How to explain in 2,500 words the misguided conviction of a thirteen-year-old Saints’ supporter who believed that Brian Clough was mistaken when he claimed that, ‘It only takes a second to score a goal’.
The accessibility of top-class football to the masses of its devoted supporters whose lives revolved around watching and playing ‘the beautiful game’ was very different back in the mid-Seventies. And, as a young lad whose teenage years had only started a few months before, what could be better than knowing that a trip to Wembley Stadium to watch my favourite football team was on the horizon – safe in the knowledge that tickets were readily available and easily obtainable from the club itself? I had been too young to go to Wembley with my eldest brother and his mates to watch Southampton beat Manchester United in the 1976 FA Cup Final. Now though, things were different: we were back in the First Division again, I was going to home games with pals who, like me, were now old enough to travel alone, and Saints had a team which, on its day, could put up a good fight against any side in the league or cup. And to supporters who watched them regularly, the difference was obvious: Lawrie McMenemy had created a well-balanced blend of muscular maturity, experience and youth with a particularly fruitful midfield relationship having developed between England World Cup Winner, Alan Ball, and our young starlet, Steve Williams, who, at that time, was being tipped to become a regular England international. Also, our strike force of Phil Boyer, Austin Hayes and Terry Curran was producing results – though not always consistently – and we were in possession of a solid back four which also contained, of course, our legendary penalty taker par excellence, David Peach. So, who or what had Saints to fear? And why worry about playing in another Wembley Cup Final – just three years after our most famous victory against Tommy Doherty’s red-hot favourites, Manchester United?
Written & Published to raise funds for the UK’s FIRE FIGHTERS’ CHARITY.