It’s FA Cup weekend again, as plenty of teams gear up to try and squeak through to the fifth round of this year’s competition. Who’s going to win this year’s trophy? Well, more than likely it’ll be one of your usual suspects again: Chelsea, City, United, Liverpool, Spurs or Arsenal. They all, rather obviously, lead the way with the bookmakers. But, hey – we could be in for a shock à la Leicester City’s Premier League triumph last year, couldn’t we?
After all, there have been plenty of surprising FA Cup winners down the years. The thing is 145 years old, after all. And while the big boys have dominated of late, there have been quite a few winners of the famous trophy down the years that may well surprise you. And we’re not just talking about the likes of Wolves, West Brom and Preston. We’ve gone back through the archives and fished out some real shockers. Here’s what we found, starting from the beginning…
Royal Engineers (1875)
Let’s go back. Waaaaaaay back… 142 years back, in fact. The FA Cup was in its infancy and being competed for by teams like the successful Royal Engineers here and teams like ‘Old Etonians’. It was those two in the final and the Engineers nabbed it 1-0. As their name suggests, the winners were an army side and it was goals from Captain Henry Renny-Tailyour that proved telling here.
Wanderers (1872, 1893, 1876, 1877, 1878)
‘Wanderers’. You might not have heard of them. But they still exist and play out of London (not Bolton, that’s a different lot). They reformed in 2009, with the original club having dissolved even before Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of Whitechapel. Anyway, they’re known, confusingly enough, as ‘Rovers’ and were dominant in the 1870’s, winning the ‘Football Association Challenge Cup’ five times.
Old Etonians (1879, 1882)
You won’t find the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson winning the FA Cup these days, but back in the 1800’s the alumni of posh boys boarding school, Eton, proved to be successful. They managed to reach the final six times over nine years, and were the last amateur club to win the cup in 1882, beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0.
Clapham Rovers (1880)
Clapham Rovers, formed in 1869, had a bit of an identity crisis. Being a ‘hybrid club’, they played football one week and rugby the next. Football won out however, as one of their biggest successes was winning the FA Cup in 1880, beating Oxford University 1-0. The previous year they lost out to the ‘Old Etonians’ and held the record for the youngest player to play in an FA Cup final. That record was theirs all the way up until 2004 when it was beaten by Millwall’s Curtis Weston.
Old Carthusians (1881)
Another posh boarding school club, ‘Old Carthusians’ were made up of alumni of Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. Back in the day, the league was rather dominated by northern teams, so ‘Old Carthusians’ became the most southern team to get involved when they formed in 1876. They won the cup in 1881, beating previously mentioned ‘Old Etonians.’ A proper posh-off.
Blackburn Olympic (1883)
From posh to, well, Blackburn. Back in 1883, Blackburn Olympic (not to be confused with Rovers…) beat the aforementioned ‘Old Carthusians’ in the semi-final. Pundits promoted the game as the ‘patricians’ versus the ‘plebeians.’ The proles proved their worth, being the first real working class team to go on and win the thing.
Notts County (1894)
Finally a club we recognise. Current League Two team, Notts County, hold the record as being the oldest association football team in the world, forming in 1862. Back in the 1800’s they were a bit more successful, winning the cup in 1894, beating Bolton Wanderers 4-1. Jimmy Logan was to thank for this victory, scoring only the second hat trick in FA Cup final history.
Bury (1900, 1903)
Going back up north, here we have another club we actually know. Currently playing in League One, the club, much like Notts County, had more success in its early years, winning the FA cup twice in 1900 and 1903. The club still plays out of Gigg Lane, it’s home since 1887, where the first shed was built for the princely sum of fifty quid.
Cardiff City (1927)
Going west now, to Wales. A country more renowned for its love of rugby, Cardiff City joined the Southern Football League back in 1910, moving to the Football League in 1920. The team are at its best on home soil, winning the Welsh Cup on 22 occasions (for pretty obvious reasons). However they also boast the title of being the only team to have won the FA cup from outside of England, defeating seasoned FA cup finalists, Arsenal, 1-0 in 1927.
Charlton Athletic (1947)
Nowadays they’re a also-ran League One outfit being run into the ground by a despotic Belgian billionaire. A decade ago, they were flying high in the Premier League, battling for a European place. But the pinnacle of the SE7 club’s achievements? Their post-war 1-0 FA Cup victory over Burnley. The Addicks (or ‘The Valiants’ as they were known back then) avenging a 4-1 extra time final defeat to Derby County the year before.
Ipswich Town (1978)
John Wark was the driving force behind this cup-winning Ipswich side. We best remember him for his appearance in Christmas film classic, Escape to Victory. But his career highlight must surely be this 1-0 Wembley victory over Arsenal.
Coventry City (1987)
The most modern entry on our list, we could have added in Wimbledon and Portsmouth, but we figured you’d know about their surprising wins. This one saw our underdogs beat off stiff competition from Spurs, who had never lost a final. Until this one which saw the Midlanders triumph 3-2 after extra time.
You can watch the fourth round of this year’s competition live at Rileys. Visit our website for a list of sport that we’re showing this weekend.