We’re rapidly approaching the business end of this year’s FA Cup competition, with the big boys coming out to play in January. And of course, with that comes the prospect of some giant killings, which - let’s be honest - are the big draw if you’re watching as a ‘neutral’. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest FA cup shocks that have happened over the years.
We’ll start with the most recent - last year’s competition saw non-league side Sutton United manage to beat Championship side Leeds with a 1-0 win. Amazingly it wasn’t a smash-and-grab either. Despite Leeds enjoying the majority of possession, Sutton managed five shots on target to Leeds’ three. And we can’t forget that there was a gap of 83 places between the two sides.
And while we’re still talking about Sutton, we might as well cover their other big upset from back in ‘89. This time they managed to edge past then top-flight team Coventry City in a thrilling encounter. To make the result even more of a feat, Coventry had won the FA cup less than two years previous, and it would take a quarter of a century for another non-league side to defeat a top division team.
We can’t decide which aspect of this match was best. The end result, Bradford’s insane comeback, or the fact that Mourinho said prior to the match that it would be a ‘disgrace’ if they lost. Either way, Bradford coming back from two goals down to defeat Chelsea by two at Stamford Bridge is simply incredible.
Twenty-four years after Sutton managed to beat Coventry, non-league Luton Town edged out Premier League side Norwich City at Carrow Road. The goal came just 10 minutes before time from the boot of substitute Scott Rendell. Luton became only the ninth non-league team to make it into the fifth round of the competition.
Who could forget surprise 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan? A single goal in stoppage time was all it took to down City, who despite being defending Premier League champions, put in a terrible display. Amazingly, Wigan also managed to get themselves relegated from the top flight the same season, despite the cup win being their only major trophy win in history.
This wasn’t just a case of David v Goliath; it was the Crazy Gang v English football’s elite. Liverpool had just wrapped up the title in the top tier while Wimbledon, known for their tough on-field antics as much as their exuberant performances off it, were seen as a team of misfits. Lawrie Sanchez headed the only goal of the game while Dons keeper Dave Beasant saved a penalty from Liverpool’s John Aldridge to seal the fairy-tale story.
And finally, we finish with another incident in which the reigning English champions were put out by supposedly lowly opposition. This time it was Arsenal, who suffered a shock defeat to Wrexham, four divisions below. Despite leading for almost all of the match, Wrexham managed to smash two goals past Arsenal in the last ten minutes.