Amazing to recall that Brian Clough’s previous away Cup tie, as Derby boss, was in the European Cup Semi-Final against Juventus. From Turin to Walton-on-Thames in the space of a few months. Here is John Vinicombe’s match report of the first match of the notorious cup tie with Walton and Hersham, from 24th November 1973, 40 years today:
Albion are indeed fortunate to be meeting Walton and Hersham a second time in the FA Cup. The Amateur Cup holders very nearly succeeded at the first time of asking in knocking them out, but Albion should decide the issue in Wednesday’s Goldstone replay.
However, one says ‘should’ in the assumption that they will not fail again to master elementary facets of the game. It is a familiar, but no less valid theme of manager Brian Clough that sides which do not get shots on target do not win matches.
Saturday’s shot-shy display played right into the hands of Walton, who harried and chased with commendable spirit until referee Gordon Kew’s whistle called a temporary halt to the proceedings in semi-darkness when neither side had scored.
Albion had given Gary Bloom remarkably little to do and Brian Powney was by far the busiest goalkeeper. He was the man who kept Albion in the Cup. Yet, after only seven seconds Powney lay flat on his face, watching in dismay as the ball snuggled into the back of the net.
It was the almost classic, storybook start for the underdogs. Straight from the kick-off the ball was knocked back to Dave Bassett and he struck it firm and high towards Albion’s goal. Russell Perkins jerked his heavy limbs into a gallop and down came the ball, bounced and, in cricketing parlance, “did a bit off the seam.”
Powney was on the edge of the six-yard box when it bounced over his head, and Perkins went by joyously to find the net and salute an unbelieving crowd.
Albion were goggle-eyed as Mr Kew pointed towards the centre-spot. In the Press accommodation and overspill, with reporters still trying to find seats, 50 pairs of eyes glued to 50 watches and the timings ranged from seven to 30 seconds. Down went eyes to books, and pens moved swiftly to record the event.
But, alas for Walton, it was not a goal. Mr Kew’s right arm indicated a foul. He explained afterwards: ‘I did not allow a goal because the centre-forward jumped at the goalkeeper.’
Mr Kew is a stickler for detail and Albion can thank their lucky stars he is. Perkins could only reach the bounching ball by jumping and it looked a good goal to most of the 6,500 crowd.
When it was clear that Walton had not scored the crowd felt cheated. They turned on Clough and screamed abuse at him for coaching from the line.
The rest of the game was rent with most ungenteel tones from a district where there are more stockbrokers to the acre than you can shake a stick at.
Afterwards the disappointment showed in the faces. The lugubrious countenance of Eric Sykes reflected Walton’s feelings. He played the straight man’s role on cue and said Walton should have won. And for once Clough devilled judgment without causing a furore.
He said: ‘I am very pleased to be still in the Cup. Walton had enough football to keep us occupied. They did a very good job. Brian Powney earned his cash today.’ Then he asked for Scotch and water and retired to the dressing room.
So the big match has come and gone from Walton-on-Thames. It will not be remembered although Walton summoned all their resources and Perkins went close to winning it four minutes into the restart with a half-volley that flew narrowly past the post.
While Albion were fighting for their reputations at Walton, the marchers were parading in Derby – 1,000 still bent on restoring Clough to the throne he abdicated a month ago.
As the skies darkened over this trim council-owned ground with such a beautiful playing surface, Clough must have felt the pulses surge briefly again. George Ley outstripped a host of red shirts to rifle an ankle-high 20 harder only a foot wide. Then Walton stood stock still, accusers and accused pointing to what might have been.
There was precious little they had to fear from the recognised strikers, and Peter O’Sullivan the most skilful player afield, wasted his midfield talents to a distressing degree. Overlaps from John Templeman and Ley were what really worried Walton who alone possessed the traditional cup-tie spirit on the day.
Walton and Hersham: G Bloom, D Sargent, C Lambert, W Edwards, D Bassett, C Woffinden, W Smith, R Perkins, C Foskett, D Morris. Sub: R Wingate.
Albion: Powney, Templeman, Ley, Spearritt, Gall, Piper, Bridges, Howell (R), Hilton, Robertson, O’Sullivan. Sub: Howell (G)
And, for the first time on YouTube, I can now show you some super-rare footage from this match. There’s not much of it, there’s no sound, and it doesn’t include the disallowed goal:
Nevertheless, please don’t have nightmares!