Seventh-tier Hastings United FC and fellow non-league outfit Mansfield Town FC are among the sides looking to add their names to the illustrious history of the FA Cup third round this weekend. One of the absolute highlights of the football calendar, the entry of England's big guns into the world's oldest cup competition ensures the potential for banana skins aplenty. UEFA.com looks back on five of the most eye-catching upsets in FA Cup history.
Hereford United FC 2-1 Newcastle United FC (aet), 1971/72
It may have been called off five times, but this was more than worth the wait. There were two postponements leading up to an initial 2-2 draw at St James' Park, and a further three before the Edgar Street return. Even then it was a pitch which had all the hallmarks of an almighty upset; the Southern League side did not fail to deliver.
Though Malcolm Macdonald broke the deadlock for Newcastle late on, Ronnie Radford's blistering equaliser forced extra time. Ricky George, a part-time carpenter, came on just before that goal in place of Roger Griffiths, who had played on despite breaking his leg earlier in the game. George then struck the decisive blow in extra time to etch his name into FA Cup folklore. "For me to regard the experience as less than the greatest moment of my life would be insulting to the dreams of millions of school kids – it changed my life," said George.
AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United FC, 1983/84
Harry Redknapp has since taken teams to Wembley, San Siro and the Santiago Bernabéu, but Dean Court is where he cut his managerial teeth. Though Ron Atkinson's United side headed to the south coast as FA Cup holders, they were never at the races against their third division hosts. Milton Graham put Bournemouth in front on the hour and Ian Thompson added a second minutes later, with United unable to respond.
"Credit to Harry for making a bunch of third division journeymen totally believe in themselves," said Thompson. "We played out of our skins and that's down to him. He got the best out of us by designing a system around our strengths and making us believe in it."
Sutton United FC 2-1 Coventry City FC, 1988/89
Less than two years after lifting the trophy for the only time, Coventry suffered the ignominy of defeat by non-league opposition. Seven members of the side which triumphed over Tottenham Hotspur FC in the 1987 FA Cup final also featured against Sutton, but the visitors' superior pedigree mattered not. Though Captain Tony Rains laid the foundation for victory, David Phillips soon drew Coventry level and it was left to Matthew Hanlan to take Sutton through to the fourth round.
"It was back to work on Monday," said Hanlan. "I was working as a self-employed bricklayer at the time, which was fortunate because I was booked to appear on the [Terry] Wogan show that evening and so had to leave at lunchtime."
Wrexham AFC 2-1 Arsenal FC, 1991/92
Undoubtedly one of the greatest FA Cup giant killings of all time. Wrexham had finished rock bottom of the fourth tier the previous season, but somehow summoned the strength to knock out the champions of England. Such an upset looked even less likely when Alan Smith put the Gunners in front, but the match was turned on its head in the final ten minutes.
Wrexham captain Mickey Thomas, 37 at the time, drew Wrexham level with a thunderous free-kick, before Steve Watkin completed the turnaround by squeezing the ball past David Seaman. "I live off what happened on that day," said Thomas, who returned to Wrexham to finish a career which had also started there. "I don't care what anyone else says; it is, for me, the greatest ever FA Cup shock. It's day that no one who was there will ever forget."
Shrewsbury Town FC 2-1 Everton FC, 2002/03
Shrewsbury's position 80 league places below their visitors ensured this had ample makings of an upset, though the presence of Everton's most successful captain, Kevin Ratcliffe, in the Shrewsbury dug out added further spice to the occasion. It was Ratcliffe's own skipper, Nigel Jemson, who put Shrewsbury in front, but Niclas Alexandersson looked to have salvaged a replay for Everton. Jemson, though, had the final say with a dramatic header two minutes from time.
"Sometimes you need a bit of luck, but I don't think we did today," said Ratcliffe. "We deserved it. The last thing I said was 'Don't show them any respect. Get out there and get at them'. "
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