I’m in my 67th year now, and I have been supporting the ‘Lads’ for as long as I can remember - though, the truth is that I often can’t remember what I did two days ago, but never mind... I still remember vividly 1973, with Bobby Stokoe and the Lads.
I was lucky enough to see both of the Manchester City ties (oh, weren’t they going to put us in our place). I remember the home match, in the Fulwell End, the noise truly was incredible. Both sides of the ground seemed to be visibly moving in and out, like a set of bellows pumping up the volume. I remember Franny Lee tripping over anything and everything as he desperately tried to sneak a penalty.
I remember the semi-final - Charlie George celebrated pulling a goal back as the ball rolled agonisingly across the line, with Monty looking up as if apologetically to the crowd for not saving it. There was a real connection between players and fans in those days. Everyone cared about winning, and we all knew each other cared - fans and players alike - all sharing the same highs and lows.
My main lasting memory of the whole glorious adventure, however, was during the final.
We were one up thanks to Ian Porterfield; Leeds were pressing hard, and this was the moment - Monty lying on the ground, having just parried a header from Trevor Cherry. Peter Lorimer had the ball at his feet in front of an empty net. I covered my eyes with my hands because didn’t want to witness the inevitable. I awaited ‘their’ goal celebrations.
But it didn’t happen. My elder brother, (sadly no longer with us), pulled my hands from my eyes, gleefully shouting ‘he’s missed!’.
Even he hadn’t realised Monty had actually saved it.
The next thing I saw was Super Dick Malone (and he was Super throughout the cup run) booting the ball up the field. Unbelievable and brilliant from Monty.
No wonder I named my son after him.
I still wonder if I was the only person at Wembley not to actually see Monty’s finest moment.
Those are absolutely brilliant memories.
Thanks to all the players, the manager and his staff for those memories - and of course thanks to my fellow fans at Wembley, and at home watching on the telly. Great wasn’t it.
‘Haway The Lads’.