December 10 2013 Latest news:
Friday, January 27, 2012
Cyrille Regis ended Norwich City’s Wembley hopes when he produced the Goal of the Season for West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup – but is wary of making any predictions before the two sides meet in the competition 30 years on.
It was Regis whose spectacular effort decided the fifth round tie at The Hawthorns in 1982 and earned him the famous BBC accolade.
The two clubs come face to face again in the fourth round tomorrow (3pm), with Paul Lambert’s Canaries looking for a repeat of the Premier League victory they achieved on the same ground just a fortnight ago. However, Regis, one of Albion’s all-time greats with a suite named after him at the stadium, knows that FA Cup ties are very difficult to predict, and the league result may have no bearing on the outcome.
“I didn’t see the game two weeks ago but I did see the goals on TV and I am sure Roy Hodgson will want to tighten up the defence,” he said. “He will be well aware of the strength of Norwich. Paul Lambert’s done a fantastic job, they’re fairly comfortable in the Premier League at the moment and the odds are on them staying there.
“They’re getting results and if they stay there there’s another £50m to keep strengthening. But the FA Cup is totally different. Albion are coming off the back of a win at Stoke, which will give them confidence, so it makes for a good, exciting game.”
Regis, who reached two semi-finals with Albion and won the FA Cup with Coventry in 1987, is not about to forecast the result, though.
“I’m an Albion fan, of course, but I don’t do predictions now. Two years after winning the FA Cup with Coventry we were knocked out in the third round by Sutton United,” he recalled.
He will not forget the February 1982 match against the Canaries, for obvious reasons. In a season that brought him 25 goals in all competitions, Regis had gone through a comparatively quiet spell, without a goal since Boxing Day, when a burst of speed and a rocket of a shot delivered the 24th-minute winner and booked the Baggies a quarter-final place.
“People still remember it because it was Goal of the Season. I have a lovely platter to remind me and I can watch it on You Tube as well,” he said.
“Ally Robertson lobbed the ball up to me and I chested it down and turned away from Martin O’Neill and Steve Walford, and I had a go and it flew past Chris Woods to his left. It was nice because I wasn’t scoring too many at the time.”
There was a double disappointment for Albion, however, as they were beaten by QPR in the semi-final – and also lost to Tottenham in the League Cup semi-finals the same season.
“I got to the FA Cup semi-final twice with Albion. We had lost to Ipswich the first time in 1978,” said Regis. “We were favourites against Ipswich at Highbury. It was the game where John Wile and Brian Talbot clashed heads and were all bandaged up, but we never performed on the day and that is what the FA Cup is about. It was bitterly disappointing. That was my first year in the game.”
Regis finally collected a winner’s medal with Coventry when they beat Tottenham 3-2 in the final in 1987, when one of his team-mates was full-back Greg Downs, a member of the Norwich team he had knocked out in such stunning fashion five years before.
Now 53, the born-again Christian and ambassador for WaterAid, was made an MBE in 2008. He regrets that the FA Cup has lost a little of its gloss.
“The FA Cup was magical then, you watched it as a kid and played Wembley in the playground,” he said.
“It was a fantastic competition, the build-up, the buzz and the fact the final was at Wembley. The only way you got to Wembley then was as an international or in a cup final.
“It’s not the same now because the semi-finals are there, the play-off finals and so on. I know there are commercial considerations but it’s diluted it a bit.”