The great Bill Shankly never had an easier team talk than at Wembley in May 1974. Liverpool and Newcastle United were not obvious rivals in terms of geography, but we were hell bent on ruining the Toon Army’s afternoon.
Their striker Malcolm Macdonald had been spouting off in the papers, telling everyone what they were going to do to us. He said they had too much pace, were too strong and were going to score too many goals for us to able to cope with them. It was embarrassing stuff. Certainly none of the Liverpool squad could have put their name to such comments without cringing.
We thought our best response was to set our hardman Tommy Smith on to them — and that’s exactly what it did. Shankly simply walked into the dressing room, pinned the article to the tactics board and said: “There you go, boys. I don’t need to say any more.”
And it worked a treat as we went out and played Newcastle off the park in one of the most one-sided FA Cup finals ever. The neutrals had obviously been hoping for a good game, but the Newcastle fans were left devastated as their side just didn’t turn up.
Somehow it was goalless at the break, but I scored after 57 minutes, by flicking it up on the edge of the box before planting a volley in the top corner. Then Steve Heighway added the second. And we must have put together about 30 passes in the build-up to my second goal two minutes from time, which sealed a 3-0 win.
We played well, but they were terrible. Macdonald barely had a kick and we never felt in danger of conceding a goal. The only thing Newcastle won was a race around the Wembley track beforehand, when local athlete Brendan Foster saw off all comers.
Bizarrely, the final proved our easiest game of our Cup run, with our toughest test coming in the third round against Doncaster, my home town. They should have beaten us at Anfield and we had a real let-off when they hit the bar in the last minute of our 2-2 draw.
We won the replay 2-0, then saw off Carlisle, Ipswich, Bristol City and Leicester to reach Wembley. But one thing I’ll never forget from the final is the atmosphere generated by both sets of fans. Despite their side’s awful display, the Newcastle supporters were extremely gracious in defeat.
Their reaction proved to me that they were genuine football fans, which obviously had a big say in my decision to go there later as both a player and manager.
Watch live FA Cup sixth round action on ESPN this weekend and vote for your FA Cup Dream at ESPNsoccernet.com