Dropped one week, a legend the next

VIDEO Roger Osborne, dropped the week before the 1978 FA Cup final, wrote his name into Ipswich folklore by scoring the winning goal at Wembley, as Nick Garnham reports in the last of our series on the Legends of '78

Nick Garnham

Roger Osborne, dropped the week before the 1978 FA Cup final, wrote his name into Ipswich folklore by scoring the winning goal at Wembley, as Nick Garnham reports in the last of our series on the Legends of '78

ROGER Osborne says that Ipswich Town manager Bobby Robson never told him he would be in the starting line-up for the 1978 FA Cup final.

But Osborne, who was dropped the week before the final for Ipswich's League game at Aston Villa, knew straight after that game he would be back in the side to face Arsenal at Wembley.

Colin Viljoen, the South African-born midfielder who was capped twice by England, came into the team at Villa Park in place of Osborne, who said he was “devastated and shocked'' at being dropped.

Osborne said that because Viljoen, who like so many players that season had suffered injury problems, was a good passer of the ball it was thought his style might suit playing at Wembley.

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He said: "Obviously the staff had decided during the week it was going to happen, but I was not the only one who was shocked - all the other players were as well.

"I had organised tickets for all my family - they were coming from Cornwall, Devon and Birmingham - and all of a sudden it was rushing through my head that I was not going to be playing at Wembley."

Ipswich lost 6-1 to Aston Villa and the watching Osborne knew the formation had not worked and he would be restored to the cup final team.

"If things had turned out differently at Villa Park to the way they did then obviously I would not have played at Wembley, but it stood out like a sore thumb so there was no way Bobby could play that team again. I was a popular player and no-one wanted me to be left out. John Wark and Brian Talbot were both moved to accommodate Colin, but it just did not work."

So when was he told he would be playing?

"I have never been told!" quipped Osborne, who was paid £25 a week when he first joined Ipswich which was effectively a pay cut as prior to that he was earning £25 a week working on a building site plus £15 playing for the reserves.

"Bobby, to be fair, said the only one to come out of the game with any credit was me, so he was saying in a way I was in the team.

"Then in training during the week prior to the cup final everyone knew who was doing what and it became quite obvious that I was in the team."

Osborne, who came from a family of six brothers and six sisters, can't recall exactly how many cup final tickets he needed for family, friends and neighbours but said: "It was an awful lot - it was a question of how many I could get!"

Most of them travelled on their own coach from Witnesham, but his mum May, now aged 92, was not among them.

“I don't think my mum ever watched me play football. My dad (Charles) only ever watched me two or three times in his life. If you think how parents cart their children around to football now it is quite unbelievable really.''

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