The last time The Imps took a side to face their counterparts from West Brom at the Hawthorns was back in the memorable 1975/76 season. City were on their way to winning the fourth division title, but in the FA Cup it gave Graham Taylor’s men the opportunity to take on a first division side in the ‘greatest domestic cup competition in the world’.
On Tuesday night, The Imps’ under 18’s made that same trip into the West Midlands to face the Baggies in their third round FA Youth Cup tie. One person who will be looking on at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night, is one of the players who played in that aforementioned FA Cup game in the Seventies, Terry Cooper, and he has fond memories of a game which ultimately ended in disappointment for Taylor’s men.
“Although it was over 40 years ago, I remember the game like it was yesterday, it was a great occasion, everyone always loves to play in those big occasions.” Terry said.
Before meeting West Brom, The Imps had faced Leicester City in the League Cup before away games against local rivals, Boston United and Mansfield Town and that’s where Terry take’s up the story.
“We’d had a massive League Cup game a little earlier in the season against Leicester where we lost 2-1 unfortunately, but we went into the FA Cup game against Boston as the favourites, it was almost like us going to West Brom in reverse! There was over 6,000 at that game and Percy (Freeman) got us through, then we played Mansfield in the next round and I remember Jimmy Gordon played in goal, one of the few games he got a game in place of Peter Grotier, although he wasn’t the usual goalkeeper it didn’t matter as we were such a good group of players who all got on.
“We went behind in the game (against Mansfield) to an early goal but to come from behind like we did in the second half to win, that really set us up for the trip to West Brom in round three.
“I remember the preparation for the game, we were all so excited and met in a hotel for the game. The pre-match meetings were so meticulous, Graham Taylor was so good in his planning and really got us ready for it.
“Just walking into the stadium and you could feel it was such a big game, it was a First division stadium and I just remember how inspirational the fans were. They were probably the stand out thing about the game, the fans were always great but to see them at such a big ground and making the noise they did was fantastic. They made so much noise.
“After we went behind to a goal after just six minutes, they drove us forward and inspired us and we managed to get into the lead against a really good side.”
City went into a 2-1 lead, with Sam Ellis and John Fleming scoring for the visitors and set tongues wagging at The Hawthorns but despite the home side pulling a goal back, Terry said the side were far from disheartened until a strike from a future England international was to eventually put out the resilient and determined Imps.
“They had both Alastair and Tony Brown up front as well as Johnny Giles, but Dave Smith was playing so well for us. But then he got injured and had to go off, to be honest I think the lad who fouled him should have been sent off, but he wasn’t and they made it 2-2 shortly after.
“As a group we were still confident we could beat them, even if we had to take them back to the Bank but before we could think of that, a young left back they had called Bryan Robson picked up the ball on the right side of the box and hit the ball right across the box and it nestled into the corner of the net. It was one of those you probably thought he couldn’t do that in another 50 tries, but of course he went onto have a great career and score some great goals for Manchester United and England.
"Although we lost, we loved the experience, it was such a shame we didn’t get the replay we thought we deserved. Going on a cup run like that just gave you a really good feeling, as a group we loved playing against the supposed bigger teams. Also, as most of the players played most of their career in the lower leagues so to go and arrive at a big ground like that and play so well was really special.”
After a long career as a professional, Terry looks back on his career with a smile but there’s no doubt his heart now lies.
“Although I played at Newport earlier in my career, and I’m looking forward to them coming to Sincil Bank next week, and had a really enjoyable spell at Notts County after that. I count my time at Sincil Bank as the best part of my career without a doubt.”
City supporters can still make the trip down to the Hawthorns tomorrow with limited spaces left on a coach which will be departing for the game from Sincil Bank tomorrow afternoon. Season ticket holders can travel to the game for FREE, non-season ticket holders will pay just £5 to get to the game. Details can be found HERE
Admission to watch the FA Youth Cup 3rd round tie is just £5 for Adults and £1 for concessions and supporters will pay on the gate at the stadium.