Of course with all the replays postponementing, it was not very long before we were playing the 4th round. It was four days in fact.
It was back to Oxford again, for a midweek showdown with Jim Smiths outfit (his team, Oxford United, not a polyester suit, bri-nylon shirt and patent leather loafers). Oxford had not lost at home for about 8 years at this point in their history, and it looked like a toughie to most of us. But the motivation was a fifth round tie at home to Manchester United, Big Rons outfit (more polyester, bri-nylon and even more gold jewellery...).
Last season we had played Southampton at home in the 5th round, live on TV ( it may have actually a first for the BBC in some way, cannot remember what it was though, anyone?) and lost to a David Armstrong goal. That was after we had beaten Nottingham Forest in a replay I think, a couple of games worthy of their own thread on here too! (Forest away was an adventure I can tell you...British Rail...Vimto, vodka and porno mags at Crewe Station).
So yea anyway, Oxford away on a Wednesday night. How does one get to Oxford and back for a night game with no car?
Well, let me remind you of the football special! Basically a whole train gets taken over by bevvied up football fans, no other passengers on, cheap as chips, no stopping at any stations, just get on at the Bouley and get off at the opponents station several hours later. From Accrington to Oxford return, total cost £10.
The journey down on the special was bizarre. I went with a mate from Runshaw, Ricky Johnson. Good little footballer was Ricky, didn't support Rovers but was up for a laugh and so was I. About an hour into the journey, some Rovers fan went totally beserk on the train. I think he just flipped, and started lashing out at anyone and everyone he could, seriously attempting to do some GBH on his co-travellers. Was it the drink? Was it a case of train-based Stir Crazy? It took about five men to restrain him, and they literally had to sit on him for the rest of the journey to Oxford to stop any further madness. I think he got to the match though!
The Manor ground would never win "Sporting Arenas Of Year" award, if such a thing existed. It looked like it was designed by 10 different people, each one putting their own little bit on and then sticking them all together-like that party game were you fold a piece of paper in three, someone does the head, then you fold it up, someone does the body, fold it up then someone does the legs, then you unfold it and you get a picture of a human with a deep sea divers helmet on, wearing a Tutu and legs of a rugby player. And a cats tail protruding from the arse. Imagine Watfords ground now, but worse.
The away end was, once again open terrace, crumbling concrete, caged in on all sides. Images Can Be Found Here.
The game it self was quite eventful, Billy Hamilton missing the game after doing his leg minutes before the match warming up, then Jimmy Quinn notched a typical header to put us ahead. In the second half, McDonalds penalty was brilliantly saved by Geno, and despite a bit of a battering we hung on to put us in the fifth round to play United.
As I walked back towards the station, I was verbally abused by a Rovers fan who though I was a home supporter-"Cannot win every week can ya you Southern keans!". Didn't bother to put him right, just smiled a bit.
It was a rare match in which we played in all red shirts too, a picture, all be it in mono to follow of Quinn in action wearing the red top.