1986 - NORWICH 4-3 DONCASTER BELLES
|Sunday 4 May 1986, 4pm|
|Carrow Road, Norwich City FC, Norfolk|
|Attendance: Unknown||Sponsor: None|
|Linda Curl (16),|
Miranda Colk (40),
Sallie Jackson (50),
Marianne Lawrence (80+2)
|Jill Hanson (26),
Karen Walker (27, 75)
|1.Julie Page||1.Tracey Davidson|
|2.Kate Purdom||2.Doreen Jones|
|3.Miranda Colk||3.Jackie Mayes|
|4.Sallie Jackson||4.Jackie Sherrard|
|5.Jackie Slack||5.Loraine Hunt|
|6.Tracey Ives-Keeler||6.Toni Evans|
|7.Veronica Price||7.Jill Hanson|
|8.Vanessa Kemp||8.Sheila Stocks (c)|
|9.Linda Curl (c)||9.Karen Walker|
|10.Marianne Lawrence||10.Karen Skillcorn|
|11.Vicky Johnson||11.Debbie Preston|
|12.Julie Bowler||12.Carol Carr|
|13.Sue Steel||13.Samantha Eyre|
|Manager: Maureen Reynolds||Manager: Mick Sherrard|
|Trainer: Paul Edmunds|
|Referee: I. J. Borrett (Harleston)|
|Linesmen: K. Morton (Bury St. Edmunds) & M. Walker (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Reserve: K. E. Johnson (Cromer)|
As underdogs, Doncaster Belles had claimed victory in their first WFA Cup final appearance back in 1983. Since then they had assumed the role of favourites but found that tag did them no favours. This defeat to Norwich was their third WFA Cup final loss in a row.
Norwich manager on the day was Maureen Reynolds who had set up the club in 1982. The former England international had been a WFA Cup runner-up as Lowestoft captain in 1979.
Much of Reynolds’ success had been down to her powers of persuasion. She had tempted several of her former Lowestoft team-mates to play for Norwich. Lowestoft had folded just months after their 1982 WFA Cup final triumph with opponents refusing to make the long trip to the East coast to play them.
Among the former team-mates Reynolds signed for Norwich were Lowestoft’s 1982 WFA Cup winners Jackie Slack, Linda Curl and Sallie Jackson.
The Carrow Road crowd were treated to quite a spectacle as the two teams traded blows throughout. Norwich led three times on the afternoon. Doncaster, who were also 2-1 up at one stage, hit back on two occasions but midfielder Marianne Lawrence’s winner two minutes into stoppage time left them with no chance to respond as Norwich carried off the WFA Cup courtesy of a 4-3 win.
It was something of an irony that Lawrence brought so much joy to Norwich. The 22-year-old factory-worker was an Ipswich fan.
Both teams had already created plenty of chances by the time Norwich took the lead in the 17th minute. There was an uncharacteristic mistake by Doncaster’s defence as Loraine Hunt and Jackie Sherrard were slow to spot the danger and Linda Curl seized her chance.
Doncaster hit back quickly and turned the game completely on its head with two goals in as many minutes. First Jackie Sherrard, daughter of Mick who was nearing the end of his second season as manager, set up Jill Hanson who converted with a fine shot.
Sixteen-year-old student Karen Walker, who had been causing Norwich plenty of problems on the wing, then put the Belles 2-1 up. Walker already had WFA Cup final experience having come on as a substitute for Doncaster in the previous year’s final at the age of 15.
Vicky Johnson spurned a wonderful opportunity for Norwich at the other end and the next chance fell to her team-mate Miranda Colk. The 19-year-old left-back, herself a Norwich City fan, sent an exquisite lob over the head of Doncaster keeper Tracey Davidson and into the back of the net.
Early in the second-half Norwich went 3-2 up when Sallie Jackson finished off a move which had been started by Veronica Price.
Curl thought she had made it 4-2 only to see the ‘goal’ ruled out, and not long after that it was 3-3. Karen Skillcorn whipped a cross into the danger zone with Jill Hanson and Walker both scrambling to reach the ball. Walker got the last touch to tap home.
Many might have expected the equaliser to give Doncaster the momentum in the closing stages but it was Norwich who finished as the stronger side. Curl and Slack were very much to the fore as they continued to force Doncaster’s back-line into mistakes.
Eventually the pressure told. As the clock ticked over into added time, and with the final appearing to be heading into extra-time, Lawrence grabbed the winner.
Speaking to us today, former Norwich forward Linda Curl says, “Hand on heart, winning with Norwich in 1986 meant even more to me than winning with Lowestoft in 1982. I’m a Norwich City fan. I have lived within 10 minutes of Carrow Road all my life. I can see it from my window speaking to you now.”