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Bradford join Europe's humblest finalists

Published: Friday 22 February 2013, 10.52CET
As Bradford City AFC plot another top-flight scalp in the English League Cup final, sees how other third and fourth-tier teams fared on their cup final appearances.
Bradford join Europe's humblest finalists
Bradford celebrate a goal against Aston Villa in the semi-final ©Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 22 February 2013, 10.52CET

Bradford join Europe's humblest finalists

As Bradford City AFC plot another top-flight scalp in the English League Cup final, sees how other third and fourth-tier teams fared on their cup final appearances.

When Bradford City AFC walk out at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to play Swansea City AFC, they will do so as the first fourth-division club to contest the English League Cup final since Rochdale AFC in 1962.

The Yorkshire side will be aiming for their fourth Premier League scalp of an extraordinary cup odyssey, having vanquished Wigan Athletic FC, Arsenal FC and, in the semi-finals, Aston Villa FC. However, as discovers, they are not the only lower-league team to have experienced a European domestic cup final. 

26 April 1962: Rochdale AFC 0-3 Norwich City FC
1 May 1962: Norwich City FC 1-0 Rochdale AFC
It was not until the semi-finals that 'Dale encountered first-division opposition in Blackburn Rovers FC, who were heading through on away goals until a late strike in the second leg kept the dream alive. Second-tier Norwich would deny the Lancastrians in the two-legged League Cup final, though.

4 March 1967: Queens Park Rangers FC 3-2 West Bromwich Albion FC
Watched by almost 100,000, third-division QPR caused perhaps the biggest League Cup shock to date as they rallied from two down to defeat their top-flight opponents. Goals from Roger Morgan, Rodney Marsh and Mark Lazarus toppled the holders in the first League Cup showpiece staged at Wembley.

15 March 1969: Arsenal FC 1-3 Swindon Town FC
Don Rogers was the hero with two extra-time strikes as third-tier Swindon condemned the Gunners to their second successive League Cup final reverse. Like QPR, Swindon's triumph in the competition remains their only major piece of silverware.

7 May 2000: FC Nantes 2-1 Calais RUFC
Having downed LOSC Lille, AS Cannes, RC Strasbourg and FC Girondins de Bordeaux, fourth-tier Calais – the first amateur club to get to the French Cup showpiece – finally fell to Nantes at the Stade de France. Ladislas Lozano's team threatened an almighty upset when Jérôme Dutitre secured a first-half lead, but two Antoine Sibierski goals – his second a 90th-minute penalty – restored normality.

28 April 2012: Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 US Quevilly
Third-division Quevilly captured the imagination by defeating SCO Angers, Ligue 1 heavyweights Olympique de Marseille and Stade Rennais FC, only for Lisandro to block their path to cup glory in Paris. "The feeling I'll keep forever from the final will be the fans in this stadium," said Quevilly coach Régis Brouard. "It was magical."

12 June 1993: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-0 Hertha BSC Berlin II
Hertha's reserves overcame holders Hannover 96 and another Bundesliga team 1. FC Nürnberg to make the final. In front of 76,000 at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, a third-tier side featuring future Leverkusen and Germany midfielder Carsten Ramelow had no answer to Ulf Kirsten's header. "We are going to cry a little, but then we will start to celebrate," said Hertha coach Jochen Ziegert.

14 June 1997: VfB Stuttgart 2-0 FC Energie Cottbus
A week after clinching a first-ever promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, Energie became the second amateur selection to play the German Cup final. However, a Stuttgart team containing the 'Magic Triangle' of Krassimir Balakov, Fredi Bobic and Giovane Elber, whose double settled the game, were a class apart.

26 May 2001: FC Schalke 04 2-0 1. FC Union Berlin
Jörg Böhme's brace gave the Royal Blues the first of back-to-back cup triumphs at the start of the millennium, but with Schalke having qualified for the UEFA Champions League as Bundesliga runners-up, Union became the first club from German football's third level to compete in the UEFA Cup. They lost to PFC Litex Lovech in the second round. 

22 June 1983: KS Lechia Gdańsk 2-1 GKS Piast Gliwice
"We were invited for an audience with Pope John Paul II in Castel Gandolfo," goalkeeper Tadeusz Fajfer told, recalling Lechia's celebrations. After winning promotion to the third tier days before the final, Marek Kowalczyk scored the decisive goal against Piast. The Polish Super Cup followed after a 1-0 victory over KKS Lech Poznań, but a European Cup Winners' Cup tie against Juventus ended less impressively. "We lost 7-0 and 3-2, but I was beaten by great players like Michel Platini, Paolo Rossi and Zbigniew Boniek, and that year Juve won the trophy," said Fajfer.

13 May 2006: Heart of Midlothian FC 1-1 Gretna FC (aet, Hearts win 4-2 on pens)
After Gretna became the first third-tier team to participate in a Scottish Cup final, it seemed the fairy tale would have a happy ending when Ryan McGuffie's penalty cancelled out Rudi Skácel's opener for Hearts. But the Jambos prevailed on spot kicks after extra time. "I really thought it was going to be our day with the way the game was going, but the players gave everything and that's all you can ask," said Gretna boss Rowan Alexander.

25 July 1948: Råå IF 6-0 BK Kenty
As 1948 was an Olympic year, the Swedish football authorities decided that Allsvenskan teams would not figure in the cup that season. With home advantage – the final was held in Helsingborg – second-flight Råå overwhelmed Linkoping-based Kenty from the third division. The match ranks as the greatest moment in either club's history.

Last updated: 24/02/13 11.47CET