133-year history.

Today the scorer of that goal sits in the bar of the Rushmere Sports Club where he is the manager and reflects on that day, the greatest day of his life.

“The week before I was dropped for Colin Viljoen at Aston Villa in the league and I was devastated,” Osborne recalled.

“I knew that Bobby Robson wanted Colin to play – he thought the open spaces at Wembley would suit him.

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“But Bobby’s problem was that he had to shuffle the midfield around to fit Colin in.

“Warky had to go out wide and Noddy (Brian Talbot) moved across so there was a little rebellion in the side. Fortunately for me we lost 6-1 at Villa Park and Bobby fell out with Viljoen to the extent that Colin walked out and wasn’t even in the squad for Wembley.

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“The day itself was very memorable. People always ask me what it’s like to play at Wembley, what’s it’s like to score at Wembley and what it’s like to faint at Wembley.

“It’s all a little embarrassing really because people remember me fainting and being substituted. I would have stayed on if the team needed me but we had Micky Lambert as sub and it just seemed the right thing to do.

“When the final whistle went the jubilation was unbelievable, the feeling was better than scoring itself. Plenty of people have scored in a cup final and not won but to win the FA Cup, was something very special”.

Roger, who was born in Otley, was a late starter in football and didn’t play competitively until the age of 12. He came from a family of 12 and his younger brother David was probably the better footballer, playing for Ipswich youth team.

He said: “I used to have to take David training on a Thursday night and a good friend of mine, Geoff Hammond, who I went to school with, was playing for Ipswich reserves.

“Geoff asked me one day if I could come and help the reserves out as they had a lot of injuries at the time. For 18 months I was playing in the reserves on a Saturday and for Clarke Demolition in Ipswich on a Sunday.

“I was never the best of players but I always gave my best at what ever level I played at. Eventually I was offered a contract to go professional on �25 per week.

“Coaches Cyril Lea and Bobby Ferguson were hard task-masters but it suited me. I made my debut in 1973 against Wolves at home. We won 2-0 and I got subbed. It was a standing joke at the club as I always got subbed – probably because I never moaned”.

Osborne went on to make 124 appearances for Ipswich and rates Johan Cruyff as the best player he played against in a famous UEFA Cup tie against Barcelona in 1977.

In 1981, with the arrival of Muhren and Thijssen, Osborne left Ipswich and jo ined Colchester United for �25,000.

He stayed at Layer Road for five seasons, making over 200 appearances. After retiring at 36, Roger had spells with Braintree and Sudbury before returning to his roots playing for local side Westerfield United.

He said: “When I finished I didn’t have a job so I became a lorry driver with my brother and carried on playing non-league football”.

For the last 12 years Roger has been manager of the lovely Rushmere Sports Club, which ironically backs on to the Ipswich Town training ground.

He said: “It’s a nice facility but we need to update it now. We have plans for a floodlit all-weather pitch to be installed which will generate money for us.

“I still keep in contact with a few players – Warky often comes up and plays head tennis but I rarely get down to Portman Road these days as I’m too heavily involved with Westerfield.”

It was excellent to sit down with Roger and chat about good times.

I don’t think I’ve met a nicer, more humble guy – if ever you wanted a bloke to score a winning goal in a cup final, it would be him.

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