Famous FA Cup Final Shocks Part One

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The final of one of, if not the most famous cup competitions is almost upon us once again. Shocks of course can happen at any stage and the final is no different. Over the years there have been many great games and many famous upsets. It captures the hearts of fans from every corner of the world and it’s what makes this occasion great. Here is a look back at some of the famous shocks of the FA Cup final.

For famous FA Cup shocks round three to the semi-final please click on the following links.

Round Three Part 1

Round Three Part 2

Round Four

Round Five

Quarter Finals


Famous FA Cup Final Shocks Part One

Tottenham 3-1 Sheffield United, 1901

This may not look like much of a shock but back in 1901, Tottenham were a non-league side while United were a force in the game. The Blades had won the cup two seasons prior and were odds on to record a second cup final victory. After a 2-2 draw in the final in which over 110,000 crammed into Crystal Palace, the two sides met for the reply at Bolton Wanderers ground, Burden Park.

Just over 20,000 saw the replay due to rail companies refusing to put on cheap rail travel. The Tottenham fans who did pay to travel would not be disappointed. Spurs took the game to United but fell behind in the 40th minute against the run of play, Fred Priest scoring for United.

The second half continued with Spurs pressing and after 55 minutes they levelled the game through player/manager John Cameron. An unlikely victory now seemed possible and when winger Tom Smith scored in the 76th minute the dream looked like it could become reality.

With only a few minutes remaining, forward Sandy Brown sealed the most unlikeliest of victories. Brown was the first player to score in every round of the cup and this helped Tottenham Hotspur become the first non-league team to lift the famous trophy. Although Sheffield United had been beaten they came back strongly, returning to the cup final one year later, this time winning it for the second time in their short history.

Cardiff City 1-0 Arsenal, 1927

The FA Cup at the time was often referred to as the “English Cup” and for a team outside of England to win was a major shock. It remains the only time a non-English side has succeeded in taking the cup out of the country.

Over 90,000 attended Wembley on 23rd April 1927 for what was also the first cup final to be broadcast on radio. Arsenal, under new manager Herbert Chapman, were one of the most feared teams in the country and were favourites to win. Cardiff, though, were not to be taken lightly. They even adopted a black cat. Striker Hughie Ferguson believed she was a good omen after finding the cat wandering astray.The Bluebirds coach came under siege when it arrived at the stadium due to Arsenal supporters throwing leeks at it. This may have made them even more determined to win.

The first half was all Arsenal as they created various opportunities but could not find a breakthrough. The second half began as the first finished with Arsenal on the attack but as time wore on City came more into the game, creating chances for themselves.

In the 74th minute Cardiff managed to do what Arsenal had been threatening to do all afternoon: score. City’s star striker Ferguson shot from just outside of the penalty area, but the shot had little power and an easy save seemed the only outcome. As the Arsenal keeper Dan Lewis went to pick the ball up it somehow slipped under his body and into the net. The goal was enough for City to win the game, lift the cup and take it back to Wales.

The goal famously became known as “The Howler” with conspiracy theorists claiming that Lewis, a Welshman, was aiding his fellow countrymen. Lewis himself claimed that the ball slipped due to his new goalkeeper’s jersey being too greasy and this stopped him from gripping the ball properly. Arsenal to this day wash their keeper’s top pre-match to limit the chances of another “howler”.

Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United, 1973

This is probably the most famous cup final of all time. Second Division Sunderland were massive underdogs heading into this game. They had already beaten star-studded sides such as Manchester City and Arsenal but the then mighty Leeds United, managed by ex-Sunderland player Don Revie, were predicted to give the Black Cats a footballing lesson.

Leading into the game many fans and pundits alike were predicting a big victory for a team that were the current FA Cup holders, would finish third in the league that season and get to a European final. The great Brian Clough famously predicted that “Leeds cannot possibly lose” and others had already labelled the men from Wearside as plucky runners-up even before a ball was kicked. Sunderland were about to prove them and many others wrong.

The game started at a frantic pace with tackles flying in. Sunderland did not let United settle and had the better of the opening exchanges. As the first half wore on both sides were creating chances but without really troubling the opposition keeper. However on 31 minutes the only goal of the game came, and not to the team that the majority predicted it would go to. Sunderland’s Billy Hughes swung in a deep corner, the ball broke to Ian Porterfield who volleyed it, right footed into the back of the net to send Mackems at Wembley and back on Wearside wild.

After the goal Sunderland grew in confidence and Leeds’ frustrations were there for all to see. However, United at the time were a top team and everyone knew that they would not lie down. They pressed forward in the second half and what happened is still talked about to this day and will do for generations.

Leeds’ left back Trevor Cherry had a diving header excellently saved by Jim Montgomery in the Sunderland goal. Peter Lorimer followed up to surely score the equaliser, but somehow Montgomery threw himself along the goal line and pushed the ball onto the crossbar. This astonishing double save is seen by many as the greatest save ever seen at Wembley Stadium.

Although Leeds continued to press forward Sunderland still created chances but those final few minutes must have seemed like an eternity to the Sunderland players and supporters. The final whistle finally blew and the images of manager Bob Stokoe in his mac and trilby hat running across the pitch and captain Bobby Kerr lifting the trophy will live long in the memory of those not just in Sunderland, but football supporters everywhere.