We never doubted we would win

MIDWAY through the second half of the 1978 FA Cup final the camera panned down to the Ipswich Town bench where manager Bobby Robson appeared to be a concerned man.

Nick Garnham

MIDWAY through the second half of the 1978 FA Cup final the camera panned down to the Ipswich Town bench where manager Bobby Robson appeared to be a concerned man.

He had seen his side dominate the match against Arsenal but fail to score. It was then that Robson turned to his right and spoke to substitute Mick Lambert, who revealed: “He said to me 'what have we got to do to score?' and I said to him 'I don't know whether there is someone up there who doesn't want us to win!'

“But there is no doubting we did deserve to win - we were the better team, although I think they had more injuries than they pretended.

“I seem to remember their captain Pat Rice coming on the team bus afterwards and saying 'sorry we didn't give you more of a game'.

“We were absolutely convinced we were going to win the final. I don't know why, but there was no hint that we would not win it. There was just an atmosphere among the team that we would win it.”

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So much so that several of the players placed a bet - which is now an illegal practice - on Ipswich to win.

Robson in a television interview on the eve of the third round of this year's competition, said the players had each bet £50, but Lambert recalled: “Six or seven of us put £20 each on us winning.

“I rang a bookmaker friend of mine, Alan Monks, and he put the bet on. We got odds of 5-2, so we each won £70, which was a lot of money bearing in mind I was on about £200 a week.”

Being a betting man, the Ipswich winger thought the odds were that he was going to be involved in the cup final a week beforehand.

“Robson told me to play for the reserves to get my fitness up for the following weekend, which meant I missed the 6-1 debacle at Aston Villa, so I was pretty hopeful. Although he had inferred I was going to be the substitute I was never actually told I was the sub. It was only on the morning of the final when we had a team photograph taken at the hotel that I knew for sure as my name was on one of the chairs.”

Lambert admitted when the Ipswich players walked out on the pitch before the match that his legs “went like jelly” but that once he had changed and the teams went out the nerves were forgotten.

Ipswich, of course, finally got the goal they deserved, but there was concern for two of their players once the celebrations died down.

“We could not work out what had happened, but both Roger and David Geddis appeared to be flaked out.”

Although Geddis was well enough to continue Osborne came off through exhaustion, and Lambert was sent on for the final 12 minutes with no time to warm-up.

“I had been sub a lot of times, so I was used to it. I have seen the final since and I actually touched the ball more than I thought at the time.”

Arsenal were unable mount a fightback, apart from one effort by Malcolm Macdonald.

“I remember Macdonald having a shot and I was directly in line behind him. He hit it well, but Paul Cooper caught it as clean as a whistle.”

Although he played less than a quarter-of-an-hour, Lambert has no regrets that his was a minor role in the 1-0 victory.

“After the injury problems I had that season I was just grateful to be there, and also to go on in the circumstances that I did, replacing Roger who scored what was the winning goal. It is better to go on like that than when you are losing 1-0 and you have to try to save the game.”

Town held firm to lift the cup, but Lambert admitted: “I probably didn't feel as elated as everyone else afterwards because I had only played 15 minutes, but I was pleased for everyone around me.”

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