My Match goes back in time to January 1979, as Ian Shaw recalls an FA Cup game at The Valley which really packed a punch…
I have had so many memorable matches over the years.
Many people talk of the replay with Charlton Athletic at London Road – with an ‘official’ crowd of 10,591 (but was obviously so many more) – when we lost 2-1 and the floodlights failed.
However, for me, the more memorable footballing moments were in the first game.
Going to The Valley with Charlton high in Division 2 (now the Championship) and challenging for promotion to Division 1 (now the Premiership), with the renowned goalscoring deadly duo of Mike Flanagan and Derek Hales ready to bury us 9-0!
There we were, standing on the old monster 1930s terracing on a January night with 13,457 fans, when we saw the impossible.
In the 13th minute, little old Stones from the Southern League took the lead with a swerving goal from fans’ favourite Glenn Coupland (a teacher at Ramsden school), which was one of those loopy, swerving, ‘is it a cross, is it a shot’ moments that you watched in slow motion thinking will it, will it, it’s going, it’s going, it’s going, IT’S IN! Amazing!
But what was more amazing was the battle that the Stones put up to hold on to that lead, with Kenny Hill doing a real Terry Butcher-like do or die display, battling for everything kind of performance and running himself into the ground.
He probably wasn’t able to walk for a week after the game, he put so much into it. Charlton, to be fair, were pretty dire and their fans didn’t know where to put their faces!
Half time we went in one up, dreaming of the impossible and right up to the 77th minute we were living in dreamland, until one of football’s cruel twists of fate.
It was Kenny Hill himself who finally ran out of that last bit of steam in the 77th and let Flanagan in to equalise. Gutted.
However, we had battled so hard and frustrated high-flyers Charlton so much that our performance prompted one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
In the 86th minute Flanagan and Hales were both sent off for fighting.
They were sent off for fighting each other!
Apparently, according to Charlton records, the two players had words after Hales had been caught offside and as they walked back to the centre circle, they continued to argue and Hales suddenly lashed out a couple of times at Flanagan who replied with a punch.
These events were all witnessed by the referee, who, after consulting his linesman, sent both players off.
Three days after the game, Charlton sacked Hales and fined Flanagan £250.
Hales was later reinstated and fined two weeks’ wages. Later that month, Flanagan walked out over the handling of his transfer. All because of Glenn Coupland and the Mighty Stones!
The Stones team that night. Very similar to the one that had beaten (wait for it) Gillingham with that marvellous Frankie Ovard lob at Priestfield that I still dream of.
Was it a dream? It was so long ago! What a player Frankie was. Shades of Flish in his style, too.
Here’s the Stones line up that evening, and for the really keen, the Charlton line up, with Keith Peacock coming on as a sub.
Maidstone: Guy, Kinnear, Edwards, Hill, Aitken, Merrick, Silvester, Gregory, Coupland, Fusco, Budden. Unused sub: Wallace.
Charlton: Wood, Shaw, Campbell, Gritt (Peacock 61), Shipperley, Berry, Brisley, Hales, Flanagan, Madden, Powell.
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