SKY BLUES WON CUP – AND LUTON CASHED IN!
NOT many people know that when Coventry City shocked Tottenham to win the FA Cup in 1987, another club were in the money – Luton Town. In his entertaining book, Have Boots
will Travel, Brian McIntyre explains the story behind the Hatters’ six-figure windfall.
McIntyre was a friend of Luton chief executive John Smith, and in 1986 the latter had inserted a clause that if Tottenham, who had appointed Hatters boss David Pleat as their new manager, won a major trophy in the next three years they would have to pay Luton a further £100,000.
With Tottenham making it though to the FA Cup final, Luton were close to cashing in – but McIntyre suggested they should make sure of their jackpot by backing Coventry to win the final.
He said: “I got a call from John that my idea was liked by his board, but as a club they could not be seen putting on such a substantial wager. They had a non-board member who would be willing to put up a sum of money, so would I be prepared to lay the wager.
“I agreed so my bank manager must have been very pleased to see £40,700 settle in my current account.”
He placed the bet – £37,000 plus 10% tax – at 7/4 with Corals in Bournemouth and requested no publicity.
“Saturday came and I sat down to read the morning papers which included a copy of the Sporting Life,” he recalled. “On reading the front page, I suddenly noticed a headline on the left hand side ‘Mystery man has £37,000 Cup bet’ whereby Corals just confirmed they had laid the wager but did not say at which of their shops.”
In a thrilling Wembley showpiece, the Sky Blues famously triumphed 3-2 against Pleat’s Tottenham, who were redhot favourites. But Keith Houchen scored a memorable diving header and Gary Mabbutt netted an own goal winner as John Sillett and George Curtis’ troops lifted the Cup. And Luton celebrated, too.
“Barbara (McIntyre’s wife) could not watch the match, but I did and of course the Gary Mabbutt own goal sealed the victory for Coventry,” said McIntyre.“I received a cheque for £101, 750 which, of course, I passed back to the unknown supporter of Luton Town.”
For more information about the book, see www.havebootswilltravel.co.uk. Profits go to help former Non-League footballer Andy Culliford, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011.
FLYING HIGH: Keith Houchen scores with his famous diving header and, inset, the book