Blast from the past
Andrew Cornell looks back at Blues’ games on May 16th
On this date we made our second visit to Wembley Stadium. It is inevitable that Blues fans like to compare the 1974 and 1981 teams, however it is difficult to make a meaningful comparison as so much changed in non-league football from the abolition of amateur status to the formation of the Alliance Premier League – the first nationwide league below the Football League. However winning the FA Trophy was undoubtedly a huge achievement, at a time when it was taken very seriously by non-league teams – with no promotion to the League.
By 1980 we had spent two seasons in the Isthmian Division One, challenging for promotion but hardly looking like walking away with the league and with no recent FA Cup or Trophy success we had to start in the Preliminary Round in September against Spalding United. That match was won and we kept winning, despite having to go to Bridgend in Wales for a midweek replay and being 2-1 down to Alvechurch with only three minutes left at home in the third round. The final was our 13th game in the competition that season.
The game started with both teams nervous and cautious and little of real note happened until Blues first serious chance in the 20th minute. Joe Simmonds sent a glancing header goalwards but Dave Collyer managed to turn it round the post.
This galvanised Sutton who broke quickly through Graham Dennis whose cross gave Micky Stephens a chance which was wasted as he hit the bar. Dennis was a real threat, soon outpacing John Knapman but Terry Moore was up to the challenge, saving well. Mike Mitchell made good use of the wide open space of Wembley, at one point beating three opponents in as many yards. With half time approaching Blues had one last effort. Ian Smith sent in a teasing cross but John Radford misjudged his header and the ball came off a defender. Simmonds was first to the ball but rushed his shot which went wide.
Blues started the second half well and Radford went close with two more chances but as the game went on Stortford seemed to tire and lose concentration. Meanwhile one of the older players on the field, former England Amateur International Larry Pritchard came into the game more and orchestrated a period of dominance for Sutton. In the 75th minute a misunderstanding between Moore and David Brame saw Ray Sunnocks nip in but his shot went into the side netting. Two minutes later Pritchard beat the offside trap but Moore was just quick enough to take the ball off his boot. Dave Worrell then came on as sub for Smith and had a shot deflected wide while Dennis past Richard Bradford who was struck by cramp and was only robbed by Roger Avery at the last minute. Extra time was fast approaching when Stortford managed a dramatic finish. David Brame sent in a cross from deep and under pressure from Radford, John Rains misheaded the ball to Terry Sullivan who calmly shot into the roof of the net. With only injury time left to play Sutton had no chance to reply and Blues had won a famous victory.
To read an article from the H&E Observer about Terry Sullivan click here
The only other game on this date was also significant as second played third in the Isthmian League. Hendon won the game 1-0 and ended Blues chances of winning the Isthmian League to go with the FA Amateur Cup and also ultimately stealing the runners up spot from us.
Pictures courtesy Herts & Essex Observer
1981 BSFC 1 Sutton United 0 – FA Trophy Final (At Wembley Stadium)
Moore, Blackman, Brame, Smith, Bradford, Avery, Sullivan, Knapman, Radford,
Joe Simmonds, Mitchell Sub: Worrell Scorer: Sullivan
1974 Hendon 1 BSFC 0 – Isthmian League Division 1
Moore, Gibson, Coombes, Lawrence, Still, Payne, Leakey, Dear, Bass, Smith, Mitchell
Sub Unused: Scott