How Jimmy Greaves came to play Bracknell Town and Wokingham Town

Steve Gabb looks back at a time one of England's greatest strikers came, saw and conquered Berkshire
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Over the weekend it was sadly reported that former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan and England striker Jimmy Greaves had passed away. While his exploits for two of the biggest clubs in London is well known. he spent some time at the end of his career at Barnet.

During Greaves’ spell in the late 70s with Barnet the Underhill club. then in the Southern League, went on a bit of a cup run. During this run, the former England striker faced up against both Bracknell Town and Wokingham Town (now Wokingham & Emmbrook).

In the First Qualifying Round Greave’s Barnet were drawn at home to Bracknell Town. The Robins had a good side in the London Spartan League and would go on to finish a very creditable fourth.

Bracknell Town’s manager at the time wasn’t phased by his side facing the England legend, he spoke to the Reading Evening Post saying “I’ll just tell my lads to play their normal game.” Harney added “While we were at Amersham on Saturday I got talking to someone from Dunstable who has seen Greaves play. He told me that if you put a man on him, Greaves will take him all over the field and create room for the other forwards. So it’s going to be a case of one of the nearest to Greaves picking him up.”

Unfortunately for Bracknell, Barnet proved too strong on the day, however, it took a very late winner from their Southern League rivals whose goal came in the 88th minute to see the Bees through with a 2-1 scoreline.

Barnet would go on to defeat Feltham in the second qualifying round by three goals to two, Jimmy Greaves netting a brace. In the Third Qualifying Round they were drawn against another Berkshire club in Wokingham Town who had already knocked out Aylesbury United and St Albans City.

Wokingham was abuzz with excitement for the game with Barnet with the Reading Evening Post expecting a gate of around 700 (double the club’s 350 usual attendance). Wokingham boss Roy Merryweather told the local press that he would be following a similar plan to Bracknell Town’s of not putting a man-marker on Greaves and allowing his team to play a normal game.

Match day programme: See the Wokingham vs Barnet programme

Again, like Bracknell, Wokingham couldn’t overcome Jimmy Greaves’ Barnet and lost the game 4-0. Barnet would also exit the competition in the next round, but only after two replays against Woking, the last of them played at Brentford’s Griffin Park.

Barnet’s 1978/79 FA Cup run courtesy of FCHD.info

In the late 80s, Jimmy Greaves would return to Wokingham alongside his famous television partner Ian St. John to open the “synthetic pitch” at Cantley Park.

Images and quotes from the Reading Evening Post via britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

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