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  • Programme of the Week Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers FA Cup 26th March 1960

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers 1960

Programme of the Week – Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers FA Cup 1960

The latest in a series about football programmes from my collection that relate to a game being played in the next few days.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers 2019 / 2020

This weekend, Wednesday and Rovers meet for the second time this season in the Championship. At Ewood Park in November, Blackburn won 2-1 in a match where all the goals were scored in the last 8 minutes! After Jacob Murphy put the Owls 1-0 up in the 83rd minute, Adarabioyo and Buckley scored in the 88th and 91st minutes to complete a great fight back.

It hasn’t gone brilliantly for Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn since then, and in their last six games they haven’t managed a win.

By contrast, Sheffield Wednesday have won their last two away games but lost the last two at Hillsborough. Nonetheless, Gary Monk’s team have climbed to 6th place and a win on Saturday could take them two places higher. For Rovers, a win would see them break the 40-point barrier for the season and leave them just two points behind Wednesday.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers FA Cup 26th March 1960

In March 1960, the two teams met at Maine Road in the FA Cup Semi Final. The winners would go on to play either Aston Villa or Wolverhampton Wanderers who were contesting the other semi final at The Hawthorns.

The (previous) sixth round had seen Wednesday drawn away against city rivals Sheffield United. Blackburn Rovers also played their most fierce rivals Burnley, who would go on to win the league that season.

Wednesday overcame United 2-0 at Bramhall Lane with goals from winger Derek Wilkinson who played his whole career for the Owls. Over 61,000 saw the game.

In front of 51,500 at Turf Moor, Burnley and Blackburn Rovers played out a 3-3 draw. In the replay at Ewood Park, it took extra time to separate the teams with Rovers winning 2-0. Goals by Peter Dobing and Ally MacLeod (yes that one!) sealed the win.

And so, to Maine Road.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers 26th March 1960 – Match Programme

Manchester City produced a 16-page programme for the semi-final. It cost sixpence.

The front cover was the usual sky blue with black writing. In the centre was a black and white, aerial shot of Maine Road, with the FA Cup superimposed on it.

The back cover comprised a black and white panoramic shot of Wembley; possibly from the previous year’s FA Cup Final.

City sold five and a half pages of advertising across the 14 inside pages. Companies like Stone-Dri; Manchester Evening News; Carlsberg and Tunafit Crest Shirts featured.

The inside cover introduced the two Managers and their thoughts on the game. Rovers manager is Dally Duncan, who had won the FA Cup as a player with Derby County in 1946. In the opposite ‘dugout’ is the legendary Harry Catterick.

Catterick had managed the Owls to the 2nd Division title the previous season and would lead them, to 2nd place in the 1st division the season after this semi-final. Two league championships and an FA Cup win with Everton make him their most successful manager.

Page three reviews the rivalry between the teams and pages five and ten give pen portraits of the players. On page seven is a full-page team photo of Wednesday; same on page 11 for Rovers. Page thirteen reflects on historical big matches played at Maine Road.

The teams

Page nine is the team sheet. In a moment we need to select ‘the main men’. But almost any of the 22 would qualify.

In the Wednesday side are England Internationals Ron Springett and Peter Swan. They were alongside Don Megson; Tom McAnearney; Tony Kay and one of my particular favourites Johnny Fantham. Looking back, it’s amazing that Kay and Fantham amassed only two England caps between them. (Though I guess in Kay’s case there were extenuating circumstances!)

Rovers team was no less impressive. In goal, Harry Leyland was unlucky never to get International recognition. I guess the competition, from his opposite number as well as Alan Hodgkinson and Colin McDonald, was too great.

Dave Whelan of JJB Sports fame is at left back and the team is captained by the awesome Ronnie Clayton who won 35 caps for England.

But it’s the forward line that sticks in my mind: – Louis Bimpson; Peter Dobing; Derek Dougan; Bryan Douglas and Ally McLeod.

How Peter Dobing never played for England mystifies me; though like Peter Broadbent at Wolverhampton Wanderers, he probably also suffered from the ‘Johnny Haynes effect’.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers 26th March 1960 – The Main Men

While I’m sorely tempted to include the immortal ‘Doog’, let’s focus on the two number tens.

Johnny Fantham

Writing his obituary in 2014, Ivan Ponting described Fantham ‘as important to Sheffield Wednesday as Jimmy Greaves was to Chelsea; Tottenham Hotspur and England’. I can think of no higher praise.

He made over 430 appearances for Wednesday in a 13 year career. And still holds the post war club record for his 167 goals scored. He was capped once by England in 1961 against Luxembourg; though he didn’t score in the 4-1 win. Perversely, it was probably the magnificence of Jimmy Greaves that restricted his England opportunities.

Johnny Fantham blossomed under Harry Catterick’s management. Once Albert Quixall had departed for Old Trafford as part of Manchester United’s post Munich rebuilding, Fantham secured a regular first team spot. In the two seasons following this semi-final, Johnny scored 23 and 24 goals respectively.

He helped Wednesday to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Quarter Finals in the 61/62 season where they lost 3-4 on aggregate to Barcelona.

I don’t think it’s unfair to call the 1966 FA Cup Final against Harry Catterick’s Everton as his final hurrah. This was a fantastic game often overshadowed by the World Cup Final later that season.

Fantham drove Wednesday into a two goal lead, only for Everton to stage on of the great FA Cup Final comebacks, winning 3-2.

Bryan Douglas

Like his skipper Ronnie Clayton, Bryan Douglas was a one club man, making over 500 appearances in a 17-year career. Also like Ronnie Clayton, Bryan Douglas has a stand at Ewood Park named in his honour. By the time of this semi-final, Bryan Has already made his England debut against Wales in 1957 and scored his first goal against Scotland in 1958.

Douglas would represent England in both the 1958 and 1962 World Cup Finals. However, he only won 3 of his 36 caps under Alf Ramsay as the Manager developed his ‘wingless wonders’ side.

Although he stays with Rovers for his whole career, Bryan Douglas was not without his suitors. Very early on, he turned down an offer from Bill Shankly to sign for Grimsby. In the early sixties, had Tottenham Hotspur been more forceful, Douglas admits that he would have joined them to replace the tragic loss of John White.

Bryan Douglas could play across the forward line and made most of his England appearances at outside right. But he was also a goal scorer. Over 100 goals for Blackburn Rovers were supported by 11 for England.

Sheffield Wednesday vs Blackburn Rovers FA Cup 26th March 1960 – The Outcome

In front of over 74,000 spectators, Rovers edged the semi-final 2-1. Sheffield Wednesday’s goal by Johnny Fantham was cancelled out by two from Blackburn Rovers Derek Dougan. Ironically, Dougan’s goals took rovers to a Cup Final with Wolverhampton Wanderers who had despatch Aston Villa 1-0 at the Hawthorns.

Anyway, good luck to both sides on Saturday – it promises to be a highly competitive and, hopefully, entertaining game.

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