BRIAN TALBOT was so exhausted after a marathon FA Cup run that he collapsed on the team bus and ended up on a heart monitor in hospital.
Yet even Talbot — who played all SEVENTY matches for Arsenal in their epic 1979-80 campaign — does not want to see replays axed.
But Alan Mullery, who skippered Fulhamon the longest Cup run to Wembley in 1975, claims never- ending replays were “lunacy” and that football is finally seeing sense.
When Aston Villa face Chelseaand Nottingham Forest host Bristol City, it is likely to be the last time clubs in England’s top two divisions feature in replays, as they are set to be scrapped in the third and fourth rounds next season.
Former Gunners midfielder Talbot settled the longest FA Cup semi- final with a headed winner against Liverpoolin 1980 — a tie which lasted for 7½ hours.
But Terry Neill’s side went on to lose both the Cup final to West Ham and the European Cup Winners’ Cup final to Valencia in the space of four days, either side of Talbot’s visit to the infirmary.
Talbot, now chief scout at Fulham, told SunSport: “I assume it was through exhaustion that I was taken ill on the bus coming back from Wembley. They had me in hospital on the heart monitor for 24 hours.
“But I played in the European final on the Wednesday and we lost on penalties — so that was yet more extra-time.
“The semi-final against Liverpool, we played them four times in the Cup and once in the league — another draw — in the space of five weeks.
Doing away with replays would take away from what romance is left
“I hit the crossbar in the first match at Hillsborough and it would have saved everyone a lot of energy if I’d scored that.
“But after a couple more draws, I headed the winner in the fourth match.
“Liverpool were the best team in the country and those were all hard-fought matches.
“Both clubs had small squads by modern standards and fielded their best teams in every game.
“The great unknown is whether we would have won a cup or two that season if we hadn’t had to play all those replays.”
Yet Talbot believes it will be wrong to scrap replays and that football’s authorities should think more of smaller clubs.
He said: “They are expanding the World Cup, the Champions League and the World Club Cup, so they are hardly helping themselves.
“It’s sad for smaller clubs if they play Manchester United or Arsenal and then wouldn’t earn a replay if they get a draw.
“The Cup doesn’t have the romance it used to have and that saddens me.
“I think that doing away with replays would take away a little more still.
“Sure, modern football is faster and players expend more energy but clubs have much bigger squads so they are able to cope.
“Sometimes current players are told they need a rest when they don’t actually need a rest.”
But Mullery, who skippered Fulham through ELEVEN matches to reach Wembley in 1975, disagrees.
Like Talbot’s Arsenal, Fulham also lost to West Ham in the final.
That was after they had taken three matches to beat Hull in the third round and four to defeat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the fourth round, then needed extra-time in another replay to overcome Birmingham in the semi-final.
Captaining Fulham to their only FA Cup final appearance earned the former Tottenhammidfielder ‘Mullery is God’ graffiti which was daubed on a wall in Stevenage Road, outside Craven Cottage, for many years.
I spent more time with team-mate Bobby Moore than my missus during that Cup run
And Mullery, who played for England before managing Crystal Palace and Brighton, said: “That record we set of the longest ever route to Wembleywill never be beaten now. But it was crazy, we were playing Nottingham Forest every few days at one point.
“I had the miserable b*****d Cloughie shouting in my ear for weeks on end!
“We were so knackered that we were out on our feet and neither team really fancied their chances after we had played each other four times.
“Bobby Moore had just left West Ham for Fulham and he was my room-mate that season.
“I was spending more time with him than with my missus during that Cup run.
“At one point, Mooro turned to me and said, ‘I think I’ve already played more games for Fulham than I ever did for West Ham!’
“So I’m glad they are going to settle Cup matches on the day, with a penalty shootout. We should never have been put through so many matches, it was lunacy.”
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