VS Rugby's Wembley winners reunite in the sun to commemorate 1983 triumph - The Rugby Observer

VS Rugby's Wembley winners reunite in the sun to commemorate 1983 triumph

Rugby Editorial 7th Feb, 2020   0

THE WINNERS who took Rugby’s football team to Wembley glory in 1983 have reunited under the Spanish sun to celebrate their famous victory.

Almost 37 years on from their finest hour – when the £1 coin had just been introduced, Spandau Ballet were at number one in the charts, and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister – members of VS Rugby’s FA Vase winning team have reunited in Benidorm.

On April 30, 1983, thousands of fans of Valley Sports Rugby – now known as Rugby Town, but still affectionately nicknamed The Valley – made their way to London to cheer on the once-fledgling club as it reached the pinnacle of non-league football.

Manager Jimmy Knox, a well-known local Scot, had led his squad to the club’s first ever Wembley cup final and, despite being considered underdogs, brought the trophy home with a memorable and hard fought 1-0 victory over Halesowen Town.

The ’83 team step out on to the hallowed Wembley turf.

The surviving players, still the very best of friends, meet up every year to commemorate the occasion – usually at a Valley game, or in ’83 veteran Derek Owen’s pub, The William Webb Ellis.

But this year the close-knit group were intent on celebrating their long friendship in a warmer climate.

So Derek headed out to the Costa Blanca with teammates Rob Beecham, Colin Burton, Keith Evans, Dave Ingram, Gordon Beecham, Steve Knox and John Setchell – and they even got kitted out in Valley colours.

Derek said: “We like to do things right, so we have commissioned a company to recreate the VS badge to commemorate the occasion, with tracksuits and polo shirts based on the shirt that won us that famous victory.”

He added they would raise a glass to much-missed former teammates and management staff Jimmy Knox, Bob Ward, Alan Vaughan, Robbie Farmer and Wembley goalscorer Ian Crawley – who have since passed away.

“We still honour the memories of all our teammates, and they are never far from our thoughts,” he said.

Lining up before the big match.

Gordon Beecham, who was a teacher in Rugby when he stepped out on to the hallowed Wembley turf, said he had never felt comradeship like he felt with his fellow trophy-winners.

He said: “Foremost we were mates, and I firmly believe that’s what brought the club so much success at the time. We played together and we socialised together.

“There were no superstars in the team. We all knew each others strengths and weaknesses and supported each other when the need arose.”

He said The Valley is still the first result he looks for, even though he now lives ‘up north’.

“I really do miss the club, the supporters and all the good times we had at Butlin Road.

“I’m very proud to have been one of those players that came off the pitch that day as a Wembley winner.”

The commemorative polo shirts will go on sale to Valley supporters, with proceeds going to a local charity.


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