1978-79 RECORD: 45/3
You made 37 league appearances in that promotion-winning season, how you do recall it?
It was a good time, a memorable one certainly from a personal point of view. The nice thing was that there was no fear, and I just wanted to get on the field and do the best for the players you are playing with and the supporters who have paid their money to be entertained. The team had such a special bond and the drive and determination of the club was great at the time, so I think we were all swept along a little bit and drove each other on to success. There was only one way things were going to go in the end, and that was promotion.
What was it like working with Terry Venables on a day-to-day basis?
When I came up from Wales at 15 Terry was player-coach under Malcolm Allison. Terry has been looked upon as ahead of his time and working that closely with him I can see why; whether it was tactics, preparing for games or getting the better of your opponent. He had that extra knowhow even then that made him special.
He would take players aside and discuss making subtle changes to improve your game. Terry suggested to me about moving into midfield as I had a lot of energy, passion and will to win. He put me in that central position, we moved up a league and I went on to have a good career playing that role so it was another good call from the boss.
How important was it that many of you had played together in the successful youth team?
It was absolutely massive. We had been together since we were around 15 years of age and Malcolm Allison signed us all. There was a great feeling in amongst the group and a real togetherness on and off the field as our careers moved at a fast pace, and we enjoyed the success at youth level and then going on to do what we did as a squad a few years later to win promotion to the First Division.
In the early days of the season, did you feel any expectation was on the group?
No, not really. I must say that going up into the first-team squad you didn’t feel a massive pressure and we were given a lot of confidence and enthusiasm when Terry took over. The fans were fantastic and really took this young group of players on board. The lads had played in Youth Cup games with 17,000 watching so I think in a funny way that prepared us for what we were coming up against in that 1978/79 season.
At what point in the season could you see that the club could be about to achieve something special?
I remember around December we only won a couple of games but the important thing was we were taking draws and getting something from them, and as I say we had no fear factor and our aim was just to go out and win games. From the management through to the players, we had that feeling that we had done our homework on the opposition to counter their threats and our quality could get us points.
To win the league as champions was the icing on the cake. It was a Friday night but again Terry had thought of everything. Rather than being at home all day we had lunch at The Queens Hotel in Crystal Palace then rested before going down to the ground for the game and the place was rocking. Thankfully it was perfect as once again we showed our quality and finished the job off.
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