On the eve of FA cup third round day I just wanted to share with you my little poem about the greatest memory I have about the FA cup. This was when little Walsall took on mighty Manchester United on the 7th January 1975. United were in league two at the time (Championship) but were playing well and went on to be promoted back to the first division at the end of the season. Walsall were in the old third division (league 1).
United were managed by the colourful Tommy Docherty whilst Walsall were under the stewardship of Dougie Fraser. On the previous Saturday, in front of 43,353 fans, Walsall held out for a draw. The replay, at Fellows Park, attracted 18,105 fans. here is my recollection of the day and the following rounds.
Walsall v Manchester United 7 January 1975 – What a night!
After holding the mighty reds to a draw,
the teams met the next Tuesday to settle the score.
With brother Gary I was off to the show,
Dad and I queued on the middle Sunday for tickets to go.
Two tickets we got for the Tuesday big match,
for our dad, Derek, it was a game he couldn’t catch.
For a night of car maintenance he was booked to teach,
but the match was so big the car class was beached.
So whilst Gary and I excitedly waited,
Derek queued for a ticket and eventually gated.
With others than us he watched the big match,
hoping against hope for an upset to catch.
United although a league two team,
had many stars that were beginning to beam.
Macari, Buchan, McIlroy all big names,
for Dougie Fraser’s side a monumental game.
Walsall, against the odds, took a 21st minute lead,
Bernie Wright smashed in the ball with ferocious speed.
United were good though and soon back in the game,
with McIlroy’s pen the scores were the same.
During a tense second half the Saddlers held firm,
extra time was looming – more lessons to learn.
Docherty’s were favourites when extra time started,
but the super Saddlers were far from departed.
As extra time started “Buck” was too good,
from the penalty spot he scored from the mud.
United pressed on but the defence held tight,
whilst up front old George Andrews leapt to great heights.
And then to the joy of the 18K fans,
Buckley swivelled and delighted the stands.
The crowd went wild as the ball hit the net,
no better feeling would Walsall fans get.
The story, however, does not end here,
this season, for many, the best of their career.
Newcastle United were next to Fellows Park,
a Saturday match not a game in the dark.
The “Toon” was full of super stars,
but not like today with big flash cars.
Newcastle, with Super Mac, often scored for fun,
could Walsall be a match for this goal scoring gun?
The pitch was heavy and evened things up,
so often a leveler when up for the cup.
Mighty George Andrews scored for the boys;
the Newcastle team could only throw out their toys.
So into the fifth round with a match in Small Heath,
could Walsall again show their FA cup teeth?
Sadly this was a win that the Saddlers could not catch,
44,000 fans watching this local match.
But that night versus United was the greatest night,
to see little Walsall put up a great fight.
United would go on right back to the top,
for every Saddlers fan the dream never stops.
So whatever your club during cup round three,
go to the game and support with great glee.
The FA cup is special and will again be alive,
buoyed by great memories like mine from 1975.