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#Legends #Interview #AstonVilla

A debut goal, semi-final success, Greavsie’s record - Clive on Villa Park

Thu 13 February 2020, 13:58|Tottenham Hotspur

Emotions struck Clive Allen at Villa Park on 11 April, 1987.

We’d just toppled Watford 4-0 in the FA Cup semi-final and were on our way to Wembley again.

It was a notable day for the striker, who scored his 45th goal of the season. That took him past all-time great Jimmy Greaves’ record for goals in a season, 44 set in 1962/63 (37 league, five Europe, two in the Charity Shield). Clive went on to score 49.

As we return to Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday (2pm), we asked Clive what was behind those emotions – captured in the photo above - that memorable day almost 33 years ago.

“Villa Park is a special stadium for me,” he said. “I scored my first league goal there for QPR, my first senior goal. In that 1986/87 season, I scored a hat-trick there on the opening day and to go back for the semi-final in April and score again was just brilliant.

“The thing is, the older you got as a player, you realised the chances you had of getting to an FA Cup Final were so few and far between. You have 30, 40 league games a season but the FA Cup... I always remember playing with Gary Megson towards the end of his career at Manchester City and him saying before we went out for an FA Cup game ‘this could be your last chance of going to Wembley’.

“I played in the final for QPR against Spurs in 1982 but got injured in the second minute (Clive battled on until the 50th minute, but wasn’t fit for the replay), so never really felt I had the full experience.

“It was an amazing season for the team and for me personally. We’d done so well (the team finished third in Division One and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup) and a lot of emotion came out on the final whistle that day.

“I always tell the story that we were in the dressing room at half-time, 3-0 up in the FA Cup semi-final, and my cousin Paul had scored in the first half and he was beside himself, saying ‘I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it’, but a couple of the senior lads said ‘hold on, we’re not there yet’.

“Glenn Hoddle said something, Ray Clemence said something and that brought us back down to earth for the second half. Steve Hodge scored the fourth goal and we won it well. It was incredible because this was the chance to go back to Wembley for the FA Cup Final and for me, a special day with that milestone.”

Clive didn’t see Greavsie live. Yet our all-time record goalscorer (266 in 379 games) certainly made his mark on Clive’s career, through his father, Les.

Les joined us in 1959 and played every game of our ‘double’ season, scoring 23 goals as we lifted the Division One title and another four on our way to FA Cup glory.

However, Greavsie’s arrival in 1961 saw Les gradually play less of a part until eventually leaving us for QPR in 1965.

“I grew up with my dad telling me that Jimmy was the greatest goalscorer he’d ever seen,” said Clive. “People say he replaced my dad in the ‘double’ team when he came in, so for my dad to say that of a player who replaced him… he always used to say to me ‘just watch the way he finished, the way he scored goals, how he passed the ball into the corners’. He said he was the best, a genius.

“I grew up listening to that and all those things my dad was saying were the things I tried to do as I came up as a youngster starting my career. Ten games into that 86/87 season, I did an interview with Jimmy at White Hart Lane for ‘Saint and Greavsie’ and right at the end of it, he said ‘you know what son, you could beat my record this season’. I had no idea what his record was. I said, ‘sorry Jim, what record?’ and he told me ’44 goals in one season for this Club’. I just said, ‘you’re joking, never in a million years!’ so I guess he prompted me, in a way!”