F.A. Cup Giant Killers
The F.A. Cup has a rich tradition and history, with some of the most famous moments in English football history. Who can forget (if they are old enough) Mick Jones of Leeds United in the 1971 final were he dislocated his shoulder in the final minutes of the match, and needed his teammate Norman Hunter to help him up the Wembley steps to collect his winner's medal?
Or, Charlie George's wonderful goal the season before with his famous celebration of laying on his back on the Wembley turf.
However, it is the giant killing acts that fans of all teams love, except if it is your team that is the giant been killed. Liverpool fans should look away now as their recent loss to Reading is the latest addition to the list of famous giant killing exploits.
1969: Mansfield Town-West Ham United
In the days before the Premiership, English football was a lot more open and a team like West Ham United could have three World Cup winners on it. Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, who had won the World Cup for England, and their club West Ham were sitting in sixth place in the old first division. The hammers had drawn Mansfield Town in the old third division in the fifth round of the Cup.
The cultured football of the London club would be an automatic pick for the sixth round but the Stags had other plans. The game that had been postponed due to the bad weather was finally played in late February and the Hammers got the shock of their lives. The Stags beat the Hammers three goals to nil, and became the fourth club to record victories against teams in five different divisions of English football.
1972: Hereford-Newcastle United
"Ronnie, Ronnie" Radford, as the Hereford fans would shout, had the game of his life and wrote his name in F.A. Cup history as he scored a wonder strike to take the non-League side past first division Newcastle United in 1972.
The part-timers had traveled to Newcastle's, St James' Park and come a way with a creditable draw after taking a first minute lead. The draw took the Toon Army to Hereford's Edgar Street ground, for the replay.
The Southern Area league team achieved their magnificent giant killing feat with a stunning strike from Radford in front of a capacity crowd but this was after many postponements due to the Edgar Road pitch having the playability of porridge, covered with a crusty skin. The normal silky skills of the Toon Army were nullified because of the pitch, and the Bulls took full advantage of home field advantage. winning the game two-one to go through to the fifth round proper.
That season Radford's wonder strike that leveled the scores was voted goal of the season in England.
1975: Leeds United-Wimbledon
Wimbledon's exploits in the 1974/5 season were phenomenal, but technically speaking Leeds United weren't giant killed. However, the victory over Burnley, at Turf Moor in the third round proper was the first time a non-League side had beaten a top flight team on the first division clubs home ground.
Wimbledon then got the juicy tie of reigning first division champions Leeds United at Elland Road. The Don's managed a fantastic nil-nil draw with Wimbledon, keeper Dickie Guy saving a penalty from Scotland's striker Peter Lorimer to take the game to a replay.
Unfortunately, for the Dons they would travel no further in the Cup that season loosing to the Peacocks by a solitary own goal, in front of 40,000 fans at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park ground. The Don's, Plough Lane was deemed too small by the clubs so chose to play at Palace's ground to maximize the amount of fans that could see the tie.
However, it was the start of a meteoric rise that would see them ultimately winning promotion from non-League all the way to the first division of English football. In a twist of fate the club would end up playing at Selhurst park on a regular basis because of problems with their Plough Lane ground that would ultimately see the club leaving London for good in 2004, for Milton Keynes and re-named Milton Keynes Dons.
1978: Blyth Spartans-Stoke City
The Spartans had beaten Chesterfield in the third round proper to get a mouth watering clash against Stoke City in the fourth round. The Potters were riding high in the second division after relegation the season before but in a battling performance the Spartans managed an historic three-two victory at Croft Park, Blyth.
In the fifth round they drew Wrexham where they managed a battling one-one draw to take the tie back to the North East. In front of 42,167 fans at Newcastle's St James' Park they couldn't go that extra mile and lost two-one, to go out of the Cup.
1989: Sutton United-Coventry City
Eighteen months after lifting the F.A. Cup at Wembley Stadium, Coventry City headed to Sutton United's Gander Green lane ground.
The blues were having a great season and riding high in the first division but Sutton United weren't over impressed and came out two-one winners with goals from local heroes Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan.
Unfortunately, the Gambians couldn't go any further as they were thrashed 8-0 at Carrow Road by Norwich City.
Wrexham were sitting in 92nd place in the old fourth division, the last spot in the football league. In stark contrast to Wrexham's plight, the Gunners were flying high as leaders of the first division and reigning champions.
Micky Thomas the tiny Welshman didn't see the gulf in class and proceeded to have the game of his life and a return to his former heady playing days when he played for Manchester United.
The Red Dragons were trailing after Arsenal's Alan Smith had put the Londoners in front but Thomas struck a screamer past David Seaman to level the scores, and with time running out, up popped Wrexham's Steve Watkin to give the Welsh club a famous victory.
2003: Shrewbury Town-Everton
Everton hero Kevin Radcliffe was to haunt his old club when the Toffee's traveled to Shrewsbury's Gay Meadow ground. Everton were 80 places higher up the league when they played but that counted for naught.
The ex-Nottingham Forest player and Shrew's captain Nigel Jemson scored two to send Everton out of the cup by two goals to one. Everton were clearly the favourites with the precocious talents of Wayne Rooney and England goal keeper Richard Wright in the side but it wasn't enough for the Mersyside team.
When Shane Long of Reading scored to give Reading the lead, ten minutes into extra time, Liverpool's main hope of a trophy for the 2009-10 season went with it.
This wouldn't be some people's idea of a giant killing act, with Reading a Premiership side only two years ago but with Liverpool's shock loss to the Royals it could have huge ramifications for the Reds.
Rafa Benitez tenure at Anfield is getting weaker day by day after getting knocked out of the Champions League and sitting in seventh place in the division and his key players forced out by injuries it would seem that the loss to Reading could be the catalyst to reign as a top four powerhouse club coming to an end.