It's A Cup Final Knockout 1971
British Domestic Series

Presenters: David Vine and Eddie Waring

Referee: Arthur Ellis

Scoregirls: Glynne Geldart, Sue Gresham and Jennifer Lowe

Production Team:
Keith Phillips
Malcolm Scrimgeour
Geoff Wilson (uncredited)

Games Designer: Stuart Furber

Engineering Manager: Geoff Lomas

Producer: Barney Colehan

Director: Ian Smith

A BBC North West Production

GB

It's A Cup Final Knockout 1971

FA Cup Final Special

Event Staged: Sunday 18th April 1971
Venue: The Boating Lake, Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales

Transmission:
BBC1 (GB):
Saturday 8th May 1971, 12.55-1.40pm (as part of Cup Final Grandstand)

Special Guests (non-participating):
Supporting Arsenal -
Walley Barnes, Reg Lewis, Joe Mercer  (former Arsenal players who played in the 1950 Arsenal v. Liverpool FA Cup Final) and Pete Murray (disc jockey);
Supporting Liverpool -
Billy Liddell, Albert Stubbins, Phil Taylor (former Liverpool players who played in the 1950 Arsenal v. Liverpool FA Cup Final) and Anthony Booth (actor).

Weather Conditions: Overcast, Cold and Windy

Teams: Arsenal F.C.  v. Liverpool F.C.

Team Members included:
Arsenal F.C. - Barry Baker, Jennifer Chapman, Sylvia Green, Brian Hodges, Eddie Hodgson, Nick Miller, Clifford Pett, Robert Reeve, Colin Short, Ron Tabor.
Liverpool F.C. - Shay Brady, Dave Cochrane, Barbara Denham, Carol Denham, Ray Hughes, Steve Hughes, Ronnie Ireland, Jimmy Kent, Ray Shakeshaft.

Games: Pontoon Dribble, Target Soccer, Trampoline Football, Knocking the Footballs Off the Poles, Sharpshooters, Footballs Through the Ring, Stretcher Pontoon.

Game Results and Standings

Games

Team / Colour 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Points Scored
(Joker games shown in red)
A 0 0 2 2 0 0 1
L 2 2 0 0 2 2 1
Running Totals
(Leading teams shown in red)
A 0 0 2 4 4 4 5
L 2 4 4 4 6 8 9

Result

 Team

Points

Final Scoreboard

1st
2nd

 Liverpool F.C.
 Arsenal F.C.

9
5

The Host Town

Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire

Colwyn Bay (Bae Colwyn in Welsh) is a town and seaside resort of around 30,000 inhabitants, located on the Gwynedd coast in North Wales overlooking the Irish Sea.

 

The Victorian-built pier at Colwyn Bay has seen better days...

 

The town is predominantly dependant on the tourist trade, due mainly in fact of its famous beaches, and parks and gardens such as Eirias Park. The Welsh Mountain Zoo, opened in 1963 by wildlife enthusiast and nauralist Robert Jackson and covering an area of 37 acres (15ha), is located nearby. The town once had a thriving pier which was first opened in 1900, but since 2009 the 227m (750ft) structure has been closed to the public when its owner, Steve Hunt, was declared bankrupt. In its heyday, the Dixieland Showbar sited on the pier hosted many live concerts and featured acts as diverse as Motorhead, The Damned, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Slade, Madness, The Specials and the Cockney Rejects. In 2011, Conwy County Borough Council attempted to buy the pier from the official receivers, but this was denied. A National Lottery grant to save the pier was also denied in March 2012. Today, the structure still lies in a bad state, with fencing blocking people from being able to go under the pier for Health and Safety reasons.

The Venue

Eirias Park

The games at this heat were staged in and around the boating lake in Eirias Park (Parc Eirias in Welsh), a 50-acre (20 hectares) public park in Colwyn Bay. Whilst the park never had any fairground rides, in the 1960s it was home to a Guinness Clock. These timepieces were originally created for the Festival of Britain (1951) by the well-known Irish brewery and were larger than life clocks. Every 15 minutes, a whole host of figures and cartoon animals would appear on parade from behind the clock’s doors. In the 1970s, the park made the most of the latest craze by installing a Space Hopper arena. Visitors could choose from the standard orange hopper or the larger blue ones and bounce around to their hearts’ content.

 

The Boating Lake as it appeared in the Cup Final Knockout of 1971

 

During the summer months, tourists were encouraged to ride the Miniature Steam Railway along from Colwyn Bay Pier to the Eirias Park Arches, where they could take the Welsh Ffargo (a pun on Wells Fargo) Land Train up into the park itself. This train would travel around the boating lake and then stop outside the Pavilion, amusements and exhibitions. Sadly, the Welsh Ffargo disappeared from service in 1988 as did the Miniature Steam Railway towards the end of the 1990s. The Pavilion along with the bandstand and boathouse with 40 boats inside were all destroyed by a fire set by arsonists in August 1984, with only the latter building being replaced. Today, the boating lake is an overgrown mess and used as a dumping ground for plastic bottles, wooden planks etc... A very sad end all around.

Situated within the park today is the Colwyn Leisure Centre, whose facilities include a six-lane 82ft (25m) swimming/leisure pool with various water features and a separate water slide. There is also a fitness suite, health suite, sauna, steam room and warm spa pool. Outdoor facilities include a sports stadium with grandstand and floodlit synthetic hockey / football playing area. Additional facilities include indoor and outdoor tennis courts, bowling greens, boating lake, children's playground and picnic area. Local football team, Colwyn Bay F.C. have played on three different grounds at Eirias Park during their history. The Arena was a temporary home during the early 1980s prior to the club's move to their present Llanelian Road home ground.

As was the case with the Domestic Heat staged the previous day, the games at this F.A. Cup Special were played in and around the boating lake in Eirias Park. Most of the equipment used on that occasion was recycled and utilised again in similar games in this programme.

The Games in Detail

Game 1 - Pontoon Dribble

The first game - ‘Pontoon Dribble’ - was played individually in the lake over two minutes duration and featured two male competitors from each team and a 2ft wide (0.61m) floating wooden pontoon with three large hoops located along its 45ft (12.2m) length. On the whistle, the first competitor had to dribble a football along the pontoon and, on reaching the first hoop, had to get the ball through it to the other side. He then climbed through the hoop and repeated the process at the second and third hoops. Once he had accomplished this, he then dribbled the ball to the end of the pontoon and then the second competitor repeated the game. If at any point the ball fell into the water, the competitors were permitted to retrieve it with their feet. However, if the ball strayed too far from the bridge to be retrieved by foot, the competitors had to get into the water - which was only knee-high in depth - and retrieve it, but had to restart the game at the hoop they had just negotiated. The team completing the greater number of crossing would be declared the winners.

The first heat saw the participation of Liverpool and, despite a few mishaps, they completed three complete runs plus one hoop on the third run. The second heat saw the participation of Arsenal and their competitors adopted an unusual method to pass the ball through the hoops. Whereas their rivals had used their feet to chip the ball up and through the hoop, the Arsenal competitors held the ball between both feet and jumped up in the air with it and flipped it through. This appeared to be the better method and it gave them the edge on their rivals, but disaster was to strike at the end of the third run, when their competitor failed to make a clean run to the end of the pontoon and the ball strayed into the lake. Referee Arthur Ellis instructed the competitor to get in the pool and retrieve it and then restart from the third hoop to complete the run. This delay cost the team valuable seconds and with the time running out the second competitor commenced his second run. However, just as he jumped up with the ball to flip it through, the whistle was sounded to end the game. The team were deemed to have only completed three runs.

The first 2pts were awarded to Liverpool and they were leading Arsenal 2-0.


Game 2 - Target Soccer

The second game - ‘Target Soccer’ - was the first of only two to be staged on terra firma and an almost exact copy of a game played in the Domestic heat staged at the venue, the previous day. It was played individually over 1 minute 30 seconds duration and featured two male competitors from each team and a large target board. On the whistle, the competitors had to kick a maximum of 40 footballs and try to hit the large board whilst two opposition members stood underneath the board holding a net. There were three ways of scoring, but the score achieved would be declared as the opposition’s. Firstly, any football that hit the board would not count towards the final score but, if it was caught in the net on the rebound by the opposition, it would. Secondly, any ball that missed the target completely and went into the crowd would be deemed as scoring. Thirdly, all balls that were not used would also count towards the final score. This meant that the teams had to be accurate and fast with their execution of the game in order to keep their rival’s score to a minimum. The team with the greater overall total would be declared the winners.

The first heat saw the participation of the Arsenal kickers and they missed the target on 19 occasions, had 6 of the balls caught by the opposition and had 7 balls that were not used. This gave a total score of 32 to Liverpool. The second heat saw the participation of Liverpool and they missed the target on 20 occasions, but only had 2 of the balls caught by the opposition and 2 balls that were not used. This gave a total score of 24 to Arsenal.

The 2pts were awarded to Liverpool and they were now leading Arsenal 4-0.


Game 3 - Trampoline Football

The third game - ‘Trampoline Football’ - was the second of the two games to be staged on terra firma and witnessed Liverpool presenting their Joker for play. It was played individually over 1 minute 30 seconds duration and featured two male competitors from each team and a trampoline located behind some scaffolding. On the whistle, a female team-mate released a ball down a chute to a podium where it was then kicked by the competitor towards the scaffolding. However, the ball had to pass through a rectangular area at the top of the scaffold and then be caught in a net by the second competitor who was located at the other end of the course, tethered to the ground by an elasticated rope. A female opposition member was on the trampoline to block any balls that passed through the scaffold and prevent it from reaching the second competitor. The team scoring the greater number of catches would be declared the winners.

The first heat saw the participation of Liverpool and despite their kicking competitor getting six balls through the rectangle, only one was caught correctly by the second competitor. The second heat saw the participation of Arsenal and after catching 1 ball at the very start of the game, it appeared that the game would end in a draw. However, two balls caught in during the latter stages of the game brought the final score to 3-1 in Arsenal’s favour and nullifying their rival’s Joker.

The 2pts were awarded to Arsenal and they were now trailing Liverpool 4-2.


Game 4 - Knocking the Footballs Off the Poles

The fourth game - ‘Knocking the Footballs Off the Poles’ - was played twice at the venue, though only the second run was seen on television. It was the first of four consecutive games to be staged in the lake and was played in unison over two minutes duration and featured a male competitor from each team. On the whistle, the competitor had to wade into the water and mount a team colour-coded circular pontoon, from which he had to throw a football - tethered to the floating pontoon - and dislodge a ball from the top of a tall pole. Once this ball had been dislodged, he had to wade to a second pontoon and dislodge a second ball from another pole, before boarding the final pontoon from which he had to try to displace the third and final ball. Once the third ball had been knocked off the pole, he had to get out of the water, signifying the end of the game. The team completing the game in the faster time would be declared the winners.

This proved all very well in theory, but a disaster in practice. Neither of the two players was able to make the tethered balls reach the top of the poles, and after much frustration and splashing about in the water, referee Arthur Ellis declared the game a draw and awarded both teams 1pt each.

However, as neither team had made any progress up the course, the game appeared very tedious to watch and therefore it was decided to replay the game with some subtle tweaks. The revised game saw the tethered ball idea dropped and replaced with a floating barrel of balls. These would be handed one at a time to the competitor by a team-mate standing in the water. The revision to the game made all the difference, and the Liverpool team quickly knocked the first ball off, but Arsenal equalled the score five seconds later. As the players got the hang of the new format for the game, the game progressed to a tight finish. Arsenal then went 2-1 up, but Liverpool equalised once again within the blink of an eye. It would all be on the final ball - a beach ball in a hemi-spherical cage atop the final pole, and the Arsenal team managed to free it from its cage after 1 minute 1 second, a little more than a second before the Liverpool team did likewise.

The 2pts were awarded to Arsenal and the scores were now level at 4-4.


Game 5 - Sharpshooters

The fifth game - ‘Sharpshooters’ - was played individually over 1 minute 30 seconds duration and featured a male competitor from each team located on the pathway surrounding the lake and a large football net in the lake itself. On the whistle, the competitor had to kick balls towards the net and score as many goals as possible. However, standing on podia in front of and to the left and to the right of the goal, there were two opposition members armed with large caricatured hands attached to long wooden poles. These would be used to block goals from reaching the back of the net. The team scoring the greater number of goals would be declared the winners.

The first heat of this straightforward game saw the participation of Arsenal and they scored a total of 5 goals. The second heat saw the participation of Liverpool and their competitor was more accurate with his kicking and scored a total of 7 goals.

The 2pts were awarded to Liverpool and they were now leading Arsenal 6-4.


Game 6 - Footballs Through the Ring

The sixth and penultimate game - ‘Footballs Through the Ring’ - was played individually and witnessed Arsenal presenting their Joker for play. It was played individually over two minutes duration and featured two male competitors from each team on a high scaffold and a further four competitors standing on podia in front of poles of varying height in the lake. At the top of the scaffold there was zip wire descending to the ground and attached to it was a large hoop on pulley wheels. On the whistle, the two competitors on the scaffold had to lower the hoop by releasing the rope and lining it up with the first and highest pole. The competitor standing on the podium then had to throw a ball through the hoop to dislodge a beach ball from a hemi-spherical cage at the top of the pole. If unsuccessful, a further two balls could be thrown. Successful or not, the hoop then had to be lowered to the next highest pole and the game repeated by the next competitor. Any balls that were still in their cages after all four competitors had completed their throws, could be retried if time permitted. However, the hoop had to be pulled back to the top of the scaffold before this could be attempted. The team dislodging all four balls in the faster time would be declared the winners.

The first heat saw the participation of Liverpool and after dislodging two of the balls, the pulley wheel jammed on the wire and the hoop was unable to be moved. Despite this, referee Arthur Ellis stated that it was the competitors’ error and it was their responsibility to ensure that the rope did not get entangled. The score for Liverpool was declared as 2. The second heat saw the participation of Arsenal on their Joker and, unfortunately for them, ended in disaster. Not only did the competitors on the scaffold fail to line up the hoop correctly with the poles, making it difficult for the podia-based competitors to hit the beach ball, but the throwing skills of those competitors were something to be desired. At the end of the permitted time, Arsenal had failed to score and their poor performance had also nullified their own Joker.

The 2pts were awarded to Liverpool and, with just one game remaining to play and now leading Arsenal by 8-4, they had secured overall victory in the contest.


Game 7 - Stretchers Across the Pontoon

The seventh and final game - ‘Stretchers Across the Pontoon’ - was played in unison over 4 minutes 30 seconds duration and featured three competitors (two males and one female) and eight floating pontoons. Above the course there were six balls attached to a rope and at the end of the pontoons there was a large basketball net. On the whistle, the female had to kneel down on a litter and be carried across the pontoons by the two males. Before reaching the end of the course, the female had to pull one of the balls from the rope and then she had to score a goal by throwing the ball into the net. The game was then repeated with the female being transported backwards and forward along the pontoon to grab a ball on each attempt at goal. The team scoring the greater number of goals would be declared the winners.

This was a straightforward game which witnessed both teams struggling to find their feet, balance and scoring and appeared that it would end in stalemate. Despite two early attempts from the Liverpool female, it was Arsenal that took the lead after 3 minutes 21 seconds of elapsed time. Liverpool equalised after 3 minutes 35 seconds and Arsenal regained the lead after 4 minutes 23 seconds. An Arsenal victory appeared to be on the cards until a final attempt by Liverpool saw them equalise two seconds later. The game ended with the scores at 2-2.

Both teams were awarded 1pt each and the final scoreboard showed that Liverpool had beaten Arsenal by 9-5.

Additional Information

Eagle-eyed viewers would see future It’s a Knockout director and producer Geoff Wilson at the start of Games 5 and 7 and during the two heats of Game 6 making an early appearance as a member of the production team. Geoff can be seen giving directions to presenter David Vine and also assisting the teams at the top of a ladder.

Several supporters of the teams were members of the opposing sides of the 1950 F.A. Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool some 21 years earlier. On that occasion, and with rain falling throughout the game, Arsenal ended as victors 2-0.

Liverpool competitor Dave Cochrane has kindly shared his memories of this event and his other brush with It's A Knockout in 1974 in our Memories section.

Made in Colour • This programme exists in the BBC Archives

 

JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Alan Hayes, David Hamilton, Neil Storer, Christos Moustakas, Philippe Minet,
Sébastien Dias, Ischa Bijl, Paul Leaver and JSFnet Websites