Bussed

BILLY'S CONTRACT



Searching for something worthwhile to do in these difficult times I decided to put a shelf up in the garage. 

In doing so it meant moving what can be best described as a heavy-duty woodworking cabinet which my father-in-law made for me many years ago, and a top-notch job to be fair. As such, to lighten the load, I had to empty its contents, consisting of box upon box of photographs and as you do, you start delving into them and naturally the job in hand takes second place. 

I was sifting through some footy photos when I randomly came across a Manchester City ticket stub for the third round FA Cup tie against Marine or Hartlepool, dated the 3rd of January 1976, just three months before my 21st birthday. Price of the ticket: one pound. What can you buy at a football ground for a pound these days?


At the time of printing the ticket it hadn't being decided who would play Manchester City as the Pools v Marine replay had yet to take place. When the draw for the second round of the cup was made we hadn't a clue where Marine was until the coach landed us in Merseyside. I vaguely recollect it was my first visit to a non-league ground and and I was suitably impressed as in my ignorance I was expecting to see jumpers for goalposts and having to have a pee behind a tree in a bucket.

Pools' record against non-league clubs at the time was not good * and for most of the match Marine had Pools on the back foot. I am pretty certain Bobby Scaife salvaged Pools' pride by getting the equaliser in a one-all draw. In truth the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the return journey home when we were listening to the draw for the third round of the FA Cup and heard the clipped tones of a BBC announcer revealing that Manchester City will play Marine or Hartlepool. The noise on the coach was incredible with everyone jumping up and down and cheering.

Two days later the replay at the Vic saw Pools run out 6-3 winners. The score looks pretty emphatic but it was a lot closer than the the result might suggest. Again my memory isn't clear but I am sure at it was three all at one stage and that Marine had for a time been in the lead, perhaps on a couple of occasions.
"By the way, I want that paper back later as I haven't finished reading it!"

I think it was a case of two games in two days that did for Marine. Mally Moore with a hat trick, Kevin Johnson, John Rowland and Bobby Scaife (once again) were the scorers in front of a very impressive crowd of just over 5,600 fans. That was it; we were off to Maine Road the following Saturday.

On the big day I headed off to West with my ticket (pictured) in my hand to meet up with my mate whose other team just happened to be Manchester City. We met at Museum Road which was filled from top to bottom with Bee-line coaches, parked up nose to tail. Come to think of it there were more coaches parked outside the ABC cinema and further up Raby Road. Looking back, Pools must have hired their entire fleet. On the way down, our coach was the first to arrive in a services area. We were greeted by a group of Man. United fans, who started on our group by taking the mickey and looking for some 'chew'. However when they saw all the other Poolie coaches pulling in they soon changed their tune, particularly when they realised that we were playing their (then) biggest rivals. Strange how on the day both Manchester clubs were playing at home. (United had Oxford in the Cup).

The Poolie convoy arrives at the services area.
Whatever became of Beggs Coaches of Middlesbrough?

Not sure if that would happen these days - not so much for any trouble that may arise but I doubt if the TV companies would allow it. Two things stand out for me from the journey down to Lancashire. My Mam, God bless her, had put up a flask of my favourite soup for me. Heinz Tomato. (N.B. Heinz Chicken was only administered if you you had a cold). For the record it was the first time I had taken soup from a flask but whether or not it had reacted with the inner workings of the flask, it tasted rank and I have never had tomato soup since. Whenever I see Heinz Tomato it always brings back that day to me.

Not long before we reached Maine Road, a Poolie a few seats in front of us said he was feeling sick. The driver shouted "Would someone give him a newspaper so he can be sick into it and not mess up the seats." His mate a couple of seats in front of him promptly gave the lad his copy of the Sun and he instantly 'upchucked' into it. On his way back to the seat his mate said "By the way, I want that paper back later as I haven't finished reading it!" Thank goodness the coach was near its destination as it absolutely 'honked' inside.

The match itself ended in a comfortable six-nil win for a full-strength Manchester City but it is mainly remembered by most Poolies, not for the result or the fact that they had, as ever, outshouted the home crowd, but for Dennis Tueart and George Potter both being sent off. Tueart head-butted Potter in retaliation for an earlier foul committed on him and in the process fractured Potter's cheekbone. Potter was actually sent off while he was being carried from the field of play on a stretcher. To add insult to injury, my mate showed me a Manchester City scarf that he had concealed about his person. 

Checking the record books, I find that after the City result Pools went on a 13 game run without a win and had it not been for a late run of  unexpected average form (Barry Endean getting some vital goals) they would have had to once again go "cap in hand" to the Football League and apply for re-election.  As it happens they left that for the following season but that is another story!

 * did it ever improve? Ed.

Front Page