Cup clash sparks fond memories for Hoadley

When Phil Hoadley arrives for his match day host duties before two of his former clubs meet at Carrow Road on Saturday, he could be forgiven for briefly allowing his mind to drift back to events on the same ground 33 years ago this month.

It was in January 1978 that Hoadley and his Orient team-mates delivered one of the shock results of the season, winning an FA Cup third round replay 1-0 against Norwich City with a late goal by Peter Kitchen.

Kitchen scored seven times in the competition as the second division club reached the last four, disposing of three top-flight sides after replays – the Canaries, Chelsea and Middlesbrough – before going down 3-0 to Arsenal in the semi-finals.

John Bond’s City side, ninth in Division One at the time and challenging for a European place, had only just escaped going out of the FA Cup at the first time of asking when a late equaliser by Roger Gibbins cancelled out Kitchen’s first-half goal on a Friday night at Brisbane Road.

The replay was postponed once because of torrential rain, but there was no reprieve for City when the game finally went ahead 10 days after the first meeting, in front of a crowd of more than 20,000, Kitchen scoring the winner two minutes from time.

“I remember it very well and I remember the headline ‘Kitchen sinks Norwich’,” said Hoadley, who was in the centre

of the Orient defence that night alongside a certain Glenn Roeder – in a team that also included young midfielder Tony Grealish and 17-year-old winger John Chiedozie.

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“When I look back at the team it was pretty good side,” said Hoadley.

“We played Arsenal in the semi-final at Stamford Bridge and Malcolm Macdonald scored a couple of goals, both deflected off Glenn, if I remember rightly.

“I was Glenn’s captain for about five years before he moved to QPR and I left for Norwich.”

Hoadley must have made a good impression on Bond over the two third round matches, for he joined the Canaries from Orient exactly seven months later as the first player to take advantage of the freedom of contract ruling. The transfer fee, set by a tribunal, was �110,000.

He went on to make 89 senior appearances for Norwich between 1978 and 1981, when his career was ended early by a knee injury he suffered in a Victory Cup semi-final in Hong Kong.

That 1978 semi-final with Orient was as close as Hoadley came to reaching Wembley in club football – though he did play there as an England youth international alongside players such as Charlie George and Steve Perryman.

It was not his only experience of FA Cup giant-killing, however. Back in 1972, Hoadley, playing at right-back, scored with a long-range thunderbolt past Peter Bonetti as Orient stormed back from 2-0 down to beat a Chelsea side full of household names 3-2 in the fifth round at Brisbane Road. Arsenal ended the Wembley dream on that occasion, too, as Alan Ball’s goal gave the Gunners a 1-0 quarter-final victory at Orient.

Hoadley admits the FA Cup has lost a little of its lustre in recent years with the twin monsters of the Premier League and Champions League taking priority with the top clubs.

“It’s still big but I think it was bigger then,” he said. “The Champions League wasn’t about then. And though the overseas players might know a bit of the history of the FA Cup, I’m not sure it matters so much to them.”

He also believes it is more difficult for clubs outside the top flight to make an impact in the competition. Though three Championship sides reached the semi-finals in 2008 – when the one Premier League club remaining, Portsmouth, broke the big clubs’ hold on the trophy – it was very much an exceptional year, and not since West Ham’s success in 1980 has a team from the second tier won the FA Cup.

“The gap between the Premier League and lower divisions is bigger now, although in the Championship itself there doesn’t seem such a gap between top and bottom as shown when Crystal Palace won at our place earlier this season,” he said.

It was at Palace that Hoadley began his career. He became the youngest first team player in the club’s history when he made his debut in April 1968, aged 16 years, 112 days, a record that survived nearly 40 years before it was broken by John Bostock in 2007.

Hoadley’s father-in-law, 94-year-old Bill Dean, for whom he now acts as carer, was a scout for Palace and Fulham.

Hoadley, who was 59 yesterday, works as a match day host with Darren Huckerby and admits tomorrow’s third round match against Leyton Orient – the Leyton part of the club’s name was reinstated in 1987 – has a little extra spice because of his past connections.

“Two or three supporters from Orient have been in touch, one of whom lives just down the road from me, and I have arranged to see them before the game,” he said.

But he feels an upset is unlikely tomorrow.

“Orient won the last league game between the two clubs and, of course, they had that amazing game in the last round when they won 8-2 against Droylsden,” he said. “I’d like to be able to sit on the fence and say it will be a draw and a replay but the way Norwich are playing I can’t really see it.

“They have had some great results and although they have been playing better away, in the QPR game they played some great stuff.”