Friday, 4 May 2012

Radio Times: 1971 FA Cup Final preview

For many people, the iconic image of the 1971 FA Cup Final is that of Charlie George slamming the ball past Ray Clemence in the Liverpool goal before celebrating horizontally on the Wembley turf. All that was still to come when the Radio Times was published for the week of 8-14 May 1971, but the big day was still looked forward to with the traditional customary air of excitement and anticipation.

On the front cover, Steve Heighway and John Radford added a splash of colour (the latter cut out and superimposed as if running in a trench) while the headline informed us that all the action from Wembley would be 'Live on Grandstand' and BBC Radio 2.

And what a schedule lay in store for us on BBC1. Cup Final Grandstand began at 11.45am (following The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?) and was introduced by David Coleman 'direct from Wembley.' Providing capable punditry and gobbits of relevant anecdotage were Manchester City manager Joe Mercer, Leeds United manager Don Revie and Manchester United captain Bobby Charlton.

'Who'll win the Cup?'
Arsenal, but we didn't
know it yet...
The opening sequence of the programme was referred to as 'The Wembley Scene' and featured Frank Bough and Barry Davies profiling the two sets of players from their respective team headquarters (typically a hotel in Borehamwood or some such). After that at 12.30, it was time to meet 'The Cup Final Managers' where Bertie Mee and Bill Shankly conveyed their hopes and concerns ahead of kick-off.

The 'Goal of the Season' was announced at 12.45 along with the lucky competition winner who scribbled it down on his/her postcard. A £300 cheque was the prize for choosing Ernie Hunt's donkey kick volley in correspondence with Grandstand's panel of experts - a staggering amount that in today's money is equivalent to more than £3,600.

At 12.55 it was time for 'It's a Cup Final Knockout' featuring two teams representing Arsenal and Liverpool, led by disc jockey Pete Murray and actor Anthony Booth respectively. The show was hosted by David Vine who, let it be remembered, was the presenter in the early days of It's A Knockout before Stuart Hall made the programme his own.

By 2.25, kick-off was within tantalising reach and all the pre-match protocol was in full swing. The Band of the Coldstream Guards were doing their thing, the crowd was in full voice and the Duke of Kent was busy shaking the hands of the players out on the pitch. In the blink of an eye, the match would be played, won and reflected upon as David Coleman rounded up the best of the action and interviewed the key players - all in time for tea.

'Are goalkeepers crazy?' Who better
to provide an answer than Bob
Towards the back of this issue of the Radio Times, there's a lengthy interview with both goalkeepers - Bob Wilson for Arsenal and Ray Clemence for Liverpool. Wilson comes across as a man who thought about every  moment of every possible game; a worrier to some extent, but with good reason. He was a man that clearly took his job of goalkeeper seriously and his analysis of the team he faced in the Final was detailed and thorough.

Clemence, by contrast, was younger and seemed merely happy with his achievement of breaking through the talented ranks at Anfield to earn a regular spot in the team. He refers to his close friendship with Larry Lloyd and their scrupulous adherence to the same pre-match rituals ("We always order breakfast at exactly the same time, Larry always gets up, makes the tea and brings in the papers... Then we go out for a ten-minute walk.")

Taking superstition to the extreme, Clemence was happily cosseted in his own footballing world, however his comments about Charlie George bordered on the flippant: "...From what you see on television, he seems to be a bit erratic. He must have been booked two or three times and he hasn't played for all of the season. I've never faced his shooting, but he certainly hit that goal against Newcastle pretty well, didn't he?" Probably best to keep that in mind for the Final, Ray...

Of course the main purpose of the Radio Times was (and still is) to inform us of all the top programmes appearing on BBC TV during the coming week. In this issue you might have singled out The Andy Williams Show and The Good Old Days as special highlights to look forward to, or perhaps an attempt at brand diversification in the form of A Question of News. Presented by Richard Baker, this was a short-lived attempt at replicating the success of A Question of Sport which, at that point, had been running for just over a year.

Green Cross Code: Stop,
Look, Listen, Think.
Elsewhere, there was the chance to catch up on England's Euro '72 campaign with highlights of the match against Malta in Sportsnight, while on Radio 1 there were the audible delights of Tony Blackburn, Terry Wogan and Anne Nightingale to pass the time away.

Finally, to round off this issue, there's the customary saunter through the many pages of adverts, and what better way to teach our kids road safety skills than with a relatively new campaign called 'The Green Cross Code'. Dave Prowse in a green-and-white superhero suit was still four years away at this point, but like Gerry Francis looking from side to side in all his interviews, there was more than one way to tell kids how to cross the road.


  1. Those were the days.
    We all had a chat about this in work on Friday, about the days of old, when the BBC were bold. Pre cup final foreplay in the format of waiting for the players to wake up. They teased us with the "what will the players be having for breakfast?" I was still in my pyjamas at this point, deciding what I was having for breakfast too. The sight of the team coaches leaving the hotel, followed all the way down the A12, harrow road, into wembley. Then it was time for the BBC to do what they did best, mess about and make us laugh before such a big event. More titillation, players in suits, out on the pitch, incase they had forgotten what a pitch looks like. It was always a scouser that won the 'wearer of the biggest carnation award', even if a scouser wasn't playing. All that, before the game itself. I was a blubbering mess after all of that. Those were the days, my friend. Unfortunately, they did end.

    1. Yes indeed Smart, it was always a fine tradition, watching the pre-match build up on Cup Final day. ESPN have now taken this to ridiculous levels by building up to the Final from 8am, but that's perhaps trying too hard...

      I was thinking the same thing - why have a pre-match pitch inspection?!!! To build up your nerves even more, perhaps?!?!

      Happy times when tradition meant something. Don't get me started on the loss of the 3pm kick-off... :(