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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

JPT Final: Carlisle United vs. Southampton - Wembley History

In the next installment of our pre-match programme ahead of the JPT Final this weekend, Turls looks at the Wembley history of two clubs involved - Carlisle and Southampton.

With New Wembley still being referred to as New Wembley, it's interesting to see the teams that have graced the ripped up turf.

We all remember the dismal FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United. In contrast, few people would have watched the barnstorming JPT Final between Luton Town and Scunthorpe United.

For both clubs this weekend, the JPT Final offers a chance to create a new passage in history. Neither club has played at the either the old or the new Wembley this century.

Carlisle were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play at the impressive - and cheap - Millennium Stadium when they contested the Football League Trophy in 2002/03 - where they lost to Bristol City - and 2005/06's defeat to Swansea.

Southampton haven't even been close to heading over to London to play in a showpiece match.

But which club has more Wembley pedigree?

In the grand scheme of things, Southampton have a richer history than Carlisle but many would argue that Carlisle's day trips to London have more relevence to this final.

Let's take a trip down memory road and see how both clubs have fared when going to the home of English football.

Carlisle United

This will be the fifth time that the Cumbrians have appeared in the final of the Football League Trophy.

With four previous appearances, it doesn't make good reading for Carlisle fans. Only on one occasion have the North West outfit returned to their home with the coveted trophy on their team bus.

As mentioned earlier, their last two outings appeared in Wales so at least they didn't have to travel as far after a another defeat.

This is the first time the club have gone to Wembley since the 1996/97 season. They got to the final of the Football League Trophy and faced Colchester United.

I'm not going to lie, it was an ugly game - not one for the purists. It ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of mind-numbing monotony.

Carlisle fans didn't give a hoot though because they won the game on penalties and were celebrating long into the night.

Barry Fry's Birmingham City defeated Carlisle in the 1995 final

Their victory over Colchester would have been a nice form of medication after losing out in the final of the same competition only two campaigns before.

The 1994/95 season saw the Cumbrians lose 1-0 to a tough Birmingham side. Again, it wasn't pretty but the West Midlands outfit went home with the spoils.

Carlisle have a long history in the competiton and have appeared in the final more times than any other team. However, they will be keen to replicate their 1996/97 season rather than the other three which have ended in defeat.


The Saints haven't been to the New Wembley yet but they did have the pleasure of travelling to the Wembley of old a few times.

They played in three FA Cup finals, a Community Shield, and a League Cup final during the 20th Century.

However, despite this abundance of finals, they have only they graced the hallowed Wembley turf three times before it was knocked down.

This is because the 1899/1900 and 1901/02 FA Cup finals were played at Crystal Palace. To make it worse, they lost both games. Unlucky chaps.

They, like Carlisle, have also been to the Millennium Stadium, when they lost to Arsenal in the 2002/03 FA Cup final.

However, let's not dwell on the days of Welsh finals and let's travel back in time to look at the glory days of Southampton FC.

In the 1976 FA Cup final, the South Coast club played Manchester United. Going into the game as massive underdogs, few gave the Saints a chance.

However, a Bobby Stokes goal threw a spanner in the United machine and they held out to shock the nation. Easily the club's finest achievement, they will be looking to this moment for Wembley inspiration.

As a result of their FA Cup glory, they returned to Wembley at the start of the following season to face the defending league champions, Liverpool.

Although Southampton caused an upset by beating Manchester United in the FA Cup, there was to be no repeat performance as Liverpool won the game 1-0.

Saints last piece of silverware was their Wembley win in the FA Cup in 1976

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom as they would be given another chance going to Wembley.

In the 1978/79 season, Southampton progressed to the League Cup final. Their opponents were Nottingham Forest.

With Brian Clough in charge, this team was about to make history by winning the league and then winning — and retaining — the European Cup.

Many would have been forgive for thinking that Forest's slick passing football would destroy the Saints, but the South Coast club held their own and eventually lost to the Reds 3-2. No shame in losing to a bunch of European Cup winners.

They did make the Zenith Data Systems Cup Final in the 1991/1992 — where they again lost 3-2 to Forest.

I'm not going to mention that too much though because, although it was played at Wembley, it was played during a dark time for British football.

So does Wembley experience mean anything? If it does, then both clubs have a track record of being beaten and winning at the home of English football.

My verdict on the whole matter is that both clubs will want to to win this. It doesn't matter if it's the JPT or the European Cup, winning a trophy means a lot to footballers.

Will managers be trying to utilise the spirit of former teams? If they do, they need putting in a straight jacket and throwing in a padded cell with the guy who thought ITV Digital was a good idea.

Tomorrow we look back on previous finals and preview Sunday's match.

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