10 Most Infamous FA Cup Upsets

Peter Webster@@petercwebsterContributor IIIJanuary 26, 2012

10 Most Infamous FA Cup Upsets

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    The FA Cup still has magic.

    Despite attempts by certain managers and clubs to belittle a great English footballing tradition, it still has magic.

    Ask any fan who's team has upset the odds and beaten a team three divisions above them whether the FA Cup has magic and they'll tell you yes.

    Some fans don't want promotion or playoffs at the end of the season, they just wish for a good cup run and good luck to them.

    Deciding which are the 10 most infamous FA Cup upsets of all time is a tough call, but one I enjoyed researching.

    With a huge game between Liverpool and Manchester United looming this weekend, ask any Liverpool fan whether the game means less to them than it does for Watford fans who face Tottenham Hotspur and you'll likely get a short response.

    Everyone enjoys a cup upset, as long as your team isn't on the losing end, so let's take a walk down memory lane and enjoy 10 Most Infamous FA Cup upsets.

Sutton United vs. Coventry City 1989

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    The third round of the FA Cup in 1989 saw non-league Sutton United pitted against top tier Coventry City who had won the competition two years prior.

    Coventry were third in the division at the time of playing this game and their side featured eight of the cup winning team of 1987.

    Sutton United's Tony Rains was the first to make an impression as his headed goal sent shock waves through the ground.

    Coventry rallied and scored the equalizer through David Phillips and most people thought Coventry were starting to kick into gear.

    It was not to be though as Sutton's Matthew Hanlon had other ideas.

    A short corner was played and the ball was fizzed in from out wide. Steve Ogrizovic missed his chance to cut it out allowing Hanlon the simplest of headers and stake a claim in FA Cup folklore.

    Sutton went through to the next round after the 2-1 win and were promptly hammered by Norwich 8-0.

    The match highlights are available by clicking above. Apologies for the rather cheesy 80's disco music that accompanies it to begin with.

Manchester United vs. Exeter City 2005

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    2005 saw non-league Exeter City travel to Old Trafford to face then Cup holders Manchester United.

    Whilst United's starting line up wasn't akin to that of their normal league side, Alex Ferguson did introduce the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes to aid the already fielded Tim Howard, Wes Brown, Kieron Richardson and Phil Neville.

    It was all in vain though as Exeter held firm throughout the match and forced the Champions to a replay on away turf after the game ended 0-0.

    Even though Exeter lost the replay 2-0, the gate receipts coupled with added media coverage and donations meant that the club was able to get themselves out of debt and rebuild their financial strategy.

    The video above shows the highlights of that magical day at Old Trafford.

Wrexham vs. Arsenal 1992

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    Yes it's disco music time again folks and coverage of then third division Wrexham playing against League One Champions Arsenal in 1992.

    All was going to plan for Arsenal as Alan Smith scored to put them one-nil to the good.

    Arsenal were still ahead with 10 minutes to go before Wrexham's Mickey Thomas lashed home a free kick from 25 yards to upset the Gooners.

    With Arsenal still wobbling from the blow, Wrexham pushed on and secured their passage into the next round with a scrambled goal from 20 year old Steve Watkin.

    Don't believe me? Check out the video for yourself.

Mansfield Town vs. West Ham United 1968

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    West Ham United were sitting in sixth place in the First Division when they played lowly Division Three Mansfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round in 1968.

    West Ham boasted three World Cup winning players in their team in the form of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, alongside a couple of youngsters named Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking.

    Mansfield weren't fazed at all by the names on the team sheet and took the lead after just 22 minutes when Dudley Roberts scored the opener.

    Many were expecting a West Ham fight back, but Mansfield were the ones to draw blood again, this time in the form of Ray Keeley who struck an excellent volley into the back of the net on 38 minutes.

    Mansfield went in at the the break two-nil to the good but they weren't finished there.

    Nick Sharkey put the icing on the cake as he added a third and sent the Stags into the FA Cup quarter final and gave them their first ever victory over first division opposition.

Barnsley vs. Chelsea 2008

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    Barnsley had already beaten Liverpool one-nil in the previous round of the FA Cup and were hardly fancied to repeat the matter against an impressive looking Chelsea side who were the then Cup holders in 2008.

    Chelsea looked solid from the outset and fielded some high profile players such as Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda, Nicholas Anelka, Joe Cole and Michael Essien, but they couldn't find a way past Barnsley's stubborn defence.

    In a classic piece of commentary, John Motson stated "Odejayi wouldn't mind a diagonal cross here"

    That's exactly what Odejayi got, and he rose like a salmon to head home the only goal of the game in the 66th minute.

    It was Kayode Odejayi's first goal in 29 games for Barnsley and the first time Barnsley had reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup since 1912.

    Want some perspective of that time frame? 1912 was the year the Titanic sank.

Bournemouth vs. Manchester United 1984

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    Ron Atkinson's side were challenging for the league title, and Bournemouth - managed by a young Harry Redknapp - were still in the Third Division.

    Despite Manchester United going out of the Milk cup a few weeks earlier to another Third Division side, no one expected them to come unstuck again.

    With a goalless first half over, 15 minutes into the second is where Bournemouth started to show their character.

    A fumbled corner was converted by Milton Graham - hardly a household name - and then one Bryan Robson made a mistake gifting a second opportunity to striker Ian Thompson who gleefully accepted the invitation and converted easily.

    Needless to say that the ground lit up in a frenzy, but a frenzy for the wrong reasons.

    Manchester United supporters spilled onto the pitch in an effort to halt the game, but they only succeeded in delaying what turned out to one of Bournemouth's greatest cup moments.

     Full time - Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United.

Burton Albion vs. Manchester United 2006

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    Similar to Exeter the year before, Burton Albion managed to halt the goalscoring prowess of Manchester United when they hosted the Lancashire team in 2006.

    Alex Ferguson's team was a strong one featuring names such as Tim Howard, Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, Louis Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and John O'Shea but they just could not break down the Albion.

    Even the introductions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney could not sway the tie as Burton Albion forced a lucrative third round replay at Old Trafford. 

    Manchester United went on to win the replay 5-0, but Burton fans wouldn't have minded that one bit.

    Enjoy Burton's first attempt on the video above.

Liverpool vs. Wimbledon 1988

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    In 1988, Liverpool were top of their class.

    They had cantered to the League Championship title and faced a Wimbledon side who had kicked their way to an FA Cup final through the bullying tactics of John Fashanu, Dennis Wise and current movie star Vinnie Jones.

    Wimbledon were un-fancied and outmatched, especially since they had lost to Liverpool comfortably in the league earlier that season.

    Liverpool's line up included Peter Beardsley, Steve Nicol, Nigel Spackman, John Barnes, Bruce Grobbelaar,  Alan Hansen, Ray Houghton and Steve McMahon to name but a few - some of the true legends of Liverpool FC.

    It was not to be for the Reds side though as John Aldridge missed the first ever FA Cup final penalty and Peter Beardsley had a goal ruled out for a foul.

    A Dennis Wise cross was headed home by Lawrie Sanchez in the 37th minute which was all that mattered on the day.

    The crazy gang went.......well crazy!

    Whilst the video above advertises an FA Cup DVD, it does serve the purpose of showing some excellent game highlights.

Shrewsbury Town vs. Everton 2003

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    Former Everton player Kevin Ratcliffe - then manager of Shrewsbury Town - entertained his former club at Gay Meadow in 2003 and subsequently dumped the Toffees out of the third round of the competition.

    There was a whopping 80 places between the two clubs in the football league at the time so nobody was expecting any kind of upset despite Everton playing away from home.

    Clearly Shrewsburys Nigel Jemson hadn't read the script before going onto the pitch as the Shrews striker curled home a free kick in the 38th minute to put his team one-nil to the good.

    The lead lasted until almost the hour mark.

    Substitute Nicholas Alexandersson came on for Everton at half time and made his impact by finishing neatly from a Scott Gemmill pass.

    Everton then had chances to go on and finish the game but they couldn't put the tie to bed.

    Shrewsbury kept plodding away, and with a replay at Goodison park looking likely, Jemson met Woan's last minute cross to head home the winner and put Shrewsbury into the fourth round with a 2-1 victory.

Stevenage Borough vs. Newcastle United 1998 and 2011.

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    In 1998, Newcastle United boasted English football's most lethal striker in Alan Shearer, and also fielded John Barnes, Steve Howey, Stuart Pearce and David Batty in their fourth round FA Cup match against non-league Stevenage Borough.

    The hosts could have been forgiven for collapsing early on as Shearer scored with his second touch of the ball and put Newcastle United ahead after just three minutes.

    Stevenage were made of stronger stuff than that though and equalised through Giuliano Grazioli in the 41st minute.

    Stevenage held on for a draw and returned to St James Park to try and finish the matter.

    Grazioli was injured though and Stevenage were dumped out two-one by Newcastle.

    Stevenage had to wait until 2011 for revenge as the two teams were pitted against each other again, this time in the third round of the FA Cup.

    Stevenage made sure first time around on this occasion by securing a three-one victory which perhaps surpassed the feats achieved back on that great day in 1998.

    The video above provides great insight into the 1998 tie and it's replay.

After Thoughts

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    The first thing I'm expecting in the comments section below will be "what about X vs. Y" or "why didn't you include the X game vs. Y in 1960 whenever....."

    The fact of the matter is there are just too many great FA Cup upsets to include in such a small slide show.

    If the club you support was involved in a magical day and I haven't included it - I extend my sincere apologies.

    It's really great to see a Championship side find their way into the League Cup Final this year, and I certainly hope that the FA Cup can bring similar fortunes for another underdog.

    The best of luck to all of you and your teams and thanks for reading.

    On twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all my b/r content, and click here for some light hearted reading about 16 players you'd let marry your daughter.