The New Wembley Stadium has yet to craft its own legend. For all the improvements in convenience and safety modernity has brought about, one aspect feels lacking: the roar of the crowd. Whatever the cause, the dropping prestige of the FA Cup itself, a generous helping of corporate tickets in the allocation for the final or tepid atmospheres up and down the country in general, the sound emitting from either end of the Old Wembley used to be spine tingling in comparison.
As the teams emerge from the tunnel to kick off the 1979 final, the volume level is already deafening. Referees, players, and coaching staff are visibly giddy with excitement as the noise engulfs them. Before the match, though, protocol awaits. Charles, Prince of Wales, with a host of dignitaries in tow, has to be introduced to the players. As the entourage pass by the two sides, lined up to face each other, the players exchange quips like school boys behind their teacher’s back.
Any joviality is gone with the opening whistle. From the first Arsenal attack, Frank Stapleton and Jimmy Greenhoff collide. Both go down, receive treatment, and carry on shortly after. It’s nothing malicious from either player, but goes to show neither side will hold back. Continue reading →
The third time would surely be the charm for Malcolm Macdonald. His Newcastle side had lost the FA Cup final 1974 to Liverpool and the League Cup final 1976 to Manchester City. Every other year Supermac made the trip to Wembley. In 1978 he had donned Arsenal’s colours and dragged his new club there with him, scoring in every FA Cup match leading up to the final.
To start their Cup campaign, Arsenal had ran roughshod over Sheffield United in the 3rd Round, Macdonald providing four of the five Arsenal goals on the day. Wolverhampton proved more bothersome, but again it was Macdonald to the rescue, scoring the 2:1 winner in the 90th minute. Walsall were disposed of easily enough, 4:1. Their fellow Third Division outfit Wrexham managed to pull level at 1:1, but in the end were sent home all the same, 3:2. A Macdonald brace at Stamford Bridge ensured the semi-final win over Leyton Orient, 3:0.
So familiar was Macdonald with the hallowed surroundings that, standing in the centre circle of the Wembley pitch, he was relaxed enough moments before kick-off to have a little chat and laugh with Referee Derek Nippard. Maybe he was calmed by the knowledge of Ipswich’s recent run of results. Town had only won one of their last seven league matches before the final. Arsenal would finish 13 spots ahead of their opponents in the final table. (One league match was still to be played for either side, coming on the Tuesday after the final.) Needless to say the Gunners were heavy favourites going into the match.
After adopting Burnley as our team of the season, we just had to go back and look at one of their most important matches.
In 1962 Burnley met Tottenham at Wembley. It was their third appearance in the FA Cup final, their record even. But Tottenham were not just any team: Bill Nicholson’s side had achieved the first double of the century. Blanchflower, Greaves & Co. would prove a fine opponent. However, Burnley were also only two years removed from winning the league. And McIlroy, Adamson, Connelly and Pointer some of the finest players in the country.
We give a very quick rundown of Burnley’s club history, the landscape of English football in the early 60s and of course the match itself.
Here are the minutes:
0:00:00 Intro; Why did we adopt Burnley?
0:03:30 Burnley FC history in a nutshell (FA Cup win 1914, League title 1921, FA Cup final 1947)
0:11:45 Building the 1960 side, a second League title & prior meetings with Tottenham
0:19:15 Jimmy Greaves’ transfer; finalists path to Wembley
0:25:00 Preliminaries, line-ups, kits, referees; TV broadcast
0:31:30 Kick-off, first blood to Spurs, stagefright for Burnley?
0:40:00 Corner kick technique, Burnley too impatient, Spurs dangerous on the counter and quick on the trigger
0:52:00 Spurs general set-up, tactics, Burnley’s trouble dealing with Greaves, Jones & Co.
0:59:00 Burnley’s best phase before and after half-time, score the equaliser…
1:07:00 …just to concede again from kick-off
1:12:00 Jimmy McIlroy’s contribution, end-to-end action in the closing phase
1:16:15 Penalty to Tottenham, or was it a foul on Blacklaw? Blanchflower converts
1:23:00 Trophy presentation, MOTM (Cliff Jones), perception of the match
1:28:30 Burnley going forward
1:34:30 How Jimmy McIlroy signed for Burnley
The match itself ganered a very favorable rating and is recommended for anybody with a passing interest on English football from the 1950s-60s. And if that’s not you, what are you doing with your life? Well at least check out the Pathé highlights:
And here are the full 90+ minutes for your enjoyment: