The oldest cup competition in the world FA Cup has a long and wonderful history. Fans and pundits love this cup and name its magical moments as “Cup Magic”. In its glorious, there have been many such moments. This cup also provides scope for great underdog stories. Especially FA Cup finals have produced few of the best underdog moments.
It does take a lot for underdogs to reach the FA Cup finals. Teams in the second or third division have to beat teams from their division along with the Premier League clubs in the latter stages. If they do manage to beat them and reach the final. When they do reach the FA Cup finals once in a lifetime opportunity awaits the underdogs.
An FA Cup final gives them a trip to Wembley, the Mecca of football. Their fans would be jumping to go to Wembley and support their side. If the underdog does manage to win the cup by slaying the favorite it is going to create history. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story in the cup?
FootTheBall brings you 5 of the best underdog stories from the FA Cup finals.
5) LEICESTER 1-0 CHELSEA FA CUP FINAL 2021
The recently concluded FA Cup finals between Leicester and Chelsea can be billed as a modern-day classic. The foxes were aiming to win their first-ever FA Cup continuing their rise in English football. Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel had a point to prove before the Champions League finals. The game also saw fans return for the first time in few months as the government eased Covid-19 restrictions.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 15, 2021
The game opened up nicely with Chelsea having better chances. Slowly they started to take control of the game but weren’t able to produce something tangible as the half ended 0-0. Leicester’s Youri Tielemans produced one of the best strikes in FA Cup finals as he shot a thunderbolt from 30 yards out. Chelsea thought they equalized late in the game as Olivier Giroud bundled home from close range. A VAR check ruled the goal out for offside. Leicester held on to win the game 1-0.
Leicester fans erupted with joy as the full-time whistle was blown. A first FA Cup triumph saw them celebrate endlessly with their owner on the pitch.
4) WEST HAM 1-0 ARSENAL FA CUP FINAL 1980
An FA Cup final and a London derby at that, nothing more needs to be said about its importance. West Ham United then in the second division played their London rivals Arsenal a strong force in the top division on neutral ground at Wembley. The hammers who were two-time FA Cup winners entered the game as massive underdogs.
Arsenal kicked off with their usual style of possession-based football. Their plan was to hold onto the ball and drag the opposition out of their shape and then force themselves. West ham had other plans as they won the ball in their own half and broke down the left-wing. Alan Devonshire crossed the ball into the gunners’ box which was turned in by Trevor Brooking after a goalmouth scramble in the 13th minute. West Ham then gave Arsenal a taste of their own medicine. They frustrated Arsenal by keeping the ball and finished the game 1-0.
The surprising triumph marked the 3rd FA Cup title for the hammers. It also marked their last major trophy and the last time a team from the second division winning the FA Cup.
3) WIMBLEDON 1-0 LIVERPOOL FA CUP FINAL 1988
A minnow London side going up against the mighty Liverpool meant blood. Liverpool were the kings of England again and were a monstrous force in Europe. Wimbledon on the other hand were just finding their feet in the league system. A rout was expected and Liverpool were dreaming of a domestic double already.
What unfolded on the evening was historic. The Dons went toe to toe with the Champions. Lawrie Sanchez headed a Dennis Wise freekick to give Wimbledon the lead. Liverpool threw everything they had to equalize. An inspired Dave Beasant in Wimbledon’s goal saved a penalty from John Aldridge. It was the first penalty save in the history of the FA Cup final.
The Dons defended for their lives and saw the game out. Their win shocked the English football. It sparked wild celebrations amongst the Dons fans as they won their first-ever FA Cup.
2) SOUTHAMPTON 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED FA CUP FINAL 1976
The Saints went in as massive underdogs against the formidable Manchester United. United finished 3rd in the league in the first division after a strong season. Southampton finished 6th in the second division and had a fairytale run in the cup.
A 100 thousand strong crowd graced the Cup Magic at Wembley on the first of May. Manchester United started the game strongly and had shown their attacking threat. Saints goalkeeper Ian Turner had to stand firm in goal to deny Gerry Daly and Gordon Hill. As the game was heading towards extra-time Bobby Stokes produced a moment of magic. He received Jim McCalliog’s paced and slotted it past United’s ‘keeper Alex Stepney. The goal saw the Saints run out 1-0 winners on the night.
It was the first-ever trophy in the history of Southampton football club. What a way to win your first-ever major silverware.
1) WIGAN 1-0 MANCHESTER CITY – FA CUP FINAL 2013
Roberto Martinez’s Wigan were hovering in the relegation zone before a FA Cup final date with Manchester City. City who have won their first league title in their history in 2012 failed to defend it in the following season. Roberto Mancini wanted his City side to grab the FA Cup as a consolation.
It was a cold evening in London as 85,000 odd crowd gathered at a rain-battered Wembley. City had the likes of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez in their lineup. They tried with their everything to break down a determined Wigan defence. Wigan were also showing their attacking intent. City’s Pablo Zabaleta who was already booked earlier committed another foul and got himself sent off. Wigan saw a window and went for the kill. Ben Watson headed home Shaun Maloney’s corner to stun the world just on the stroke of the 90th minute. City didn’t even have time to react and lost in incredible fashion.
The FA Cup triumph was a memorial one but soon after Wigan were relegated from the Premier League. They are the only team to win the FA Cup and get relegated from the Premier League in the same season. Manchester City on the other hand have sacked their manager Mancini as they failed in the league. Wigans stunning victory was named as the greatest FA Cup Final upset for a quarter of a century.
These are the best FA Cup finals underdogs moments in the history of the cup. Let us hope that we can keep on adding such moments in the future.