‘I got him pissed on Blue Nun’: Peter Reid and Alan Curbishley swapped stories in the tunnel before their teams played out the greatest play-off final ever in 1998
The opposing managers were relaxed before kick-off in the First Division play-off final, though that soon switched once the first whistle sounded
When Charlton Athletic met Sunderland in the First Division play-off final in 1998, the game pitted Alan Curbishley and Peter Reid against each other in a highly tense environment at Wembley.
However, the pair were relaxed before kick-off, conversing and joking with each other in the tunnel while both teams were conducting their warm ups. As both Curbishley and Reid explain, stories were exchanged in a friendly manner, all before a highly tetchy match for a shot in the Premier League.
“When the boys went out to warm up, I stood in the tunnel with Reidy because there was nowhere for us to go,” Curbishley tells FFT. “If we were at The Valley or the Stadium of Light, the boss would have an office. But we just stood there in the tunnel, chatting."
Reid offers his side of the story, too.
“I was very comfortable with him,” says Reid. “We were talking about times gone by, playing against each other. I think I got him pissed on Blue Nun when he was at Brighton – we had a laugh about that.”
That conversation didn't detract from either manager's focus on the game at hand, though, with Curbishley reminding his players of the prize at stake for his Charlton team.
“We were the underdogs that day, I suppose," Curbishley admits. "But we were confident, because we hadn’t let any goals in and it was a settled team. I said, ‘I don’t want anybody waving to their family and looking around – I know it’s a colossal match, but let’s focus’.”
While Charlton did let goals in that day, four to be exact, they also managed the same total themselves, courtesy of a Clive Mendonca hat-trick. After 120 minutes, with the scores level at 4-4, a penalty shootout was needed to determine which side would gain promotion to the Premier League.
Charlton eventually won 7-6, with Sunderland defender Michael Gray the only player to miss his spot kick. This wasn't through a lack of preparation, though, which Reid explains.
“We had our training sessions at the Stadium of Light and practised penalties after every session,” Reid tells FFT. “I always thought we were a little bit better than Charlton, though.”
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Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.
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