By Danny Carrington
Last Updated: 3rd January 2020
The FA Cup is often cited as the most famous cup competition in the world, given its long-running history and tradition.
Since the inaugural tournament in 1871, we’ve been treated to a vast number of classics. Here we run through five of the best.
Hereford 2-1 Newcastle, 1972
In 1972, non-league Hereford created history when they beat top-flight Newcastle United in the third round. They had already made headlines by taking the game to a replay following a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park in the initial meeting, but they also became the first non-league club to defeat a top-flight team in 23 years in that replay. It’s an achievement that will be remembered by the club for a lifetime.
It’s not just the victory that makes this game so memorable, it’s the way in which Hereford won. In what was a classic ‘old school’ football match, Hereford right-back Roger Griffiths played 80 minutes with a broken leg, Ronnie Radford sent the game into extra-time and the game was won by Ricky George.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, 1999
This match is probably best remembered for Ryan Giggs and his hairy chest – and rightly so too. In what was a classic tie fuelled by a great rivalry, the two Premier League titans battled it out in what would be the last ever FA Cup semi-final replay. David Beckham scored the opener for Manchester United, but Arsenal drew level through Dennis Bergkamp.
The game started to descend into chaos when Roy Keane was sent off in the 72nd minute, however, Arsenal couldn’t capitalise against 10-man United. A 90th-minute penalty for Arsenal could have finished off the game but Peter Schmeichel was equal to Bergkamp’s effort, sending the fixture to extra-time. It was here when Giggs picked up a loose pass, dribbled from his own half to the other end of the pitch, walked past three defenders and finished comfortably to score one of the best goals the FA Cup has ever seen. What a way to win it.
Manchester City 0-1 Wigan, 2013
It was the 2013 FA Cup final and, what should have been a straightforward and easy victory for Manchester City became a nightmare. City had won the Premier League title just a year before and were looking for a routine win against Wigan, who were relegated from the top flight that season.
Wigan held firm throughout the game, producing some incredible counter-attacking football and proving more than a match for the Manchester side. The game’s magical moment came in the 91st minute when Ben Watson was able to get on the end of a Shaun Maloney corner, beating Joe Hart and sending Wigan into a late lead. The Latics faithful erupted into a sea of limbs and the victory is one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup final history.
Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool, 1990
In the 1990 FA Cup semi-final, Crystal Place met Liverpool at Villa Park for what would be one of the greatest FA Cup games ever played. Earlier in the season Palace had been thumped 9-0 by the Reds, so a win for the Eagles was the last thing to be expected.
Ian Rush opened the scoring for Liverpool before Palace equalised during the second half. In the 70th minute, Palace took an unexpected lead but with 10 minutes left to play the Eagles found themselves 3-2 down. An Andy Gray header in the 88th minute took the game into extra-time before Alan Pardew made the dream come true in the 109th minute, booking Palace their first ever trip to Wembley.
West Ham 3-2 Liverpool, 2006
West Ham were looking to pick up their first major silverware in 26 years when facing Liverpool in the 2006 FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard played one of the best games of his long career here in a match that will be remembered for years to come.
West Ham took a 2-0 advantage and looked extremely comfortable. That was until Gerrard floated a ball over to Djibril Cisse to pull one back. He then netted the equaliser himself, but West Ham reacted well by taking the lead once again. The game stayed 3-2 all the way up until the 90th minute when Gerrard sent a rocket from 35 yards flying into the back of the net. The game went to penalties and, with Pepe Reina saving three spot kicks, Liverpool got their hands on the trophy.