It's 28 years since a highly controversial Liverpool penalty helped deny Watford a place in the FA Cup semi-finals

This Is Local London: On this date in Watford FC's history On this date in Watford FC's history

Monday, March 17, 1986

Having achieved a goalless draw at Anfield in a delayed FA Cup quarter-final six days earlier, Watford faced Liverpool in a replay at Vicarage Road.

A superb trademark John Barnes free-kick gave the Hornets the lead, but with four minutes remaining goalkeeper Tony Coton, who had excelled in the first game, challenged Ian Rush as he entered the box.

Despite appearing to take the ball cleanly Coton was penalised by referee Roger Milford, the same referee whose harsh red card had seen Wilf Rostron suspended for the cup final two seasons previously.

Jan Molby scored the penalty, and Rush secured the victory for the eventual cup winners in extra-time.

Small consolation for the Hornets was provided by record gate receipts of £100,004; the evening's crowd of 28,097 has not been exceeded since at Vicarage Road.

Reproduced by kind permission of Matt Rowson from his book, Watford FC On This Day

Comments (10)

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8:18am Mon 17 Mar 14

gloryhornet4 says...

Milford should never have been allowed to ref any games with top players in, as he was star struck and always wanted to be their best friend.
Milford should never have been allowed to ref any games with top players in, as he was star struck and always wanted to be their best friend. gloryhornet4
  • Score: 3

9:09am Mon 17 Mar 14

Harry's Bar says...

Coton in the first tie is the best goalkeeping display I've ever seen, Premier League, World Cups, anywhere.
Coton in the first tie is the best goalkeeping display I've ever seen, Premier League, World Cups, anywhere. Harry's Bar
  • Score: 3

9:16am Mon 17 Mar 14

Wembley84 says...

Watching from the Rookery, I saw Tony get a palm on the ball, and he got up to prepare for the corner that the linesman had just awarded........he was stood there with his flag pointing at the corner spot. Then Milford breezes into the penalty area, pointing to the spot. He was the subject of a lot of abuse every time he visited the Vic after that, but I recall he seemed to get that at almost every other ground he officiated at.
Watching from the Rookery, I saw Tony get a palm on the ball, and he got up to prepare for the corner that the linesman had just awarded........he was stood there with his flag pointing at the corner spot. Then Milford breezes into the penalty area, pointing to the spot. He was the subject of a lot of abuse every time he visited the Vic after that, but I recall he seemed to get that at almost every other ground he officiated at. Wembley84
  • Score: 2

9:17am Mon 17 Mar 14

BazEndean says...

Milford and Rush needed a big slap. A fool and a cheat.
Milford and Rush needed a big slap. A fool and a cheat. BazEndean
  • Score: 2

9:41am Mon 17 Mar 14

jasonwatford says...

Simple he cheated and I never liked Ian Rush again.
Simple he cheated and I never liked Ian Rush again. jasonwatford
  • Score: 2

9:54am Mon 17 Mar 14

Poppet Bear says...

Liverpool had run out of ideas, they were a beaten team, then, as even happens now, the big team get a present !!!!! By cheating.
Liverpool had run out of ideas, they were a beaten team, then, as even happens now, the big team get a present !!!!! By cheating. Poppet Bear
  • Score: 5

10:35am Mon 17 Mar 14

lockerbiehornet says...

Remember watching from the Viccy Rd end, it was heaving at the Vic that night and I seem to remember that the lino didn't flag for the penalty either!!
Remember watching from the Viccy Rd end, it was heaving at the Vic that night and I seem to remember that the lino didn't flag for the penalty either!! lockerbiehornet
  • Score: 2

10:38am Mon 17 Mar 14

gloryhornet4 says...

There is an awful lot of ill feeling about this game - Milford behind it all. In those days refs did not look at simulation as cheating. I cannot call Milford himself a cheat as that would offend the posting policy. I would say he had poor judgement when dealing with star players like Rush and Gascoigne - a willingness to please them and what better way than getting them out of a hole - not looking at what he sees objectively, but how he can be their friends.

No Scousepie player thought it was a penalty and his lino had an excellent view.

Earlier in the game Digger was brought down in the box and had not dived as his face hit the dirt - Milford did not see that. Or did he, but like an umpire being asked to give his team mate out LBW he stood there in denial.

All the crowing about Liverpool doing the double rang so hollow at Vic Rd, as I think Watford were cheated out of another final in 1986 that I think they could well have won.
There is an awful lot of ill feeling about this game - Milford behind it all. In those days refs did not look at simulation as cheating. I cannot call Milford himself a cheat as that would offend the posting policy. I would say he had poor judgement when dealing with star players like Rush and Gascoigne - a willingness to please them and what better way than getting them out of a hole - not looking at what he sees objectively, but how he can be their friends. No Scousepie player thought it was a penalty and his lino had an excellent view. Earlier in the game Digger was brought down in the box and had not dived as his face hit the dirt - Milford did not see that. Or did he, but like an umpire being asked to give his team mate out LBW he stood there in denial. All the crowing about Liverpool doing the double rang so hollow at Vic Rd, as I think Watford were cheated out of another final in 1986 that I think they could well have won. gloryhornet4
  • Score: 4

10:42am Mon 17 Mar 14

justahornetfan says...

I was in the Rookery that night too and half was given over to Liverpool fans, I also remember the darts falling out of the darkness on the Watford fans though to my knowledge no one was hurt. It was never a penalty and Watford looked set to win with little threat from Liverpool but once the penalty went in you could tell which way the result was headed. Anyone know the team for that game ??
I was in the Rookery that night too and half was given over to Liverpool fans, I also remember the darts falling out of the darkness on the Watford fans though to my knowledge no one was hurt. It was never a penalty and Watford looked set to win with little threat from Liverpool but once the penalty went in you could tell which way the result was headed. Anyone know the team for that game ?? justahornetfan
  • Score: 0

3:59pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Ramageland says...

I hated Rush and Milford after this game, and still do! I was 15 and had to put up with all the plastic Liverpool kids at school the next day telling me how they'd thrashed us, how rubbish we were, etc, etc. I had two fist fights over it and my parents were called into the school about my behaviour - my Dad nearly killed me. I even went up to the first game at Anfield on my own on a coach organised from Watford police station without my mum and dad knowing!

Possibly the worst day of my football supporting life - I have absolutely despised plastic fans ever since!!
I hated Rush and Milford after this game, and still do! I was 15 and had to put up with all the plastic Liverpool kids at school the next day telling me how they'd thrashed us, how rubbish we were, etc, etc. I had two fist fights over it and my parents were called into the school about my behaviour - my Dad nearly killed me. I even went up to the first game at Anfield on my own on a coach organised from Watford police station without my mum and dad knowing! Possibly the worst day of my football supporting life - I have absolutely despised plastic fans ever since!! Ramageland
  • Score: 1

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