Remembering 1978 FA Cup Ipswich’s final success!

24 04 2018

The 1978 FA Cup Final: Ipswich V Arsenal

May 6th, 2018 will mark 40 years since the historic football match, Ipswich V Arsenal FA Cup, May 6th  1978 took place in London, UK.

Much has been written about the excitement and hype that took hold of the rural town and how the whole population of Ipswich got behind their local football heroes.  The ITFC Heritage Society will be sharing many memories from that special day and I wanted to offer a contribution to that wonderful achievement by I.T.F.C. .   Also, The New Wolsey Theatre is teaming up with Ipswich Town Football Club and its’ fans to stage a celebratory musical to mark this anniversary of the club’s famous FA Cup win.

In 1978 I was a seventeen year old college student who had a Saturday job working in the office at Woolworths, Carr St, Ipswich.  I had been a football fan for some years, enjoyed many games at Portman Road but due to the need to work, it was rare to have a weekend free to travel to watch live local games during the qualifying rounds.

The news that Ipswich was in the finals stimulated much excitement and those 50,000 fans that had tickets to travel to Wembley were definitely the lucky ones.  Despite not being able to travel to London to watch the match, in a weird way I felt part of the build-up and managed to contribute to the celebratory hype, in a small way.  I had been invited by the local newspaper (EADT/Evening Star) to be one of the “local glamour girls” to offer their support to the team.  Pressed for my favourite player, I had to say I had great respect for the Capt Mick Mills – his calm persona was a great lead for a team success.   Evening Star, photographer, Jerry Turner took me to Belstead Brook for a photo shoot and my “jumping for joy” Ipswich 4 the Cup photograph was featured not only in the local paper but also in the London Evening Standard.

On the day of the finals, cup fever was extremely high in Ipswich.  Blue and white flags, football rosettes, and scarves seen everywhere.  Those working were very sad that we would miss watching the match live. Live TV coverage was on all day.  Arsenal were the hot favourites to win but the blue and white, Tractor Boy fans were confident Ipswich would come home with the cup.  Amazingly, the management at Woolworth’s recognized this was a truly historic day and made a special announcement to staff during the morning tea-break.  The HR manager told all  personnel that the management would allow 50% of the staff to watch the first half of the game and the remaining 50% could watch the second half.  Each staff member could decide which part of the game they would watch, as long as each department had some staff on duty on the floor or in the office.

The lady I worked with opted to watch the first half and I was happy to accept to view the second half as I felt, if we won, I’d be able to see Mickie hold up the cup and be part of the final celebration.

As the time for the kick-off approached, the store had less and less customers.  I worked in the Ground Floor Change office and had a good view of the main entrance and general shop floor.

Once the game started I received no phone calls, there were basically only a couple of people walking around the shop and even less coming to request refunds!

At the half-time I was happy to leap upstairs to grab a good seat by the TV  and settle down to watch the second half – still 0:0 “Come on you blues”.    Spirits were high and even the sternest of senior management had a smile on their face as cakes and tea were shared during the match.  Ipswich were definitely dominating the game and with only 13 minutes remaining, David Geddis crosses to local boy, Roger Osborne who fires the ball accurately into the net.  Yeah, goal!!!  The cries of joy from our staffroom could probably be heard in London. What an amazing experience to feel part of this memorable victory.  Everyone was on a high and it was a wonderful atmosphere to feel our modest football club had achieved such success.  Well done Bobby Robson and team!  You can relive that happy day by watching the game on this link!

I’d missed out on seeing the live game but boy I was not going to miss the homecoming.  Yes, I and thousands of people crammed into the Cornhill /Ipswich Town Centre  to welcome and celebrate with the team as they rode in an open top bus.  A fantastic carnival experience that I will never forget.


If anyone else some fond memories of this happy day, do please share in the comments below.