Heralded as football’s greatest club Cup competition, the FA Cup has more history behind it than any domestic trophy. Ian Waterhouse selects the moments that stick in the memory…
The biggest-ever win
The record for the FA Cup’s biggest-ever win was set in the tournament’s early days, as the all-conquering Preston North End team played Hyde, a club from the Manchester area. The fixture ended 26-0 to Preston, the largest winning margin not only in FA Cup history but also in the history of English football. PNE would also become the first English team to claim the League and Cup double in 1888-89, and did so without losing a match.
The greatest goal ever scored
During a 1999 FA Cup semi-final reply between Manchester United and Arsenal, Red Devils winger Ryan Giggs scored what is considered one of the greatest FA Cup goals ever scored, sweeping past a host of opposing defenders to score the ultimate solo goal. It was also the last ever semi-final reply, and set United on their way to an FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League treble.
Anything is possible in the FA Cup and in January 1989, top-flight side Coventry City headed to Surrey to take on non-league Sutton United. Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan fired in to give the minnows arguably the biggest shock win in FA Cup history, although Hereford Town’s 1972 win over Newcastle is also worthy of mention.
Sutton United may have caused one the biggest of all giant-killings but in 2017, they were making the headlines for the wrong reasons. In a fifth-round tie against Arsenal, burly Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw was seen eating a pie after a bookmaker had run a novelty bet prior to the game. Both were punished by the FA.
The Crazy Gang
The likes of future Hollywood star Vinnie Jones and TV presenter John Fashanu made up the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon in the 1980s, and in 1988, the side remarkably reached the final of the FA Cup.
Up against the mighty Liverpool, few gave them a chance, but a penalty saved by Dons goalkeeper Dave Beasant inspired the London club to a surprising 1-0 win. It was the first time a penalty had been saved in the FA Cup Final.
Top against bottom
When Arsenal met Wrexham in the FA Cup in 1992, the entire Football League pyramid stood between them, with the Londoners top of Division One and the Welsh club at the foot of the old Fourth Division. However, another shock ensued as the Welsh side ran out 2-1 winners to defy the odds, with veteran Mickey Thomas scoring a spectacular free-kick on the way to victory.
Winners to relegation
Wigan Athletic shocked the football world by taking down mega-rich Manchester City to win the 2013 FA Cup Final. Unfortunately, their joy was short lived as the club was also relegated from the Premier League that season and are yet to return, even dropping into League One at one point.
Roberto Martinez’s Latics went one better than Middlesbrough managed in 1997, as the Teeside club also reached the FA Cup Final the same season they were relegated, but lost to Chelsea.
Quickest final goal
Louis Saha scored the fastest goal in an FA Cup Final when he netted for Everton, 25 seconds in to the 2009 Final against Chelsea.
Unfortunately for the Toffees, the London club rallied with goals from Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard to lift the trophy.
When Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2017 it marked a record 13 wins in the competition. It was also the last major trophy of Arsene Wenger’s reign at the Gunners prior to his exit in the summer of 2018.
The greatest final
Liverpool defeated West Ham United 3-1 on penalties during the 2006 FA Cup Final in what is often said to be the greatest Cup Final ever. The Hammers looked to have the cup in the bag before Reds captain Steven Gerrard made it 3-3 in the 91st minute with a long-range drive, before converting a penalty in the shootout to help his side take victory.