Famous Five: The FA Cup finals we still talk about

With no FA Cup final at Wembley this Saturday, Matthew Crist looks back at some of the classics which are still fondly remembered.

Matthew Crist

The FA Cup final has always been the showpiece of the English game and, down the years, has provided us with memories that will last forever.  

We all have our own final memories and, depending on who you support and when you grew, up it’s unlikely we’ll ever all agree on what was the greatest final in history.

Whether it was an epic comeback, a shock giant-killing, or even a thrilling stalemate, we all have our favourites and there have been a number of classics that we still talk about even today.

So here are just some of those finals that still live in the memory and have helped make the FA Cup the greatest domestic knockout competition in the world.

Everton 3 – 2 Sheffield Wednesday, 1966

FA Cup final 1966

Sometimes referred to as the forgotten final of 1966 the Blues, under manager Harry Catterick, were odds-on to lift the FA Cup against Second Division Sheffield Wednesday some two months before Bobby Moore climbed the famous 39 steps to lift the Jules Rimet trophy for England.

To everyone’s surprise, however, the Owls took the lead in the fourth minute, before doubling their advantage with half an hour remaining, only for a dramatic 15-minute turnaround witnessed bu a crowd of 100,000 at Wembley including Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

In a blistering late rally, Everton put three past the Wednesday with goals from Mike Trebilcock and Derek Temple and although England’s exploits under the Twin Towers two-months later would make all the headlines, Evertonians will always remember 1966 as the year they won the cup.

Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United, 1973

FA Cup Leeds Sunderland

Nobody gave Second Division Sunderland a hope when they faced Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United side in 1973 with the holders, who had beaten Arsenal 12-months previously, strong favourites to retain the trophy.

But an incredible performance from Sunderland’s ‘keeper Jim Montgomery, which included a fantastic save from Trevor Cherry, lead to many thinking an upset might just be on the cards and that’s just what happened when a goal from Ian Porterfield confirmed one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.

The strike also brought about one of the most iconic celebrations the twin-towers had ever witnessed as Rokerites manager Bob Stokoe, a Geordie and great rival of Leeds Manager Revie, ran across the Wembley pitch in celebration – complete with his trademark trilby hat.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City, 1981

FA Cup Spurs Manchester City

Though they didn’t know it at the time it was to be City’s last final for 30 years but they would be downed by one of the most popular foreign imports ever to grace the English game in the first final in 11 years to go to a replay and the first ever ever staged at Wembley following a 1-1 draw five days previously.

The Argentina World Cup star Ricky Villa scored first for Spurs only for Steve Mackenzie to fire city level. City then took the lead in the 50th minute thanks to a penalty from Kevin Reeves but Garth Crooks levelled for Spurs before Villa scored one of the most memorable goals in cup final history.

Setting off on a snaking run deep into the City penalty area, he calmly slotted home past Joe Corrigan as he fell to the ground but was soon back to his feet to lead a riotous run of celebration that is about as famous as the goal itself.

Crystal Palace 3-3 Manchester United, 1990

FA Cup final 1990

Both teams had struggled in the league during this season and had only just secured their First Division safety a few weeks earlier; but what fans were treated to that day was something of a classic and one of the few draws to be regarded as a classic.

Gary O’Reilly headed the Eagles in front but United pulled themselves together to equalise ten minutes before the break when Bryan Robson headed home Brian McClair’s cross and just after the hour before United took the lead through Mark Hughes.

Ian Wright was sent on as a second-half substitute despite recovering from a broken leg and levelled with almost his first touch before volleying home to put the Eagles ahead in extra-time; but with seven minutes left Mark Hughes equalised as United went on to win a replay a pretty forgettable replay four-days later.

Liverpool 3-3 West Ham United, 2006

2006 FA Cup final

The Hammers took a shock 2-0 in Cardiff when Lionel Scaloni’s low right-wing cross was met by Jamie Carragher, who could only divert the ball into his own goal, before Dean Ashton was first on the scene after Matthew Etherington’s shot was spilled by Pepe Reina to grab the second and stun Liverpool.

The Reds were back in it though, when Djibril Cissé volleyed home after 32 minutes and 10 minutes into the second-half they equalised when Gerrard fired the ball past Shaka Hislop; only for West Ham to take the lead once more when Paul Konchesky’s cross deceived everyone and sailed into the Liverpool net.

But as West Ham fans contemplated a first cup triumph for 26 years the ball fell to Gerrard some 35 yards from goal, and despite suffering from cramp, the Liverpool skipper hit a shot that flew into the net before the destination of the cup was finally settled on penalties as Liverpool made it seven wins in their history.

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