Special Feature
Dave Bennett - ‘87 victory was sweet after the agony of ‘81

By Steve Carpenter 23/04 Updated: 04/05 12:12

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Buy photos » May 1987: Dave Bennett of Coventry holds the trophy aloft after the FA Cup Final match against Tottenham Hotspur played at Wembley Stadium in London. Coventry won the match 3-2. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/Allsport

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Coventry City’s famous FA Cup triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, the Observer has teamed up with Coventry City’s Former Players’ Association (CCFPA) to re-capture the memories of players, managers and fans from the club’s greatest day on May 16, 1987.

This week our sports reporter was invited along to a special talk Coventry Conversations talk at Coventry University with Dave Bennett who revealed his joy and

the feeling of revenge he felt when picking up his winners’ medal.

Before signing for the Sky Blues in 1983, Bennett was part of the Manchester City side that faced Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup final.

The skillful winger played in 1-1 at Wembley before losing 3-2 in the replay a week later.

“I was one of the last players to go up and collect my winners’ medal because that game was revenge for me,” said Bennett.

“I’d played against a few of those players in the 1981 FA Cup final so I made sure I shook all of their hands because it was revenge for me.

“Something had started many years ago and it took a few years to finish so it was an achievement in more ways than one for me.

“People go on about one game which was a classic cup final but we had a great season that year.

“The critics say we were the underdogs because Tottenham had all these international players and I remember an article in the paper who said the only people who would know us on the day were our parents and our families, but we weren’t afraid of them.

“The M6 was jammed pack but we were allowed to drive back on the hard shoulder. We had a few drinks that night but we couldn’t get drunk because we were still on a high.

“Brian Burrows missed the game through injury and one thing I will always remember was the following morning on the Sunday we got together on the coach with the cup and got Buggsy out of hospital and got him to come round on the bus with us.

“That shows the camaraderie we had in the side. We would not leave him out, he was part of the team. We were a team off the park and a team on the park.”

Bennett recalls a conversation with the club’s other star striker Cyrille Regis after falling behind in only the second minute.

“I’ll always remember when the game started and we all said we had to keep it tight early on and not give away an early goal.

“So next thing you know they’ve scored after 90 seconds and I hadn’t even touched the ball!

“Me and Cyrille Regis were kicking off from the restart and I said: ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’ And he replied: ‘Well let’s keep the score down’.

“I managed to get us level. You usually celebrate goals with your team mates but when I scored we were all just relieved because we were back in the game.

“Then we started to express ourselves, we started to get a few passes together and a bit of rhythm and then when I was playing on the right I was getting the

opportunity to run at Mitchell Thomas.”

“John Sillett believed that if I got the ball out there on the wing and if I beat the full back once and crossed it we might get a chance of scoring.

“We may have won the game by an own goal but we had the better of the chances and felt we were going to go on and win the game quite comfortably during extra time.”

The Sky Blues currently find themselves on the brink of relegation into the third tier of English football and Bennett points the finger at mismanagement at the top ever since the cup final victory.

“The problems go back over ten years ago and it’s been through bad handling and bad management of the club.

“The club needs to bring players in who know how to win and know how to speak to the younger players.

“Of course it makes me want to cry because I live here. I went through the bad times and then the good times come around, we win a cup final and people are looking at Coventry City to push on and establish themselves as being a team that could compete in the top flight.

“We should have pushed on but that didn’t really happen.”

Bennett was speaking alongside former Spurs manager on the day David Pleat at one of the popular Coventry Conversations talks, which bring together some of

the biggest media movers and shakers in the industry.

The talks take place throughout the year at Coventry University. Full details of upcoming events are online at


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