Date: 7th January 2016 at 5:02pm
Written by:

I love the F.A.Cup! Probably more than most and certainly a lot more than Manchester United!

They almost single-handedly managed to kick the whole thing into touch, when they forfeited their right to play in the competition for a money-spinning adventure abroad one year I recall.

Thankfully these days, the F.A. Cup is back to its glorious best, with all the drama of a Alfred Hitchcock thriller and the BBC have got the rights to some mouth-watering early encounters too!

Town supporters from years gone by will never forget the year we won it for the first and only time way back in 1978.

I remember having a bet with a friend who was manager of a betting shop and he gave rather measly odds of 10/1 on the blues lifting the trophy.

Being a bit young and naive I took the bet to the amusement of some of my other friends who were a little more worldly-wise and knew I was getting a mean deal.

I remember that we went to Wales to face Cardiff in the 3rd round and two goals from striker Paul Mariner gave us to 0-2 victory that we thoroughly deserved.

Mick Mills broke a club appearance record that day, when he notched up his 494th game in a Town Shirt and he is arguably the best captain Ipswich have ever had.

The fourth round tie was kinder on the Tractor Boys, who welcomed Fourth Division Hartlepool United to Portman Road.

Town did not have it all their own way though but two goals from South African Colin Viljoen – including a well taken penalty, and a goal a piece from Paul Mariner and Ipswich born Brian Talbot, got us home with a convincing 4-1 win.

The 5th round throw up a daunting trip to Bristol Rovers in the snow and in atrocious conditions Town found themselves two goals down and on their way out of the cup, until reserve striker Robin Turner helped the blues to claw their way back into the competition with two very late goals and a replay at Portman Road.

It was a different story at our place however. Mick Mills and Paul Mariner were on the scoresheet, before Clive Woods wriggled his way through the Rovers defence and fired home from 25 yards and Town came out victors 3-0.

The quarter final was an altogether different affair. The blues had to travel to Millwall,at a time when football violence was at its peak and coaches ferrying visiting fans to the ground were attacked by Millwall fans throwing stones.

Anyone who has followed football hooliganism over the decades will know this was a very bad time for the sport and once Ipswich took the lead violence surfaced inside the ground too and the game had to be suspended for around 20 minutes until some sort of normality was finally restored.

In the end though, Town triumphed 1-6 with a memorable hat-trick from centre forward Paul Mariner but eleven blues fans got knifed that day so although the result was emphatic, the spectacle left it scars on the beautiful game.

Even those of us who were not born at the time have surely seen clips of our semi-final with West Brom and that diving header from Brian Talbot that put us in front and put a bandage round his blood-soaked head!

Captain Mick Mills made it two but Sir Robson’s men were made to sweat when Tony Brown converted a penalty with still 15 minutes on the clock!

Thankfully and to the delight of the travelling faithful, it was John Wark who nudged us further in front when he headed home with just minutes to spare.

The final is now a part of F.A. Cup folklore, as Ipswich Town defied the odds and defeated Arsenal 1-0 thanks to a late strike from Ipswich born Roger Osborne- who, after scoring, collapsed and was carried off never to be seen again.

For all our young supporters far and wide I would love to see another magnificent cup run.

The chances of us emulating those incredible days of the seventies are very small but let us keep the dream alive for as long as we possibly can because the magic of the cup is still ongoing and I am tempted to have another little wager!

Frank Weston – editor of Vital Ipswich


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