25 years on 1990 FA Cup final captains unite against cancer

Sunday 17 May 2015
Geoff Thomas and Bryan Robson with the 1990 shirts
Twenty-five years on from the 1990 FA Cup Final, the two captains have come together to reminisce and raise awareness for a noble cause.

Back in 1990 Geoff Thomas and Bryan Robson went head-to-head in two memorable FA Cup Finals. 

The first ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw. 

They met again in a replay on 17 May 1990 when a Lee Martin goal proved decisive as Manchester United went on to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 and lift the famous trophy.

Twenty-five years ago today Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in the FA Cup final replay

“I can remember Bryan taking lumps out of Alan Pardew in the first 30 seconds,” recalled Thomas.

“It was a Cup Final!” retorted Robson.

Robson continued: “The first match was end to end – a great game. Mark Hughes popped up with a late equaliser just when we needed him.

“The replay was a real physical battle – one of the toughest finals I’ve played in.  

“It wasn’t a spectacle like the first game but Lee Martin scored a great goal and we had that little bit of luck.”

Thomas said: “It was a tremendous Final. Ian Wright came off the bench and his two great goals put us within seven minutes of winning The FA Cup.

“The replay was a non-event. Sadly for us, this chap here lifted The Cup.”

The shirts the two teams wore on 17 May 1990

Both captains have long since retired. 

And both have faced far more important off-field battles since those contests 25 years ago.

Thirteen years later, and 12 months after hanging up his boots, Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia. 

He was given just three months to live.

After treatment by Cure Leukaemia and a stem cell transplant from sister Kay, the former England international has been in remission since 2005.

Manchester United legend Robson was also delivered the devastating news he had cancer while serving as Thailand coach. 

After having a throat tumour removed and undergoing radiotherapy four years ago, he is hoping to get the all-clear in his final check-up in August.

And the duo were reunited as Robson threw his weight behind his opposing Cup Final skipper’s latest fundraising feat.

Thomas and a team of amateur cyclists will take on his ‘Le Tour – One Day Ahead’ challenge in July to raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia – the charity that saved his life.

They will take on arguably the toughest endurance challenge in sport by riding more than 3,300km along the 21-stage, 2015 Tour de France route – a day before the professional peloton.

Robson said: “I don’t think my backside would last over 2,000 miles on a bike! 

“What Geoff’s doing is incredible. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the Manchester United Foundation and he makes that look like a stroll in the park. 

“It’s not just the ride, it’s all the training he’s got to do to be able to complete it, so all credit to him.

“When you’ve had cancer, you appreciate what’s important in life. It’s now vitally important we help current and future sufferers by raising funds and awareness.”

Geoff Thomas and Bryan Robson meet to talk old times

Le Tour will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Thomas going into remission and the first time he defeated the Tour de France route – incredibly, just six months after completing his treatment. 

And the former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest player insists more needs to be done to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

“Your life changes forever when you’re told your life is under threat, and you’re eternally grateful to the professors, doctors and nurses when there is good news at the end of it all,” said Thomas.

“When we were footballers, Bryan was THE man. I looked up to him and I’m extremely grateful for his support.

“Once you have been touched by cancer, you become a voice of survivorship. Bryan, myself – we’ve all got a role to play. 

“Cancer came back into the world of sport last weekend with the sad loss of Rebecca, Rio Ferdinand’s wife.

“It’s all around us everyday."

You can sponsor Thomas by visiting www.justgiving.com/Geoff-Thomas-2015

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer