Poignant reunion for the glory boys of ‘61

Cup finalists: Back row, from left: Roy Lambert, Ken Waterhouse, Peter Madden, Roy Ironside, Lol Morgan and Peter Perry: front row , from left: Brian Sawyer, Barry Webster, Don Weston, Ken Houghton, Alan Kirkman and Keith Bambridge
Cup finalists: Back row, from left: Roy Lambert, Ken Waterhouse, Peter Madden, Roy Ironside, Lol Morgan and Peter Perry: front row , from left: Brian Sawyer, Barry Webster, Don Weston, Ken Houghton, Alan Kirkman and Keith Bambridge
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THE players pictured here have their own niche in footballing history as well as earning legendary status at Rotherham United.

They played in the first ever League Cup Final (now called the Carling Cup) exactly 50 years ago and the survivors will have a poignant 50th anniversary reunion on Saturday at Rotherham’s home game against Barnet.

That historic occasion will no doubt be recalled when eight of the 12 pictured here congegrate as guests of the club at a pre-match meal before being paraded to the fans at half-time.

It was half-a-century ago, August 22, 1961, that Rotherham met Aston Villa in the competition’s first-ever final, then staged over two legs. The first leg was at Millmoor.

The reason it was in August was that the final had been held over from the previous season at the insistence of the Football League after Villa and semi-final opponents Burnley went to a third game.

There were over 12,000 in Millmoor for the first leg of the final and they saw bandy-legged winger Barry Webster (who still lives in Sheffield and later played in Sheffield Sunday League football) earn his own place in football’s annals by scoring the first goal in a League Cup Final.

Alan Kirkman added a second and the 2-0 win was secured thanks to a penalty save by Roy Ironside (also a Sheffield resident nowadays).

Rotherham, then in the Second Division, now The Championship, were confident as they headed to Villa Park to face their top flight opponents in the second leg a fortnight later.

However, Villa levelled on aggregate with two second half goals, survived when Rotherham hit the post twice and snatched the trophy with a third goal in extra-time for a 3-2 aggregate win.

Four of the team - Keith Kettleborough, Alan Kirkman, Peter Perry and Don Weston - have since died but the remaining players will get together apart from Ken Waterhouse who is unable to make it. Also there will be Brian Sawyer who missed the final through injury but had played in five of the six ties, all staged the previous season and in which they had knocked out two top flight sides, Leicester and Bolton, on the way.