Kevin Impey pays tribute to local football legend Roy Dwight, who has died aged 69

ROY Dwight indelibly left his mark in the annals of football when, in 1959, he scored then broke his right leg in the FA Cup Final while playing for Nottingham Forest against Luton.

He was also the cousin of Reg Dwight, the real name of music legend Sir Elton John.

Incidentally, Roy once mentioned to a social club manager that his cousin, then unknown, was a musician and should hire him for a night. The owner declined for what later proved to be an own goal of epidemic proportions!

But it will be Roy's bitter-sweet moment in the FA Cup Final, which those of us old enough myself included to have seen and remember it, that earned him his own headlines.

Forest had taken the hard route to the final having played eight ties, including a third-round game against non-league side Tooting & Mitcham. After the first game ended 2-2, it was Roy's goal which put Forest on the way to a 3-0 replay win.

Roy later scored the goal which gave his side a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City in a fifth-round replay.

In those days, games were replayed until a definitive result none of your penalty shoot-outs then, unlike today's cosseted stars and Roy then scored a brilliant hat-trick as Forest thumped City 5-0 in the second replay at Filbert Street.

Wins over Bolton and Aston Villa took Forest to the Wembley final, played in front of 100,000 fans.

Roy's eighth-minute goal from Stewart Imlach's cross gave Forest the lead and two minutes later Tommy Wilson made it two-nil.

However, in the 32nd minute Roy fell awkwardly after an innocuous-looking challenge from Luton full-back Brendan McNally.

After some treatment from trainer Tommy Graham who, like Roy, did not realise the extent of the injury at the time, Roy got to his feet and hobbled around for another five minutes before being stretchered off. It was still another six years before substitutes were allowed, and after Luton had pulled a goal back through Dave Pacey, Forest's gallant 10-men held on for a momentous victory.

While Forest's players went to the Savoy Hotel to celebrate by getting plastered, Roy was in Wembley Hosp-ital and also getting plastered at least his leg was!

Roy was later presented with his FA Cup winning medal while in his hospital bed.

Born Royston Dwight on January 9, 1933, in Belvedere, he progressed through the ranks until, aged 17, he joined Fulham for whom he had a fantastic scoring rate of 54 goals in 72 games. Ironically, Roy joined the Cottagers on the same day as current Newcastle manager Bobby Robson and played in the same team as another footballing legend Johnny Haynes.

Roy's talent was spotted by Forest manager Billy Walker, who splashed out £10,000 a big sum in those days to sign him in the summer of 1958.

He had an inauspicious start to his Forest career as his new team slumped 5-1 to Wolves, but he did have the satisfaction of scoring on his debut.

Roy's injury sidelined him for 10 months, but his bravery and determination was epitomised when he discarded his walking sticks and opted to cycle the 10 miles from his home to the City Ground in his attempt to speed up his recovery.

But, as Roy said himself, the leg was never the same again and after making 53 appearances for Forest and scoring 27 goals, he moved to non-league Gravesend & Northfleet.

However, in early 1961, he was back in league football when he joined Coventry City, who were under the managership of his ex-Fulham team-mate Jimmy Hill, and scored eight goals in 31 games during his spell with the Highfield Road-based club.

Roy's league career ended with Millwall as player-coach before, on New Year's Day, 1966, he became manager of Erith & Belvedere.

His first match in charge of the Deres was also memorable a 7-0 win over Wokingham and he guided them to the Kent Amateur Cup Final.

In the summer of 1967, Roy left for America to join up with former Forest team-mate Len Julians to run the Detroit Cougars in the North American League, where soccer had just started to become popular.

When Julians was sacked, Roy resigned in protest and returned to his roots and rejoined Erith & Belvedere in January, 1969, after a "mutiny" had rocked the club when manager Colin Murphy, three officials and 11 players resigned en bloc.

Unbelievably, Roy and his patched-up squad, helped by some astute new signings, achieved much success by winning the Kent Amateur Cup that year and in 1970, as well as promotion to the Athenian League a year later.

Roy resigned in November 1971, citing "the lack of interest shown in players by directors" as his reason, along with approaches from a number of other clubs. He moved to Tooting & Mitcham and seven Erith players followed.

Now there's an irony who was it Forest played in the third round of that winning cup run in 1959?

The manner of his final departure from Erith remains controversial among those involved at the time, but in his periods in charge, Roy's sides collected 61.3 per cent of the available league points (second best of any Deres' manager), won two trophies, as well as promotion.

After five seasons with Tooting, during which time Roy masterminded the 2-1 win against Football League side Swindon in an FA Cup third-round replay, he had a spell as boss of Dartford.

Then, in 1984, Roy underwent major heart surgery in Guy's Hospital, and during his period of recovery he saw an advert for an assistant racing manager at Catford Greyhound Stadium.

At that time, I was working as a greyhound journalist for the now defunct racing paper, The Sporting Life, and it was at Catford where I first got to know Roy.

He was 17 years older than me but retained an almost boyish-looking face. Roy was extremely affable, well-mannered, well-dressed and someone who I always found helpful a gentleman, in fact, who later switched to nearby Crayford Greyhound Stadium.

In an interview which Roy did with the Nottingham Evening Post 16 years ago recalling the 1959 FA Cup Final, Roy said: "The injury could have happened in a league match the previous Saturday. Then I would have been heartbroken.

"But I achieved my dream to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley. I have got a winner's medal, so what more could any footballer ask?"

April 23, 2002 16:30