FA Cup 1988-89

This season’s FA Cup is a pivotal milestone in the history of the game.

No-one can, or should, ever forget the events of 15 April 1989 at a football stadium in the city of Sheffield.  As a result of them, 96 people lost their lives.

After the disaster it was decided that the competition would be continued.  With Everton already in the final by virtue of their 1-0 win over Norwich at Villa Park, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were required to play their semi-final at Old Trafford.  After a 3-1 win for Liverpool it was another all Merseyside final and what a day it would prove to be.

After the preliminaries, such as Gerry Marsden leading the singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the match set off at a cracking pace.  John Aldridge opened the scoring on just 4 minutes – then Neville Southall proceeded to keep the Blues in the game until the final minute of full time before Stuart McCall scored his first equaliser to take the game into extra-time.

Into extra-time and now it was the turn of Ian Rush to grab another slice of the limelight.  After 5 minutes he took Steve Nicol’s chipped pass into the penalty box before swivelling to slot the ball past his Welsh International colleague in the Everton goal.  But Everton and Stuart (not Steve, Motty) McCall weren’t finished and on 12 minutes he received a headed clearance from Kevin Ratcliffe’s floated free kick to flash an unstoppable volley past Grobbelaar.

Unfortunately for Everton, neither was Ian Rush and with just a minute of the first period of extra-time remaining he stooped to guide John Barnes’ pin point left wing cross just inside the far post to make it 3-2.  This time Everton could not respond so, fittingly, the Cup went to Liverpool for their fourth win.

FA Cup 1987-88

This one was a shock and no mistake.

There can’t be much more of an unlikely FA Cup winning team than Wimbledon FC in 1988.  Of course the FA Cup throws up surprises but this was just so far off the radar as to be the FA Cup Shock of Shocks.

The 1987-88 season in the football league was a breeze for Liverpool.  They did not lose a game until Sunday 20 March, thus equalling Leeds United’s 29 game record for an unbeaten start to a season.  The Reds had enjoyed 8 wins by four or more goals and had lost only two games – both away – at Everton (1-0) and Nottingham Forest (2-1).

Anyway, what of the final itself?  Well Liverpool felt that they should have scored when Peter Beardsley scored in the first half, only for referee Brian Hill to bring play back for a free kick for a foul on Beardsley.  What turned out to be the winning goal was scored by Lawrie Sanchez from a left wing free kick by Dennis Wise.

It was perhaps as if referee Hill was trying to put right his first half indiscretion when he awarded Liverpool a second half penalty, but Dave Beasant leaped to his left to deny John Aldridge.  This was the first ever penalty save in an FA Cup Final and probably put the tin hat on the cup being won by the Crazy Gang.

Pick of the other giant killing acts was probably the 4th round match at Vale Park where Spurs were sent packing, tails well and truly between their legs by Port Vale’s 2-1 win.

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FA Cup 1986-87

I’ll bet they drink Carling Black Label.

So went the ad – offered a great opportunity by the fact that the odd Spurs player went through the first half of the final without the name of their sponsor, Holsten Pils, adorning their shirts.  The fact that Coventry City won the Cup could only make matters worse.

It was a great final.  Goal machine Clive Allen put Spurs ahead after just 2 minutes with only his 49th goal of the season.  I’ll just repeat that for you, his forty-ninth goal of the season.  Dave Bennett got the equaliser for the Sky Blues on 9 minutes.  Then, Gary Mabbutt put Spurs back in front with just five minutes to go before half time – unfortunately for Gary this wasn’t to be his last goalscoring contribution.  Keith Houchen levelled scores with THAT header on 64 minutes before the game ran out to a 2-2 finish.

As the game moved into extra-time Gary Mabbutt scored the winner – for Coventry – after deflecting Lloyd McGrath’s cross over Ray Clemence.  Spurs therefore experienced their first ever loss in an FA Cup Final and Coventry won their first even major honour.

In earlier rounds, holders Liverpool were thumped 3-0 by Luton Town in a second 3rd round replay after two nil-nil draws and a no-show by Luton for the original playing of the first replay.  Coventry’s own cup run saw them win at 1-0 Old Trafford in the 4th round followed by a similar win at the Victoria Ground in the 5th and then a 3-1 away win against Sheffield Wednesday before a 3-2 semi-final win over Leeds United at the same venue.
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FA Cup 1985-86

The Cup Final of 1986 was the first ever all Merseyside affair.  Ultimately, it was the Reds, Liverpool who prevailed.  Gary Lineker had given Everton the lead just before the half hour mark, and in a largely undistinguished first half they had looked quite in control.

Things seemed to be going Everton’s way in the second half too, as tensions came to a head in the Liverpool defence with Bruce Grobbelaar’s infamous rant at young Irish full back Jim Beglin.  However, Liverpool had been crowned League Champions only a week earlier, so it was no surprise when Ian Rush equalised just before the hour and then Craig Johnston added a second a few minutes later.  When Rush made it 3-1 with less than 10 minutes to go, Liverpool became only the fifth team to win the Double.

The semi finals had seen Liverpool defeat Southampton at White Hart Lane, whilst Everton had accounted for Sheffield Wednesday at Villa Park.  Brighton and Hove Albion had kept up their recent good run of form in the FA Cup, this time making it through to the sixth round.  Perhaps the biggest shock of the competition had come in the 3rd round when Altrincham had knocked out Birmingham City who were then in Division 1.

FA Cup 1984-85

Of course, the 1985 final is probably best remembered for the sending off of United’s Kevin Moran, the first player ever to be sent off in a Cup Final.  How much was down to referee Peter Willis’s desire to get his own name into the record books and any malicious intent on the part of Moran is debatable.  Everton’s Peter Reid, the man fouled by Moran certainly didn’t feel that it merited a sending off.  Especially, happening as it did with seconds to spare at the end of the 90 with the teams locked at 0-0.

Everton were going all out for the FA Cup to add to the League Championship won days earlier.  Had they managed to win the fabled League and FA Cup double, they would have been only the fifth team to do so, following on from Arsenal, Spurs, Aston Villa and of course Preston North End.  However, United’s young Northern Irishman, Norman Whiteside spoiled the party for his future employers with a curled winner 10 minutes from the end of extra time.

Millwall were the team of the earlier rounds, knocking out both Chelsea and Leicester City before succumbing to Luton Town in the quarter finals.  The semi finals featured another heavyweight battle as United prevailed over Liverpool in the replay at Maine Road after a 2-2 stalemate at Goodison Park.  Everton saw off Luton’s challenge at Villa Park.

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FA Cup 1983-84

What is your memory of the 1984 Cup Final?  Mine is missing the second half because I had to go and do my Saturday afternoon paper round.  Ho ho ho, what bad planning…

Perhaps the most vivid memory of this year’s competition was the mass of green that was Villa Park’s Holte End, occupied by the Plymouth fans at their semi versus Watford.  You have to remember that this game was played in those halcyon days before the big four exerted their monopoly of the game in England.  (etymological point – can a group of four exercise a monopoly, surely, quadropoly…?)

If I remember correctly Everton’s second goal came about from a barge on the Watford ‘keeper by Sky TV’s football pundit Andy Gray.  Gray’s fellow Scot Graeme Sharp had put the Toffees ahead on 38 minutes.  All in all, Everton were able to impose their playing style much better on the game than Watford.  That was probably because Everton actually had a playing style.

The earlier rounds had seen another defeat of Liverpool by Brighton and Hove Albion and another home win over Ipswich Town for Shrewsbury Town.  However, this season’s biggest shock had been the third round victory of Harry Redknapp’s Bournemouth over Man Utd.  Thus we saw the beginnings of Redknapp Snr’s seemingly effortless ability to put teams out to beat United in the Cup.

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FA Cup 1982-83

Well well well.  What an exciting competition was served up this year.  Oh yes.  The season served us up a proper classic.  With proper giant killing feats.  Giants with a ‘G’ were slain this year, oh yes sir.  But as is so often the case one of the Giants went on to win the Cup.

The most romantic element of the competition this year was the journey of Brighton & Hove Albion to the final.  Suffering a dismal league season (they were relegated from the 1st Division) in the third round they knocked out Newcastle United.  Despite their being in the 2nd division, they must have fancied their chances against Jimmy Melia’s side after a 1-1 draw on the south coast.  However, a single goal was enough for Brighton to progress.

In the 4th round they came up against and thumped Man City at the Goldstone Ground.  In the 5th round, the biggest fish of all, Liverpool… at Anfield.  Brighton pulled of the shock of this, or any other season to run out 2-1 winners against Bob Paisley’s men.  This set up a quarter final versus Norwich City in which again a single goal was enough to see Brighton through.

In the semi finals Brighton played Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury and ran out 2-1 winners, whilst Man Utd were pulling of a similar feat against Arsenal at Villa Park.  And so it came to pass, that Man Utd were up against Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup Final.

Continuing a recent theme, extra time couldn’t separate the two teams, so despite Gordon Smith’s best effort (‘…and Smith must score…’ – he didn’t!) we had to settle for another replay.  This time, the season had caught up with Brighton and after Bryan Robson had set them on their way in the 25th minute United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.

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FA Cup 1981-82

The 101st FA Cup competition didn’t end in such dramatic fashion as the 100th.  It did end in another victory for Spurs though, after another replayed final.  After extra time, the first game ended 1-1.  In the replay a Glenn Hoddle penalty after 6 minutes was enough to defeat QPR.

The semi final line up saw Spurs take on Leicester with Garth Crooks and Ian Wilson seeing off Leicester City at Villa Park. At Highbury in the battle of the TLA’s, future Spurs hero Clive Allen’s single strike was enough for QPR against WBA.

In the quarter finals Leicester had finally put an end to Shrewsbury Town’s dramatic run.  The Shrews had seen off Ipswich Town in the previous round in an act of giant killing.  Previously they had beaten Burnley and Port Vale.  In the second round, non-league Altrincham had beaten Sheffield United who were playing in what was their only ever season in the bottom division in the Football League.

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FA Cup 1980-81

This is of course the year that Villa won the cup in the 100th staging of the competition.  However, you would be excused for thinking that it was Aston Villa.  Oh no, this was Tottenham’s Ricky Villa.  We all remember it.  He trudged off, disconsolately, after being subbed in the original final (a 1-1 draw with Man City – more of which later).

He scored Spurs’ first goal in the replay, and after Garth Crooks had equalised at 2-2 with 20 mins left, he waltzed through the City defence (heavy pitch, Wembley) before slotting the ball past Big Joe Corrigan for a 3-2 victory for Spurs.

Now, Mr Tommy Hutchinson was the hero and villain of the drawn final.  First he scored the City’s goal with an absolute peach of a diving header past Ray Clemence.  Then just as City were beginning to believe that the Cup could be theirs, with 10 minutes left poor Tommy deflected the ball past Big Joe to give Spurs the lifeline that they ultimately used to such advantage.

In the semis, City beat Ipswich 1-0 in I guess what was a run-of-the-mill kind of game.  However, Spurs needed a replay to see off Wolves, beating them 3-0 at Highbury after a 2-2 draw at Hillsborough.

Perhaps the funniest moment in the earlier rounds had been the 4-0 stuffing handed out to Newcastle by Exeter City in their 5th round replay at St James’s.  Perhaps the only consoltation being that St James’s Park is also the name of Exeter’s ground.  And it is an awful long way to Devon from Tyne and Wear.

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FA Cup 1979-80

Question, if Sunderland won it in 1979 and Villa won it in 1981, who won the FA Cup in 1980?

Answer, Sir Trevor Brooking, or just Trev as he was known then.  Easy.  Do you remember it?  I do, he stooped to conquer after only a few minutes, on the left hand goal as you watch on telly.  I think though that Arsenal had had just about enough of the FA Cup by this stage.

This was after all, their 3rd consecutive Final, having lost to Ipswich and Roger Osborne in 78, and having memorably defeated Man Utd in 1979 – you must remember Alan Sunderland’s winning goal with seconds to spare, only seconds after Utd had pulled it back to 2-2…

And in this season’s semi, Arsenal had taken 4 games to defeat Liverpool, finally running out 1-0 winners after the 3rd replay at Highfield Rd.  West Ham had needed just the one replay to see off Everton at Elland Rd.

Just briefly looking at the earlier rounds, we saw an almighty shock in the 3rd round when Leicester City, then of the 1st Division were beaten by Harlow Town.  There was another shock with Wigan beating Chelsea, also in the 3rd round.

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