Geddis set up Town’s most memorable goal

DAVID Geddis was almost unknown to Ipswich Town supporters at the start of the 1977/78 season, but by the end of it he had played a pivotal role in the club lifting the FA Cup,

Nick Garnham

DAVID Geddis was almost unknown to Ipswich Town supporters at the start of the 1977/78 season, but by the end of it he had played a pivotal role in the club lifting the

FA Cup as NICK GARNHAM reports in the ninth of our series 30 Years of Honour.

DAVID Geddis will forever be affectionately remembered by Ipswich Town fans for creating the most famous goal in the club's history.

The 20-year-old's run and cross set up the only goal of the game, scored by Roger Osborne, as Ipswich defeated favourites Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley.

It was almost a case of deja vu as Ipswich had beaten the Gunners by the same scoreline on the opening day of the season when Geddis himself had scored the winner on his full debut after just two appearances as a substitute the previous season.

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Geddis, whose youthful good looks won him many admirers, has instant recall of the occasion.

“Whenever I have told the story about playing in the cup final, I have started with the fact that I played against Arsenal and scored on the first day of the season.

“I remember the match was almost abandoned due to heavy rain, which left water lying on the pitch.

“To be playing against so many stars in the first game of the season was very exciting for me after spending three months on loan at Luton the previous season.”

Geddis was in and out of the side in the first half of the season but after Trevor Whymark strained knee ligaments at Norwich on Boxing Day, the Carlisle-born striker began to establish himself in the side.

He played in the 2-0 win at Cardiff City in the third round although it was Robin Turner who subsequently wore the No. 10 shirt against Hartlepool, Bristol Rovers (Turner scored twice to earn a 2-2 draw) and Millwall as Ipswich advanced to the semi-finals.

A groin strain ruled Geddis out of the 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion at Highbury, but he was far from downhearted at missing what would undoubtedly have been the biggest match thus far of his fledgling career.

“It was touch and go whether I would be fit. I had a fitness test on the morning of the match, but it was the correct decision not to play and so Robin Turner played and did very well.

“I was not too despondent because I was fairly level-headed, and if I was not fit I would not have done myself justice. I could have quite easily said I was right, but it was not in my nature to do so. I looked beyond that. I was quite mature for my age at the time.

“The fact that we won was fantastic. It would have beean more disappointing for me if we had lost,” he said.

“The four weeks between the semi-final and the final was very exciting. It was a period of our lives that was never to be repeated. I remember Mick Mills, especially in the last week, saying not to let it pass you by - you can blink and it is gone.”

Whymark had returned to action ten days after the semi-final and so the No. 10 shirt for the final was up for grabs.

Geddis said: “Trevor had played a couple of games leading up to the final. He was a fantastic centre forward. There were not many better that I have come across over the years in my playing and coaching career, so when we were pitched together as a pairing at Aston Villa the week before the final I thought there was more of a chance of me missing out.

“I remember Bobby Robson saying to us to fight for the jersey. He said you have to prove you are strong, fit and capable of doing the job.”

Ipswich, of course, lost 6-1 at Villa Park, and Geddis recalled: “With the best will in the world I don't know what happened that day. I don't know how many of our side didn't play to form, but afterwards I thought I was going to be the one left out. Trevor scored our goal, although I had a hand in it and I played well.”

Geddis had to wait until the following Thursday to find out that he would be in the team for the final, with Whymark and Turner missing out altogether.

Ipswich deployed Geddis wide on the right and Clive Woods wide on the left, leaving Paul Mariner on his own in the middle, with the aim of stopping full backs Pat Rice and Sammy Nelson getting forward.

Geddis said: “It was a masterstroke. The formation was a real innovation, but it suited me to play that role. I had to be disciplined and work hard, but I was an honest player. They looked at the chemistry I could provide - to stop Arsenal playing and also the bonus of being able to break forward - and in the later stages of the match I was also able to provide something in the last third of the pitch.

“My willingness to shoot from distance caused them problems as I was coming from a deep position. The first shot I had caused Pat Jennings a problem and earned a corner, so I thought I would have another go.”

Although Jennings saved that too, the Northern Ireland international was powerless to prevent Ipswich finally taking the lead in the 77th minute when Geddis picked up a pass from Woods, beat Nelson and crossed for Osborne to score after Willie Young had been unable to clear.

“I can't describe it. I guess if you are an amateur player who loves playing football and you score a goal that is the closest you are going to get to it. It was as though I had scored myself.”

Not only did Osborne feel unwell and had to be substituted, but Geddis was also struggling in the aftermath of the celebrations, although he recovered to stay on the field.

“It was a very hot day - the temperature was up to 85 - and I was suffering from dehydration. It was so hot inside the stadium that I had sun-burnt hands and arms because I wore a short-sleeved shirt.

“We had finally achieved the breakthrough, which was a massive relief. Then it started to sink in that we have got to work hard now not to let it slip. It was very mentally taxing.”

When the final whistle blew Geddis recalled: “The only way you can imagine it is anyone playing at the height of their profession and achieving their goal and to times it by ten.

“I hate to think how the Arsenal players felt at the end because before the game I remember thinking if we don't win what will it be like afterwards?

“It was only when we were having our photographs taken on the pitch by all the press after being presented with the cup that the realisation of just how big an achievement it was sunk in.”

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