IT WAS the year that Ian Botham flayed the Aussies all over Headingley, the first London Marathon and Charles got hitched with Diana.
And 1981 also marked the only time that Stuart McCall has left Wembley as a winner.
The national stadium, whether in its old guise or the current one, has generally failed to deliver for the City boss – as a player, coach or a fan.
In seven visits to the home of football, McCall has finished on the losing side six times. So he is surely due a change of luck on Saturday.
“I’ve got one happy memory,” laughed McCall, “and that was my first visit.
“I’ve been a bit of a Wembley jinx but I like to think back to the Scotland game in 1981.
“That’s the one still etched in my memory and I’m sticking to it!”
The young McCall was still a month off his 17th birthday when he joined a pal on the coach down from Leeds as part of the Tartan army following Jock Stein’s side against the Auld enemy.
England, under Ron Greenwood, were a laughing stock at the time because they had forgotten how to score. And Scotland duly won 1-0 with a John Robertson penalty midway through the second half.
McCall, an apprentice at City at the time, was decked head to toe in Scottish colours – from the “see you Jimmy” wig to the St Andrew’s Saltire wrapped around him.
After the game, they jogged through the hordes along Wembley way to catch the return coach from Golders Green – and were back in the local pub in time to catch the highlights on Match of the Day.
McCall said: “I had all this Scottish gear on, scarf, hat and everything. I was covered in it.
“The guy behind the bar said to me: ‘All right, you’re taking it a bit far coming in here dressed like that just because Scotland won.
“I said we’d gone to the game but he wasn’t having it. He said ‘don’t be so stupid you wouldn’t be back up here for ten o’clock.’
“So I got the programme out my back pocket. That shut him up.”
Two years later, McCall made the same trip for another home international but England, this time, got their revenge with a 2-0 win. Future Bantams boss Bryan Robson was one of the scorers.
“That was at a time when (FA secretary) Ted Croker tried to ban us from Wembley,” he recalled. “But there were still 7,000 Scots in there.”
Defeat would set the tone for McCall at Wembley.
His playing debut on the biggest stage came six years later during the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
With a city united in grief, Liverpool beat Everton 3-2 in the 1989 FA Cup final – despite two goals from McCall.
Coming off the bench after an hour, the midfielder snatched a dramatic last-minute equaliser to force extra-time – and then struck again to level it up at 2-2 during the added period.
But Ian Rush, who had also been brought on by Liverpool, then fired his second goal a minute later to condemn McCall and Everton to losers’ medals.
It was the only time that McCall would score a double for Everton – and he revealed that was another personal hoodoo.
“I was a jinx whenever I got two as well,” added McCall.
“I scored two once for Bradford down at Plymouth and we got beaten 3-2.
“I scored two for Everton once and got beaten 3-2 at Wembley.
“And I scored two for Rangers in my first European Cup game for them against Sparta Prague and we went out on away goals, even though we won 2-1.
“So every time I scored twice, we got beaten. That’s why I always used to stick to ones!
“People used to ask me why I didn’t try for another if I scored but I knew it would be bad luck.
“Anyway it’s about the occasion. I only scored one for Scotland and that was in the World Cup – once you score in the World Cup, what’s the point in getting another against the likes of Estonia and all that!
“That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.”
Seven years on McCall would be back with Scotland, playing in the Euro ’96 loss to England captured by one moment of magic from Paul Gascoigne and that “dentist’s chair” celebration.
But in between there was another Wembley outing that is easily – and willingly – forgotten.
The Full Members’ Cup – or Zenith Data Systems as it was known by the sponsors in 1991 – was a short-lived competition for teams from the top two divisions to fill the void left by the expulsion from Europe.
McCall suffered another extra-time loss as Everton were undone by an Ian Wright double in Crystal Palace’s 4-1 victory.
Defeat did not hurt on that occasion for a team who did not really want to be there in the first place.
He said: “It was a stupid Mickey Mouse cup that meant nothing. I think Palace sold 35,000 tickets and we sold about 3,000.
“Everton fans got ridiculed by the Liverpool ones about their big day out.
“Liverpool were that used to dominating and going to Wembley and stuff. To get to the cup final was a bit embarrassing.
“Everton were used to going to proper finals at the time so it certainly wasn’t a great occasion.”
It was far bigger in 2013 when Scotland, with McCall as part of Gordon Strachan’s coaching team, faced England in a friendly.
“That was a great game and we scored two good goals,” he recalled. “Unfortunately England won 3-2.
“It was the first time the teams had played for a while and Scotland took a lot out of that. James Morrison got one deflected and Kenny Miller scored a good goal – we were twice ahead.
“But Ricky Lambert came on and scored the winner on his debut. I think it was his first touch.
“We were trying to get it out there who was to mark him when he scored with a header.”
A few months before, McCall had been at Wembley as a television pundit for City’s appearance in the Capital One Cup final. With no attempt at impartiality, he again suffered on the wrong end of the result as Swansea strolled to victory.
So clearly, the law of averages must point to a result finally falling in his favour this weekend.
McCall smiled: “I’m definitely due one down there. With my record, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a happy memory from Wembley!”