• Vote for your top FA Cup upsets

FA Cup Poll - Giant Killings

John Brewin
December 28, 2012

To coincide with ESPN's coverage of the 2012-13 FA Cup in the UK and Ireland, we are asking you to vote on our short-list of greatest ever FA Cup moments. We'll announce the results of the poll as part of our all-day, live build-up to the 2013 FA Cup Final.

A word from ESPN's Ray Stubbs: "These are some of the timeless results that define why the FA cup is the greatest knock out competition in the world. Way against the odds the mighty fall to the endeavour and spirit of a small club whose players have the day of their sporting lives. It's such a personal thing to pick a moment that is special to you and it might not feature in this list of 5, but please take a look, one might jump out ."

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED - Thanks for all your votes, tune in to ESPN TV on FA Cup final day for the results.

Sutton United v Coventry City: third round 1988-89

The view from the ESPN team

  • Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City: The pipe-smoking giant killer! Unfortunately for Sutton, they seemed to use everything up in this tie, losing the next one 8-0. Bet they didn't mind too much though. Colchester United 3-2 Leeds United : It's not in my lifetime but to think that Don Revie's team were beaten by a bunch of veterans!

Coventry City had ended a trophy-barren history by winning their first major honour in lifting the FA Cup in 1987 after a final with Tottenham Hotspur that remains one of Wembley's greatest matches. They were also a First Division outfit of over 20 years standing. Sutton United meanwhile, were a non-league Conference club from the outer reaches of Greater London. Coventry, under the management of Cup-winning boss John Sillett, were also enjoying their joint-best season in the First Division, yet they came a cropper at Gander Green Lane.

A team featuring most of the boys of 1987 fell behind to a goal from Sutton captain Tony Rains before David Phillips equalised after half-time. It was Matthew Hanlon who entered the annals of giant-killing with his far-post volley past Steve Ogrizovic.

Colchester v Leeds United: fifth round 1970-71

Every era has a footballing dynasty and the prime outfit of the late '60s-early '70s was Don Revie's Leeds. The previous year had seen them lose in a final replay to Chelsea, but they were favourites to put right that wrong and claim their first ever FA Cup. After this visit to Third Division Colchester United, they would be made to wait until the following year. The 18th minute saw Leeds keeper Gary Sprake err for veteran former England striker Ray Crawford to nod in. Seven minutes later, Crawford had another, a snap effort nudged in as he lay on the ground after pandemonium greeted another lofted ball. And Colchester were three goals to the good when a collision between Paul Reaney and the hapless Sprake allowed Dave Simmons to steal in.

Leeds' pride was hurt deep and they fought back in typical style, Norman Hunter nodding in on the hour and John Giles making it a nail-biting finish with driven goal 17 minutes from time. But Colchester hung on grimly, never allowing Leeds to play their own game and securing a win that remains their most famous day. They still needed a late point-blank save from Graham Smith from Mick Jones to secure their place in history.

Bournemouth v Manchester United: third round 1983-84

The view from the ESPN team

  • Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United: I was at a game in Scotland when the news of this upset came through. The game that put a young Harry Redknapp's name out there. Remarkable day for the south coast team and their fans. Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United: I was just a youngster at the time but I recall this being the talk of English football for quite a few weeks and beyond. Quite simply, every FA Cup upset has a connection with Ronnie Radford, Ricky George and Colin Addison.

Harry Redknapp's first flush of fame as a manager came from this shocking victory over FA Cup holders United. Ron Atkinson's team may not have been the all-conquering outfit of the modern day but they were still an all-star outfit featuring the likes of Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside.

The Cherries, by contrast, were a collection of free transfers and cast-offs but they caught a sluggish United cold, especially when Milton Graham capitalised on an error from United keeper Gary Bailey to send Dean Court into raptures. And it was no less than Bournemouth deserved when Ian Thompson seized on a Robson clearance to end the visitors' reign. A shamed United were sent packing back to Manchester.

Wrexham v Arsenal: third round 1991-92

The view from the ESPN team

  • Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal: I first remember watching Mickey Thomas as a kid on an obscure late night US indoor soccer show which he was playing (for Wichita) in during the mid 80's and recognising his remarkable talent, despite the modest surroundings. He came back to the UK for one final hurrah, and this was it. His free kick that levelled the game is still one of the best I've ever seen. It's my first really indelible memory of giant killing to...watching it and thinking; did that just happen?

George Graham's Arsenal had finished the 1990-91 season as runaway First Division champions, losing just the one league match of 42. Wrexham meanwhile, entered this third round fixture as the bottom club of the entire Football League. Though the Robins tried their best to make this no stroll, an Alan Smith strike looked likely to secure the Gunners' progress, and Wrexham's Brian Carey later confessed his team deserved to be more goals down.

Yet a disputed free-kick eight minutes from time was cued up for veteran midfielder Mickey Thomas, once of Chelsea and Manchester United. Thomas, who would soon hit national notoriety for a money counterfeiting operation that led to his incarceration, thrashed in the equaliser with a howitzer of a shot. Arsenal were rocked, and two minutes later striker Steve Watkin grabbed the winner as he hooked his leg to guide the ball past David Seaman.

The Racecourse Ground had supplied an FA Cup shock that still resonates 20 years on; none has matched it for shock value since.

Hereford United v Newcastle United: third round 1971-72

This may be the most iconic FA Cup giant-killing of all, the quagmire pitch; fans taking vantage points up trees as Edgar Street was packed to its rafters; Ronnie Radford's thunderbolt equaliser as the BBC's John Motson, on one of his first appearances as a TV commentator, launched into the type of ecstatic explosion we would become rather accustomed to.

Radford's goal, celebrated with shirt hitched up around his midriff as he was engulfed in fans who had invaded the pitch, cancelled out a goal from Malcolm 'Supermac' Macdonald and set up extra-time in which Ricky George, forever known as "George the Substitute" after Motson's commentary, scored the winner. The pitch was invaded again, and Radford's strike, that year's Goal of the Season, will be replayed in perpetuity. It is probably the FA Cup's most famous goal of all.

ESPN has live and exclusive coverage of three matches from the FA Cup Third Round including Swansea v Arsenal and Mansfield v Liverpool on Sunday 6th January, plus Cheltenham v Everton on Monday 7th January. ESPN Classic will offer up a range of classic FA Cup programming before and during every round in the tournament proper featuring matches and special documentaries on the world's oldest domestic cup competition.

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