My second classic games that I've been to: the 1991 FA Cup Final

My second classic games that I've been to: the 1991 FA Cup Final

After the success of my first article, I've decided to continue and give you my memories of the Final. If you haven't read my previous article (on the Semi-Final), then click on the link below.

After our great classic victory over Arsenal, we couldn't wait until 18th May, Saturday. Our opponents were going to be Nottingham Forest. They had got to the final by beating Palace (after three matches), Newcastle (after two), Southampton (also after two games) and Norwich City in the quarter-finals. Their semi-final was against the Spammers, who they thrashed 4-0. That game was held at Villa Park. Forest was managed, at the time, by the legendary Brian Clough.

Like the Semi-Final, I went up by train. And as always, I left early in the morning. It isn't just about the match for me, but savouring the moment, meeting friends and other Tottenham Supporters. Like always, I made my way to the programme sellers to get my oversized rip-off programme. I have all the Cup Final programmes that Spurs have participated in, apart from the very first one in 1901  (which I don't think they produced one for that game).

Once I got my programme, I mingled, met my friend Michael Dolphin and we soaked up the atmosphere. We had a walk around Wembley, and remember, this was the old Wembley that was built in 1923. Not the shambles that we have now (no historic feel to it, in my opinion).

The tone of the day was very carnival-like (but then again, aren't all cup finals?). The kick-off was at 3 pm. As there was an hour to go, we made our way to our entrance. Showed our tickets at the turnstiles and through. The security then wasn't as it was now. No back-packing fanatic to look out for, or some screwed up wanna-bee celebrity wanting to make a name for himself. Granted we did have the IRA, but they weren't in our thoughts on that day. There was also no bag-size policy.

The music that you could hear around you were the hits of the day, such as Cher - The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss), The KLF featuring The Children Of The Revolution - Last Train To Trancentral, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Sailing On The Seven Seas, Crystal Waters - Gypsy Woman (La Da Dee)and Zucchero featuring Paul Young - Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman). They don't make them like that anymore; in fact, they didn't make them as they did in the 60s and 70s. But I am showing my age. By the time the 1991 Cup Final came along I was 35. That was 29 years ago. And since then, just think of all those trophies we have won… erm…  or maybe not… but we have got a brand new spanking stadium. OK, let us be fair; we did win the league cup in 1998/1999 and 2007/2008. What more do you want? Be successful as United, Chelsea or the Gooners? Bloody right we do! Over to you, Daniel Levy and Jose Mourinho.

Anyway, we sat down with our snacks, the atmosphere was great, we watched the prematch entertainment and then it was time for the teams to come out. As the managers walked out, Brian Clough grabbed hold of Terry Venables hand, like two lovers. The teams were presented to the dignitaries, then the players went to their positions, and the whistle was blown to commence battle…

The 1991 final was Nottingham Forest's first appearance in the FA Cup final since their triumph 32 years earlier, and they had not reached the final since. We, on the other hand, were there four years earlier (1987). Oh, let us rub it in. They last won the FA Cup and appeared in the FA cup in 1959. Since then we won the double, seven FA Cups… Oh, stop it! We are not here to brag; I’ll let you look up all the rest at your own leisure.

At that time we were more than £20million in debt and had struggled in the league during the second half of the 1990-91 season, but Paul Gascoigne's goals throughout the competition helped us reach the final.

Gascoigne was so over-excited for this match that he almost ended his involvement in the first few minutes. In winning the ball out on the right touchline, he followed through with his foot up and caught Garry Parker in the chest. I remember thinking, “oh, no, he is going to get sent-off,” but lucky for us Referee Roger Milford let him off with a lecture. But as we knew, you don’t calm Gascoigne by words of wisdom.

Anyway, that wasn’t the end of Gazza’s antics; he brought down Gary Charles as the Forest defender ran across the face of the Spurs penalty area. Forest were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Again we waited with bated breath,  but once again Gascoigne was let off without further chastisement from the referee. Before play resumed, Gascoigne received extensive treatment on his knee before standing up to join the defensive wall.

Gascoigne paid for his impulsive challenge, which many Forest fans thought deserved a red card (including some of our supporters), when Stuart Pearce smashed home the subsequent free-kick, through a hole in our wall, to give Forest the lead. Gascoigne had to leave the field on a stretcher shortly after the match restarted, as he could not put any weight on his leg.

It was later revealed that he had torn his cruciate ligaments. Nayim (later became famous for his fantastic winning goal, in the last minute, against Arsenal in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final; after that, he was always known as “Nayim from the halfway line”) came on to replace him. Gascoigne's injury would rule him out for the entire 1991-92 season as well as the 1992 European championships. It would also prove to be the last game he played for us. Eventually, Lazio bought him for £6 million, and he moved over to Italy in the summer of 1992. Anyway, I am digressing.

After 25 minutes Gary Lineker wrongly had a goal disallowed for offside, and then five minutes later he was in on Mark Crossley, when the goalkeeper brought him down in the box. We all jumped up and shouted “penalty” and penalty it was. Up stepped Lineker, fired, but Crossley dived to his left and kept the ball out.

Crossley became only the second goalkeeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup Final at Wembley, after Dave Beasant for Wimbledon in 1988.
After that penalty was saved, I started getting the heebie-jeebies. Gazza off, they scored, and a penalty saved. At this point, I was beginning to think, like the 1987 Cup Final, that things were going against us. We were all nervous. We made our way to the toilets, then for something to eat and drink, to steady our nerves. Then back to our seats.

After the interval, Nayim cushioned a kick from Erik Thorstvedt into the path of Paul Allen, who put Paul Stewart in on the right-hand side of the box. Stewart drilled a low shot past Crossley into the corner of the net to put us on level terms. We jumped, we hugged, and our fears started to dissipate. But we only had equalised, not won the match. The sweat beads began to drip down our foreheads. Then the whistle was blown for full time. We didn’t like this, not one bit. Players were weary; we were tense.

With the game finishing at 1–1 after full time, we then moved into extra time. Substitute Paul Walsh shot a header over the keeper, but the ball hit the bar and bounced back only for it to be put behind by Pearce for a corner. Nayim took it, and Stewart ran into it at the near post to flick it on. As Mabbutt hurried in at the far post, he was poised to head the ball goalwards, but Forest defender Des Walker beat him to it and redirected the ball past his own keeper to give us the lead for the first time in the game. We were euphoric, beyond joy. Our hearts were in our mouths. But it wasn’t over by a long shot. With about 26 minutes left, we were on tenterhooks. The minutes ticked away until… finally, the referee blew his whistle to end the game. It was over, and we had won our 8th FA Cup Final, and a record to boot. We were beside ourselves. We danced, jigged about, hugged, as our heads were in the clouds. The players were exhausted (so were we). Then the honours came, Gary Mabbutt lifted the FA Cup, and we were off again. We were delirious. Tears were in our eyes.

Eventually, we made our way out of the stadium, down Wembley way, to the train station, underground and then to Paddington and home. What a great day, what an exhausting enlivening game. And what a day to remember.

One quick note: Justin Edinburgh was the last member of Tottenham's cup winning team to leave the club; he left the club at the turn of the century. Sadly Justin died in June 2019. He was only 49. Just before his death, I managed to get a photo with him—a sad loss. That photo is now proudly hanging on my computer room wall.

That final was the 110th FA Cup Final.

Because of this FA Cup win, we were entered into the European Cup Winners’ Cup competition. It was our first European game since the Heysel era.

Tottenham’s team
1          Erik Thorstvedt
2          Justin Edinburgh
3          Pat Van Den Hauwe
4          Steve Sedgley
5          David Howells
6          England Gary Mabbutt (c)
7          Paul Stewart
8          Paul Gascoigne                 Substituted off 17'
9          Vinny Samways                  Substituted off 82'
10        Gary Lineker
11        Paul Allen

12        Paul Walsh               Substituted in 82'
14        Nayim                        Substituted in 17'
England Terry Venables

It was one of many of the greatest moments of my life. As somebody who has been going since the double era, I’ve been privileged to see some great matches, results, great football teams, football stadiums of Europe and different countries, all in the name of Tottenham Hotspur. They are magic, you know!

Be safe.

 By Glenn Renshaw


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