Origins of the FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup is responsible for bringing all clubs big and small from across the country together to play in one competition. It is said to be “organised football’s founding father.”
In 1863 the Football Association was created to help govern, solidify and implement a standard set of rules for football clubs in England. Going forward into the early 1870s football clubs were still only playing friendlies locally and looking no further beyond their own regions. This is when Charles W Alcock, the secretary of the FA decided that as a national body they needed to implement a nationwide tournament to bring clubs from across the country together to play each other.
In 1871 at a FA committee meeting Charles Alcock proposed a national tournament by mentioning “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete.” Thereafter a knockout tournament was agreed upon and all clubs belonging to the association nationwide were invited. At the end around a dozen teams took part with the first fixtures taking place on 11 November 1871. The final occurred in March 1872 with Wanderers Club defeating Royal Engineers at Kensington Oval, London.
Then in 1923, the FA Cup was moved to the Empire Stadium at Wembley, a purpose-built stadium for hosting international games and the FA Cup final. This stadium was completed just before the FA Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United. The much-anticipated match at the new venue drew the biggest crowd ever recorded being around 126 000 – many believe it was twice as many inside the stadium. The crowd was so large that spectators had to be cleared from the pitch before the game could start. From here on the FA Cup grew to what it is today with the Final being played at the upgraded Wembley Stadium.
We look back at the biggest upsets in FA Cup history
This year’s semi-final between the Wolves and Watford produced one of the biggest comeback upsets in the history of the FA Cup, thus we decided to look into past years to pick out the best upsets.
Wimbledon vs Liverpool, FA Cup Final 1988
This was said to be the greatest FA Cup final of all time. Wimbledon came into the match as the clear underdogs on the biggest stage in football. Wimbledon had reached the height of their existence setting up a great spectacle against Liverpool. Wimbledon better known as “The Crazy Gangs” went into the lead through Lawrie Sanchez and went on to hold out the game after goalkeeper Dave Beasant became the first keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final. What a feat for the first division team defying the odds stacked against them.
Wigan vs Manchester City, FA Cup Final 2013
Manchester City had risen to the top of English football making their comeback as one of the giants of the game and were definitely the favourites going against minnows Wigan.
Wigan reached the final having never won a major title in the history of their club spanning 81 years. A late header sealed the game for Wigan making history in the process. Having won the FA Cup, Wigan went on to lose to Arsenal in the Premier League becoming the first club to clinch the FA Cup title and get relegated in the same year.
Recapping this year’s Semi-Finals
Manchester City vs Brighton
This match was always going to be a David and Goliath battle with an in-form Man City dominating world football going up against underdogs Brighton. The first couple of minutes certainly made up for the rather underwhelming atmosphere at Wembley stadium. Kevin De Bruyne put in a superb cross that connected beautifully with the head of Gabriel Jesus who headed the ball into the net. Man City proceeded to dominate the rest of the half but struggled to put together final phases in the last quarter of Brighton’s side of the field. Brighton started to pick up the pace at the end of the half with Anthony Knockaert troubling City’s defense with his quick feet.
The game picked up in the second half with Shane Duffy’s header being cleared by City’s Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling’s long shot being pushed away by Matthew Ryan. Then Brighton searching for an equalizer had Jose Izquierdo force a comfortable save by Ederson. In the closing stages of the match, City had a final chance through a Raheem Sterling counterattack that was well dealt with by keeper, Ryan.
This is the first time Man City has reached the FA Cup Final since 2013. City is looking to become the first English club to win the quadruple and are one step closer to achieving this having made it to the final of the FA Cup to add to their title in the League Cup.
Watford vs Wolves
This encounter was a completely different affair with an electrifying atmosphere in the air at Wembley with the stadium packed with the vibrant colours of the two teams resembling everything that the FA Cup stands for. Watford produced one of the greatest comebacks in FA Cup history coming back to win from 2-0 down in extra time in a spectacle that tested the nerves of players, managers and supporters alike.
Wolves looked to be in control throughout the match with goals coming in the first and 2nd half through Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez. With a comfortable lead late into the 2nd half, wolves started to take their feet off the gas becoming more defensive.
This change in tactic and some controversial substitutions seemed to spur on Watford who had a new sense of last chance desire that resulted in a bit of brilliance from substitute Gerard Deulofeu, who flicked the ball into the corner netting past goalkeeper John Ruffy in the 79th minute. The momentum had suddenly shifted in Watford’s favour as a late penalty that was reviewed and then awarded was calmly slotted by none other than talisman Troy Deeney. The game had been forced into extra time and none other than super sub Deulofeu who started the comeback was the one to have the final say as he silenced Wolves fans with the winner that sealed the game.
This was a special victory for veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes who will most likely be playing his last game in the FA Cup final. What a send-off it will be if Watford can win the title. Watford will be motivated to win their first title having reached their 2nd FA Cup final in 138 years. They last played in the final in 1984.
Performances like these just show that football’s oldest competition is still relevant and has its role to play in English football when looking towards the future of the game.
It now all comes down to the final between Manchester City and Watford, who will reign supreme and lift the trophy this year?0