on 15 February 2015
The 1960 FA Cup Final was the first one I remember. I had become a fan of Tottenham Hotspur shortly before and I remember their surprise 2-2 draw with Crewe in an early round. Could this really be the much vaunted Spurs I had heard so much about? Normality seemed to be restored when Crewe were crushed 13-2 in the replay. However, shortly afterwards Blackburn put an end to my favourites ambitions with a 3-1 win at the Lane.I remember one goal in particular when a free kick in the centre circle was driven all the way along the ground into the Spurs net. I did not recall who scored it until Mr Metcalf's book named Rovers pivot Matt Woods as the "culprit."
And so to the Final itself. What began as a fairly even contest, turned out to be very one sided. In the space of two minutes just before half time, Mick M'Grath inadvertently turned a cross from Wolves young Barry Stobart into his own net and while Rovers were still recovering from the setback, their left back Dave Whelan broke his leg.He never played for Rovers again. I have seen this incident several times on the DVD of the match and it was clearly just a piece of misfortune. Whelan's left boot caught in the Wembley turf and his momentum caused his left leg to snap. After that, with no substitutes allowed in those days, 10 man Rovers had no chance and the Wolves ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
Mark Metcalf narrates the story round by round, with the main matches relived both by contemporary accounts and even more interestingly, with reflections of many of the players who took part in the Final. And a splendidly readable job he has made of it.
Two further observations. Although the two participating finalists were peppered with international players, ( Eddie Clamp, Bill Slater, Ron Flowers, Norman Deeley and Peter Broadbent for Wolves, Ronnie Clayton, Bryan Douglas,Mick McGrath, Derek Dougan and the legendary Scotland manager Ally Macleod for Rovers) neither club has ever been to FA Cup Final since.
And to this day,I always remember feeling sorrier for the losers than I was delighted for the winners.
Oh and the next year Spurs became the first team in the 20th century to win the coveted League and Cup double.
Halcyon days indeed.
on 19 August 2010
Ostensibly about the FA Cup Final of 1960 [Wolverhampton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers] this is a special piece of work which will appeal to all of us who regret the passing of the FA Cup as the pinnacle of achievement for footballers in England. Mark vividly creates the atmopsphere which used to surround the Cup Final - where life was put on hold not just for the 90 minutes of the match, but for pretty much all of the Saturday of the match; whatever the game was like,the Cup Final was a great occasion for every football supporter, irrespective of your team allegiance.
Mark writes in an accesible and relaxed manner; as the reader, you are swept along with the romance of the cup; reading the match reports of the roads to Wembley, you 'taste' the excitement of it all. The book includes interviews with a number of players from both teams which only adds to the quality of the product; there are also interesting and informative comments from fans. For the 'anoraks' amongst us, there are plenty of statistics, with comprehensive coverage of results from all the rounds on the road to Wembley; Mark also includes an appendix which details the previous Cup Final appearances of both clubs - of interest to all of us, particularly in recalling the names of clubs that have long disappeared.
In conclusion, in my opinion this is a superb read which will complement the bookcases of all lovers of the beautiful game. It is highly recommended and the author deserves huge credit for this labout of love.