FA Cup 1980: Paul Allen recalls making history
- Credit: Archant
Paul Allen became the youngest player to appear in an FA Cup Final for 101 years when West Ham upset Arsenal in 1980.
Allen was a mere 17 years and 256 days old on that sunny summer day, when Trevor Brooking’s header put paid to the Gunners and brought the silverware back to the East End.
And Allen has fond memories of that unforgettable day at Wembley Stadium.
He said: “It was a tremendous day, especially for my parents who had helped me so much.
“I’d been in the youth team the year before but got in the side in September and played all the way through to the final.”
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Despite his tender years, Allen revealed a distinct lack of pre-match nerves ahead of the big derby.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. John Lyall named the team on the Friday after training and we stayed in a hotel in Hendon the night before,” he added.
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“I think you’re a little fearless at that age. I was full of confidence, playing in a side that included Alvin Martin, Billy Bonds, Alan Devonshire, Phil Parkes, Trevor Brooking and Stuart Pearson.”
And although it wasn’t the best of finals, Allen had no complaints, not even about that tackle by Willie Young, which denied him a likely second goal.
“To be involved and win against a quality side like Arsenal was an excellent experience,” he said.
“We had some tremendous support on the day and I wasn’t too bothered about the tackle. It had little effect on the result as we went on and won and I was so excited.
“Every moment over the whole weekend was a super experience. The big banquet in London after the game and the bus-top ride.
“Coming up through the youth team at my local club gave me a really good foundation as a footballer.”
Allen went on to play in two more FA Cup finals with London rivals Tottenham, suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Coventry in 1987, before beating Nottingham Forest in 1991.
“I didn’t want to lose again. As I was coming to the twilight of my career, to get back to Wembley and win again was a great achievement,” he said of his second winners’ medal, 11 years after that great day in Hammers history.