Special Feature
Face from the past brought Trevor Peake down to earth

By Steve Carpenter 23/04 Updated: 24/05 10:41

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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 Steve Carpenter spoke to defender Trevor Peake who had the honour of captaining the Sky Blues during extra time. He also looked back on seeing a familiar face in the packed crowd at Wembley.

Peake was born just down the road in Nuneaton and although he admitted he never really supported the Sky Blues as a child, he felt privileged to have been handed the captain's armband when Brian Kilcline was forced off with an injury in the final minute of normal time.

"Like all of our team that day Kilcline had played brilliantly, but he picked up an injury late on and had to come off," he said.

"I'll aways remember the moment when he went off because he came over and handed me the captain's armband.

"I'd been captain at my previous clubs so I was probably the most likely candidate.

"It was a very proud moment but I didn't have time to reflect because we were nearing extra time.

"But when the whistle blew I saw Kilcline walk over to me and the daft sod asked if it was OK for him to collect the cup as captain!

"That was the type of player he was, I was never going to begrudge he of that honour but he had to ask anyway.

"Kilcline can look scary sometimes but he is such a nice fella. He's a gentle giant and was a great partner to play alongside in the Coventry defence during that FA Cup winning season. We had a great partnership and I'd like to think our stats that season reflected that."

Peake and Kilcline had their work cut out that day as they were charged with keeping the country's most in-form striker at bay.

"We were both were aware of Clive Allen's ability. He'd scored a hat-trick against us earlier in the season and was on 48 goals for the season heading into the final so we were both determined not to let him get any more.

"But that plan went out of the window after three minutes when he blew us apart and head Spurs ahead.

"There was a lot of mutual respect there. Allen was a top player but he wasn't big headed and he was the sort of player that enjoyed these type of occasions.

"Kilcline and myself were determined more than ever not to let him reach that 50 mark and we managed to keep him quiet for the rest of the game."

Peake played for hometown club Nuneaton and Lincoln City before being snapped up by Bobby Gould in 1983. But he will never forget a blast from his Sunday league football past who brought Peake back down to earth after the final whistle.

"When I was coming off the pitch at the end of all the celebrations I was walking towards the Spurs supporters by the tunnel.

"Like the Sky Blues fans that day they were superb and they gave us a standing ovation as we made our way towards the tunnel.

"As I got closer I looked up at them and noticed in the corner of my eye amongst a sea of faces one of the players I had marked when I was playing Sunday league football before I turned professional.

"I remembered him because he was a really top striker and gave me a handful during one game.

"I went over to him and we had a chat for 15 minutes, it was so surreal.

"But that was a reminder of my roots that out of all the people in the crowd I spotted him at Wembley on the biggest day of my career.

"It was a boiling hot day and it had been a long season for all of us so when McGrath's cross was put into his own net by Garry Mabbutt, I was praying for the referee to blow the final whistle.

"There were millions of people watching around the world so you had to try and imagine it was just a normal game.

"We all knew those Spurs players would go on and play in similar situations, but not many of us would so we wanted to make it extra special.

"I felt a rush of emotion when the final whistle blew. There was a sense of relief, jubilation and really powerful feeling of emotion that I have never felt before."

Like many of the Coventry players, winning the FA Cup was the pinnacle for Peake, who now coaches in Leicester City's Academy, and he revealed a regular trip to the seaside was key to their success that season.

"Before each of the FA Cup rounds, we would travel down the Bournemouth the Sunday before for a bit of a relaxing weekend.

"I suppose you could call it a bit of a tradition, but it allowed us to relax, play a bit of golf and it helped bring the team closer together.

"I would always room with McGrath and I was amazed at how he kept his cool despite being so young at the time.

"I was one of the oldest players in the group and there were times when I struggled to cope with the expectations and the pressure.

"But I wasn't fully aware at times of just how old McGrath was and he and the other young lads deserve a huge amount of credit to be able to handle that sort of pressure.

"We were all used to pressure having played in a fair share of relegation battles down the years, many of which went down to the wire."

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