The FA Cup has a propensity for providing drama, and there has been many a giant-killing. However, it’s also fair to say that England’s grandest and oldest domestic cup competition has been overshadowed by controversial moments, of which some have been mildly funny.
Anyway, ahead of the fourth round this weekend, Freebets would like to reminisce on five of the biggest incidents that provoked controversy.
Liverpool fashion disaster (1996)
Some footballers have a penchant for fashion, while others have rather questionable choices. The latter applied perfectly to Liverpool at the 1996 FA Cup Final. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say their attire at Wembley let them down. On their usual walkabout in the hours before kick-off, the Reds were spotted wearing cream Armani suits. The likes of Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman, and Robbie Fowler appeared to be rather relaxed, but it proved to be a fashion faux pas.
Unlike their striking suits, Liverpool’s performance failed to hit the heights against Manchester United. A late Eric Cantona volley gave United the trophy, and they completed a domestic league and cup double that season. Meanwhile, Liverpool were still wondering whether their suit cost them.
Goal-line blunder (1997)
There was a time, believe it or not, before VAR and goal-line technology! However, you have to spare a thought for poor Chesterfield. The minnows thought they were on their way to the FA Cup final when Jonathan Howard crashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar before cannoning back out. It looked on various replays that the ball had crossed the line.
Had it counted, then it would have put Chesterfield 3-1 up. However, it wasn’t meant to be as Middlesbrough equalised, and the game finished 2-2. In the replay, Chesterfield were outclassed as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat, but it was very much a case of the original tie at Old Trafford of what could have been.
Arsenal refuse to play ball (1999)
Over 20 years ago, there was an infamous FA Cup clash between Arsenal and Sheffield United. After the initial tie ended in a draw at Highbury, it meant a trip back to the Steel City for Arsene Wenger’s men.
We were all taught from an early age that if a player is injured, then you throw the ball back to your opponents. After all, it’s good sportsmanship. When United’s Lee Morris was seen writhing around the floor in pain, his team-mate Alan Kelly booted the ball into touch, so his team-mate could receive treatment.
Gunners midfielder tried to throw the ball back to Kelly upon the restart, but Nwankwo Kanu – who had come on as a substitute – ignored the pleas, and he surged down the right flank before firing a ball into the box that Marc Overmars converted. Cue howls of disapproval from the United players who mobbed the referee demanding answers, but their appeals fell on deaf ears, and the goal remarkably stood.
Highbury coin farce (2002)
Highbury took centre stage for another combustible FA Cup clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. Tempers flared, unsurprisingly, and Dennis Bergkamp was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Jamie Carragher.
But Carragher wasn’t far behind him in the tunnel, as he launched a coin that had been thrown back into the crowd. It was an ugly incident, and the Gunners went on to win the game.
Wayne Shaw’s pie-gate (2017)
It was perhaps one of the more light-hearted moments in FA Cup history, and Wayne Shaw may well testify to this. During a fifth-round tie against Arsenal, the Sutton reserve goalkeeper was spotted on the bench chomping down on a pie.
The TV cameras may have had a field day capturing this footage, but sadly for Shaw, it ended up with him losing his job. He was also fined £375 and banned for two months for breaching FA betting rules after Sun Bets had run a novelty market featuring Shaw.
Any upsets this weekend?
So, with the FA Cup fourth round taking place this weekend, could we see any upsets? Kidderminster are at home to West Ham, and it would be a huge scalp if the Non-League outfit could send David Moyes’ charges tumbling out of the competition. Paddy Power is offering a rather tempting 14/1 for Kidderminster to reach the fifth round, which could earn the side another big payday.
Meanwhile, Plymouth – who are currently seventh in League One – head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, and they will be hoping to create a stir. Chelsea – who are through to the League Cup final – are targeting a unique domestic cup double. But Plymouth are trading at a very long 35/1 with William Hill if you fancy plumping on them to cause a giant-killing.