Hug from mum before Burley got medal

Of the 12 players who featured in Ipswich Town's 1978 FA Cup final victory, George Burley has gone on to be the most high profile since as Nick Garnham reports in the tenth of our series 30 Years of HonourTHERE was a surprise waiting in store for George Burley as he climbed the famous 39 steps at Wembley Stadium following Ipswich Town's FA Cup final success against Arsenal.

Nick Garnham

Of the 12 players who featured in Ipswich Town's 1978 FA Cup final victory, George Burley has gone on to be the most high profile since as Nick Garnham reports in the tenth of our series 30 Years of Honour

THERE was a surprise waiting in store for George Burley as he climbed the famous 39 steps at Wembley Stadium following Ipswich Town's FA Cup final success against Arsenal.

The 21-year-old Scottish full-back, who had played his part in Town's 1-0 victory over the Gunners, was nearing the top of the steps when he suddenly found himself engulfed by an enthusiastic supporter.

Burley recalled: “I was going up to collect my medal when my mum grabbed me and gave me a big hug!

“She would not let me go for what seemed about two minutes. I didn't expect her to be there right at the top of the steps, but it was a great moment for my mum and dad.”

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His parents, Sarah and William, were joined in the crowd by his brother Tommy on that memorable day at the end of an FA Cup run that also saw Burley score his most memorable goal for the club.

It came in the quarter-final tie at Millwall which, sadly, is best remembered for the violence that spilled onto the pitch during Ipswich's 6-1 win and caused the game to be held-up for 18 minutes while order was restored.

Burley put Town ahead after just 10 minutes with his first goal for 11 months - a 30-yard shot that flew past Nicky Johns in the Millwall goal.

He said: “It is the one I remember the most being as it was in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. I didn't get that many and it was one of the best that I scored.”

The win put Ipswich into the semi-finals, where they were underdogs against West Bromwich Albion.

Injuries had disrupted Ipswich's season and they were languishing near the foot of the old First Division, but they were confident that they could win to reach Wembley.

Burley said: “We had not had the best of seasons, but with that team we were still confident that we could win against anybody.

“Because of our league form West Brom were favourites, but we were a good side who knew each other well and we had no fear.”

Burley snuffed out the potential threat of Scottish international Willie Johnston, West Brom's left winger, as Ipswich won 3-1.

“When we won the semi-final everyone was drained after putting so much effort into the game.

“I remember the bus driving back to Ipswich from Highbury and everyone singing “We're all going to Wembley”.

Despite dominating the final at Wembley Ipswich could not make the all-important breakthrough.

Burley recalled: “I could not believe it when Paul (Mariner) hit the bar and then Johnny (Wark) hit the post twice. We were well on top and just kept going and hoped we were going to get a break.”

Not renowned for his goalscoring prowess - he netted just 11 times in 500 appearances for the club - Burley came as close as anyone to unlocking Arsenal's defence when he ghosted unnoticed into the penalty box to meet a left-wing cross by Clive Woods and send a firm header that looked to be destined for the back of the net until Pat Jennings pulled off a superb save.

Burley recalled: “I met it really well and I could see it was going into the top corner. Pat, who was a great shot-stopper, moved very late and with those big hands of his pawed it away to my disbelief.

“But we finally got the break and nobody at the game could not say we did not deserve it.

“Although it was great to take the lead, there was still another 10 or 15 minutes to play, so our concentration levels had to be maintained.”

Roger Osborne's 77th minute goal was enough to win the cup for the first - and still the only - time in the club's history.

“Like all the rest of the lads to get to a cup final was something you only dreamed about, so to win it was a fantastic feeling.

“After the game everyone was absolutely shattered - we were still shattered the next day.

“I was 15 when I first came down to Ipswich and I spent 14 years at the club, so winning the FA Cup was a very special moment.”

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