Search

Former Hull and Arsenal boss gives his verdict on FA Cup final

07:11 16 May 2014

Terry Neill as player-manager of Hull City in 1971

Terry Neill as player-manager of Hull City in 1971

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Arsenal face Hull City in Saturday’s FA Cup final – and Terry Neill managed both clubs, with the highlight of his career coming when his Arsenal side beat Manchester United 3-2 in the 1979 final. Jem Maidment caught up with him ahead of the Wembley showdown...

People forget Hull is where you started your management career..

“It is a club and a city that will always have a special place in my heart. I always say I worked for the two best chairmen in football; Denis Hill-Wood at the Arsenal – the ‘Old Man’ as we affectionately called him – and Harold Needler at Hull.

It was 1970 and I had hepatitis, which forced me out of the Arsenal team for quite a few months and was unlikely to get back in as the Double team began to take shape. I’d taken my coaching badges and was looking to make the move into management when Bertie Mee told me Hull wanted me as player-manager.

I met Mr Needler a few times – he had a house down in Sloane Square for when he was on business in London – and I liked him a lot so I decided to take up the offer. I’m pleased I did.”

How long were you at Hull for?

“Four years and I really enjoyed it. We were in Division Two and finished a few points off promotion in my first season. We also had a couple of good FA Cup runs but, in all honesty, I inherited an ageing side so I couldn’t do as much as I liked. I sorted the infrastructure out and improved the training facilities massively too. It was a great learning experience, but the other problem I found up there was that I don’t think the locals every truly believed that they could make it to the top flight because they had underachieved for so long.

It is a big city and the support there – or potential support – is huge. You could see that even in 1970. Thankfully now they are a Premier League side – and an established one at that – in a great stadium with big crowds. I always knew the potential was there and it is great it is being fulfilled.”

So are you a little torn as to who you want to win on Saturday?

“I spent far longer at Arsenal and everyone knows where my allegiances lie – I want Arsenal to bring the Cup back to north London. It has been too long. But I am absolutely delighted Hull are in the final – it has been 84 years since they last even got to the semis so it is about time! It is an intriguing final and one that is very personal to me.”

How do you see the game panning out?

“As I said, it is an intriguing one. Arsenal should win this – and they now have their best players back and have won their last five – but Hull’s manager Steve Bruce knows all about the FA Cup. He won a few with Manchester United and has managed lots of teams in the competition. In addition, the pressure is all on Arsenal.

Bruce is an impressive manager who improves clubs, no two ways about it – he knows what he is doing. Hopefully, though, it is the real Arsenal team who turn up – if that is the case they will win the match.

But we all remember the Carling Cup final against Birmingham when that was presented as a formality. Arsenal didn’t turn up and that defeat damaged them.

Bruce will make it very tough and the one thing I will say is they will have to fight to earn the right to play their natural game. If they win they will get huge coverage because the longer this run without a trophy goes on the more the media and the fans will focus on it negatively.”

Will you be there?

“Yes, of course, I am absolutely delighted that the FA have invited me as their guest. I am truly honoured – despite what some people think, the FA do get some things right!”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Sport Stories

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil

Former Arsenal player Benik Afobe wants the North London giants to win the Premier League this season.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil

Arsenal triumphed on the south coast here this afternoon with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Bournemouth – complete with a bit of Mesut Ozil magic.

Mesut Oezil  (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal got back to winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 win in the Barclays Premier League over AFC Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Calypso Gymnastics Club, based at Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls

It’s one of the greatest challenges facing sports enthusiasts around the country – how to persuade young people, particularly girls, to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline. Picture: Steve Paston

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti worries about the team’s inability to maintain a title challenge.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
John Ryder (grey shorts) defeated Sergey Khomitsky to win the vacant WBA international middleweight title. Pic: Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo

Islington’s John Ryder overcame an early setback to see off the dangerous Sergey Khomitsky and win the vacant WBA international middleweight title.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Regent's FC

Naim Essaghi and Yemi Buraimoh both netted braces as Regent’s FC brushed aside defending champions Cricklewood Wanderers 4-1 to reclaim top spot in the Islington Midweek League Premier Division.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Shaun Dixon in action for Highgate Harriers. Pic: Dieter Perry

Shaun Dixon and Ben Noad helped Highgate Harriers to repeat their 2012 success with victory in the South of England Championships on Saturday.

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe