Paul Morrell may have taken centre stage in a famous cup win for AFC Bournemouth – but sadly not at Wembley.
Hull City’s Boothferry Park was the setting for the Cherries’ 1984 Associate Members’ Cup triumph, which today celebrates its 35th anniversary.
At the time, it was only the club’s second piece of silverware, with the 1946 Division Three (South) Cup victory a distant memory.
Morrell’s headed winner capped an impressive first season at Dean Court for the young defender who went on to make more than 400 appearances for the club.
“I never got to play at Wembley but I did once see a Simply Red concert there!” laughed Morrell when he spoke to afcb.co.uk. “I was on the pitch but just listening to music!
“We had been due to play the 1984 final at Wembley but it was moved because the pitch had been cut up after they staged the Horse of the Year Show there.
“There was a coin toss for the venue and, of course, we lost! It meant a mammoth midweek trek to Hull and not many of our fans could travel.
“It was early in my career and I seem to remember playing left midfield in front of Chris Sulley who was the regular left-back.
“Bobby McNeil scored first for them and then Milton Graham equalised. In the second half, we had a corner, Roger Brown flicked it on and I managed to get my head on the end of it.
“With all the other finals being played at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, it was disappointing to miss out.
“But it was a massive thing for me to score the winner in a cup final, no matter where we were playing or how big the crowd was. It was a cup win for AFC Bournemouth and a big thing to put a trophy in the cabinet.”
Morrell, who had just turned 23 when the final was played, also remembers a “bizarre” presentation ceremony, carried out by then Football League secretary Graham Kelly.
“It was almost as if he had somewhere more important to be and had to get away!” recalled Morrell. “I don’t remember him saying "well done" and it was more just a case of here’s your medal.
“I think we just wanted to get in the dressing room in case Billy Whitehurst started chasing us around the pitch!
“He was a Hull legend and a real hard man who I had a few run-ins with during my career. I remember playing against him at Boothferry Park and pushing him after he had done a high tackle on Gerry Peyton. As soon as I touched him, I thought “what have I just done?”
“As he was being booked, he was looking over the top of the referee’s head and telling me he was going to kill me.
“I then received the ball and saw him out of the corner of my eye coming for me like a bull in a china shop. I passed to Jamie Redknapp and ran off before Billy clobbered Jamie.
“He chased me down the tunnel at the final whistle and told me he was going to kill me. Fortunately, Tommy Heffernan got hold of him and pulled him back.
“For me, Boothferry Park brings back many different memories. Billy Whitehurst is one and the cup win was another. It was a memorable day.”
Morrell, who is still a regular at Vitality Stadium, was asked whether he was envious of Portsmouth and Sunderland players who played in front of a record crowd of 85,021 in this season’s final, the competition now known as the Checkatrade Trophy.
“Envious? Not really,” he replied. “Football has changed so much. The game has evolved and is much more accessible through television coverage.
“Of course, I would like to have played in front of 85,000. I think the biggest crowd I played in front of was about 50,000 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
“People ask me now if I miss playing and I don’t really. I miss the banter and the buzz of training and building up to a game but don’t have any regrets.
“It was disappointing our final wasn’t at Wembley in front of 85,000 people. But it was at Boothferry Park in front of 6,500 and AFC Bournemouth won a trophy so I will take that because it made us all very proud.
“I have very fond memories of my time at the club and love to see what’s going on there now. It’s fantastic what Eddie, the players and the backroom staff have achieved. Four seasons in the Premier League is remarkable and long may it continue.”
AFC Bournemouth v Hull City: Ian Leigh, Mark Nightingale, Chris Sulley, John Beck, Roger Brown, Phil Brignull, Sean O’Driscoll, Robbie Savage, Milton Graham, Paul Morrell, Ian Thompson. Unused subs: Chris Shaw, Keith Williams. Manager: Harry Redknapp.
THE ROAD TO HULL
First round – Aldershot (h) 4-0
Second round – Millwall (a) 2-2 (won 7-6 on penalties aet)
Southern quarter-final – Wrexham (h) 2-0
Southern semi-final – Bristol Rovers (h) 1-0
Southern final – Millwall (h) 2-1
Final – Hull City (a) 2-1
Main picture: Daily Echo