The oldest football competition in the world, the FA Cup boasts a serious track record of making (and shattering) dreams, and turning underdogs and unknowns into heroes.
Should your team make it to the final, football immortality is pretty much assured – particularly if they emerge victorious. But that isn’t always the case. Nerves and tension often take hold, and with neither team wanting to give anything away, 1-0 victories are all too frequently ground out.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate the damp squibs and the forgotten men who fired their teams to victory.
Ben Watson (2013)
Wigan 1 Manchester City 0
Frequently confused with that other red-headed midfield workhorse Steve Sidwell, Ben Watson gave Wigan fans a moment to cherish when his stoppage time header upset hot favourites Man City in 2013. It was a no more than Wigan deserved – Arouna Koné and Callum McManaman’s speedy counter attacks rattled a City side who had finished the Premier League season as runners-up to Manchester United. Wigan, on the other hand, had just been relegated.
Portsmouth 1 Cardiff City 0
Mismanagement and blowing millions on flops like Nadir Belhadj and John Utaka led Portsmouth to a painful plummet down the football league. How different things could’ve been if they’d been a bit more sensible after 2008’s FA Cup final victory over Cardiff. A solitary goal from Kanu was sweet reward for the Nigerian striker, who was an unused sub for Arsenal’s 2003 win against Southampton.
Paul Rideout (1995)
Everton 1 Manchester United 0
Manchester United had just lost the Premier League title to Blackburn when they faced Everton in the 1995 final. All pundits were predicting a mauling for the Toffees, with Alex Ferguson after a response following league failure. They didn’t bank on Joe Royle’s Everton parking the bus and nicking a first-half goal from Paul Rideout. To relieve pressure later on in the game, the ageing Rideout was subbed off and on came Big Dunc Ferguson to act as a release valve as Everton hoofed the ball skyward.
Lawrie Sanchez (1988)
Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 0
Probably the most famous cup final upset of all. Many fans recall Dave Beasant’s dramatic penalty save from John Aldridge, but memories are foggier when it comes to the winning goal scorer. It was in fact Lawrie Sanchez, whose deft header redirected Dennis Wise’s corner into the back of the net. Sanchez later became an FA Cup hero in management, guiding Wycombe Wanderers to the semi-final in 2001 after a famous victory against Leicester City.
Lee Martin (1990)
Manchester United 1 Crystal Palace 0
Manchester United’s 1990 FA Cup victory is a landmark moment for the Red Devils. Alex Ferguson was reportedly close the the sack when Mark Robins’s goal saw off Nottingham Forest in the third round. Fergie saved his job by the skin of his teeth, and United eventually won the cup after a 1-0 replay victory against Crystal Palace. Their goal scorer? Left back Lee Martin, who only managed two goals in his entire career. If you’re going to do it, might as well do it in some style.