The70s were kings of cups

NEIL COT­TON re­calls a time when clubs were ea­ger to play in a va­ri­ety of cup com­pe­ti­tions – rather than cold-shoul­der them

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - LOOKING BACK -

high­est scor­ing, non-pro­moted, clubs from each di­vi­sion. True to form, the first two fi­nals pro­duced a tally of 13 goals as Derby County de­feated Manch­ester United 4-1 in 1970 and Colch­ester United and West Brom played out a 4-4 draw a year later. The tally of goals was quite pos­si­bly helped by a tweak­ing to the off­side rule, mak­ing it only ap­pli­ca­ble in­side the op­po­nents’ area.

The cup is also no­table as be­ing the first oc­ca­sion in Eng­land where, hav­ing re­ceived FIFA’s of­fi­cial bless­ing, a penalty shoot-out was used to de­cide the out­come of a tied match; The first oc­ca­sion this hap­pened was the semi­fi­nal be­tween Manch­ester United and Hull City in 1970, which United won.

At the other end of the sea­son and the decade, the Deben­hams Cup had per­haps the most imag­i­na­tive set-up of the three. Like the Cup Win­ners’ Cup, the Deben­hams Cup was a cup which rode on the back of another cup. Orig­i­nat­ing as a pro­posal by con­sul­tants work­ing for the re­tailer Deben­hams, the idea re­ceived swift ac­cep­tance from the FA and Football League.

The idea be­hind the cup was to pro­vide a con­so­la­tion to be con­tested by the two clubs who were present in the first round proper who had reached the fur­thest stage of the FA Cup – in other words, clubs from out­side the top two di­vi­sions.

As part of their pro­posal, the con­sul­tants had cre­ated a list of clubs who would have con­tested the cup, had it ex­isted, go­ing back to the start of the post-war pe­riod in 1946-47.

By co­in­ci­dence, the first pair on that list, Ch­ester and Port Vale, were also the first to com­pete for the tro­phy in 1977 with Ch­ester emerg­ing as the first win­ners af­ter over­turn­ing a 2-0 de­feat at Vale Park by win­ning 4-1 at Sealand Road for a 4-3 ag­gre­gate score.

For all the ex­cite­ment they could pro­duce, none of the tour­na­ments were des­tined to last in the long-term and join the pan­theon of more es­tab­lished sil­ver­ware such as the FA Cup and League Cup. Both the Deben­hams Cup and the Wat­ney Cup dis­ap­peared when the spon­sor­ship deals had run their course, af­ter two years and four years re­spec­tively.

The Tex­aco Cup would prove the most re­silient as de­spite Tex­aco’s spon­sor­ship end­ing with the 1974-75 edi­tion, a very sim­i­lar tour­na­ment, the An­glo-Scot­tish Cup, was set up to run from 1975. This, though, would end af­ter the1980-81 sea­son and in so do­ing bring an end to a glo­ri­ous era of cup football which looks des­tined never to be re­peated.

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