Category Archives: The FA Cup

Southampton FC: 1976 FA Cup Winners

Today we salute the 1976 FA Cup winners Southampton FC, who would rise to the occasion and in another example of a David vs. Goliath match, without the bible of course. In front of a crowd of 100K, United would put a massive amount of pressure on the Saints’ keeper Ian Turner. An early crossed shot by midfielder Steve Coppell saw Turner bobble the ball, a sure goal, only to be saved when two Red Devils hesitated to put the ball home. Gordon Hill went on the attack at what looked like a smashing lob, until Turner snatched the ball away and denied Hill and United what looked to be the go ahead goal. This gave the Saints a small kick in the pants they needed, as they regrouped and were able to finish out the first half with out going down a goal or more to United

“ Why do the goals all seem to come when you’ve nipped off to the loo? ”- Jasper Carrott, singer, in his song Cup Final, on the ’76 SFC FA Cup goal

It was Southampton who would come out in the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net as Mick Channon and David Peach came close. However, it was Man U who squandered the best chance of the match so far, when Sammy McIlroy’s header hit the woodwork. A close call for the Saints led to each club attacking several times, but managing not to put the ball in the back of the old onion bag. It wasn’t until the game was thought to be heading to extra time, when Bobby Stokes took off past the defense and scored. MU thought he was offside, but it was later shown through the replay that Stokes had timed his run perfectly, and on that run was able to place the ball extremely well into an unreachable corner of the net past United keeper Alex Stepney. It was this day that the Saints went marching into Wembley, beat the giants known as Manchester United, and rode that double tide back to Southampton with a trophy in the front of their bus, and medals around their neck. This of course, and a nod from the Queen herself. A huge shock in the world of football and a first piece of silverware for Southampton.

We hate Nottingham Forest
We hate Liverpool too
We hate Manchester Utd
But Southampton we love you

Southampton FC v. Manchester United 1976 FA Cup Final

Southampton Return Home After Winning the FA Cup


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Giant Killers: Hereford United

With this weekend’s focus turned to the FA Cup, I figured I’d go back and visit possibly the best FA Cup upset in history. Let’s go back to 1972, with Hereford United v. Newcastle Utd. in a 3rd Round Replay. Newcastle came into the tournament in the third round, while Hereford United had to enter by beating Cheltenham Town, a replay with King’s Lynn, and finally Northampton Town. After a 2-2 draw at St. James Park (the match was postponed a few times due to inclement weather, namely rain), Southern League’s own “The Bulls” hosted the Magpies at Edgar Street. With a little over 14,000 seats sold, the front office sold extra tickets, and the actual tally of spectaors is not know. Let’s just say it was over capacity. Check the people who climbed high in the trees to see this replay, most likely one of the best matches to ever take place at the grounds. With all the rain that had been falling, the pitch was in utter shambles. It did not get any better as match time grew near, and once the two clubs took to the pitch, it never got better.

Newcastle may or may not have been running their mouth about the match, and Malcolm MacDonald was to have allegedly said that he would be scoring an upwards of ten goals at the replay at Edgar Street. That is not confirmed. What is confirmed is that the traveling back and forth by Newcastle United due to the weather was definitely a factor in how they played against the Lilywhites that day. Both teams went for it early in the match, but could not score a goal. Late in the first half, MacDonald looked to be on the way, or at least 1/10th of the way when he finally scored. The goal, however, was called back, and due to a harsh foul Newcastle got a free kick. A tough few minutes ensued for Hereford, with an errant clearance that resulted in two Magpie shots rebounding off the wood work. The next few chances for both teams were exciting, as each club had goals taken away by the woodwork, or in Hereford’s case, saved by great goal keeping from Fred Potter. MacDonald and Newcastle turned up the heat. Despite an open goal miss by Mac, much to the chagrin of the Newcastle supporters and to the relief of Hereford’s, the pressure continued. Newcastle would finally go ahead with a goal by MacDonald in the 82nd minute. Hereford were not down and out. A substitute by player/manager Colin Addison of midfielder Ricky George for Roger Griffiths (who had played 80 long, painful minutes with a broken leg on the mess of a pitch) proved to be a move he would not regret. His fresh legs and cardio would be a turning point in the short minutes left in the match. He took part in setting up a Ronnie Radford 30 yard shot that went right to the back of the old onion bag at the 85th minute, three minutes after Newcastle’s opening goal. A young, green, John Motson was calling the match and exclaimed that the ball “flew into the top corner of McFaul’s net!”. A voice that would become synonymous with football for years to come. Of course this goal would force the match into extra time, where Ricky George would become the hero by scoring in the 103rd minute, and a gutsy Hereford squad would hold on to win the match. What followed after, was nothing short of madness. A massive pitch invasion on the small ground that was replayed on the telly for quite some time. It just goes to show you that no matter how big or small your club is, anything can happen on the pitch during the FA Cup. In 1972, Hereford United were giant killers, their motto of “Our greatest glory lies not in never having fallen, but in rising when we fall” rang true. The colorful history of English football and the beautiful game was alive and well then, and it still is now.


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The Crazy Gang of Wimbledon FC

Coming a long way from the 1889 founding of Wimbledon Old Central Football Club, Wimbledon FC would finally make it to top flight football and get promoted to the first division in the 1985-86 season. After hanging around in non-league play for the better part of eleven years, a virtually unheard of side moved up to the big league and faced a modern day football giant in the FA Cup, the great Liverpool FC. Liverpool had seemingly dominated the world of football. With on pitch scientists like player/ manager Kenny Dalglish, plus tacticians such as Peter Beardsley, Steve Nicol, Alan Hansen, John Barnes, and Steve McMahon, the Reds were looking to do their second domestic double in just three years (beating Merseyside rivals Everton two years prior 3-1, and also the year after 3-2 in extra time). This particular Liverpool team had dominated everyone home and abroad, and were on a tear as one of the greatest Liverpool teams put together. Indeed it was an incredible football team. Who were Wimbledon FC? A group of rag tag, rough and tumble, scrappy players led by a menacing 6’2″ Welsh midfielder Vinnie Jones (who came from Wealdstone F.C. to Wimbledon). Dubbed the Crazy Gang because of the nature of pranks pulled throughout the season (founded by Wally Downes, who had been a staple at WFC since their plundering non league and lower division presence), no player was safe from the insanity, not even the gaffer. The practical jokes on each other boosted morale and kept the team together, while their unorthodox training techniques which included military tactics went right along with the pub punch ups, suit slashing, and other assorted tricks while they were off the pitch to round it all out.

“ If we can sell Newcastle Brown to Japan, and if Wimbledon can make it to the First Division, there is surely no achievement beyond our reach ”- Margaret Thatcher

Compared to Wimbeldon’s unorganzied and physical style of play, Liverpool’s calculated and tactical offense was predicted to smash Wimbledon. Their tactics can be summed up from Vinnie Jones, who claimed he would “rip off Dalglish’s ear and spit in the hole”. As match time approached, and the teams lined up in the tunnel, The Crazy Gang lived up to their name, intimidating and shaking Liverpool to the core (with shouts of “in the hole”, a direct reference to the Dalglish remark, which shook up King Kenny so much he conferred with an FA official about it on the walk to the pitch). It didn’t stop there, when shortly after the opening whistle Jones went in late on a challenge on the toughest Liverpool player, Steve McMahon. Slow to get up, this set the pace of the match, as Wimbledon showed the mighty LFC that they meant business. Jones would later admit that this was a planned move, a move to actually strike a psychological chord with the Reds. It worked. Led of course by Jones, and the black belt karate chopper John Fashanu the Dons terrorized the Reds in a way that they have never experienced on the pitch. Although LFC were on a high equaling Leeds’ 29 games unbeaten and just lifted their 17th championship trophy, the lads from Plough Road had scrapped their way up to face the giants at Wembley, and had them shook. Despite the Wombles rough play, their lapse in defense let Peter Beadsley push through, even while getting pummeled, to chip it over keeper Dave Beasant and put the Reds up 1 to nil. The play was called back, however, on an apparent foul on Beardsley, without playing advantage (referee Brian Hill claimed he may have blew the whistle a bit quickly in hindsight). This took a bit of wind out of Liverpool’s sails. Shortly before the half, as a result of a free kick from Dennis Wise, a Lawrie Sanchez header put the Wombles up 1 to nil. Bobby Gould’s scrappy side was up at the half against the team favored to win by four or five goals easy.

The second half started out with controversy, when in the 61st minute, Clive Goodyear took down John Aldridge in the area and was awarded a penalty. The result was the first ever penalty save in FA Cup history by keeper and captain Dave Beasant. Nobody could save the Reds now, not even John Barnes. The ex-Watford star had dazzled fans with his dribbling and precise finishing all season. Clearly frustrated with the marking and tackling of Wimbledon (along with the double teaming of him by Clive Goodyear and Dennis Wise), he could not execute his usual gun slinging and get the ball in the back of the net. As final whistle blew, commentator John Motson proclaimed: “The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culure Club, Wimbledon have destroyed Liverpool’s dream of the double”, and Wimbledon’s weird and wonderful world was there for the whole football public to see. The day that WFC won the FA Cup from Liverpool was the single, greatest moment in the club’s history. However, it wouldn’t last, as most of the players would move on to bigger and better clubs, and in just three short years the team would lose Plough Lane (forced to share a stadium with Crystal Palace) and start their eventual plummet from top of the world back to lower division football. A move to Milton Keynes split up their supporters, so much that they [the supporters] formed a new club, AFC Wimbledon. A sad tale of another football club succumbing to the financial woes and pressure of keeping up with clubs with unlimited funds to keep their roster stacked with productive players, proper stadiums to accommodate the club, and a draw to generate the necessary income to stay afloat. However, on May 14th, 1988, The Crazy Gang of Wimbledon held the trophy high, a feat though impossible for them by everyone except themselves.


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