"Stevie slotted it in, and everyone went mad" - memories of Carlisle United's historic first Wembley win


It is 20 years since Carlisle United won at Wembley for the first time, beating Colchester on penalties to win the 1997 Auto-Windscreens Shield. Here, three of the key men share their memories of the day with Jon Colman

WILL VARTY, DEFENDER - I'd been to Wembley before with my parents to watch Liverpool v Arsenal in the Charity Shield, and I remember saying to them, 'Next time I'm here, I'm gonna be playing'. As it happened I was there again when Carlisle got there in 1995, not involved but as an apprentice. But luckily the time after that, I did manage to fulfil that dream.

RORY DELAP, WING-BACK - From waking up and having breakfast, the morning flew by. I can remember the journey, seeing all the fans. Then we came out to look at the pitch and the heat hit us. The noise as well. It was like, 'wow'.

DEAN WALLING, DEFENDER - I remember Derek Mountfield saying to me in 1995, 'Take it all in, Deano. You might never get the chance again.' Little did I know I'd get another chance in '97. I'd also played there and scored for Guiseley in 1991, so to play there three times...I was very, very lucky. In the dressing room I was saying those things to our younger players - enjoy it, embrace it, don't leave anything behind.

VARTY - The nerves first kicked in really when we were going up Wembley Way, when you started seeing the Carlisle fans and the ground. But once we got in the dressing room and out onto the pitch, I just settled. We knew we were in a good team, Deano, big Stephane [Pounewatchy] - they used to look after me at the back. I was the baby of the bunch. Even to this day I can't thank them enough for how they looked after me.

DELAP - I remember speaking to Mervyn Day, our manager, for a bit of advice. He'd been there before as a player but said he couldn't remember any of the day. So he urged us to try and enjoy the experience, get some memories.

VARTY - I remember standing in the tunnel, in the same order as usual, and there was a Colchester player who was trying to give me a bit of stick. One of our lads behind me gave him what for. But I just blanked it. A few minutes later Glenn Hoddle was doing the handshakes as the guest of honour. But at that point I think anybody could have come up and shook my hand. Mervyn had given us our orders by then and you're just concentrating on what you've got to do.

WALLING - It was a close game. If we'd gone on for 10 years I don't think any team would have scored. I had a chance where i flicked it over the bar, but it wasn't one that will be remembered as a Wembley classic.

DELAP - When I went to Burton at the end of my career, one of the coaches there was Mark Sale, who played for Colchester. He said: "What a bad game it was." I was like, well, it's never a bad game when you win, is it? I used to wind him up.

VARTY - To be honest, it was probably one of the most boring games I've ever played in! I would like to think, from my point of view, that defences were on top. Somebody asked me the other day if I had any memories of it, and one of the only things I could think of was Rory snapping the corner flag.

DELAP - I can remember trying to run the centre-half down the line. He gave us a little dig, knocked me off balance, and it was a bit of a head loss, really - I just went to kick the ball, the flag, him, anything. And in the process I managed to snap the flag. I needed a little breather, to be fair. So it wasn't a bad thing to do.

VARTY - The groundsman brought another out and there was a big cheer. That was probably the most exciting thing that happened. When you get to extra-time, nobody wants to give anything away at all. But as soon as it goes to penalties and you've got Tony Caig in goals, you've got to fancy your chances.

WALLING - The penalties didn't start great for us. Archie - Owen Archdeacon - missed our second and he hadn't missed one all season. They scored [to make it 3-1] so pressure was really on me. If I'd missed it would have been curtains. But I was just focused. Before, when Merv had asked who wanted penalties, I wasn't going to let all the young lads take them before me. I was a senior pro and needed to take responsibility. I stepped up and did the business. Later my mum told me she had her head in her hands and couldn't watch. I'm like, how many times does your son play at Wembley, score a penalty and you don't watch it?!

VARTY - I had a bit of a gash on my leg, so I was getting a bit of treatment off Pete Hampton when the penalties were going on. I was in the centre circle, trying to look through everybody's legs. I probably didn't have the best of views. All I was thinking was I hope it doesn't get to me. Where was I in line? Probably 12th! That's how good my penalties were.

DELAP - I'd have been right behind Caigy I think. I missed one at Brunton Park when I was about 14, hit the crossbar, and I don't think I've ever recovered. I've always had a bit of a thing about them since.

WALLING - It just swung back to us, with Caigy making a couple of fantastic saves. I remember his great save from Pete Cawley, and then it was up to Steve Hayward to secure the glory.

DELAP - Stevie slotted it in, and everyone went mad. Among all the celebrations I ended up finding my auntie and my mate Andy Ward, and got a hat off him. The amount of people there, and you manage to pick some individuals out of the crowd that you know.

VARTY - When Steve scored, I was up and away by then. My leg didn't really matter any more.

WALLING - Half the lads ran off with Steve, and the other half piled on Caigy. Then it was walking up the Wembley steps to get your medal and the trophy.

VARTY - That was a dream come true. You've seen people do it so many times on TV but to do it yourself...just a privilege.

WALLING - The last time, in 1995, going up those stairs after we'd got beat by Birmingham was really hard to bear. It was also a year to the day that I'd lost my dad. I had held everything in so much but when I came down the stairs I burst into tears. So this one in '97 was a happier occasion for me and my family.

VARTY - Afterwards a few stayed down in London but a lot of the lads in the squad had a reserve game the day after. We had a couple of drinks on the bus as we headed straight back. There was still a job to do with promotion as well. We had to keep our minds on that.

WALLING - The sad thing was how it all came apart after that cup final and promotion. Michael [Knighton] sacked Mervyn the following September and pulled the team apart, sold all the assets. Janny, Rory, Lee Peacock, Allan Smart left, I left, and those were the start of the dark days, so to speak. But that's not what I'll remember. I'll remember the good days, and the team spirit we had.

VARTY - All of a sudden you were looking round the dressing room, and all those players you looked up to, and who looked after you, had gone. It just shows you have to enjoy the good days when they come. What had made it such a great time was the amount of local lads in the squad - Tony Hopper, Rory, Janny, Lee Peacock and so on. We grew up together, hung out together.

DELAP - Even though the club had a few good players who had come in from outside, it did make it more special when you were out there with those boys. They were your mates who you'd grown up and played with since you were nine or 10.

VARTY - All my memorabilia is at my mam's. It's probably on the loft now after she had the place redecorated! I'll have to bring my shirt home and show the kids one day. They've seen my medals but I don't think they've seen the shirt.

WALLING - When I'm working from home it's all there in my office to look at. It's a fantastic memory, something you can't take away.

DELAP - I've still got that shirt, framed, up in my house. Only the special ones are up there. Twenty years...it's frightening, really. Time cracks on, doesn't it?

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