Ricky Hill: Villa Park stunner for the Hatters is tinged with sadness

Luton legend Ricky Hill in action for the Hatters
Luton legend Ricky Hill in action for the Hatters

Luton legend Ricky Hill admitted that his stunning strike against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final of 1985 will always be ‘tinged with sadness’ after the Hatters were knocked out by the Toffees 2-1.

With the scores goalless, Hill broke the deadlock in truly wonderful fashion before half time, lashing into the top corner after Mick Harford had caused problems in the Everton area.

His right foot strike rocketed beyond Neville Southall and into the top corner, sending the Hatters fans behind the goal into bedlam.

However, with Luton seemingly on their way to the final, Kevin Sheedy levelled the scores when his free kick crept past Les Sealey into the bottom corner with five minutes left.

Derek Mountfield then headed in Sheedy’s set-piece in the second half of extra time to send Howard Kendall’s side to Wembley, where they beaten 1-0 by Manchster United.

A crowd of 45,289 was there to witness Hill's magnificent effort, but speaking about the goal almost 35 years later, he said: "The Villa Park one is tinged with sadness as it means nothing in the grand scale of things now, because obviously we didn’t get the victory.

“But it was a fantastic moment to see the reaction, the happiness and joy, not only for my team-mates, but for the fans that made their way up there and I guess all those who were listening to the radio at that time, who were non-Everton supporters and would have been elated by it.

"To unfortunately not have the success of getting to a cup final on the back of that, it takes a little bit away from it, but it was a nice goal.”

When asked for some of the other strikes that stood out in his 15-year career at Luton, Hill had plenty to choose from, having netted 65 in his 508 matches,

He continued: “I guess my debut goal (against Bristol Rovers in 1976) would have been special as you’re 22 minutes on the pitch, you’ve made that kind of impact.

“For a midfielder particularly that’s a great start for me and gave me the confidence to move forward and do other things, but some of the other ones, I scored a few headers, which no-one really recognises.

“I used to pride myself on being fairly competent in the air, people would think 'he’s a skillful player,' but I thought I could compete with the best of them aerially and I don’t think people recognised that.

“I scored some what I would call some really good headers.

"The Southampton quarter-final game at home (1-1, January 1989), that League Cup run, David Preece's cross came in and I attacked the ball as you do, got up early, timed it perfectly and it went into the top corner.

"I always remember that goal as being one that set us up.

“We went to the replay and I scored, again in extra time, with Mick Harford put me through and I smashed one in the top corner against (John) Burridge to make it 2-0 at the time and those ones stick out very much so.

“There’s a goal, Peterborough United (3-0 win), 1983 FA Cup, people I’ve met in passing have always mentioned that goal, saying the ball never touched the ground before I scored.

"I’ve never seen it as the footage isn’t the same as it is now, I’ve seen still pictures offering frame by frame of what took place, and I do remember in my own mind how it went, even though it was many, many years ago, I can still see it now.”