SURREY SENIOR CUP FINAL
Sutton United – 3 [Watson 89.93. Feltham 91]
Carshalton Athletic – 1 [Dack 78]
Played @ Woking FC
I and most U’s fans probably remember this as the greatest of all the times we’ve captured the county cup, certainly since the early 80’s. The second time in three seasons the two sides from the London Borough of Sutton had contested the final and like the first in ‘93 the cup would be heading back to GGL, but this time in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Unlike the first LBS final in ‘93, the Surrey FA had actually found a neutral ground to host the game this time. So at least there would be no whinging from our neighbours about us having an ‘unfair home advantage’ this time around. Woking’s Kingfield stadium was selected as the venue and despite the late season fixture, a cold, damp, miserable night greeted the two sets of fans in deepest Surrey.
The Scummers were apparently ‘well up’ for this one. Looking to give their long serving & most successful, but now Kingston bound, manager Billy Smith the perfect present for his last game in charge. The scalp of the old enemy, revenge for 2 years ago and the one trophy he’d ever managed to win them. The Robins had just completed another decent campaign, finishing 8th in the league. Another season comfortably in the top 10 of the Isthmian Premier thanks to the firm hand of Mr Smith and the goals of the prolific Jimmy Bolton, who apparently would also be following his gaffer down to Kingston after this match.
We on the other hand had experienced probably one of our worst ever seasons, certainly in living memory. A disaster from start to finish, we’d spent most of the year in the bottom half, flirting with relegation to Isthmian Div 1. A role which would normally be reserved for our friends from down the road. This poor performance cost manager Alan Gane his job around Christmas. But a solid run in under the watchful gaze of old club stalwarts Larry Pritchard and Ted Shepherd combined with a last day win at Harrow had secured our safety, but leaving us way down in 19th. Just the 2 points and 1 place above the drop zone. A position most U’s fans were not used to and one which had the dog-end of the borough laughing itself silly. Bastards. They’ll pay! Well, we hoped they would…
A taster of what was to come had been played out on Easter Bank Holiday Moday with the U’s snatching 3 huge survival points in a 3-2 win over their loftily placed rivals. We lead 2-0 early on before the Scummers hauled themselves level before half time. Dom Feltham prodding home a winner late on to give the Bobbins summat to think about for the impending cup final.
The game started with the U’s determined to put their awful year behind them. The Robins looked a little off the pace and took their time getting going. Early pressure saw Dave Jones & Lenny Dennis go close in particular for the U’s. But despite controlling the majority of the half, we create few clear cut chances, with our oppo managing little better. The half ends in exciting circumstances however as U’s skipper Dave Jones, clean through on goal, is scythed down on the edge of the box by Scummer defender, Andy Fisher. Despite having denied a clear goalscoring opportunity, Fisher inexplicably receives only a yellow card for the offence much to the disgust of the U’s fans behind the goal. Bloody Surrey refs! Then with the last kick of the half, the Bobbins Kingston bound record goalscorer, Jimmy Bolton, finally gets free only to send a delicate chip over the ironically named Robbins in the U’s goal and agonisingly wide for the Bobs.
Ol’ Billy obviously gives his lads a rocket at the break as our rivals put us under pressure right from the whistle for the restart. But like ourselves in the first half they make a lot of the running but create little of any real note. That is until the 72nd minute when from out of the blue they break quickly and with the Sutton defence backpedalling for the first time tonight, a low diagonal ball across the Sutton box finds ex-U Jimmy Dack, of all people, sneaking in to tuck the ball into the net from close range at the back post. This sparks wild celebrations from the Scummers behind the goal at the far end and they actually start to make some noise in the belief that they’ll be getting that cup back. It doesn’t look good for the U’s. 1 down with 18 minutes to go. Can the boys rescue it?
The goal sparks the Bobbins into life finally and only an incredible stop from Kevin Robbins a couple of minutes later keeps Sutton in the game as our rivals look to finish us off sharpish. With chances at a premium and legs starting to tire much to our disappointment our hero Lenny Dennis is hauled off and replaced by young Mark Watson, whose fair haul of goals had played a big ol’ part in us to staying up this season. But despite this injection of enthusiasm & pace, still the U’s just can’t force a break through. We’re pressing, but the chances just won’t come.
We all keep looking nervously at our watches as the minutes ebb away. It can’t be, we can’t lose to these bastards. Not after what we’ve been through this season! This would be the final insult on a less than memorable year.
Before we know it those repeated looks at our watches reveal there’s about a minute left to play and the Scummers are starting to celebrate at the other end, they know the moment they’ve prayed to god for, sacrificed their newborn kids for, sold their grannies for, is almost at hand. They can almost smell victory. Edging towards full time, Nigel Golley’s ageing legs take him on one more surging gallop down the flank. We raise our voices in one last defiant roar, urging Gollo forwards. From the corner of the 18 yard box he swings his boot. But his first attempt at a cross is blocked. The ball comes back to him and we scream for him to try again. Get it in there, get it in the fucking mixer son! He does and this time manages to swing his second attempt right over the penalty spot.
Watson charges desperately in to challenge the Scummers ‘keeper. The Bobbins young custodian seems to have one eye on the ball and one eye on the well built striker heading straight for him. It’s a crucial loss of focus as whilst he arrives a fraction before our man, he fumbles what should really be a routine catch to kill the tie and in his sheer desperation to rectify the situation, can only help Watson bundle it and him over the line and into the net. Behind him. pure, unadulterated delirium breaks out on the Sutton terrace. GET IN THERE!!
As the game restarts, we try to regain our breath and with huge grins on our faces this time check those watches once more. The 90 are basically up. Done. Finished. Extra-Time surely looms? But before our goal addled minds can form any real thoughts of enduring another 30 minutes, all those grannies, sacrificed babies and prayers are refunded in full by the footballing goads to the mob at the other end. With a good minute over the 90 played and with the Scummers apparently still reeling in shock from our equaliser, the U’s go for the throat. Forget Extra-Time, we’re taking care of business right here, right fucking now. We pressure again and win a corner. Veteran midfielder Mickey Stephens swings it into the near post and defender Darren Anderson comes barrelling in to meet the ball from 6 yards out with a thumping bullet header.
YEEEEAAHHH….OOOHHhhhh…..no! Somehow the Bobbins ‘keeper makes a fabulous reaction save to make amends for his mistake just barely a minute or so before. It’s an incredible stop. But unfortunately for him, his team mates and the now no-longer-celebrating-at-all Bobbins at the far end, the ball drops about 3 yards out at the back post where ‘Big’ Dom Feltham pounces and gleefully smashes the ball into the bottom corner of the net before wheeling away in delight.
That’s it, all fucking hell breaks loose. We go absolutely nuts. Properly, howl at the moon, grab a stranger and hug them like they’re your long lost family, lose your shit mental. The cup’s coming back to Gander Green Lane again!!
But there’s still more to come. Oh yes, this isn’t over yet. Utterly drained and wild with delight we start to watch most of the Maroon clad ones heading for the exits at the far end. The know the game is surely lost and we hurl varied insults at them to help them on their way as they scurry off into the Surrey night, although most of it probably sounds like a bunch of gibbering lunatics speaking in tongues. As it is, most of them don’t see what happens next. And to be honest, that’s probably for the best. With about 3 minutes of stoppages already played, the boys have clearly decided attack is the best form of defence at this point of the contest and press their oppo’s tired rearguard one last time. Another corner is won and again ‘Able’ swings it in to the near post where this time Watson meets it with just as good a header as Anderson’s moments before, but there’s no stopping this one and it crashes in under the bar to trigger another scene of normally average, respectable people losing their fucking minds on the terrace behind the goal. Less than 5 minutes ago, we’d been down and out in a Cup Final to our bitterest rivals no less. Now we’ve just completed the most amazing comeback imaginable to lead 3-1. Insane doesn’t even come close to covering it.
Moments later before the latest round of celebrations have finished, the ref finally blows for time and the dejected Bobbins players slump to the turf. And there they largely stay until called to collect their runners up medals, mostly as there’s not a single Scummer left in the ground at this point to thank for their support on the night or commiserate with them on what is a shattering defeat. Then U’s are once more crowned kings of Surrey and after going mental just that one last time on the pitch with the lads and the cup, we head off into the cold night to locate the nearest pub that’ll put up with a bunch of adrenaline crazed Sutton fans, let alone serve ‘em beer.
2 hours later and we’re on the last train home, now a bit more pissed than before, still buzzing and singing like madmen.
”We’ll never be mastered, by those Carshalton bastards, we’ll keep the yellow flag flying high…”