Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal, 1979 FA Cup
Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal – this Third Round FA Cup clash at a snowy Hillsborough in January 1979 was the first of a series of five games between Division Three side Wednesday and First Division Arsenal. At the time, Cup ties were played to the death, without penalty shoot-outs. It took nine hours of football and four replays, three of them going to extra time, to separate the two teams. The last three fixtures were played at Leicester’s Filbert Street.
Arsenal were unhappy about the state of the Hillsborough pitch, with their manager Terry Neill declaring it the worst he’d ever seen, and believing it was unsafe. However after making it through this gruelling tie, the Gunners went on to lift the Cup at Wembley in May with a dramatic 3-2 win over Manchester United. The Sheffield Wednesday side was managed by 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton, before his successful spell as Republic of Ireland manager, during which he took them to their first major tournaments, the 1988 European Championship and the World Cups of 1990 and 1994.
In goal for Arsenal, where he was subjected to a barrage of snowballs, was the celebrated Northern Ireland keeper Pat Jennings. After a long career at Tottenham, where he was Footballer of the Year in 1972-73 and then PFA Player of the Year three years later, he was allowed to join rivals Arsenal in 1977, with Spurs believing he was past his best. Jennings went on to play in the First Division for another eight years, and was a key member of the Arsenal side which reached the FA Cup Final for three consecutive years between 1978 and 1980. In 1983, he became the first player in English football to reach 1,000 senior appearances, and represented Northern Ireland in the World Cup Finals of 1982 and 1986.
The five ties:
1. Sheffield Wednesday – Arsenal; Hillsborough, FA Cup Third Round, Saturday 6 January 1979: 1-1 (Jeff Johnson; Alan Sunderland). Attendance: 33, 635
2. Arsenal – Sheffield Wednesday; Highbury, FA Cup Third Round Replay, Tuesday 9 January 1979: 1-1 a.e.t. (Liam Brady; Rodger Wylde). Attendance: 37, 987
3. Arsenal – Sheffield Wednesday; Filbert Street, FA Cup Third Round Second Replay, Monday 15 January 1979: 2-2 a.e.t. (Liam Brady, Alan Sunderland; Brian Hornsby 2). Attendance: 25, 011
4. Arsenal – Sheffield Wednesday; Filbert Street, FA Cup Third Round Third Replay, Wednesday 17 January 1979: 3-3 a.e.t. (Frank Stapleton 2, Willie Young; David Rushbury, John Lowey, Brian Hornsby). Attendance: 17, 008
5. Arsenal – Sheffield Wednesday; Filbert Street, FA Cup Third Round Fourth Replay, Monday 22 January 1979: 2-0 (Steve Gatting, Frank Stapleton). Attendance: 30, 275