Itís 52 years ago today that Everton beat Sheffield Wednesday in that memorable final. Donít know if this will come out right but here are my memories framed in a way that reminds me of how the football world has changed Ė a very unfamiliar world to younger readers of the forum!
Itís hard to describe just how big an occasion it was then. It was 33 years since we were last in the final so the first time in my lifetime. Wembley was just a dream for most fans, many never ever went there let alone with their own team. Cup finals were major national events riddled with tradition, the Queen usually went but this time it was Princess Margaret. Papers were full of it for over a week before the game.
We lived in Macclesfield and my Dad got two tickets somehow but not together. In those days touts made fortunes selling tickets from back street hideaways in the weeks before and that always made the papers. My preparations started over a week before making decorations for the car. If it was blue, white and silver and could be made into something then it got nicked! Posters, ribbons, rosettes, scarves Ė something for every window and external bit of car that could take string or sellotape. I spent two hours the night before attaching it all, my pride and joy being a large silver replica of the cup for the back window.
It was an early start on the Saturday (5 or 6am?) because it was a long trip. The M6 only went as far as Staffordshire so after that it was the A5 all the way. The early hours and loads of cars in a steady stream all, it seemed, full of Evertonians and that was before we cleared Staffordshire. Every place we passed where people could rest or stop for a drink was full of scousers.
Then Wembley. It looked magnificent with the twin towers, the steps and Wembley Way. It was magic Ė Iíd never even been to London before. We parked on the main car park and my mum who hadnít got a ticket stayed with the car and when Princess Margaret arrived she drove right past her as she stood on her own and she got her own personal wave.
Around the stadium the atmosphere was electric, people asking for tickets, trying to climb into the ground via the windows on the stair wells and everyone wearing plastic blue and white hats that had obviously been given out free somewhere. And the noise Ė Iíd never been in a crowd like that.
Canít remember much about getting in but once in I had a seat, it was a long continuous wooden bench with the number painted on it between two lines - the width of the seat. Abide with Me was totally respected and sung by everyone with a military band playing it and the national anthem on the pitch. Memories of the game are sketchy but I was in the corner by that second tunnel where they brought equipment in and out so was quite close when Alex Young Ďscoredí the equaliser only for it to be given offside. I remember feeling totally empty when they got their second and it seemed all over. Our goals were scored at the other end, got excited when Trebilcock scored the first but it still seemed a long way back. Then the second went in and the noise was deafening. Eddie ran on the pitch and there seemed total mayhem. From then on it was incessant chanting and then Derek Temple got the ball off Gerry Young and I can see him running away from me towards the goal, it was like slow motion and lasted for ages and then the ball hit the net. I canít remember even getting up but I was suddenly aware of being stood on the seat just screaming- donít even know what. From then to the end it was just noise louder than anything Iíd heard before and then it was over. Brian Labone a distant figure holding the cup up, the chant, over and over again, of ĎWeíve won the cup, weíve won the cup, ee aye addio weíve won the cupí.
Itís still the best moment of watching football Iíve ever had and nothing will come close to it again. Next day I read and re-read every thing I could find about the game. I couldnít get to Liverpool to see them come home but there was a 30 minute programme on the TV about it, a quarter of a million estimated to have lined the streets, but all in black and white then.
Itís been a lousy season this time around but itís moments like that that remind me why I still go. I still want more of it.