How would you feel if your Mother in Law tells you she has won……..
“A Sporting event of your choice”
It happened to me in 1978.
I chose the FA Cup Final
Arsenal v Ipswich.
Arsenal were legendary and Ipswich were minnows.
No contest eh?
My story is not about the match, but about the meeting with each team, the night before!
Golden Wonder crisps arranged everything, from hotel, which was Kensington Royal Gardens. Very swish in it’s day.
The deal was that I had to take my niece, who had no idea what football was!
First off Arsenal was all the crisp winners choice to support!
So we arrive at Arsenal hotel.
The team are casually dressed in Red Sweaters. It was Arsenal!
Terry Neil, the manager had no interest in the visit, made that clear.
It was catch a player if you can time.
Pat Jennings was a gentle, gentleman. We ad a fantastic conversation about his time at Spurs, and how Bill Nicholson’s treatment contributed to his decision to leave them. What a nice guy!
Don Howe, later England Manager for a while, was so nice and wanted to know where we were from. He knew more about my team than I did, his knowledge of football was unbelievable!
He would have talked all day.
1 player was elusive, and apart from team.
Malcolm McDonald was nowhere to be seen, but I tracked him down to finish the autograph book for my niece.
It is fair to say that Arsenal did not win many friends with the group. They were quite elitist.
On to the Ipswich camp.
We arrived at dinner time, and the organiser felt we would be refused admission, Arsenal certainly would have refused.
We were met at the door by Bobby Robson!
He thanked, yes thanked us for coming, explained that the team were eating dinner, and if this was ok, we could have a chat with them whilst they were eating!
Are you kidding! The night before a final?
Bobby walks in the room. The whole team stand up, like when you were at school! The respect for him was palpable.
Sit down boys, he says, give these children some time!
He was charming, pleasant, always positive and huge smile on his face.
Time for all of us.
Paul Mariner was happy to chat about his Blackpool days.
The whole team were fabulous.
Imagine, you have dozens of children driving you mad for autographs, and the night before the FA Cup final.
You will not be surprised to hear, Bobby Robson’s impact was such no-one bought Arsenal rosettes!
The shock was Ipswich won 1-0
A true Gentleman received his reward!