Boss wrapped me up in cotton wool

AFTER losing one semi-final nothing was going to stop Kevin Beattie missing out on the 1978 FA Cup final. Beattie, whose career was blighted by injury problems, made only 21 appearances in the 58 games Ipswich Town played during the course of that season.

Nick Garnham

AFTER losing one semi-final nothing was going to stop Kevin Beattie missing out on the 1978 FA Cup final. Beattie, whose career was blighted by injury problems, made only 21 appearances in the 58 games Ipswich Town played during the course of that season.NICK GARNHAM spoke to him.

A CARTLIAGE operation ruled him out for a large part of the season, and when he returned to action he was used sparingly by the man he still loves to call 'Boss' - former manager Ipswich Bobby Robson.

Beattie had played in the fourth-round tie at home to Hartlepool but otherwise did not appear in the FA Cup run until the semi-final against West Bromwich Albion at Highbury.

He recalled: “The boss wrapped me in cotton wool so I was available for the big games. I had lost one semi-final, versus West Ham in 1975, and we were not going to lose again.

“I had played at Highbury many times before. We had the home dressing room, and I thought to myself I will jump in a plunge bath to get myself going.

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“I can remember the game as though it was yesterday. They had Cyrille Regis and Tony Brown up front. Me and Big Al (Allan Hunter) always had a talk between us and I normally marked the player who was the best in the air, so I was marking Cyrille.

“He is a great guy, but he wasn't pleased to see me that afternoon. During the game he turned to me and said 'will you go away from me, you are like a limpet' as I was sticking so close to him!”

Brian Talbot headed Ipswich in front after only seven minutes, but was forced to leave the field after sustaining a nasty gash above his eye.

Beattie said: “Noddy had a fantastic engine. If I was a manager I would have a Brian Talbot in my team. When he went in for that header I could not believe it - I think it was the only goal he ever scored with his head! As soon as he saw the blood from the cut that was it - no way was he going to come back on.

“Mick Lambert came on in his place and it was from his corner that Mick Mills, the Guv'nor, scored the second goal. He really was a Captain Fantastic and a great guy too.

“They came back into it and were pressing us in the second half when the ball was crossed in and I saw this big fist come out and handle the ball and the referee blew for a penalty. I turned to Big Al and asked him what he was doing and he just replied 'I don't know, Beat'.

“After they scored everyone was on tenterhooks. We were under pressure until Johnny Wark scored with a header and it was game over.

“I can remember us opening the dressing room windows afterwards and we were throwing cans of beer to the Ipswich fans outside.

“We were in the final and going to Wembley, and we knew if we could win the FA Cup we would be back in Europe the following season.”

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