Guinness settled our pre-match nerves

UNABLE to settle the night before the FA Cup final, Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter found an unlikely ally in Ipswich Town coach Cyril Lea.The players were supposed to be in their rooms by 10pm, but Beattie and Hunter were restless and having a cigarette when they were spotted by Lea.

Nick Garnham

UNABLE to settle the night before the FA Cup final, Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter found an unlikely ally in Ipswich Town coach Cyril Lea.

The players were supposed to be in their rooms by 10pm, but Beattie and Hunter were restless and having a cigarette when they were spotted by Lea.

Beattie said: “Cyril was a hard man, but he never got enough credit for what he did at Ipswich.

“That night he took us to the bar and Big Al had a pint of Guinness and I had a pint of bitter. He sat there having a pint with us and said not to tell anybody about it.

“It helped to settle our nerves and we went to bed and slept like logs, although Big Al was up early next morning because he was having a fitness test.”

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Hunter was passed fit, but like Beattie he was not 100%. Beattie said: “I was about 60% fit, but I knew I would not let anyone down. I had two cortisone injections before the game and one at half-time to kill the pain in my knee.

“I am not blaming the boss or the club - I was prepared to have those injections because I wanted to win the cup for the supporters and for the town of Ipswich.”

Despite their fitness concerns Beattie and his Town team-mates were confident of causing an upset.

“I thought we had a good chance even though we were underdogs. I knew in my own mind we were going to win it. I could see in the lads' faces everyone was up for it.

“When we came out of the tunnel and saw all those blue and white flags it meant so much to me. I thought I am not going to let these people down. I was playing for the fans as well as for the club, because without the fans there would not be a football club.

“Arsenal were big, big favourites but we murdered them. We should have beaten them four or five.

“When Roger (Osborne) scored I remember Noddy (Brian Talbot) going to the referee and he kept pointing to his watch and asking how long was there to go.

“Some people thought it was going to be one of those days and they would break away and score an equaliser, but we knew they wouldn't as our back four was like the Rock of Gibraltar.

“After the final whistle it was unbelievable. I remember going up the steps and some fans in the crowd were crying with enjoyment. Me and Big Al were gagging for a fag and we managed to have a quick puff on the way up.

“The lap of honour was fantastic - not only our fans but the Arsenal fans were also brilliant after the game.

They called it the 'friendly final' - there was rivalry on the pitch but not off the pitch. It was something you never, ever forget.

“After the game my knee was like a balloon, but I didn't care because we had won the cup. Winning the 1978 FA Cup final has got to be the greatest day of my life,” he added.

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