Thursday, 1 May 2014 12:00 AM
It might be 60 years ago today that Joe Marston’s Preston played West Bromwich Albion in an FA Cup final but memories of that incredible day remain as clear as ever for the former Socceroo.
The hard-tackling defender spent five wonderful years at Preston, becoming a firm fan favourite and eventually going on to captain the club.
But the highlight of that adventure remains that sunny back on May 1, 1954 when Marston, then aged 28, became the first Australian to play in an FA Cup final.
In the process, he lined up with his Preston North End team-mates to be presented to the Queen Mother on the famous Wembley turf.
After Preston side went behind early on, they struck back with two goals only for West Brom to equalise and then grab a dramatic winner two minutes from full-time.
“It was heartbreaking,” he told http://www.footballaustralia.com.au from a nursing home on the Central Coast, where he lives.
“It was a terrible feeling and I really I felt sorry for our players.
“But even though we lost we still got there. A lot of good players and good teams don’t get that
“I remember the crowd was so loud when we walked out and were introduced to the Queen Mother, but once the game started and we were running around, I didn’t hear anything except when a goal went in.
“We were the better side but it wasn’t good enough to win. That’s life isn’t it?”
Marston, who played 37 times for Australia, is still well regarded at Preston and is even depicted in a mural at their home ground at Deepdale. He was also named as the club’s fourth greatest player.
“It was such a great occasion but we felt as though we let the town down,” Marston added.
“I always sit and look at some of the memorabilia and that…it was disappointing but you can never forget what the FA Cup does to you.
“It is such a wonderful and prestigious trophy and you never forget it.”
Even after all these years it would be hard for Marston not to remember the events of that day as more than 100,000 fans crammed into Wembley Stadium to watch the final.
Marston of course is somewhat of a pioneer of Australian football, taking the gamble more than half a century ago to make the leap from the humble domestic competition for a shot at the very top in England.
Now 88, Marston is still passionately into his football and still takes a keen interest in the Hyundai A-League.
In fact, such is the respect he has in the game, Sunday’s man-of-the-match in the A-League grand final between Brisbane and Wanderers will be awarded the Joe Marston medal.
But it’s the newest tournament on the block – the FFA Cup – that has caught his eye.
“It’s a beautiful trophy and something the players here will want to win,” he said of the new FFA Cup trophy.
“It’s great that we have something like this in Australia which gives every player something to aspire too.”
The inaugural FFA Cup is in its early stages of qualification, with a round of 32 drawn in late June when the big guns of the A-League and semi-professional clubs are pitted against each other ahead of a December final.
“Like the FA Cup, it’s going to be something special, not just for the A-League teams but for everyone that plays in it,” added Marston.
“It might just be an ordinary team that plays on the day but they can gel together and knock one of these big teams over. That’s the beauty of it.
“There are so many good memories and people and players. You don’t forget them.”
In other FFA Cup news, Marconi beat Dapto Dandaloo 2-1 in the FFA Cup qualifying tournament the Waratah Cup on Tuesday night scoring the winner in the 122nd minute.
And NSW giant-killers Sans Souci FC will take on NPL NSW Mens 2 outfit Northern Tigers on May 7 with a spot in the quarter-finals at stake. If they win their quarter final San Souci would immediately qualify as one of NSW’s seven teams in the round of 32 of the FFA Cup, the stage when Hyundai A-League clubs enter the tournament.
Source : Football Federation Australia