A look at the ten greatest FA Cup finals of all-time...
Commonly referred to as "the Matthews final", the legendary winger was aged 38 but rolled back the years to produce a marvellous display on the right wing that more than justified his "Wizard of dribble" nickname. Bolton Wanderers were actually comfortably ahead in the game, leading 3:1 with only 22 minutes remaining on the clock. Whilst Matthews tormented Bolton Wanderers on the flank, it was another Blackpool legend who bagged the goals, Stan Moretnsen grabbing a hat-trick to level things with a minute to go. Bill Perry completed the comeback three minutes later, grabbing a stoppage time winner after more Matthews magic on the wing. Done.
This classic FA Cup final would probably be much better remembered if it wasn't for the other notable Wembley final that took place in 1966. Everton found themselves two goals down against Sheffield Wednesday but produced a storming comeback, becoming only the second team to overturn a two-goal deficit in normal time in an FA Cup final (Blackpool in 1953 being the other). Jim McCalliog had put the Owls ahead after only four minutes, and when David Ford made it two-nil twelve minutes into the second half it looked like Sheffield Wednesday were well on their way to lifting the trophy. However, Mike Trebilcock wrote himself into Everton folklore as he pulled one back just two minutes later, and then equalised just five minutes after that. The Toffeemen had completely turned the game on its head, and with sixteen minutes to go the comeback was completed, Derek Temple capitalising on an unfortunate slip by Gerry Young to slot the winner past Ron Springett.
The best cup final since, well, see what's at number 1. A genuinely top class game that really was the first properly watchable final since Manchester United v Palace in 1990. It was refreshing because, for once, the underdog took the game to their superiors, unlike Millwall and Southampton in other Cardiff finals. The Hammers, led up front by a hastily patched up Dean Ashton, took the lead through a Carragher own goal and eventually led 3-2 going into injury time. However, a shattered Steven Gerrard summoned up a moment of magic with a rasping 30 yard drive into Shaka Hislop's net. Liverpool proved their knack of winning cup final shoot outs with a 3-1 victory, Zamora, Konchesky and Ferdinand being the fall guys for West Ham United. If this was to be the last Cardiff final, it was fitting that the Millennium Stadium finally got the match its surroundings deserved.
A high quality replay, the first since 1970, saw Tottenham triumphant. The match was particularly memorable for one marvellous goal and another that was even better. Steve MacKenzie scored with a terrific volley to give City the lead, but few remember that when compared with the winning goal. It was scored by the bearded Argentinian, Ricky Villa, after a majestic run through the heart of the City defence. It was a goal good enough to win a general election, let alone a football match. They might have sung about Ossie's knees going all `trembly' (rhymes with Wembley, geddit?) but it was his compatriot who reduced City to jelly.
Back in the days when the Cup Final was the king of the sporting calendar came the sort of game to remind us all of the power of this simple game. We all know the script by now... Sunderland had fallen on hard times and were in Division 2. They were total underdogs against cup holders Leeds United, a side that dominated the English game, but one that had developed a tendency to choke in big games. So it proved at a damp, claustrophobic Wembley. Porterfield scored the only goal and as Sunderland doggedly defended their lead Jim Montgomery produced arguably the greatest (double) save of cup history. At the final whistle Bob Stokoe set the template for the managerial on field dash, wearing magnificently crimson trousers while holding onto his pork pie hat.
"And Smith must score!" Well, actually, erm, no. The famous radio commentary hadn't reckoned with Gary Bailey's formidable presence in the United goal, preventing Scot Gordon Smith from securing a highly unlikely Cup victory. Brighton and Hove Albion had been relegated but their season was illuminated by a 5th round victory at Anfield and the reflection off Jimmy Melia's white shoes. Despite the loss of iconic captain Steve Foster, they fought heroically against far superior opponents. When Foster returned for the replay they lost. 4-0.
The year of the Snozz. John `Snozz' Sillett to be precise. He presided over a journeymen team of has-beens and never-will-be's to overcome the city-slicking, namby pamby London outfit. Sounds too clichéd to be true, and it is. This was a good City team beating a better Spurs through tactical discipline and strength of will. And Keith Houchen. His diving header is one of the defining images of 1980s football. It was memorable for me personally as I was the school bookie and everyone, including the school bullies, were backing Tottenham with their hard earned dinner money. Thanks Snozz.
This game was memorable for its truly epic conclusion. Arsenal were coasting to victory with goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton when all hell broke loose in the last 5 minutes. United pegged the Gunners back to 2-2 with goals from McQueen and McIlroy. Arsenal produced one last heave and Alan Sunderland had the legs to put away Brady's injury time cross, despite having the most wind resistant hairdo on the pitch.