Monday, September 5, 2011

English Leagues the 80s: Notts County Watford Division One 1983 1984

11 February 1984
Meadow Lane,
Nottingham

Attendance 8,070
Referee David Richardson


 Following the 5-2 home defeat to Leicester, Notts had earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Arsenal and made it through to the 5th round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town, but we then crashed 4-1 at Everton. Wearing sponsored shirts for the first time ever in this match v. Watford, County took the lead when Harkouk headed in McCulloch's cross from the right. John Terry then shoved Christie out of the way in the area as he tried to get on the end of a long ball, the ref gave Notts a penalty which Christie converted for 2-0. A fluke goal allowed Watford back into the match when a free-kick found its' way to Kenny Jackett, McDonagh pushed his effort away but it ricocheted off David Hunt and into the net, 2-1. A cross from the left led to Watford's equaliser, the ball found its' way to Callaghan on the right who guided a low shot into the far side of the net for 2-2. 

 Mo Johnston then found Callaghan again on the right and his audacious drive flew past McDonagh just inside the far post, 2-3. A disastrous start to the 2nd half saw Notts fall further behind, a volleyed cross was headed against the crossbar by John Barnes, George Reilly was first to the rebound and was able to force it through McDonagh for 2-4. At this point in the televised highlights commentator John Motson pointed out that the crowd were barracking Jim McDonagh "but I can hardly see why", Motson obviously hadn't seen McDonagh's recent performances at Meadow Lane, he was only in the side today because Mick Leonard had Chicken Pox and there were now ironic cheers from County fans everytime McDonagh picked the ball up. Notts were back in the game when McParland did well to get in a cross from the right, McCulloch lobbed it on to the far post where Christie was waiting to head downwards into the goal, 3-4. Watford killed the game off after Notts had chances to clear an attack, McDonagh then miss-timed a dive to the feet of Les Taylor who got in a cross for Johnston's diving header into the empty net, 3-5. The defeat saw Notts drop to 2nd bottom - their lowest position yet. McDonagh wouldn't be picked to play again all season. Watford's no.11 went on to become a household name in the summer after scoring a sensational solo goal for England in a 2-0 friendly win against Brazil in Rio. Watford's manager Graham Taylor would later manage England in an unsuccessful spell in the early 1990's.


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Not only was Match of the Day back on a Saturday night, but there was Friday night football on BBC too. Under a two-year agreement with the Football League, the two broadcasting companies were each allowed to screen seven live matches. ITV chose their favoured Sunday afternoon slot, while BBC experimented with Friday evening transmission. The first game, not untypically, was between Manchester United and Spurs and, again not untypically, it produced six goals. United won 4—2 before a crowd of 33,616 - 10,000 below their average. Playing on a Friday night did not disturb Liverpool, who marked Joe Pagan's first season as manager with a treble — a third successive Championship, the Milk Cup for the fourth year running, and the European Cup for the fourth time. Ian Rush scored 3 of his 48 goals in a Friday live match at Villa Park, and 2 more when Liverpool beat Newcastle 4—0 at Anfield in the first live FA Cup tie. Not a happy return for Kevin Keegan.

Not a happy time, either, for Howard Kendall. His Everton team were booed off the pitch after a goalless draw against Coventry at the end of 1983, and Kendall's job was said to be in jeopardy. ut in the Milk Cup quarter-final at Oxford in front of the BBC Sportsnight cameras, a back pass from Kevin Brock was intercepted by Adrian Heath, and in one moment Everton's season was tranformed. They reached two Wembley finals and beat Watford to lift the FA Cup. It was revival time, too, at Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle, as three famous clubs regained their First Division status (see 'Match of the Season', page 172). Arsenal's attempt to recapture past glories with the signing of Charlie Nicholas from Celtic fell on stony ground. Manager Terry Neill was sacked in December. Neither was it an auspicious autumn for Match of the Day. A technical dispute at the BBC meant that outside broadcasts were disrupted, and for four Saturdays in a row there was no programme owing to industrial action. It was a prelude to a turbulent time for the programme. After 20 years, Match of the Day would not remain sacrosanct for much longer.
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