This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first and second rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here and here.
The 1984 FA Cup third round was anything but dull. From an early and embarrassing exit for the holders, to a dramatic Herts/Beds derby, via the threat of a players strike, to numerous shocks, the combined events of third round weekend emphasised just how big a part the competition played in the domestic football calendar back in the 1980s. It can make one quite nostalgic for what seems like a bygone era.
There can be no other place to start than the demise of the FA Cup holders at Bournemouth's Dean Court. In truth Manchester United were vulnerable, with Gordon McQueen, Kevin Moran, and Paul McGrath all unavailable, meaning a shaky centre back pairing of Mike Duxbury and 19-year-old Graeme Hogg. An injury to Arthur Albiston during the match did not help matters, but United were so poor that a watching George Best questioned whether their players deserved to be paid for such an abject display.
The goals came in the space of a couple of minutes around the hour mark. A dreadful mistake from Gary Bailey gifted the opener to Milton Graham, and when Ian Thompson took advantage of hesitancy in the United defence, Third Division Bournemouth were on the brink of causing the shock of the round. After the match, Big Ron kept his players locked inside the dressing room for 45 minutes, and emerged with quotes about owing United's fans the championship after their woeful day on the south coast. Like their trip to Bournemouth, United's league campaign would also end in disappointment.
The media naturally circled around the rotten corpse like vultures, with Bournemouth's captain Roger Brown providing many of the soundbites that they wanted. "They lost because they have too many prima donnas. Some of their players expect to get by on reputation instead of getting stuck in," Brown stated, before also laying into Bailey and Norman Whiteside. It did not make pretty reading if you were a United fan.
Embarrassment for the holders, but to the victor the spoils, plus some other bonuses. In the lead-up to the match, an unnamed businessman had promised Bournemouth's staff a trip to Spain totalling £4,000 if they could beat United, and goalkeeper Ian Leigh had also been given the incentive of 12 free pizzas by a local Italian restaurant if he could keep a clean sheet. Bournemouth's players must have been hoping that they could play United every week.
United were in no way the only big boy to have their nose bloodied though. Not wishing to be outdone by their neighbours, Manchester City lost 2-1 at Fourth Division Blackpool, a Neil McNab own goal completing a disastrous day for the Manchester clubs on the coast. United and City fans did not take the defeats too lightly, both sets of supporters involved in trouble with the police, the City game halted at one point due to fans spilling on to the pitch.
In a painful defeat for this particular blogger, Arsenal suffered a 3-2 defeat at Middlesbrough (after sitting through a Mother Goose pantomime that I didn't really want to be at, I was picked up by my mum and immediately asked her the score - I was not a happy boy that day). The loss seemed to have killed off any hopes that Don Howe possessed of keeping the Arsenal job permanently, with Lawrie McMenemy, Jack Charlton, and even Johnny Giles linked to the post. Howe would eventually be appointed until the end of the season though, the Middlesbrough debacle obviously not that disconcerting for an Arsenal board that had already seen Walsall knock the club out of the League Cup.
Another man rumoured to be on Arsenal's shortlist also suffered at the hands of lower league opposition. Terry Venables' QPR had been finalists in 1982, and still contained six of the team that featured at Wembley two years before, but on a day of shocks they were no match for Huddersfield. Kevin Stonehouse, scorer of the winning goal, was damning of the Division One side: "We knew Rangers would want to keep playing football so we decided to hustle then out of their stride and they never got to grips with it." Venables hit back though. "If we played more like Huddersfield, we might still be in the Second Division." Now, now boys.
Crystal Palace also knocked out Division One opponents in struggling Leicester City, Billy Gilbert scoring an 81st minute winner for the Second Division side that themselves were only three points off the relegation zone. And Fourth Division Swindon shocked Carlisle in a replay at the County Ground, the home team winning 3-1 in front of 8,077 spectators (their biggest gate in two seasons), the first defeat in 15 matches for the Second Division side with aspirations of promotion to the top tier of English football.
For three Midlands based teams there were potential banana skins scattered across the road to Wembley, yet all would eventually progress after replays. Birmingham were on an abysmal run of form, without a league win since October, and were handed the daunting prospect of a trip to Bramall Lane to face a Third Division Sheffield United team unbeaten at home all season. Birmingham survived though, drawing 1-1 before two late goals at St Andrew's put Ron Saunders' men through to the fourth round.
West Brom also negotiated a tricky away tie at Rotherham, drawing 0-0 at Millmoor, a ground at which the home team had beaten Southampton at earlier on in the season during a League Cup run that had seen The Millers reach the last eight. Two Tony Morley goals helped West Brom to a straight forward win in the replay.
Notts County were extremely fortunate to earn a 2-2 draw against Fourth Division Bristol City on the Sunday at Meadow Lane (Forest played at home on the Saturday). Denied a 75th minute penalty when keeper McDonagh brought down Tom Ritchie, Bristol City manager Terry Cooper was stunned: "It was absolutely diabolical. You will never see a more obvious penalty". Maybe referee Norman Glover was levelling things up though, after allowing Bristol City's equaliser to stand despite the fact that McDonagh needed five stitches due to a collision with Alan Crawford. Having had a close shave, County won a nerve-jangling replay 2-0, with goals from Brian Kilcline and Iain McCulloch.
One man simply happy to survive was Everton boss Howard Kendall. Sitting 16th in Division One and under extreme pressure, Kendall took his team to Stoke's Victoria Ground, and used the travelling 10,000+ plus fans as the centrepiece of his team talk (the week before only 13,659 had attended Goodison Park for a league match against Coventry). Opening the dressing room windows, Kendall reportedly told his players not to let down their sizeable following, and goals from Andy Gray and Alan Irvine sent both manager and fans home happy. Just eleven days later came that Kevin Brock back pass in the League Cup quarter final at Third Division Oxford, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The third round had actually kicked off on Friday January 6, but only after a footballing row that had threatened to see the live match between Liverpool and Newcastle the subject of strike action amongst PFA members. Appalled at the decrease in television money given to the PFA by the FA, secretary Gordon Taylor met with club representatives Sammy Lee and Kevin Keegan, and for a while the notion of players not playing if the TV cameras were present seemed realistic.
Taylor argued that the drop of television related income from £100,000 to £40,000 would have a great impact on the money available for pensions, compensation, education and retraining of its members, yet Newcastle boss Arthur Cox was shocked at the talk of a strike. "I've never heard anything so stupid. How can players even consider going on strike when they have brothers who are unemployed? Do they not realise that some 30 percent of our fans are on the dole?"
Incidentally, one of the reasons given by FA secretary Ted Croker regarding the reduction in the PFA share was due to the fact that Wembley was to be redeveloped. Interesting that even back in the 1980s, the home of English football was causing the FA to count the pennies. Luckily the strike action did not materialise, but talk of a money-grabbing FA and greedy players certainly sounds familiar.
The actual match itself was a bit of a damp squib, especially for the returning Keegan and Terry McDermott. Despite being cheered on by 11,000 travelling supporters (who unfortunately ripped up 400 seats in the Anfield Road end), Newcastle were brushed aside by an impressive Liverpool outfit, with Michael Robinson opening the scoring, Ian Rush grabbing a brace, and the impressive Craig Johnston also finding the net in a thumping 4-0 win. It was obviously far too early to predict anything, but Liverpool were clearly the resounding favourites for the FA Cup.
Keeping the dream alive
For the two remaining non-league team in the FA Cup there were mixed fortunes. Maidstone, who had missed out on election to the Football League the season before, were expected to give Darlington a run for their money, not that the Fourth Division club had much of that, almost going out of business the week before due to a rent dispute. In fact Darlington were so hard up for money that they even increased ticket prices for the cup tie, with their subsequent 4-1 win giving them a chance of another money-making opportunity (in the end they drew Plymouth away, which was hardly what the doctor ordered).
If any Maidstone fans felt resentment towards the result or the ticket prices, then they would have to wait a while for some revenge. In 1989 Maidstone were automatically promoted to the Fourth Division. The team they replaced? Darlington, of course.
Telford kept the flag flying for the non-league, however. Having already knocked out Stockport and Northampton, and possessing a giant killing record to be proud of in recent years, Stan Storton's side went to Rochdale and hammered the Fourth Division side 4-1. "I don't think a non-league side have been to Wembley in the FA Cup have they?" joked Storton, whose team were fast becoming the ball to avoid in any FA Cup draw.
Dramatic derby days
When the draw was made for the third round, it would be safe to say that Watford manager Graham Taylor would have been less than chuffed. His record against local rivals Luton was poor, with just the one win from nine matches in his time at the club, hardly ideal considering the enormity of the occasion for the supporters. The 1984 FA Cup third round would provide Taylor with some cheer, but only after two nail biting encounters encompassing 210 minutes of fluctuating fortunes and eleven goals.
Taylor and Watford appeared to be doomed once more in the first match at Kenilworth Road. In an all-ticket match which had a lower attendance than expected - approximately 5,000 Luton fans took the brave and noble decision to boycott the match as a protest against the proposed move to Milton Keynes - Luton raced into a two goal lead after 27 minutes, before John Barnes and Mo Johnston (his 9th goal in ten matches) levelled matters. In a predictably feisty battle, Luton's Kirk Stephens was involved in an off the ball altercation with Johnston, and lucky to stay on the pitch. Johnston would not have long to wait for his revenge though.
If the first match was exciting, then it had nothing on the replay just three days later. Seven goals, two Luton comebacks, and extra time was required to separate the teams. Goals from Nigel Callaghan and George Reilly gave Watford a two goal advantage but Mal Donaghy's reply on the stroke of half time gave Luton hope, although when Barnes restored the advantage, Luton looked out. Two Paul Walsh strikes within five minutes (in front of the watching England manager Bobby Robson) took the match into an extra half hour, and it would require another Johnston goal after 108 minutes to finally finish the tie.
"That has got to be the type of game, with pure raw entertainment, that will make people come out and watch," said a delighted Taylor at the conclusion of the drama. The Daily Mirror's Jack Steggles stated that the match was everything you could ask for from a Cup tie, adding that the evening throbbed with passion and commitment. The importance of the FA Cup back in 1984, and the added element of local bragging rights, certainly combined to produce a memorable couple of matches.
Two things I miss a great deal relating to football in the 1980s were present during the 1984 FA Cup third round: an outfield player in goal, and FA Cup marathons. Those were the days my friend.
Fulham may have been down the wrong end of the Second Division table, and without seven first team players, but when Tottenham keeper Ray Clemence was forced to leave the action after 65 minutes due to a shoulder injury, the chances of an FA Cup shock at Craven Cottage increased greatly.
But Fulham could find no way past stand-in keeper Graham Roberts, the centre half excelling as Fulham sniffed blood. Clemence was gushing in his praise after Roberts had earned Tottenham a replay. "When I came off, I sat in the dug-out and marvelled at Graham. He was great, so brave. He made one save from a free-kick that any keeper in the world would have been proud of".
It turned out to be a fine few days for Roberts. Openly delighted at having backed Bournemouth to beat Man Utd at 6/1, Roberts would score the opener in Tottenham's comfortable 2-0 replay victory, as the North London side made light work of their second chance. For others, it was not quite so easy though.
Two teams needed 300 minutes of action to make it through to the next round. Coventry finally shook off a Wolves side that had only won four league matches all season - happily enough for their fans, a 3-1 win at West Brom and a stunning 1-0 triumph at Anfield - with Graham Withey scoring twice in a routine 3-0 win. And the demise of Leeds continued, a 4-2 defeat at Scunthorpe in a second replay giving Allan Clarke revenge over his former club, the Scunthorpe manager removed from the Elland Road hotseat 18 months before.
And to highlight how 1980s the third round was in 1984, promotion chasing Chelsea were dumped out at fellow Second Division club Blackburn. No talks of a quadruple back in 1984, although the club had recently signed a recent £150,000 shirt sponsorship deal with Gulf Air. Those were the days my friend.
In a nutshell
Now on to a brief summary of the twelve remaining ties of the third round, including a dramatic comeback, club turmoil and more FA Cup pain for Brian Clough.
Gillingham provided the comeback of the round, trailing Brentford 3-1 with just eleven minutes left until four late goals saw the Kent club through 5-3 in a match of thrilling drama. Plymouth won another all Third Division clash, an 84th minute winner from Andy Rogers seeing off Newport in a replay. And Oxford continued their stunning cup form - they had recently defeated Man Utd in the League Cup - beating Burnley in a replay, during their 37th match of the season and 14th cup tie.
Derby put their financial troubles and awful league form to one side, although the club they defeated in Cambridge were in the middle of a record-breaking 31 league match run without a win. Reportedly £1 million in debt, and with former chairman Mike Watterson calling manager Peter Taylor "the biggest managerial joke in football", Derby's win was welcome, although in all honesty it simply papered over the gaping cracks.
There was also unrest at Charlton, with Derek Hales dropped, stripped of the club captaincy and transfer listed, after he had threatened to leave the club if they re-signed Mike Flanagan from QPR. The pair had infamously been sent off for fighting during a 1979 FA Cup third round tie against Maidstone, with Hales adamant that he would be out of the door if Flanagan returned, something that manager Lennie Lawrence did not take kindly to. In the end all turned out well enough for Lawrence, his side rather luckily beating Colchester 1-0, but the messy situation would continue for a few weeks yet.
Two relatively recent winners of the European Cup exited immediately. Aston Villa's slow decline continued, a 3-0 replay defeat at Norwich highlighting the direction the club were heading, with Nottingham Forest losing to a Peter Shilton and Frank Worthington inspired Southampton, bringing another dose of FA Cup disappointment for Brian Clough.
West Ham, Ipswich and Sunderland all knocked out lower league opponents in Wigan, Cardiff and Bolton respectively. West Ham's win came at a cost though, Alan Devonshire tearing knee ligaments and reportedly being ruled out for two months (sadly optimistic, as it turned out that Devonshire would not play again regularly for 18 months), but it was a much happier round for Eric Gates, who scored a hat trick for Ipswich at Ninian Park, the same ground at which they had started their successful 1978 cup run.
Elsewhere, 1983 runners-up Brighton knocked out a Swansea City side that was freefalling through the divisions, Nicky Morgan scored a late winner for Portsmouth as they sneaked past Grimsby, Sheffield Wednesday beat Barnsley in a Yorkshire derby, and Shrewsbury eased past Oldham.
The 1984 FA Cup third round may have provided enough excitement to last a whole season, but the fourth round would prove to be just as enjoyable. More shocks, including the biggest scalp of all, another derby day, and Howard Kendall and his Everton team experiencing more season and career changing moments in a round that neatly followed on from the dramatic events of the previous stage of the competition.