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Fans' memories on 40th anniversary of Bishop's Stortford's historic Wembley cup final win





There was no joy for the Blues at Wembley on Saturday, as Chelsea were beaten 1-0 in the FA Cup final by Leicester City – but it was a different story at the famous stadium on this weekend in 1981 for another Blues side.

Sunday (May 16) marks the 40th anniversary of arguably Bishop's Stortford FC's greatest achievement: winning the FA Trophy.

In beating Sutton United 1-0 through a last-minute winner by Terry Sullivan, the Blues became the first club ever to win both the FA Trophy and the FA Amateur Cup – having become the last ever club to win the latter cup, beating Ilford 4-1 at Wembley in 1974.

Jubilant fans follow the Bishop's Stortford team coach along South Street. Picture: George Francis
Jubilant fans follow the Bishop's Stortford team coach along South Street. Picture: George Francis

Some Blues fans have vivid memories of the '81 final and the post-match celebrations back in Stortford.

Andy Lines, the Daily Mirror's chief reporter who lives in Stortford and hails from Hatfield Heath, said: "As the last-minute winner went in at the far end we jumped up to celebrate and the wooden bench seat below us snapped in two. We went sprawling to the floor but we didn't care – Stortford were about to win the FA Trophy,

"For the 12 or so years afterwards when I went to England games I always looked over wistfully at the bench – which had been replaced and was a slightly different colour – and immediately remembered the brilliant Stortford victory.

"The Hatfield Heath FC boys had gathered en masse for the final. We got on the bus outside the White Horse and the singing started. Most of us were only 15 and 16 years old but we had smuggled some beer onboard.

"Current Stortford chairman Ian Kettridge was there along with Heath legends Andy Clayden, Mike Bamber, Ian 'Brains' Barnett and my brother Richard 'Rabbit' Lines.

"When we got into Wembley we met up with Richard Banks – who works at Kain Knight in the town – who was waving a 'Terry's All Gold' banner made by his mum Mary.

"It was in honour of his favourite player Terry Sullivan. When Sullivan's goal went in we all went berserk.

"After the match we headed back to Stortford and I remember cheering the team bus as it edged through the crowds past the Bridge House.

"There's nothing like watching your home-town club winning at Wembley."

Shane McCormick – "I remember getting on the coach and saying to Keith Coleman, who ran the club's shop: 'Keith, we won the Trophy!' His reply was epic: 'Yes, but what a s*** game.' Both '74 and the Trophy final were great days, but '74 edged it."

Rachel Susan Armitage – "When they scored we all jumped up and my uncle lost his false teeth under the bench seating."

The late Vernon Woodcock with the FA Trophy at post-match celebrations in the clubhouse at Bishop's Stortford's old Rhodes Avenue ground. Picture: Bill Sibson
The late Vernon Woodcock with the FA Trophy at post-match celebrations in the clubhouse at Bishop's Stortford's old Rhodes Avenue ground. Picture: Bill Sibson

Tony Claxton – "A wonderful day, our second visit to Wembley. First in 1974 was as epic. The fabulous goal at the end of the game by my favourite Blues player of all time, Terry Sullivan. Back home and jumping in our cars, hooting our horns around the town, then seeing the team arrive home. After that, well, best kept to myself... apart from ending up at a friend's house slumped in the corner with a traffic cone on my head."

Garry Hale – "The second once-in-a-lifetime visit to Wembley. Lived in Rhodes Avenue at the time. A stunning result and an even better celebration."

Phil Wood – "I was at both finals at Wembley. Great days and wonderful achievements."

Rod Catton – "What a great cup run, and to win was a brilliant day – will never forget."

A £4 matchday ticket for the final at Wembley. Picture: George Francis
A £4 matchday ticket for the final at Wembley. Picture: George Francis

Pamela Edwards – "I was there but a couple of years later moved to Sutton, so my loyalties became divided."

Barry Freeman – "Best round was the semi finals against Dartford home and away – it was a war zone!

Mike Ord – "What a day that was, remember it well. I went with my aunt and uncle. My uncle was Bunny Francis. At the time he worked with Brookway engineers. They had a coach laid on for staff and families to go. I also remember the semi finals with Dartford home and away. We had a lot of our coach's windows smashed in over there in the first leg. I can't remember who it was now, but someone climbed up the flagpole at Mann Egerton car lot and took the flag over to Dartford that day lol."



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