Colin Reeve’s 26 years of great Crystal Palace and Manchester United FA Cup final memories

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:49 21 May 2016

Colin Reeve from Reepham, who ran the line in 1990 FA Cup final.

Colin Reeve from Reepham, who ran the line in 1990 FA Cup final. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY


Retired Norfolk official Colin Reeve shares his memories of the 1990 FA Cup final with sports reporter GAVIN CANEY.

Colin Reeve from Reepham, who ran the line in 1990 FA Cup final.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYColin Reeve from Reepham, who ran the line in 1990 FA Cup final. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

It’s not just those connected with Crystal Palace who will be taking a trip down memory lane today.

Those of an Eagles persuasion have been getting all nostalgic in the build-up to this evening’s FA Cup final – their first appearance at British football’s showpiece game since 1990.

And while Colin Reeve does not support Palace – or their opponents Manchester United for that matter – he’ll be more misty-eyed than most. Because 26 years ago the man from Reepham didn’t just attend that memorable match at Wembley. He was part of it.

Reeve, now 70, ran the line as both sides slugged out a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra-time. He was then appointed for the replay, which United won 1-0 to break the hearts of Palace’s fans and players, including their current boss Alan Pardew.

“I was working in the construction industry at the time,” said the part-time official who spent seven years as a linesman (referee’s assistant) in the Football League from 1985.

“I must have been involved in more than 1,000 games as a linesman or a ref but running the line in an FA Cup final was by far my greatest achievement. I was in cloud cuckoo land when I found out I had the appointment.

“I knew colleagues who had got the call to run the line at the FA Vase or FA Trophy finals. But my first one was the FA Cup final. I enjoyed every minute of it and the atmosphere was amazing. It gave me a lift.

“As a player or an official people always say their dream is to be involved in an FA Cup final. Well I got the chance to do it twice.”

Reeve and Larry Watson, along with fourth official Roger Milford, assisted referee Alann Gunn’s control of the two matches. It was the pinnacle of the man from Norfolk’s long career after his hopes of moving into the middle at Football League level failed to materialise.

He dropped back to where it had all started in 1994, in local football, before the well-known Eastern Counties League man in black decided to hang up his whistle, and flag, due to problems with his knees two years later.

“I got paid and it helped but I didn’t do it for the money,” added Reeve – who joked he used to kick players on a Saturday for Reepham before booking them on a Sunday when he took his first steps into refereeing.

“I used to enjoy 99pc of the clubs we went to and they were always very courteous. I just used to try and do the best job I could, regardless of the game. It was the same in the FA Cup final.

“I thought we did well as a team in both finals and everybody I spoke to said we did well. It is a much harder job now though. We used to do fitness tests but I’m sure they’re much more strenuous now.

“The level of scrutiny now wouldn’t have put me off but I do admire those who will be doing the job today (Mark Clattenburg and assistant referees John Brooks and Andrew Halliday, fourth official Neil Swarbrick).

“There’s so many camera angles and replays. When we did it there was probably only three cameras in the stadium.”

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