Alan Biggs at Large: Former referee Keith Hackett recalls FA Cup Final pride

Keith Hackett
Keith Hackett
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The FA Cup semi-final referee parked his car some distance from the ground and walked among fans, bag in hand, to the stadium. He later declined his match fee.

This happened at Hillsborough for the 1979 clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. Two years later, in 1981, the same referee elected to receive nothing other than a medal for conducting the Wembley final between Manchester City and Spurs, which famously went to replay.

Keith Hackett will recount this and other tales at a dinner to launch a summer tournament celebrating football’s first knock-out cup, held in Sheffield in 1867.

“I told the FA I wanted nowt!” said Keith, recalling his Hillsborough semi. “I was just honoured to be refereeing.

“Before the ‘81 final, I was asked if I wanted a medal or a fee; you couldn’t have both!

“The game was drawn and I thought I wouldn’t be getting the replay. But I wasn’t given my medal, so I had a good idea that I would in fact be doing it.

“I ended up getting the medal for the first match and a £35 fee for the second! After the replay, a spectator came up and offered me £5,000 for the medal. I refused, of course.”

Think of this while you’re watching Arsenal v Aston Villa this weekend.

n Hackett, Mark Halsey and David Hirst are among speakers at a Youdan Trophy dinner on Wednesday, July 1 at the Hilton Sheffield hotel. Tickets for tables of ten are £26 per head.