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Former Bideford players remember 40 years since Portsmouth FA Cup match

PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 November 2017

Players from the 1977 Bideford AFC v Portsmouth FC match with Bideford town mayor Dermot McGeough. Picture: Sarah Howells

Players from the 1977 Bideford AFC v Portsmouth FC match with Bideford town mayor Dermot McGeough. Picture: Sarah Howells

Sarah Howells

The Bideford v Portsmouth 1977 FA Cup match was the last time a train left Bideford carrying football fans. We spoke to some of the players from that day.

Several former Bideford Football Club players were reunited this week to commemorate 40 years since they played Portsmouth in the first round of the FA Cup.

Despite Bideford losing 3-1 on November 26, 1977, it was a historical day because more than 1,000 fans left Bideford on the train to travel to Hampshire to watch the match.

It is believed this was the last train to ever leave the town transporting fans to a game.

On Friday, eight former Bideford players who played in the match joined their player manager, Dudley Barry, in Bideford Town Hall to mark the occasion.

Players from the 1977 Bideford AFC v Portsmouth FC match with Bideford town councillors. Picture: Sarah Howells Players from the 1977 Bideford AFC v Portsmouth FC match with Bideford town councillors. Picture: Sarah Howells

During the event, Mr Barry presented Bideford mayor, Dermot McGeough with a commemorative picture for the town hall, showing framed photos from the game and the match day programme.

Mr Barry said: “It was a great day for us. I can remember it like it was yesterday.”

Norman Stevens, who was goalkeeper during the match, remembers dislocating his finger during a save.

He said: “I remember my finger was at an angle and I couldn’t get it back in; it was two minutes to half-time so I went back for the penalty.

“When they blew for half-time I went back in and the Portsmouth trainer came in; he told me to look the other way.

“He just snapped it back into place and I was able to play the second half.”

Peter Duce, who has a record of 240 goals in 385 appearances, also attended the gathering and said he had fond memories of the match in Portsmouth.

“There was no way they were four or five or six leagues above us; we competed up there with them,” he said.

Receiving the picture on behalf of the town council, Mr McGeough said: “This will take pride of place in our foyer so everybody sees it when they come into the town hall.

“We should be proud of Bideford and our fantastic achievements such as this.”

The commemorative picture was made by Nick Pearce, and will hang in the town hall for all to view.

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