Monday, January 30, 2012

English Leagues the 80s: Manchester United Brighton & Hove Albion FA Cup 1982 1983

26 May 1983
Wembley Stadium,

Referee Alf Grey
Attendance 91,534

  There was plenty to keep the big game hunters interested after a couple of lean years. That Crewe and Halifax went out to non-league opposition produced scarcely a flicker among the pundits. Nor did Altrincham beating Rochdale at home - a reversal of that result would have constituted more of an upset. Slough Town provided a genuine early headline by knocking out Millwall, while Northwich earned local bragging rights in the Cheshire footballers' wives belt by eliminating Chester. A new scourge of the lower divisions took a bow here. Telford United would reach the first round every year for the next ten years, and only once would they fail to make the second. Their victims this year were Wigan Athletic, finding their first season in Division Three hard work. They would not have enjoyed a non-league team meting out the treatment they had, until recently, been proud of handing out themselves. It was a wretched second round for Welsh teams. Cardiff were chasing promotion from Division Three (and achieved it), and a 2-0 half-time lead against Weymouth was about par. But complacency set in and Weymouth clawed a goal back, and then equalised twelve minutes from time. Panic took over and Weymouth completed a memorable comeback with Gerry Pearson's volleyed winner five minutes from the whistle.

Worcester City turned over Wrexham on the same day, and earned a visit to Coventry, where the Sky Blues were too much for diem. An away tie against Cambridge, a no-nonsense Second Division team with lousy support, was less than Weymouth deserved. They coped as well as could be expected with Cambridge's physical game and lost to a solitary George Reilly goal. Bishop's Stortford joined these two in the draw after they followed up an outstanding win at Reading with a 4-1 cruise down the road at Slough. Stortford, ninety-nine years after their formation, enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame at Middlesbrough: 2-0 down at the break, they also took advantage of second-half complacency to force a draw. The replay saw their tiny ground at Rhodes Avenue brimming with over 6,000 fans, who witnessed a glorious 2-1 defeat. The fifth round provided the season with a shock eclipsing anything that Slough or Worcester could muster. Technically it was no such thing as both teams were in the same division. That Brighton, bottom of the table, could travel to Anfield and beat a Liverpool side who would eventually take the title by eleven points was still a sensational effort. The Reds' frustration was compounded by a rare penalty miss from Phil Neal and a winner from Anfield old boy Jimmy Case. The side that finished runners-up to Liverpool were Watford, but diey too suffered a setback, getting pounded 4-1 at Villa Park. Merseyside neighbours, Everton, fared better, putting paid to Tottenham's chance of a third successive Cup triumph.

Norwich were beaten in the next round - the Canaries presumably still celebrating Keith Bertschin's fifth round winner over the old enemy Ipswich. The semi-final brought Brighton's reward for their Herculean performance at Anfield. Second Division Sheffield Wednesday looked a far better bet than either Arsenal or Manchester United, who were left to slug it out at Villa Park. Wednesday were an ordinary side who had had an easy draw, and Jimmy Case and Michael Robinson sent the Seagulls flying to Wembley for the first time.
The Final was a mismatch. Brighton's run masked a non-existent Cup pedigree and dire league form -they were relegated a couple of weeks before the big day. They had never even reached a quarter-final. Ron Atkinson was threatening to make United a league force again, (they finished third), and they boasted the country's best player in Bryan Robson.They beat every Cup opponent (including Everton and Arsenal) at the first attempt. They came up against an Albion whose relegation seemed to lift the shackles. They led at half-time courtesy of Gordon Smith's header, but Frank Stapleton, a scorer against United in the 1979 final, brought them level ten minutes after the break.

Eighteen minutes from time, United looked to have won it in style. Ray Wilkins. in a rare foray forward, curled a delicious twenty-yarder beyond Moseley that drew comparisons with his goal-scoring youth at Chelsea. That looked enough, at least until Gary Stevens popped up to fire past Bailey with only three minutes remaining. Extra-time was goalless, but Brighton fans still dwell on an incident in the last minute. Accepting Robinson's pass, only ten yards and Gary Bailey separated Brighton from the Cup. 'And Smith must score!' bellowed the BBC's Peter Jones. But he didn't, firing straight at the keeper instead and Albion's chance was gone. So symbolic was the moment that these words became the title of a Brighton fanzine. Brighton appeared still to be dwelling on Smith's miss in the replay five days later. Their defence should have been strengthened by the return of captain Steve Foster, gypsy ringlets, silly headband and all. With Gatting switched to right-back, it only served to throw them off balance. By half-time they were 3-0 down, and Muhren's second-half penalty rubbed in the heaviest defeat in a Wembley final.

Codec H264, Mkv
Bitrate 1200
Sound 128 kbps
English Comments
Full Game

First Half

Second Half



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