Following his recent passing, I would like to dedicate this article to Colin Murphy, writes Malcolm Johnson
Being engaged in researching and writing it, plus having spent much time recently on other articles dealing with Colin Murphy’s time in charge of Lincoln City I had become so involved in memories of and re-living by reading about those times that news of his death hit me perhaps harder than it might otherwise have done.
It’s maybe arguable what Colin Murphy’s finest achievement was as Lincoln City manager – to me it was getting the Imps back into the Football League “in one bounce, as it were” in 1988 – but there’s no doubt the best side he ever put out was at the time of the matches dealt with here when it was at its peak(e).
Wednesday 10th November 1982
Lincoln City 1 West Ham United 1 (Milk Cup Third Round)
Appointed manager of Lincoln City midway through the 1978/79 season Colin Murphy had been unable to prevent relegation to Division Four (now League Two) but the Imps had returned to Division Three two years later and missed out on further promotion by a single point after drawing 1-1 with Fulham at Craven Cottage in the last game of the previous season.
They had made a blistering start to 1982/83 with five wins in a row in September winning Murphy the Manager of the Month award and after winning 3-1 at Chesterfield the previous Saturday were two points clear at the top of the table and six points ahead of Bristol Rovers in fourth place (in the days before play-offs the top three went up automatically).
The successful results had been achieved with a first team squad of 14 players included second-choice goalkeeper Stuart Naylor and 17-year-old defender Gary Strodder. Out of favour midfielder David Beavon, one of Colin Murphy’s few failures in the transfer market who had signed from Notts County a year ago for £25,000 had been allowed to go and play on loan in Hong Kong as had young reserve defender Gerard Creane.
For this season the Football League Cup was sponsored for the first time, and as the money had been put up by the Milk Marketing Board, we were perhaps lucky they didn’t decree it should be known as the Cup of Milk. Instead, it was named the Milk Cup, and the Imps had only just scraped through the first round with an aggregate score of 4-3 against Fourth Division York City. However, they had then excelled themselves against eventual Second Division promotion winners Leicester City – a young Gary Lineker and all – with an aggregate score of 3-0. After that a home draw against a First Division club held few fears, albeit a West Ham United side currently in third place behind Liverpool and Manchester City despite having lost 5-2 at Stoke the previous Saturday,
The Hammers, finalists in the competition two seasons before, had beaten Stoke 3-2 on aggregate in the previous round. Their manager, John Lyall was half way through a 15-year spell in charge and had remained at the helm despite relegation to the Second Division in 1978 to guide their return to the top flight in 1981 and a ninth-place finish in their first season back.
The teams were:
- David Felgate
- David Carr
- Phil Neale
- Glenn Cockerill
- Trevor Peake
- Steve Thompson
- Marshall Burke
- Phil Turner
- Gordon Hobson
- Derek Bell
- George Shipley
- Stuart Hall
- Phil Parkes
- Ray Stewart
- Paul Brush
- Billy Bonds
- Alvin Martin
- Alan Devonshire
- Neil Orr
- Paul Goddard
- Sandy Clark
- Paul Allen
- Geoff Pike
- Francois Van der Elst
City goalkeeper David Felgate had joined initially on loan from Bolton Wanderers in September 1980, then permanently for a fee of £25,000 three months later. Missing only a handful of games since his arrival Felgate had been included in Welsh international squads several times and a year later became the first Lincoln City player since 1959 to earn an international cap. He was to be voted as the best goalkeeper in the division for the current season in the annual PFA awards.
At right back was David Carr who had joined the club for £20,000 in the summer of 1979 from Luton Town as a midfield player before being moved first to central defence then full back where he now formed a solid partnership with the long-serving Phil Neale. Neale, now 28, had been with the club since the days of Graham Taylor as manager and had twice achieved promotion from the Fourth Division with the Imps. He was one of the very last players to combine a football and cricketing career and in the summer game was captain of Worcestershire. City’s central defence was the well-tried partnership of Trevor Peake and Steve Thompson now in their third season of playing together. The 25-year-old Peake was another player who would be named in the PFA Third Division Team of the Year and had joined in the summer of 1979 from non-league Nuneaton Borough for a fee of £15,000. The solid Thompson, a year older than Peake had signed for the club a year later from Boston United for a similar fee.
In City’s usual 4-3-3 formation, the midfield three were Phil Turner, Marshall Burke and George Shipley. Turner was a product of City’s nursery side in Sheffield, and still only 20 had broken through into the first team as a teenager early in 1980, soon becoming a permanent fixture. Burke had become a regular since joining from Blackburn Rovers early in the previous month for a fee of £2,500 after making around 40 appearances for the Second Division club. The trio was completed by the supremely skilful George Shipley who had become City’s record signing in January 1980 joining from Southampton at a cost of £45,000 from Southampton with whom he had had limited first team experience. Contributing 15 goals in the previous season he had six so far this time around.
Up front, another expensive signing was Derek Bell who had cost £33,000 from Barnsley a couple of months before the signing of Shipley. Previously troubled by injuries this was to be his best season for the club, with 11 goals so far to finish with a total of 29. City’s second-longest serving player was Gordon Hobson who had broken through into the first team in the days of Willie Bell as manager in 1978. Still only 24, he had top scored for City as they won promotion from the Fourth Division in 1981 but had a leaner time of it in the previous season with only nine with as many so far this time around. Since the departure of Tony Cunningham in September Colin Murphy’s favoured formation had featured a well-complemented front three combining the pace of Hobson, the goal-poaching of Bell, and the strength and mobility of Glenn Cockerill, the third player in the PFA Team of the Year. Cockerill had originally joined the club as a 17-year-old striker in Graham Taylor’s last season before going on to make the majority of his appearances as a midfield player. He had been sold by Colin Murphy for a club record fee to Swindon in December 1979 then bought back again for considerably less 20 months later, he had now reverted with great effect to his original position of striker.
With midfielder Stuart Hibberd unfit the choice of substitute lay between 17-year-old apprentice defender Gary Strodder who had featured in the first game of the season, and youth team striker Stuart Hall who was aged 16 and still at school. The choice fell on Hall who was to be named on the subs’ bench in three subsequent games but who never appeared in the first team.
West Ham’s goalkeeper was the experienced Phil Parkes who had started his career with Walsall before moving to Queens Park Rangers, playing over 400 games for them, and winning one England cap. He had joined West Ham in 1979 for a then world record fee for a goalkeeper of £565,000.
At right back was 23-year-old Ray Stewart, who, like Parkes, had set another transfer record in 1979 when he arrived from Dundee United for £430,000 – the most ever paid for a teenage player. Also, like Parkes he was to go on to play over 400 games for the Hammers in the rest of the decade. He already had seven international caps for Scotland and would finish with a total of 10. Left back was Paul Brush, a year older than Stewart. A product of West Ham’s academy set-up he had played over 100 games for the Hammers but was making his first appearance of the season. After leaving West Ham in 1985 he spent time with Crystal Palace and Southend United before moving into coaching. He later had a successful spell as assistant to manager Steve Tilson at Southend before following Tilson to Lincoln where he didn’t.
At centre back was another arrival from Scotland, with Scottish Under-21 international Neil Orr joining from Scottish Premier League side Morton in January for £400,000. He had been a first team regular in the previous season but was making only his second start of the current one. Alongside Orr was the 24-year-old Alvin Martin who in a week’s time was to win the fifth of an eventual total of 17 England international caps. A native of Liverpool, he had been on Everton’s books as a schoolboy before becoming an apprentice with West Ham, and would go on to make almost 600 appearances for them.
In midfield was another long-serving player in the versatile Billy Bonds. Normally a centre back he had been selected in midfield for this match instead of the more attacking Francois Van der Elst. Already a West Ham legend, Bonds, now aged 36, had been signed by manager Ron Greenwood from Charlton all the way back in 1967. Initially a full back he had then been deployed in midfield before in the past several years featuring mostly at centre back. He would go on to become West Ham’s appearance record holder, playing his last game at the age of 41 with a final total of just one short of 800 games for the club. Just prior to that he was awarded an MBE and in recent times had the distinction of having one of the stands at West Ham’s London Stadium named after him.
In something of a contrast to Bonds in terms of age was the 20-year-old Paul Allen, a product of the club’s youth setup who in 1980 had become the youngest player to appear in a Wembley FA Cup Final. A member of a large footballing family, including amongst others, cousins Clive and Martin, after almost 200 games for the Hammers he would later play well over 350 for Tottenham. Another local product, 26-year-old Geoff Pike was to be another long-serving player for West Ham, being a regular in midfield for around ten years, finishing with over 350 appearances. Skilful left-sided player Alan Devonshire was also 26 and after being released by Crystal Palace as a teenager had been playing for Isthmian League club Southall before being signed by West Ham for £5,000 in 1976. A month before he had won the sixth of an eventual total of eight England caps. Devonshire ended his career with a brief spell at Watford after almost 450 games for the Hammers.
West Ham’s strike pair in contrast to the majority of the team were players who have somehow not remained in the memory to the same extent. Sandy Clark was another of the fairly-recent imports from Scotland, having spent eight years with his home town club Airdrie until the Hammers paid £200,000 for him in the summer. He had six goals to his name so far but was only to remain at the club until March when he elected to return to Scotland to join Rangers. Alongside Clark was 23-year-old Paul Goddard who had been West Ham’s record signing when joining from Queens Park Rangers for £800,000 in 1980. He had scored 17 goals in the previous season and in the summer scored in what was to be his only game for England coming on as substitute in a friendly with Iceland. Like Clark, he had six goals in the season so far. After over 200 games and 71 goals for West Ham he would later spend time with clubs such as Newcastle, Derby and Ipswich.
Substitute was Belgian international winger Francois Van der Elst. He had played for Belgium in the 1980 European Championship final when they were beaten by West Germany and had also played in two of the games in the summer’s World Cup finals in Spain. With Anderlecht he had two European Cup-Winners’ Cup medals (including scoring twice against West Ham in the 1976 final) and two Belgian league championship medals. After a brief spell with New York Cosmos he had joined West Ham in January for a fee of £400,000. He would remain with the Hammers until the end of the season earning two more international caps to finish with a total of 44 games and 14 goals for Belgium before returning to Belgium to play for Lokeren.
The ground capacity of Sincil Bank was currently set at 16,225 and the match had been made all-ticket with 16,000 tickets available, 1,500 of them requested by West Ham. The 2,500 stand tickets for home supporters were sold out within two hours of them going on sale with a queue 50 yards long forming. Terrace tickets remained on sale up to kick-off time with people warned they would have to buy them at the ticket office before presenting them at the turnstile. The attendance on the night of 13,899 was the highest at Sincil Bank for six years, but didn’t include me as this was in the middle of the period when I was unable to get to midweek games at Sincil Bank due to lack of a late enough train towards Newark. Thanks, therefore to Gary Parle for supplying an illustration of the programme cover.
In his pre-match comments Colin Murphy said he saw no reason to change City’s policy of attacking sides home and away: “We shall have a go at them from the start and try to make a game of it,” indicating that with West Ham’s reputation, “at least we know we shall have an attractive game of football.” His opposite number, John Lyall, said that his team would be out to restore a bit of pride after losing 5-2 at Stoke, “but Lincoln won’t be easy.”
There was no question in those days of a top club fielding a weakened side against lower status opposition and although Belgian international winger Van der Elst was only named as substitute this may have been due to fitness reasons. This meant veteran Billy Bonds playing in the West Ham midfield which gave it a very solid look and was surely not with the intention of making them hard to beat by a lower division side?
In blustery conditions the Imps made a nervous start but it was a fairly even game until the 24th minute when West Ham took the lead with a shot out of the blue by striker Paul Goddard. There seemed no obvious danger when he received the ball from Alan Devonshire 35 yards from goal, but he sent in a fierce shot which Maurice Burton in the Echo described as dipping, swerving, and moving in almost every direction at once which left Imps goalkeeper David Felgate helpless.
West Ham had to make a change on 37 minutes when Neil Orr had to go off with an ankle injury. He was substituted by Van der Elst with Billy Bonds moving into the back four. City produced some determined attacking in the remaining minutes before half time, with first Marshall Burke heading over the bar from ten yards, then after Steve Thompson had headed the ball back to him skipper Trevor Peake saw a header of his own hit the post.
After the break City looked to hit the visitors hard with goalkeeper Phil Parkes having to touch a Derek Bell header over the bar and dive to block a well-hit shot from Phil Turner. Although looking dangerous on the break, West Ham had to withstand something of a pounding from the Imps who had appeals for a penalty turned down after Turner was brought down. With the veteran Bonds tormented by the speedy Gordon Hobson, and England centre half Alvin Martin having his hands full with the energetic Glenn Cockerill, the Hammers defence was reduced to kicking the ball anywhere. The pressure finally told seven minutes from the end when West Ham gave away a free kick near the corner flag. Burke sent the ball to the near post for Bell to beat Parkes with a header from 10 yards, and while City pressed for a winner West Ham were good enough to stay out of trouble for the remaining minutes.
Gate receipts for the game amounted to £26,158, which after expenses left each club with £7,835, although from this City had to pay bonuses relating to appearance money for this stage of the competition.
The replay would normally have been scheduled for the following Tuesday night, but due to international commitments with Alvin Martin and Alan Devonshire included in the England squad for a European Championship qualifier in Greece the following day it was arranged for the Tuesday after that.
The following Saturday an unchanged Imps lineup beat second-placed Cardiff City to go five points clear at the top of the Third Division while West Ham beat Norwich to move into second place in the Football League. They were then beaten at Tottenham to slip back to fourth again while City were being ignominiously beaten 3-0 by mid-table Fourth Division side Hartlepool United to make an immediate exit from the FA Cup.
Despite injury worries over Phil Neale and Marshall Burke following the Hartlepool game an unchanged side was set to be fielded for the replay at Upton Park. 1,500 City supporters were expected to travel, with a special train being run in addition to the usual quota of coaches. However, it turned out to be a wasted journey as a torrential downpour in the late afternoon following two days of heavy rain saw the referee – who had waited as long as possible – call the match off half an hour before the City players arrived. Both managers agreed that the match could not have been played, and although some City supporters, including office staff and players’ wives were invited for drinks and sandwiches by West Ham this was small comfort to the majority who had made a wasted journey.
There was more disappointment for travelling supporters the following Saturday when City’s game at Oxford was abandoned midway through the second half because of fog. West Ham meanwhile were beating Everton 2-1 but were now down to fifth place in the top division.