FA Youth Cup Win: “Tom Walley Was So Underrated As A Coach”

By: Kevin Affleck

Members of the Hornets' 1982 FA Youth Cup winning side have paid tribute to the coaching of Tom Walley in masterminding a dramatic win over a stellar Manchester United side.

The Hornets lifted the Youth Cup 38 years ago following a thrilling 7-6 aggregate win over the Red Devils, a victory clinched with a 4-4 draw at Vicarage Road in front of more than 8,000 fans.

A 103rd minute header from Jimmy Gilligan sealed the result against a United side featuring Mark Hughes, the son of Tommy Docherty and Northern Ireland star Norman Whiteside who broke Pele's record that summer when he became the youngest player to appear in a World Cup.

Second-leg goalscorer David Johnson and left-back Neil Price attribute the win, secured in front of Graham Taylor just days after the club had clinched promotion to the top flight, to the coaching and man-management of Walley.

“I don't think there has been a better youth coach in this country,” said Price, who ended up playing in the FA Cup for the Hornets two years after the FA Youth Cup Final win. “People talk about Eric Harrison at United and the Class of '92, but Tom did it with group after group and won the Youth Cup at other clubs too and is loved at Arsenal and Millwall. He got players from nowhere and made them into top players. His first lot were Kenny Jackett, Nigel Gibbs and Steve Terry and then we had a group after that and another group after that. We had a really strong youth team and yet you were always looking over your shoulder as there were people he had got in and coached ready to take your place.”

Johnson played on the left-wing in both games against United and scored three goals in the run to the final.

“Tom Walley was so underrated as a coach,” he said. “He was like a sergeant major and didn't take any nonsense but he never bore a grudge – he just told you how it was. He had total belief in you as a player and was one of the best youth coaches ever in this country. A lot of players have got him to thank for their careers. He didn't just make you professional footballers, he made you responsible young men. A lot of his teachings I have passed down to my kids. He was years ahead of his time.”

FA Youth Cup Final: First Leg

Old Trafford, 26 April 1982
Manchester United - Watford 2–3 (1–1)
0-1 34 min. Neil Williams
1-1 44 min. Mark Dempsey
1-2 58 min. Jimmy Gilligan
1-3 77 min. Worrall Sterling
2-3 86 min. Clayton Blackmore
Attendance: 7.280

Watford: Potts, Gibbs, Hull (C), Franklin, Price; Sterling, Williams, Richardson, Johnson; Gilligan, Cassidy. Sub: Porter

FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg

Vicarage Road, 6 May 1982
Watford - Manchester United 4–4 aet 2–3 (2–1)
1-0 10 min. Billy Garton (own goal)
1-1 30 min. Mark Hughes
2-1 35 min. David Johnson
2-2 48 min. Mark Dempsey
2-3 77 min. Mark Hughes
3-3 92 min. Andy Hill (own goal)
3-4 100 min. Norman Whiteside
4-4 103 min. Jimmy Gilligan
Attendance: 8.160

Watford: Potts: Williams, Price, Cassidy, Hull, Franklin, Sterling, Richardson Gilligan, Barnes, Johnson. Sub: Candlish

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