Posted: 5/11/2013


      What a nice suprise on Saturday evening at a rain soaked Wembley Stadium - the most famous in the world.

      Unfancied Wigan Athletic, on the verge of relegation from the EPL, take the game to the world's richest club, Manchester City and win 1-0 with an added time goal, a wonderful header from red headed Ben Watson, who had only come on as a substitute in the 81st minute. Pablo Zabaleta received a red card in the 84th minute for City, only the third such card in FA Cup Final history.

      I am SO PLEASED for chairman DAVE WHELAN, who took them from obscurity to a brand new stadium, the Premier League and to their very first trophy. He led his team out of the tunnel today. Callum McManaman was rightly chosen Man of The Match, and a well deserved triumph for coach Roberto Martinez, a former Latics player.

      Let me take you back 53 years to 14th May 1960 and my very first F.A. Cup Final. I had managed to get a ticket through my football club, Blackpool Rangers an FA member club, for 7 shillings, the equivallent of 40 pence.  In those days 100,000 packed into old Wembley, two thirds standing, with ticket receipts of under 100.000 pounds, an average of 1 pound, Today the programme alone costs 5 pounds.

     I took the train, which picked up lots of Rovers fans at Preston Station, to London Euston and then the tube to Wembley, and my first view of the twin towers.  Drama that morning as Irish star Derek Duggan had asked for a transfer... to opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers.  It was boiling hot- for England anyway- and in those days fans dressed up in their best clothes, and not jeans. It was nicknamed the 'Shirt Sleeve Final' as we all took our coats and ties off.

     No substitutes allowed in those days and tragedy struck as fullback 23 year old Dave Whelan broke his leg in the 43rd minute tackling Wolves winger Norman Deeley, and was carried off. This was two minutes after an own goal by Rovers Mick McGrath. They lost 3-0. Deeley scored a brace after the interval.  Wolves haven't won since.  He tried to make a come back but injured the same leg and was forced to retire. He received 400 pounds compensation. He used it to open a stall at Blackburn Market, then a sports shop, and later a massive sports business and became a multi millionaire.

     The next FA Cup Final I attended was not until 1988, but was a CLASSIC. Unfancied Wimbledon THE CRAZY GANG beat THE TEAM OF THE EIGHTIES, Liverpool 1-0. Laurie Sanchez scored the only goal of the match in the 37th minute. 98,203 fans at Wembley and the first ever penalty save in a final, by Dave Beasant from John Aldridge. The Reds had Bruce Grobbelaar in goal, plus Alan Hansen as captain, Steve Nichol, Ray Houghton, Steve McMahon, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Jan Molby, coached by Kenny Dalglish.  The Dons had hard cases Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise plus elegant John Fashanu and Laurie Cunningham.

       Due to Liverpool fans' rampage at the Heysel Stadium disaster at the 1985 European Cup Final in Brussels v Juventus, captained by current UEFA President Michel Platini, English clubs were banned from Europe. This meant that The Crazy Gang could not compete in the 1998-97 European Cup Winners competition.

      Next season The Latics may play in Europe AND The Championship !!!