FA Cup Upsets

Steve Watkin and Steve Potts  FA Cup UpsetsOne of the attractions of the FA Cup is that it allows the Davids of the lower Leagues of English football to take on the top-flight Goliaths on an annual basis. More often than not the professional teams go on to win, but every so often, a team of gifted amateurs will deliver a shock defeat to their fancied rivals. Football connoisseurs believe the FA Cup’s third round proper is the round to watch if you are to have a chance to witness football history being made.

1933: Walsall 2-0 Arsenal

Division 3 South Walsall faced a hopeless situation when they drew first league leaders Arsenal for their 3rd round FA Cup playoff. At the time, the professional Arsenal team was worth thousands of pounds, whereas little Walsall’s team cost only £70. However, Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman made one fatal error. Believing the result was a foregone conclusion, he rested three of his top players. Walsall took its chance and scored two unanswered goals, to hand Arsenal a humiliating defeat.

1972: Hereford 2-1 Newcastle

Hereford became the first non-league team to pull off one of the FA Cup upsets in the second half of the 20th century, when it managed to beat Newcastle United in a third round replay. Newcastle scored first, virtually assuring Hereford of a defeat. Hereford refused to give up, and eventually produced an incredible long-range goal from Ronnie Radford. The game went into extra time and Ricky George earned himself football immortality when he netted the winner for Hereford.

1989: Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City

Sutton United, languishing in the non-league Football Conference, took on First Division Coventry City in the third round of the 1989 FA Cup. Instead of lying down, the Sutton United manager set out to target Coventry’s weaknesses, aiming for their set-pieces. Sutton United succeeded in scoring two goals from corners, knocking out a team that had held the FA Cup only two years earlier.

1992: Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal

Arsenal was second in the Premier League and the reigning FA Cup champion. Wrexham had finished its league season at the bottom of the third division table. The third round match appeared to be a formality for Arsenal, and all was going according to plan when Arsenal’s Alan Smith scored on half time. The next 45 minutes turned English football on its head, as Wrexham’s Mickey Thomas pulled back a goal from a free kick before Steve Watkin scored the winner of the greatest of FA Cup upsets to date.