Saturday, 4 May 2013

FA Cup Final Day - ITV-style (Part 1)

With just seven days to go until the 2013 FA Cup Final, we begin a week-long series of FA Cup-themed articles here on The Football Attic..

If you heard our recent podcast called 'FA Cup Memories', you'll know that many people (ourselves included) still fondly remember the classic Cup Final Day coverage on TV.

As a child growing up in the UK, one tends to recall ITV and BBC starting their build-up to the big event well before lunchtime. Special features would be shown involving the Cup Final players, celebrities and all manner of novelty fare. This was, after all, the biggest game of the domestic season and the two main UK TV channels did all they could to make sure you tuned in to them for Cup Final Day.

While the BBC's coverage was somewhat earnest and straight-laced, ITV allowed itself to have a bit more fun in its presentation of the big event. To that end, let's remind ourselves of how World of Sport did 'FA Cup Final Day' down the years, starting here with Part 1...

Duration: 12.30pm to 4.55pm

Presented by Eamonn Andrews, Dickie Davies (or Richard Davies as he was still known at the time) was just a roving reporter at Wembley along with Peter Lorenzo (father of Matt, ITV's anchorman during the 1994 World Cup).

The era of bold, eye-catching coverage hadn't yet arrived, so if Davies or Lorenzo had managed to grab a quick chat with a celebrity before kick-off, you'd have counted yourself lucky. This was, to all intents and purposes, a fairly ordinary edition of World of Sport, albeit one presented from Wembley.

Among the non-football items were horse racing from Lingfield, wrestling from the Clifton Hall, Rotherham (featuring Jackie Pallo), and the Australian Pools results.

Duration: 12pm to 5.15pm

Richard Davies was now the main presenter of World of Sport while Brian Moore had taken over commentating duties from Hugh Johns. Jimmy Hill and Barry Davies were on hand to interview ITV's pundits including Danny Blanchflower and Billy Wright, while Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Charlton were brought in as special guests.

One or two special features were now forming part of the Cup Final feast on the commercial channel, one of which was 'Wembley In The Sixties' - a chance to show highlights from great games including the 1966 World Cup Final, the 1968 European Cup Final and the 1969 League Cup Final between Arsenal and Swindon Town. Ten minutes were also spared to look at the Football Writers Dinner at London's Café Royal.

Once again, a few footballing palate cleansers were provided in the form of Whitbread Gold Cup horse racing and professional wrestling.

Duration: 12pm to 5.15pm

Not much change on the previous year. Instead of 'Wembley in the Sixties' we had 'Cup Finals of the Sixties', plus there was the usual recap of all the best goals scored earlier in the competition and interviews with players and pundits.

One big gimmick came to light, however, in the form of the ITV Computer. Fred Dinenage provided an early explanation on how the computer (think tape reels and flashing lights) would, by 2.15pm, be churning out a prediction on the FA Cup Final result. Inevitably the prediction, based on the statistical data fed into it, was wrong, but it did give Jimmy Hill and co. plenty of reasons to discuss its accuracy prior to kick-off.

No horse racing this year, but the wrestling was an 'International Special,' for what it's worth.

Duration: 11.30am to 5.15pm

ITV's earliest start yet as Richard Davies partnered up with Jimmy Hill who refereed a pre-Final debate on the Arsenal v Liverpool match with Malcolm Allison, Pat Crerand and Derek Dougan - the classic ITV Sport panel, for many people.

'Wembley Starspot' was a regular feature throughout the day where Davies interviewed personalities in the 'World of Sport Celebrity Bar.' Around lunchtime was 'Penalty Prize' - a five-minute item where "On The Ball's penalty champion, 15-year-old Ken Henderson from Sunderland" tried to outdo "the panel's penalty king, Bob McNab".

Kids also featured in 'My Dad's At Wembley' where the sons of some of the Arsenal and Liverpool players talked to Brian Moore and Keith Macklin about their fathers and favourite players.

Again, horse racing and wrestling were present in the line-up, along with the cursory five-minute check to see how the Scottish FA Cup Final had gone.

Duration: 11.15am to 5.10pm

Very much 'as you were' in '71 with many of the pundits, presenters and features from the previous year retained, but fortunately we could now call Richard Davies 'Dickie' to cast aside all that unnecessary formality.

Fortunately a couple of new items were brought in to freshen up the schedule. 'Cup Final Comedians' appeared at 1.25pm with 15 minutes of football fun and gags from the likes of Mike Reid, Frank Carson, Bernard Manning and Charlie Williams. With half an hour to go before kick-off, 'The Football Association Pageant' was a 20-minute parade inside Wembley to celebrate the FA's centenary, commentated on by Brian Moore.

'International Athletics' was also added to the non-football content.

Duration: 10.30am to 5.10pm

ITV really pushed the boat out with a super-early start in 1973. Replacing 'The Comedians' this year was a special edition of 'Who Do You Do?' - a popular show featuring impersonators of the day including Eddie Large and Janet Brown. A five-minute segment called 'My Man's At Wembley' also appeared at 1.15pm where the British public got to 'meet' the players' wives.

Another brief change of pace came along in the shape of 'Cup Final Athletics' - "special pre-match invitation races held at Wembley Stadium." Exactly why we're not entirely sure. More interesting, perhaps, was the ITV 'Sky-High' camera providing "a sensational plan-view of the stadium."

Duration: 11am to 5.10pm

Back to an 11 o'clock start this time, shortly after which was 'Football Crazy!'  Here, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart combined football songs and goal action with children from Liverpool and Newcastle, the 1974 finalists. "Two pop-stars who love their football" were also on hand along with some kids "with well-known sporting dads."

This was the year when 'Camera on the Coach' arrived to give us a unique insight into how 20 angst-ridden men travelled five miles to Wembley in near silence but for the encouraging words of a roving reporter and his microphone. And if the satellite link remained intact for more than five minutes at a time, so much the better, but there was no guarantee of this.

'Talk of the Stars' gave a knowing nod back to the days of the ITV computer by enlisting TV Times astrologer Roger Elliot to predict the outcome of the 1974 FA Cup Final. Five minutes later, 'Footballer's Fancies' invited some of the players to give their tips for the winner of the 2,000 Guineas which was shown immediately afterwards as part of ITV's Cup Final coverage.

A reminder for anyone that might have forgotten: this was 1974 - not 2013.

Duration: 11am to 5.10pm

Quite honestly there wasn't much innovation in ITV's 1975 Cup Final schedule, except for the inclusion of some... how shall we say... 'dubious' personalities?

Aside from the wrestling, the horse racing, the highlights package from previous rounds of the Cup and the Australian Pools results, the only 'highlights' of note were 'Freddie Starr!' at 12pm, 'Freddie Starr Again!' at 1pm and 'Football Crazy' which followed the same format as in 1974 but this time featured various guests including Gary Glitter.

We'll be moving not-so-swiftly onto Part 2 of our ITV Cup Final Day guide very soon, and in it we'll take in juvenile commentators, Dutch astrologers and hopefully no-one questioned as part of Operation Yewtree.


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