Football

/ Features

  • Vote for your greatest FA Cup comeback

FA Cup Poll - Greatest Comebacks

John Brewin
February 11, 2013

To coincide with ESPN's coverage of the 2012-13 FA Cup in the UK and Ireland, we are asking you to vote on our shortlist of greatest ever FA Cup moments. We'll announce the results of the poll as part of our all-day, live build-up to the 2013 FA Cup final.

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED - Thanks for all your votes, tune in to ESPN TV on FA Cup final day for the results.

Blackpool 4-3 Bolton (Final, 1952/53)

The great Stanley Matthews had twice been a losing finalist in a competition considered the pinnacle of club football at the time; as his Blackpool side prepared to face Bolton, much of the pre-match focus had been on whether he would end his long wait for success. It appeared Matthews was destined to remain empty-handed. The late, great Nat Lofthouse had given Bolton a lead in the second minute and, while Stan Mortensen levelled at 1-1, goals from Bobby Langton and Eric Bell had made it 3-1 in the 55th minute. Blackpool, though, produced an inspirational performance as the game entered the final 20 minutes, with Matthews at the heart of it. Mortensen made it 3-2 with 68 minutes on the clock and, while many supporters left the ground thinking the match over, he completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute with a free-kick. In injury time, Matthews beat two defenders before pulling the ball back for Bill Perry to make it 4-3.

Everton 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday (Final 1965/66)

With Beatles John Lennon and Ringo Star in attendance, Everton won a contest that would surely have left a more enduring imprint on English football in 1966 had a rather memorable display from Geoff Hurst and Co not upstaged it two-and-a-half months later. Wednesday swept into an early lead through Jim McCalliog, before David Young added a second. But it was soon to become to be a final of firsts. There had been many raised eyebrows at Everton's inclusion of Mike Trebilcock, a winger who had played just a handful of reserve games since returning from a serious injury, ahead of England international forward Fred Pickering. But it proved a masterstroke from Catterick as Trebilcock became the first black player to score in a Wembley final and then promptly scored another as Everton equalised. The Toffees became the only side to have overturned a two-goal deficit to win an FA Cup final in normal time - thanks to a howler from Gerry Young. The centre back slipped attempting to control a long ball, letting in Everton winger Derek Temple, who beat 'keeper Ron Springett.

Tranmere Rovers 4-3 Southampton (5th Round Replay 2000/01)

The view from the ESPN team

  • DEREK RAE
  • Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers: Stanley Matthews got his FA Cup winners medal at last but only after an amazing Blackpool fight back at Wembley. This final saw the great man at the age of 38 at his dribbling best. Trailing 3-1, Blackpool's dream had turned into a nightmare. Matthews set up 3 goals in the final 20 minutes to see off Bolton. Everton 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday: Evertonians of a certain age will remember this final fondly. It had been 33 years since last Everton had lifted the Cup. The Merseyside club came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Derek Temple's winner came courtesy of an unfortunate slip by Wednesday's Gerry Young. With Beetlemania in full swing, Paul McCartney and John Lennon attended this Wembley final. Tranmere Rovers 4-3 Southampton: One of the most astonishing comebacks in recent FA Cup history. It handed Tranmere a quarter-final tie against Liverpool to boot. Maybe we should have seen this one coming. Rovers had eliminated no fewer than 6 top flight clubs from major cup competitions in the previous 18 months. But losing 3-0 at the break is not usually a recipe for FA Cup success. Whatever John Aldridge said to his players at the interval, had the desired effect. Paul Rideout stole the show with a hat trick on a night that will live long in the memory: except if you're a Southampton fan.

John Aldridge had a chequered history with that FA Cup after missing a penalty in one FA Cup and scoring in another while a Liverpool player. The Tranmere Rovers team he managed gained a considerable reputation as a cup team, reaching 2000's League Cup final, and the quarter-final of the FA Cup the same year. The next year, they could meet Liverpool at that same stage if they beat Glenn Hoddle's Southampton. At half-time, Aldo's dream of taking on his beloved Reds was all but gone. Slick Southampton breezed into a 3-0 lead, with goals from Hassan Kachloul, Jo Tessem and the late Dean Richards. Aldridge spent half-time haranguing his team, and Tranmere were transformed. A blowy Prenton Park soon became the scene of a complete switch in fortune. Veteran former Saint Paul Rideout got the first in the 58th minute, his second in the 71st and his third on 80 minutes. Hoddle's team were in pieces and could not hold on. Stuart 'Barndoor' Barlow, a striker known for an unfortunate profligacy in goal, discovered his shooting boots to send Aldo into wild celebrations. A date with Liverpool now awaited.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-4 Manchester City (4th Round Replay 2003/04)

The view from the ESPN team

  • DEREK RAE
  • Tottenham Hotspur 3-4 Manchester City: I watched this game on a freezing winter afternoon in New England. I was based at the time at ESPN HQ in Connecticut. Spurs were in complete control at half-time, leading 3-0 and City down to 10 men following Joey Barton's red card. With the tie seemingly over, I was about to crack on with other work. It's a good thing I didn't! Quite how City did it, I'll never know. one of those great FA Cup experiences for a neutral. Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool: I'll always remember this one as the first FA Cup final ever played in Cardiff. It was also the first managerial meeting of two men from outside the British Isles in an FA Cup final. When they finally took the lead through Freddie Ljungberg, Arsenal appeared to have done the hard part. I recall a wonderful save by Sander Westerveld to deny Thierry Henry shortly after that. Liverpool left it late but Michael Owen's late double saved the day for them.

Manchester City produced one of the greatest comebacks in FA Cup history as they came from three goals and a man down at half-time to beat Tottenham 4-3. Ledley King, Robbie Keane and Christian Ziege appeared to have booked Spurs a fifth round tie at Manchester United with goals inside the first 43 minutes, especially as Joey Barton was dismissed after the half-time whistle for dissent dished out in his usual style. But City gave a stunning second-half performance and won the replay with goals from Sylvain Distin, Paul Bosvelt, Shaun Wright-Phillips and a stoppage time header from Jon Macken. Kevin Keegan's team had looked dead and buried but the master motivator turned Barton's stupidity into the inspiration for the highlight of his reign at the club. Keegan hailed City's amazing 4-3 victory as "the cup tie of my lifetime" and a "triumph over adversity". "If we can play like that with 11 men then nobody will beat us, so bring them all on." City lost to United in the next round.

Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (Final 2000/01)

Perhaps the greatest year in Michael Owen's career was 2001, even outstripping the breakthrough he made in 1998. He ended it with the Ballon D'Or, after his famous hat-trick against Germany in September, but his greatest afternoon in a Liverpool shirt came in the FA Cup final's first ever staging at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Arsenal were at a high Arsene Wenger watermark, and played Liverpool off the park with wave after wave of attack. Thierry Henry was at his peak, but wasteful in front of goal. Liverpool were forced to mount a desperate rearguard action, with Sami Hyypia outstanding. Arsenal finally scored through Freddie Ljungberg, and might have done so again had Henry not been denied by Sander Westerveld, making up for the error that led to Ljungberg's goal. Enter Owen. First he jabbed home the ball when Arsenal had made the most of a corner from Gary McAllister, and then he ran onto a raking pass from Patrik Berger, put on the afterburners to fly past Tony Adams and Lee Dixon. Using his unfamiliar left foot, he arrowed the ball past despairing David Seaman. Owen had snaffled the Cup for Liverpool.

ESPN has live and exclusive coverage of three matches from the FA Cup fifth round including Luton Town v Millwall on Saturday February 16, Manchester City v Leeds United on Sunday February 17 and Manchester United v Reading on Monday February 18. ESPN Classic will offer up a range of classic FA Cup programming before and during every round in the tournament proper featuring matches and special documentaries on the world's oldest domestic cup competition.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Close