Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers League Cup Final 1973/74

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League Cup Final At Wembley

2nd March 1974

attendance 97,886

City Bell(59)
Wolves Hibbitt(44), Richards(85)

Ref Dave Wallace

City MacRae, Pardoe, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, Towers, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Law, Marsh – sub Carrodus(unused)

Wolves Pierce, Palmer, Parkin, Bailey, Munro, McAlle, Sunderland, Hibbitt, Richards, Dougan, Wagstaffe – sub Powell(83)

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…The first half of the game was fairly unremarkable with Wolves looking the more dangerous. Alan Sunderland gave City a warning after 12 minutes with a volley that came back off a post, and the Blues’ attacks were often stuttering affairs, breaking down when they arrived at Munro and McAlle. Wanderers took the lead a minute before the interval. A move involving Sunderland and Geoff Palmer resulted in Kenny Hibbitt receiving a crossfield ball in front of goal, and his seemingly mis-hit shot looped over Keith Macrae into the net.

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City showed much more determination and skill in the second half and got on level terms on the hour. Rodney Marsh, effective only in patches earlier, curved the ball over a trio of Wolves defenders for Colin Bell to score from a move that he himself had started on the half-way line. Booth and Lee had already given the Wolves defence some scares and Marsh and Bell came close to putting City in front a little later.
A draw and a replay at Stoke seemed on the cards, but with five minutes left the Midlanders clinched the game. From a left wing corner, Mike Bailey switched the ball to Sunderland who found hidden reserves of energy to get behind City’s defence and turn the ball into the middle. It struck a City heel, went to John Richards, and he hit home Wolves’ winner.
Wolves acclaimed young reserve ‘keeper Gary Pierce as their real hero, who had come through a Wembley Final with flying colours. It was a great disappointment for Ron Saunders, beaten in consecutive League Cup Finals, and also for Rodney Marsh, who left the arena before the presentations, an act for which he was later heavily criticised

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colin bell reluctant hero
From COLIN BELL RELUCTANT HERO By Colin Bell with Ian Cheeseman
The final took place at Wembley on 3rd March 1974 and it was to be the only time Marie would see me play live. She only went to the game because there was an organised trip for the wives. I think Marie was more excited about shopping on Oxford Street than she was about watching me play.
The Wembley playing surface was in a much better condition than it had been for our previous finals and despite all the changes that had been made off the field we expected to beat Wolves. Ron Saunders approach to the big game was very different than it had been under Joe and Malcolm.
Ron was much stricter in his approach and we weren’t allowed to drink alcohol during the build up to the game, not even a glass of wine with our meals. It wasn’t as much fun as it had been under Malcolm. It was the only time in my career that I wasn’t happy as a player at City.
The game itself reminded me of the Poland match just a few months earlier. Again we were the dominant side but failed to score. If either of those games had been boxing matches the opposition would have thrown in the towel long before the end. Wolves took the lead just before half-time, thanks to a volley from Kenny Hibbitt. We went in 0-1 down at half-time but I was still confident we would win the game.
Rodney, Tommy Booth and Franny all had great chances early in the second half before a cross from Rodney fell kindly into my path and I hit the equaliser past Gary Pierce. With ten minutes of the game remaining, I got the ball on the edge of their box and managed to get a shot away. It hit the under side of the crossbar and bounced out, just like Geoff Hurst’s at Wembley in 1966, but unfortunately for me , this time there was no Russian linesman. The more the game went on, the more it felt like the ill-fated World Cup Qualifier against Poland.
During the last 30 minutes we were never out of their half. However once again I was to leave Wembley broken hearted, as a late John Richards’ goal, deflected to him from Rodney’s heel, proved to be the winner.
Rodney was badly affected by the defeat, refusing to collect his runners up tankard. We all shared the great sense of anti-climax, we weren’t used to losing cup finals and it was an awful feeling.

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macrae article from action march 76 1974 lge cup final


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rodney marsh priceless
It was so disappinting to lose at Wembley. As someone who has a win-at-all costs mentality, that defeat made me so mad I chucked away my loser’s medal as I walked off the pitch. A few weeks later when I had calmed down, I wrote to the FA asking for a replica, but all I got was a curt reply saying no. I should have known better really. Lancaster Gate doesn’t know much about football so why should I have expected them to appreciate emotion?

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