FA Cup final, May 6, 1978
8 May ~ In the 1970s, Cup finals always seemed to be on May 6, and always featured Arsenal. Okay, this only happened twice (1972 was the other), but that's enough for a nostalgic generalisation. They were also always played at 3pm on the Saturday after the end of the domestic season, broadcast to all the planets in the solar system.
In this edition, a lethargic Arsenal were outplayed by an attacking Ipswich side that hit the woodwork three times before Roger Osborne's late winner. The player fainted after his goal celebration and was substituted, while BBC commentator Barry Davies reminded the nation several times over that Osborne's "family of 12" was inside Wembley to witness the whole drama.
The match programme is as stiff as the typically English formalities that surround the game – all coiffed royalty (HRH Princess Alexandra), trussed-up regimental bands and the dolefully pious lyrics to Abide With Me. FA secretary Ted Croker notes that, when all that ceremony is said and done, "we are left with the imponderable question of how 11 men will perform against 11 others". And to think he was maligned for failing to truly understand the game.
There's an advert in the programme for the Debenhams Cup final between Blyth Spartans and Wrexham, perfect material for anyone compiling pub trivia quiz questions. So, what the hell was it? A two-legged competition for the two teams from the first round who survived longest. The winners got "a solid silver trophy, plus £7,000, and the losers will receive £5,000". Not bad, really. Sadly, this was the competition's second and final year, and as Blyth won (3-2 on aggregate), the cup is presumably still gathering dust in the Croft Park trophy cabinet.
Targeting the fan demographic "Is your body coming between you and the opposite sex?" asks an ad for the Health Education Council, illustrated by what may have been your archetypal, beer-bellied football fan in swimming trunks looking on regretfully as four bikini-clad women throw a football around a pool with two leaner male specimens. He needs more veg and less lard, says the HEC, years ahead of Arsène Wenger and his new-fangled continental diets.
Result Arsenal 0 Ipswich 1 (Osborne)
Arsenal Jennings, Rice, Nelson, Price, O'Leary, Young, Brady (Rix), Sunderland, MacDonald, Stapleton, Hudson.
Ipswich Town Cooper, Burley, Mills, Talbot, Hunter, Beattie, Osborne (Lambert), Wark, Mariner, Geddis, Woods.