Swell of the crowd is still such a thrilling memory
Colston Crawford, prior to working for the Derby Telegraph, was a Burton Albion supporter when they played Leicester City in the third round of the FA Cup in 1985. This is his recollection of the day.
SETTING off from the city centre to walk to the Baseball Ground on a Saturday lunchtime was a familiar enough routine for me in the mid-80s, before work dictated which football match I'd be at.
I preferred non-League football but if Burton Albion were a long way away and Derby County were at home, the Baseball Ground – £3 to stand on the Pop Side – was the place to be.
This day was different, though. It was the Brewers who were at the Baseball Ground, for the biggest game in their history.
It was unreal. I had, as a youngster, followed the Rams' glory days on TV and through the Derby Telegraph. By the time I was going to matches, the Rams, on a downswing, were averaging 12,500, so the Baseball Ground was as stuffed as I had known it with 22,492 for Burton's big day.
The match became infamous for the wrong reasons, yet I and presumably many others experienced no trouble at all, strolling along Normanton Road, sharing a pint or two with Leicester fans on the way. Presumably, most hooligans of the day couldn't be bothered with a non-League team.
The abiding memory of the match itself is David Vaughan's equaliser for Burton. The hard-as-nails centre-half would step up to fire a mean free kick sometimes, or go up for corners, but why or how it was him on the end of Les McJannet's hopeful pass to steer the ball past Ian Andrews, I still have no idea.
Certainly, when he scored, it was the first time I had been lifted off my feet by the swell of the crowd on the Pop Side, yet it didn't feel alarming at all, only exhilarating.
Lord knows what it must have been like in there with 40,000 rammed into the ground.
The extent of goalkeeper Paul Evans' pain after he was hit by a missile from the Osmaston End was not evident to the crowd after he had been treated by the physio and the game continued.
Initially, there was a feeling that the First Division side might well have got six anyway – after all, they had Gary Lineker. He got three of them and his finishing was immaculate.
Neil Warnock – who Burton fans revered by this stage – disagrees and feels justice was done in the replay as his side went down only 1-0.
That, too, was an unreal game, with less than 100 at Highfield Road. The Brewers held their own after going behind early on but I do not recall the game being played with any great urgency by either side.
A narrow defeat in a trouble-free first match would have been more palatable.