1974 WFA Cup Final (lost footage of football match; 1974)

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Programme for the Final.

Status: Lost

The 1974 WFA Cup Final (also known as the 1974 Mitre Challenge Trophy Final) culminated the 1973-74 WFA Cup season. Occurring on 28th April 1974 at Bedford Town's The Eyrie, it featured Fodens defeating Southampton 2-1, ending the latter side's unbeaten WFA Cup record.


Heading into the Final, Southampton were the defending champions.[1][2] Its campaign from the Third Round onwards saw it defeat Crystal Palace, Amersham Angels, Chelles Belles, and 1973 WFA Cup Final rival Westthorn United.[3] Meanwhile, Fodens' campaign from the Second Round onwards saw it overcome Southport, Prestatyn, Preston North End, Suffolk Bluebirds, and Swindon Spitfires.[3] Since the WFA Cup's inception in the 1970/71 season, Southampton had yet to be beaten and were seeking their fourth consecutive WFA Cup.[1][2] Meanwhile, this was Fodens' first Final.[1][2]

While Southampton were deemed the favourites heading in, Fodens was maintaining a season-long unbeaten run.[2] Both clubs also boasted players who were selected to play for England, with the Southampton squad boasting five, and Fodens three.[4][2] Among the Fodens squad were Pat Firth and Alison Leatherbarrow, who both expressed in an interview with Our Game Magazine how they were deemed the underdogs heading in.[4][2] Firth stated "Fodens at the time was the team to beat in the north, but Southampton was the team to beat full stop." During the third-place play-off match between Westthorn United and Swindon Spitfires, most within the stands according to Leatherbarrow were downplaying Fodens. She recalled "I remember being in the stands and we could hear comments all around us. It was all, 'Who are Fodens?' and 'They’ve got no chance!' When we went into the changing room we just said to each other 'What have we got to lose?' and after that we had no nerves."[4]

With Football League clubs against disinterested in providing their grounds for the game, the WFA forged an agreement with Bedford Town to host the Final at The Eyrie for the second consecutive year.[5][2][4] The attendance was reported as being around 800.[2][5]

The Match

The Final itself occurred on 28th April.[5] Despite being deemed the underdogs, it was Fodens who took the lead courtesy of a 20-yard strike from Leatherbarrow into the top right corner.[2][4][5] Southampton would eventually equalise thanks to a goal from Pat Davies, and it seemed likely the game would enter extra-time.[2][5][4] However, a miscommunication between Southampton goalkeeper Sue Buckett and a defender led to the ball crossing the path of Firth. She passed it to Leatherbarrow, who converted the opportunity to make it 2-1 for Fodens.[2][5][4]

Fodens successfully defended the lead for the remaining four minutes to win its first and only WFA Cup, delivering Southampton's first loss in the competition.[4][2][5] Among sources like Our Game Magazine, the result is considered one of the biggest shocks in the history of the WFA Cup.[4] Firth nevertheless believes her team had a stronger chance than others suggested heading in, stating "I think it was classed as a shock. Southampton didn’t just beat teams, they thrashed them. Between the teams we could have fielded an international team, I think they had seven. It was a surprise to people, but secretly not to us, we knew we had good players."[4]


Footage of the Final is known to exist, with it being viewed by the authors of A History of the Women's FA Cup Final.[2][4] While it is unclear whether the footage aired on television,[6] at least one tape is known to be in the possession of Leatherbarrow, which contained clips of the goals.[4] However, the tape has yet to publicly resurface, and the extent of surviving footage remains unclear.



See Also

Football Media