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Wycombe Wanderers 0
Tuesday 7th January 1975
FA Cup Third Round Proper - replay
Press reaction special
Wanderers' famous FA Cup run of the 1974/75 season finally came to an end at Ayresome Park on Tuesday 7th January 1975 but the herioc feats of the Wanderers players, plus the memorable scenes at the final whistle, made for an extensive reaction from the press in the days following the tie.
Boro Manager Jack Charlton famously claimed his side would 'murder' Wanderers on the flat pitch at Ayresome Park but he was humble enough after the game to praise Brian Lee's side: "Wycombe were great. Brian Lee has a good team here, I'm glad it is all over. It was a funny game. There was nothing I could do about it on the bench. It was astonishing that the Wycombe defence never lost control.”
Charlton added: “People say these boys are only part-timers. But they choose to be part-timers, and there were players in that team who would grace any League side. They’d rather play for enjoyment and keep their jobs.”
Meanwhile Wycombe boss Brian Lee said after the game: “Now Middlesbrough can repay us by going all the way to the final. They have sufficient character to do just that. I think, we did ourselves justice but, once again, I don’t think Middlesbrough showed what they are really capable of. I am sure they will play better against Sunderland.”
"We’d started to flag in the last ten minutes. I’m glad Boro scored when they did. If we’d lasted another minute and gone into extra time we could have lost 6—0. We achieved our aim. We made Boro work for it. Our players can be very proud.”
Doug Weatherall reporting for the local press in Middlesbrough said: A last gasp goal by David Armstrong spared the blushes at Ayresome Park last night of Jack (‘We’ll murder ‘em’) Charlton. After last Saturday’s shock third round FA Cup goalless draw at Wycombe, the Boro manager had boasted what his side would do in the replay. But Wanderers heroically held the joint First Division leaders until the last seconds of this remarkable replay. They almost earned extra time — and definitely earned probably the greatest ovation ever given to a beaten side at Ayresome Park. The 30,000 crowd chanted: ‘Wycombe! Wycombe!’ over and over again at the end and demanded and received a salute from the Isthmian leaguers. Armstrong, though the scorer of the last-minute winner can be only secondary hero. First must come the entire pide from High Wycombe who had shown not only spirit, but professional -like organisation and skill.
Ray Robertson, also reporting for the local press in Middlesbrough, commented: At the final whistle the crowd rose in tribute. It was one the best ever standing ovations ever recorded to a team at Ayresome Park. Jack Charlton walked to the touchline to congratulate the Wycombe players and even referee Alan Porter of Bolton joined in the applause.
Another local journalist, Cliff Mitchell reported: For 89 minutes at Ayresome Park the Isthmian League side survived against the team from Division One. But then Armstrong struck, and on the final whistle of this unbelievable tie the relief of the Boro fans swept across the stadium. And small wonder. They had watched their team battle away against one of the pluckiest defences seen at Ayresome Park for many a day. The part-timers stood up gallantly to everything thrown at them and extra time looked a certainty until Graeme Souness pushed a lethal pass through the middle and Armstrong coolly steered the ball into the net, just inside the right hand post. The terraces errupted, but there was tremendous sympathy for the Wycombe players. As the whistle blew the crowd rose to them. The Wanderers went into the middle of the field and waved in acknowledgement. Then the Middlesbrough players formed a tunnel to the dressing room and applauded their rivals off the field.
Richard Taylor revealed a special gift made to the Wanderers: Wycombe’s band of happy football wanderers made the long trek back from the North-East to Buckinghamshire in the early hours of this mornng, treasuring a set of red and white Middlesbrough shirts and memories of a remarkable night. Taylor went on to report that Dr Neil Phillips, Middlesbrough’s vice-chairman, brought to Wycombe’s dressing-room the complete strip his players had worn for the match. He concluded his report by adding: And when Brian Clough brought his Nottingham Forest team to Bisham Abbey Sports Centre today to prepare for tonight’s Cup replay at Tottenham, he probably got a shock. Because the Director at Bisham is Brian Lee, and for once, Clough will have done most of the listening.
Joe Melling said in the Daily Express: Jack Charlton’s brazen pledge of murder for Wycombe Wanderers blew up in his face at Ayresome Park last night. The star-studded First Division leaders of Mlddlesbrough found the unsung amateurs of Wycombe, just as defiant, just as committed as they had been on their much publicised home slope. Brian Lee’s heroes finally were beaten in the 89th minute by a simple David Armstrong goal after a performance which simply bristled with bravery. A standing ovation at the end, pkus handshakes from Jack Chariton provides scant consolation for such courage. On this performance Brian Lee will find it far easier to disguise the blushes than Charlton.
Rothmans (sponsors of the Isthmian League) Football News later summed up the evening in a special article, titled That is what football is all about, saying: Whenever a sordid football headline depresses you, pull out this magazine and hase a look at this page. Nothing can be as moving in sport as witnessing supreme effort compiled with skill giving your team fame and success. With a minute to go at Ayresome Park, Wycombe Wanderers finally proved that they didn’t need a ‘slope’ to make them into a good side and Jackie Charlton’s Middlesbrough had in no way ‘murdered’ them as proficied.
Neither trainer had been on the field once in two games. Hardly a deliberate foul had been committed and the immaculate attitude of the Wycombe players had been rubbed off on the professionals, who retreaved ‘dead’ balls, picked opponents up after tackles and even exchanged the occassional smile! How the crowd appreciated the change from the usual ‘rat race’ atmosphere.
The anxious home supporters suddenly roared their relief as the brilliant John Maskell was at last beaten, and seconds later the final whistle sounded. The main stand stood as one to applaud the non-leaguers but the reaction on the terraces took everyone’s breath away. From all quarters of the ground the loudest roar of the night echoed “WYCOMBE, WYCOMBE, WYCOMBE”. The Wycombe players who were embracing their opponents in exhausted huddles broke away to meet together in the centre circle and waved an acknowledgement to the 30,128. Then they turned back to find the Middlesbrough players forming a guard of honour at the end of which Brian Lee, John Reardon and Jackie Charlton added their congratulations! The emotion comes back at the thought and there wasn’t a dry-eye among the Wycombe supporters at the time!
Wanderers netted around £12,000 from the two ties with Middlesbrough and around £17,000 from the entire run in the 1974/75 season - including a £665 payment for TV rights for showing the home tie with Boro at Loakes Park. Those figures help generate a £12,151 profit for the season compared to £6,661 the previous season.
Wanderers went back to Isthmian League action the Saturday following the tie at Ayresome Park. The narrow 1-0 victory at Oxford City began a run of 21 League unbeaten, including nine straight victories, that would lead to the Isthmian League Championship being claimed on the final day of the season by the narrowest of margins.
What else was happening in the UK in January 1975
2nd January 1975 - The Sweeney premieres on ITV
5th January 1975 - Paddington debuts on BBC1
6th January 1975 - Brian Clough, the former manager of Derby County and more recently Leeds United, was appointed manager of Football League Second Division strugglers Nottingham Forest.
No.1 UK Singles Chart - Lonely This Christmas by Mud
No.1 UK Albums Chart - Greatest Hits by Elton John
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