30 Years Ago: Part Four

This is it - the 17th of May, 2010. Thirty years ago to the day that Mossley the town virtually emptied and Mossley the team took to the pitch at Wembley Stadium for the 1980 FA Trophy final.

It's actually quite frightening to think that three decades have passed since we did battle with Dagenham for the right to climb those 39 steps and hold the trophy aloft. Not only because the events of the day are still as fresh in the memory as they were back then, but because it really makes you feel your age as well!

Mossley's appearance in the final meant that the town's carnival, due to take place on the same day, had to be postponed for a week but it didn't stop the locals from taking to the streets as they would have done had it gone ahead. Instead of lining the roads to watch the procession of floats and bands though, almost everyone to a man, woman and child converged on Mossley station or the market ground: a sea of black and white waiting to be carried to London on one of the many specially chartered train services or the seemingly never ending line of coaches.

My journey south was on one of the crowded trains (a trip that seemed to pass in the blink of an eye) and along with the walk to the stadium in the Mossley jacket my mum had made for me, the atmosphere both inside and outside the ground, the hairs on the neck raising rendition of Abide With Me, the teams emerging from the tunnel and other moments far too numerous to mention... they're experiences that will live with me until either the day I die. Or when senility finally takes over - whichever comes first really.

Yes, that's me in the top left photograph in my little red Mossley jacket. The other photos were taken by my dad as the teams made their way onto the pitch.

In fact the only void in my memories of the day is the match itself. I remember Ian Smith equalising, or rather the roar as he did so, and a few other incidents but the combination of being tiny and the stadium's infamously poor sight lines meant that my view of the match was often obscured by the people around us.

As we all know too well though the final proved to be a game too far for the Lilywhites - not that they didn't make a damn good go of achieving a league and cup double. And that's not some rose-tinted nostalgia talking, as the reports below say we were genuinely unlucky not to come away from the old Empire Stadium with more than just losers medals and memories.

If you only have the time or desire to read one of the following scanned cuttings, I suggest you choose the first one - 'Walking tall from defeat' - as it's the one that was published in the Mossley & Saddleworth Reporter and, as a consequence, a bit more emotive than the others.

That's not to say the rest (reports taken from the national tabloids) aren't worth reading because they are and all have some kind words to say about the Lilywhites.

If I'd been older I'm sure the defeat would have hit me harder than it did but I went home in just as happy a mood as I'd arrived in. In fact there weren't that many overly sad faces in the carriages as we made the journey north. Maybe it was because everyone thought we'd get the chance to do it again the following season? Sadly we didn't, a defeat at Bangor City in quarter-finals of the competition ending our chances of making it to Wembley for a second successive season.

Even now, thirty years on, there's still the hope burning in some fans that we'll get the chance to take to the pitch at the national stadium again. And though it's a situation that's unlikely to happen given the way the non-league game is set-up these days, it is what dreams are for.

The fifth and final part of this look back will be online soon and detail the teams homecoming along with more words and pictures about the Final weekend.


tangerine said...
11:39 am

Steve,Ian Smith scored the equaliser.

SJNR said...
12:44 pm

Of course he did! No idea why I put Leo Skeete's name down although in my defence I did write this late in the evening. :-)

Parnell Parnell said...
4:44 pm

Was there too as a neutral - frightening to think it was 30 years back!