Man of match is a reluctant hero

'WOODS fries Rice' proclaimed a banner unfurled among the Ipswich Town fans at Wembley.

Nick Garnham

'WOODS fries Rice' proclaimed a banner unfurled among the Ipswich Town fans at Wembley. Few who were among the 100,000 fans inside the stadium, or the world-wide television audience, would argue that the silky-skilled Ipswich Town left winger was the catalyst for their stunning 1-0 success over Arsenal.

Clive Woods was almost unanimously recognised as the man of the match as Town lifted the famous old trophy in their first and, to date, only ever FA Cup final appearance.

But Woods, who led Arsenal right back Pat Rice a merry dance and was the springboard for many of the Ipswich attacks, modestly refuses to accept that he was the outstanding player on view.

“I don't think so. Sometimes you would have games when you had some luck,” Woods said.

“You did not go out to have a bad game - sometimes it would go for you and sometimes it didn't. You are only human in everything you try.

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“I believe our win was down to team spirit. We all wanted to play for each other and everybody did their fair share of work.

“Everybody knew what they were meant to be doing, and on the day I think we had more desire.”

That desire, allied to Town's tactical plan, saw the Suffolk side pull off a deserved upset.

While Woods played wide on the left, young David Geddis occupied a similar role down the right, leaving centre forward Paul Mariner to plough a lone furrow through the middle.

“Cyril Lea was first-team coach, but Bobby Ferguson, who was reserve-team coach at the time, had more tactical awareness, and I think it was his idea to stifle the keeper throwing the ball out to their full backs,” Woods said.

By not allowing Pat Jennings to feed Rice and fellow full back Sammy Nelson, Ipswich cut off the supply to Arsenal's midfield players, which meant the threat of the talented Liam Brady and Alan Hudson was nullified.

However, despite their domination, Town could not find the vital breakthrough until the 77th minute.

Woods recalled: “We were wondering whether we were ever going to score when we missed all those chances, and we were tiring by the time we got the goal.”

Arsenal, after being outplayed for so long, were unable to respond in the remaining time and the cup was heading to Suffolk.

Woods said: “At the final whistle, I remember the noise of the crowd and all the scarves. You can't describe the feeling - you just want to squeeze the life out of people.

“I remember going up to Noddy [Brian Talbot] and grabbing him and then Millsy [captain Mick Mills] as we celebrated.

“You forget about the opposition and shaking hands because you are so overcome with emotion.

“Then I remember going up to collect the cup and I was right behind Millsy.

“That moment is the thing that most footballers wish for. Some might say winning the league or a European competition is better, but I don't think you can beat winning the cup at Wembley.

“I did once get picked for the England squad, but winning the FA Cup was the best moment of my career,” said Woods, whose parents - his mother suffered from multiple sclerosis and was in a wheelchair - were among the crowd.

He said he then changed quickly and went to find his brother Denis, who played football professionally for Cambridge and Watford, and had flown over from Norway to see the final.

Woods said: “He wanted to see inside the dressing room, and although he wasn't supposed to be in there with the team, if you look at the photographs of us celebrating afterwards you can see Denis there smoking a cigar!”

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