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1978 FA Cup winners

You are in: Suffolk > History > 1978 FA Cup winners > 'We didn't see ourselves as underdogs'

'We didn't see ourselves as underdogs'

Brian Talbot made the record books by winning the FA Cup in 1978 before moving to Arsenal and repeating the triumph the following year. But the midfielder says the experience of winning the cup for his home team could never be beaten.

Brian Talbot holding his FA Cup winner's medal

Talbot with his first winner's medal

Like the goalscorer of Town's FA Cup winning goal Roger Osbourne, Talbot was a local boy and worked his way through Town's youth set-up before breaking into the first team.

He was an integral part of the side which made its way past Cardiff City, Hartlepool United, Bristol Rovers, Millwall, West Brom and eventually Arsenal at Wembley to lift the FA Cup for Ipswich for the first time.

Thirty years later and the feat has yet to be repeated by a club who fell at the first hurdle in their 2007/08 campaign - losing 1-0 to Portsmouth.

"Sometimes you don't realise that you'll maybe never recreate that again," Talbot says in relation to the achievement of 1978. "It would be a big order for Ipswich Town to win the FA Cup again, but hopefully they'll do it.

"But they've done it once and nobody can take it away from them. The ones who played are part of that history and it's fantastic."

The road to Wembley

Talbot set up the second of Paul Mariner's brace in the 2-0 third-round victory at Cardiff, as an under-strength Town began their path to the final.

"Everybody playing in the third round has dreams of walking out at Wembley in May. And why shouldn't you have?

Brian Talbot in action for Ipswich Town (11/03/75)

Talbot in action for Ipswich in 1975

"If you're a Premiership or Championship club you've got a realistic chance, with the luck of the draw, of getting there."

And in 1978 Town certainly had their fair share of luck. The fourth round draw handed them a home tie against Division Four side Hartlepool United, who Town beat 4-1 with Talbot amongst the scorers, before they were paired with Division Two side Bristol Rovers.

Ipswich's arrival in Bristol coincided with a downfall of snow. The pitch resembled an ice rink and the match soon became a lottery.

Town managed to salvage a 2-2 draw to take the tie back to Portman Road, but this was partly thanks to an unfairly disallowed goal for Rovers.

"We were a bit fortunate on the ice against Bristol Rovers away," Talbot says.

"They got a good goal, which was deemed offside but it wasn't really. But we brought them back home and beat them (3-0) in the replay. So we had a bit of fortune there."

Brawl at Millwall

In a pre-season friendly ahead of the FA Cup winning campaign, Town headed to Millwall for a match which they won 6-1. When the two sides were drawn together six months later few would have predicted the same result.

In fact, several people warned of a tough quarter-final tie at The Den.

"Before the game people were saying it was a difficult fixture for us - we were going to have problems on the pitch with the football. The football wasn't a problem, we won 6-1.

"The problem was the safety of the players and the fans."

Ipswich supporters came under attack from missiles thrown from sections of Millwall 'fans' and the game was stopped for a quarter of an hour as the referee escorted the players off the pitch.

"We had to come off the pitch. God-willing I don't think anyone got hurt badly and we eventually came off 6-1 winners. It was a tremendous performance and quite a few players came in with a goal."

Millwall were fined and banned from playing home ties in the FA Cup for two years as a result of the violence.

The final beckons

Brian Talbot was on the scoresheet once again when Ipswich travelled to the neutral surroundings of Highbury for the FA Cup semi-final.

High-flying West Bromwich Albion were the final obstacle in Town's road to Wembley, and Talbot's early diving header gave Bobby Robson's side the perfect start.

"I didn't take much of a part after that, but at least I contributed to the match," Talbot says. "The ball came in and to be honest I only saw the ball as I dived to head it.

"(West Brom defender) John Wile hit my head and I was fortunate that the ball went into the back of the net.

"I'm glad my efforts weren't wasted. I was carried off, came back on but couldn't carry on in the game.

"I recovered and I'm no worse for wear. I've still got the scar but I'm ok."

Mick Mills scored to double Town's lead just two minutes after Talbot's withdrawal but a late converted penalty gave West Brom hope of pulling the tie back.

However, a last minute header from John Wark put an end to a possible comeback and secured Town's place in the 1978 FA Cup Final.

Cup Final day

On Saturday 6 May Ipswich Town, who finished their league campaign just three points clear of relegation, headed to Wembley Stadium for a final against four-time winners Arsenal.

"In the public eye and in the media we were the underdogs," Talbot says. "But in our own eyes we didn't think that.

"We thought we had a very good team. We had the best centre pair in Allan Hunter and Kevin Beattie, who were a different class. We had the captain (Mick Mills) at left back, who was an England player and first class.

"Paul Mariner led the line. We had good players all over the pitch - Woodsy (Clive Woods) tore Ricey (Pat Rice) apart on the day. We had a mixture of everything in the team."

Town may have been coming off the back of a 6-1 hammering to Aston Villa, but the form guide counted for nothing.

Mick Mills, Brian Talbot and Clive Woods

Mick Mills, Brian Talbot and Clive Woods

The so called underdogs hit the woodwork three times before Roger Osbourne fired home the winner with 13 minutes left of the match.

"It was great that the unsung hero scored the goal. It was lovely with Roger being an Ipswich boy.

"If any of the players had been asked who they wanted to score the winning goal we would have all wanted Roger to get it."

Sir Bobby Robson painted an almost identical picture when interviewed by BBC Look East in January 2008, saying that Osbourne would have been the popular choice to be Town's match winner.

"Bobby Robson did a great job to get us there," Talbot says. "And it was a nice finale with that team that we won a trophy in the FA Cup."

Wembley becomes a second home

A year later and Talbot was lucky enough to pick up his second FA Cup winner's medal, this time for 1978's beaten finalists Arsenal. The Gunners overcame Manchester United 3-2, with Talbot scoring the first.

In 1980 Arsenal, and Talbot, made it three FA Cup finals in a row. Like Ipswich in '78, West Ham United proved the bookies wrong and recorded a 1-0 upset.

Brian Talbot scoring in the 1979 FA Cup Final

Talbot scoring in the 1979 FA Cup final

"It was different because a club like Arsenal expects to win trophies regularly and if they're not it's a crisis.

"You're not in your home town, you're in a big city with players having come from everywhere. Whereas in Ipswich we'd grown up together.

"So it was slightly different, but don't get me wrong it was still enjoyable and it was nice to win an FA Cup again in my first season with them. So my career went on and I was grateful for that.

"But when you're born and brought up in a town it's a special day for so many people, your family and friends who come along and enjoy it, and not just the players."

last updated: 02/05/2008 at 12:48
created: 07/01/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

yep, I remember this well back in a time when the cup meant something.Town outplayed the gunners all day, was a great game.Magic of the cup, ah how times have changed.

tony porter
brian (noddy) could run all day,played with him, and against him many times, you knew what noddy would give you, 100 per cent, every where he went, everytime, rock on nod

Simon Berrill
Interesting to see that Brian remembers Bobby Gould's disallowed goal at Bristol Rovers because not many people mention that decision, which I think was the turning point of our cup run. I was at that game and as it went in I thought "Bye bye Cup!" because we were right level with him and knew it wasn't offside. But then the flag went up. As Brian says, sometimes you just need that bit of luck...

Andrew Jukes
I was only nine at the time, but I remember the tie at Millwall vividly. Those were the days when hooliganism was on the rise - shortly before had been the famous picture of a supporter being carried away from a Liverpool-Man Utd match with a dart in his nose - and the violence was terrible.

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