FA Cup: 8 of the Most Memorable Finals in the History of the Competition

Every year they say it’s gone, that the magic of the FA Cup has died and that fairytales don’t happen anymore.

Don’t believe a word of it. 

The oldest national football competition in the world still throws up some sumptuous match-ups and bamboozling results, supporters still get goosebumps at the thought of Wembley glory and a cup run can still resurrect a club’s season.

Everyone has experienced the highs and the lows of the FA Cup, whether it be watching your beloved non-league outfit earning a tie against one of the big boys or witnessing the club you’ve supported since you could walk let a two-goal lead slip against lower division opposition. 

The final is no different, with some truly unforgettable moments and matches down the years. To get you in the mood for ​Manchester City versus ​Watford on Sunday afternoon, here’s a look at the eight most memorable FA Cup finals.

Manchester City 3-1 Birmingham City (1956)

FA Cup Final

The match itself was decent. Joe Hayes’ opener in the first few minutes was cancelled out soon after when Noel Kinsey sent an effort arrowing past Bert Trautmann and into the far corner. City took the game and trophy beyond ​Birmingham with a quick-fire double midway through the second period. However, the destination of the cup was not what made this contest so famous.

Former German prisoner of war Trautmann famously broke his neck during a sickening collision with a sizeable amount of time still to play, yet remarkably finished the match. 

In fact, he made several courageous saves to maintain the cushion and write his name into FA Cup folklore.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City (1981)

Garth Crooks,Bobby McDonald

This was the 100th final the competition had hosted and it did not disappoint. A 1-1 draw meant that a replay was required five days after the original encounter, with the Citizens turning the game on its head following Ricky Villa’s early strike. 

Garth Crooks levelled matters as the game drew to a close before one of the most spectacular goals in ​Spurs‘ history. Collecting the ball 30-yards out, Villa danced beyond four opponents to go straight through on Joe Corrigan between the Sky Blues sticks. All the hard work was done, the Argentine nonchalantly slotting home to send the Lillywhites supporters into ecstasy.

Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon (1988)

Craig Johnston of Liverpool

Not all classic clashes are laden with goals, as Wimbledon can attest to. One of the great FA Cup shocks unfolded in May 1988 as almost 100,000 spectators watched ‘The Crazy Gang’ slay the giants from Merseyside

​Liverpool were far and away favourites to secure the double when they took to the Wembley turf to face a band of passionate, driven warriors. The intimidating figure of Vinnie Jones led the Dons as they successfully held off a Reds onslaught and defended the single goal lead Lawrie Sanchez had given them with a looping first-half header.

Liverpool 3-2 Everton (1989)

Kevin Ratcliffe, Dave Watson of Everton and John Barnes of Liverpool

The Anfield side made amends for their stunning defeat at the hands of Wimbledon with a wonderfully satisfying victory over cross-city rivals ​Everton 12 months later. It is impossible to understand how much it meant to Liverpool, not simply because they met their enemy in the final, but because the game took place mere weeks after the Hillsborough disaster.

Spurred on by the overawing emotion of that horrific event, they showed bravery to dismiss the Toffees’ challenge. Stuart McCall equalised twice for the latter, scoring with the last kick of regular time before responding to Ian Rush’s half-volley in extra time with a beautifully-struck shot of his own. 

Nevertheless, Liverpool were not to be denied their crown as Rush nodded in a floated John Barnes cross to leave Wembley in raptures.

Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (2001)

Michael Owen

Heroes are made on these sorts of occasions and Michael Owen is one such individual, his career having been littered with iconic moments.

Trailing Arsene Wenger’s Gunners – when the Frenchman was at the peak of his powers – with less than 10 minutes on the clock, then-21-year-old Owen punished hesitant Arsenal defending to rifle the ball past David Seaman and leave the tie on a knife-edge. 

Then came a determined run that carved open the Londoners’ backline, Owen latching onto a lofted pass to blister away from Tony Adams and Lee Dixon, the England international proceeding squeezing a left-footed finish into the far corner to win the cup in dramatic fashion.

Liverpool 3-3 (3-1 pens) West Ham United (2006)

Wembley didn’t play host to this notorious encounter, with Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium instead welcoming fans of West Ham and Liverpool for the showpiece event as a new state-of-the-art venue was built.

The Reds came back thrice to take the game to a penalty shootout, Steven Gerrard stealing the show with a thunderous long-range piledriver in the dying embers of the contest to keep his side’s hopes alive.

He converted his spot-kick, too, though it was the Hammers’ Anton Ferdinand who missed the decisive attempt to complete a stunning fightback for Rafa Benitez’s men.

Manchester City 0-1 Wigan Athletic (2013)

What a mismatch this appeared pre-match. Relegated Wigan Athletic locking horns with the mighty Manchester City and all their expensive foreign imports. The stars dotted across their lineup were ineffectual when it mattered most, however.

You may think the meeting was one-sided and the Latics pulled off a smash-and-grab job; you’d be wrong. Roberto Martinez’s underdogs pushed and probed, unsettling their illustrious opponents before Ben Watson rose highest to meet a last-minute corner, time standing still as his effort arced into the top corner on an extraordinary day in the club’s history.

Arsenal 3-2 Hull City (2014)

An agonising nine-year wait for silverware finally came to an end for Arsenal when they defeated Hull 3-2 in the FA Cup final, though they looked set for further frustration following an unexpected double from the Tigers in the opening stages.

A delicious Santi Cazorla free-kick reduced the deficit, Laurent Koscielny then bundling in as the game neared a conclusion. Another half hour was required to split the teams, Aaron Ramsey poking home at the near post as Arsenal finally added to their trophy cabinet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.