In 1970-71 the Football Leagues of England, Scotland and Ireland decided to start a competition for those clubs that had just missed out on European football.
In the beginning it was called the International League Board Competition, although some in the press referred to it the ‘British Cup’ even after Texaco had agreed their sponsorship deal. The oil conglomerate put up £100,000 and used the competition to promote their purchase of the Regent service station chain
Irish and Northern Irish clubs stopped competing after the 1971-72 staging due to political pressure (this was at the height of ‘the troubles’) and Texaco’s sponsorship would eventually expire. From then on the competition became the Anglo-Scottish Cup which it remained until being abolished in 1981.
In year one there were six teams each from England and Scotland taking part along with four from Ireland. When the Irish clubs were forced to withdraw eight teams each from England and Scotland took part until 1974-75 when the number was reduced to four teams from each country.
At the outset the 16-team line-up saw 6 Scots meeting 6 English in round one and the four Irish playing each other until one was left in the semis. All matches were over two legs.
Year one had its share of upsets. Although eight teams had qualified for European competition in England there were still some high-quality sides in the competition. But only two, Wolves and Spurs made it to the second round against four from north of the border.
The big surprise was Nottingham Forest’s elimination at the hands of Airdrieonians who went through on penalties after a pair of 2-2 draws.
Forest took an early lead in the first leg at the City Ground through Scot Peter Cormack but then a pair of Drew Busby goals turned the match on it’s head and it took a late Ian Moore goal (he wasn’t using the Storey- part of his name at this time) to salvage a draw.
The Airdrie part-timers had 15,000 crammed into their tiny Broomfield Park home for the return and rewarded those faithful followers on a night of high drama.
Drew Busby again provided the spark for the Scots, firing them in front after 15 minutes but Dave Hilley equalised ten minutes later. Chances came and went at both ends but none were converted, leading to extra-time. There, Cormack put the English team ahead but Airdrie, and in particular Busby, wouldn’t be denied as he hammered home his fourth of the tie just before the teams turned around.
With no score in the final fifteen minutes the match was to be decided by the then-novelty way of a penalty shootout. This way of deciding matches had been introduced into the English game just a few weeks before when Manchester United beat Hull City in the Watney Cup. No Scottish team had been involved before and there was plenty of confusion before the kicks got underway.
McKenzie wins the Airdrie glory
The Scottish team took their five spot-kicks like they’d been doing it all their lives, finishing with a 100% record and it was Roddy McKenzie who wrote his name, alongside that of Busby, in Airdrie folklore, saving three of Forest’s five to send the minnows through.
Elsewhere Morton saw off West Bromwich Albion 3-1 on aggregate, Motherwell overcame Stoke, also via spot-kicks and Hearts got the better of Burnley, turning things around after a 3-1 defeat at Turf Moor by winning 4-1 at Tynecastle.
Spurs put four past Dunfermline in their opener with Martin Chivers grabbing a hat-trick and taking any real interest out of the return where they recorded another comfortable win, this time 3-0 with Chivers netting again and Martin Peters scoring twice, whilst Wolves did the hard part on the road, winning 2-1 at Dundee before playing out a goalless draw in the return.
This left just two English survivors in the last eight which became one in the last four after Spurs became the latest big gun to fall.
This time it was Motherwell who provided the upset. A 3-2 first leg home win at White Hart Lane must have given Bill Nicholson’s men hope but the return at Fir Park saw the hosts record a 3-1 win and qualify 5-4 on aggregate, much to the disappointment of the Londoners’ boss.
Spurs were riding a 14-match unbeaten run whilst Motherwell had been beaten 5-0 four days before by Celtic but, as Nicholson said after, “It was a cup-tie and Motherwell were the better cup fighters.
“Although I am disappointed at our play there can be nothing but praise for Motherwell”.
Bobby Watson. Grabbed the winner for ‘Well
Spurs had actually increased their lead when Jimmy Pearce scored early on but after that it was all ‘Well and with Brian Heron and Tom Donnelly putting the ball past stand-in ‘keeper Keith Hancock (Pat Jennings was missing through injury), it was left to captain Bobby Watson to fire home the winner before a rocking reported 22,683 (it is said that many more found ‘free’ ways to get in).
Wolves also lost the second leg with Morton shocking them 2-1 at Molineux. But a 3-0 first leg win in Scotland had ensured that they would make the last four despite the defeat.
Airdrie failed to follow up on their Forest heroics, getting hammered 5-0 at home by Hearts although they restored some pride when winning the second leg 3-2 at Tynecastle.
The semi-final draw pitted Wolves against the Irish qualifiers Derry City who had seen off Limerick and Shamrock Rovers with the two remaining Scots, Motherwell and Hearts paired.
Thanks to a combination of congested fixture lists and bad weather, the semi finals took three months to complete. In December 1970 Derry suffered a single-goal defeat to their English opponents at home, Bobby Gould scoring the winner. In Scotland Motherwell and Hearts fought out a 1-1 draw at Tynecastle just over a week before Christmas to leave the tie finely balanced.
When the ties resumed in March 1971, Hearts turned things around at Fir Park although it took an extra 30 minutes.
After a goalless first half, a strike from Brian Heron put the hosts in front and it wasn’t until the 90th minute that George Fleming equalised for Hearts meaning that a further 30 minutes would be needed. In the extra period Donald Ford was sent clear and slid the ball past Motherwell ‘keeper Billy Ritchie to send Hearts into the final.
Hearts manager Bobby Seith made the trip to Molineux for the second leg of the other semi and would no doubt have been impressed with the home team’s performance.
Left-back Derek Parkin gave Wolves an early lead but the Midlanders didn’t really stamp their authority on the match until a late three-goal burst from Hugh Curran, Mike O’Grady and Bobby Gould wrapped things up.
26,000 were at Tynecastle for the first leg of the final but most were to be disappointed as the English visitors raced to a 3-1 win to seemingly put the trophy out of Hearts’ reach. The hosts took an early lead through Donald Ford in the 7th minute but home fans were then stunned as Wolves skipper Mike Bailey soon levelled and a pair from Hugh Curran made the second leg seem a formality.
Two weeks later at Molineux a crowd of 28,642 saw Wolves seemingly in control until a 25th-minute George Fleming strike gave Hearts a shock lead. The Edinburgh team applied pressure but Bill McGarry’s men held on and in fact could have increased their advantage but for a superb Jim Cruickshank save that kept out Derek Dougan.
So it was Mike Bailey collecting what was a first trophy for the men in gold since 1960’s F. A. Cup win.
In 1971-72 Airdrieonians, who had slumped to defeat against Hearts after that shock win over Nottingham Forest in the debut season again proved the scourge of the English. They recorded a 4-2 aggregate win over a sadly unstar-studded Manchester City in the first round. City were later fined the amount of their fee and banned from the competition for two years for fielding an understrength team.
Ian McMillan’s team followed up with a 7-2 hammering of Huddersfield Town. They then beat Ballymena United 7-3 in the semi with Drew Jarvis hitting a hat-trick in the first leg and two more in the second to send them to the final.
Brian Clough’s Derby had started their run to the final with an 8-5 aggregate win over Dundee United before seeing off local rivals Stoke City 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-final setting up another all-English clash this time against Newcastle United.
A narrow 1-0 victory at the Baseball Ground thanks to a John O’Hare goal seemed to leave the tie finely poised. Malcolm MacDonalf levelled the scores on aggregate early on and when Stewart Barrowclough gave the Tynesiders the overall lead after an hour they looked set to progress.
But County had other ideas as substitute Jim Walker levelled things eight minutes with a goal that would send the match to extra time. John McGovern then restored Derby’s advantage. Colin Todd then wrapped things up for County with a goal that made it 4-2 on aggregate and sent many of the 37,140 crowd heading for the exits.
A packed crowd of 16,000 at Broomfield Park saw the teams fight out a goalless draw in the first leg with Airdrie spurning a number of good chances.
For the return a number of coaches travelled down from Lanarkshire to the Baseball Ground but they were to be disappointed when referee Jack Taylor called the game off due to a waterlogged pitch. When the game was eventually played three months after the first leg Derby, by then well on their way to the first division title, ran out 2-1 winners with a goal from Roger Davies and a hotly disputed penalty from Alan Hinton against one from Derek Whiteford.
Year three of the tournament saw even greater English dominance. With, somewhat oddly, nine English teams and seven Scots taking part, only Motherwell from north of the border made it to the last four where they were outgunned 4-3 by Norwich who set up an all East Anglian final against Ipswich. The local derby element brought out the crowds with over 65,000 attending the two legs. They saw Ipswich win both games 2-1.
The following year saw the competition face major problems. The three-day week was now in force causing matches to be played with afternoon kick-off in midweek. Understandably this saw attendances plummet. There were a couple of shocks early on with Hearts and Motherwell seeing off Everton and Coventry but by the time the final came around it was England v England yet again.
This time the final was between Newcastle United and Burnley. The game was played as a one-off under floodlights at St James’s Park and 34,540 saw the home team run out 2-1 winners after extra time.
The final year of Texaco’s sponsorship of the competition saw a change in format to ensure that four Scottish teams were present in the quarter-finals and therefore give a great chance for an Anglo-Scottish final. A great idea in theory but in practice all four then lost including ‘big guns’ Rangers and Aberdeen. This left yet Another all-English final and holders Newcastle were there again, this time taking on Southampton and with the tie back to being staged over two legs. Saints took a narrow one-goal lead to St James’s Park for the second leg but suffered a 3-0 defeat there giving Newcastle a second successive win in the tournament.
For the 1975-76 tournament the two respective Leagues decided to continue the tournament even though Texaco’s sponsorship had come to an end, renaming it the Anglo-Scottish Cup. It would continue to be dominated by English sides, even as the quality of those sides weakened.
There was, eventually, a Scottish victor with St Mirren seeing off Bristol City in 1980 to get revenge for losing to the West Country team in the 1978 final. But the Ashton Gate leg of that final drew an audience of just 3,732 and those dwindling attendances helped bring about its downfall. In 1981 Chesterfield overcame Notts County to win the final staging.
The Texaco Cup was certainly innovative, it was, along with the Watney Cup, the start of major commercial sponsorship of tournaments. And, at least early on it was also well-received with clubs and fans intrigued to see how the two leagues matched up. Perhaps with more Scottish success it could have gone on longer and the clear English dominance, along with calls for less football and those falling gates eventually saw its demise.
Now, just like the Watney it is merely a fondly remembered oddity in football’s tournament history.