Cup wins in London
Manchester United may have lifted the FA Cup nine times at Wembley and once at Crystal Palace, but when it comes to the competition’s earlier rounds, London’s not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Reds.
In fact, barring finals, semi-finals and, in 1970, a third-place playoff (that initiative was scrapped after just five years), United have won only eight FA Cup ties in the capital in 24 attempts.
Here we take a look at each of the Reds’ London successes:
Fulham 1 United 2
6 Mar 1926, Sixth Round
Tom Smith and Frank McPherson netted at Craven Cottage to hand the Reds a deserved 2-1 victory and United’s first FA Cup win in London in seven matches. But the real story surrounded Fulham’s scorer, Albert Pape. The Londoners had bought Pape from United barely five months earlier, but a clause in the striker’s contract meant he still lived in the north and trained with the Reds. Incredibly, this FA Cup tie wasn’t the first time Pape had travelled to a match with the opposition and then scored against them. United famously signed the Yorkshireman in 1925 just 90 minutes after he’d arrived at Manchester Piccadilly with that day’s opposition, Clapton Orient. Word spread around the city and a bumper crowd showed up at Old Trafford (reports even suggest it swelled by 7,000 between kick-off and half-time) to see him net against his former club.
Millwall 0 United 1
10 Jan 1953, Third Round
Millwall inhabited the Third Division South in 1952/53 so, on paper, shouldn’t have posed too many problems for a United side led by Matt Busby and littered with internationals. What’s more, Busby’s men knew all about The Lions, having lost 2-1 three months prior in a friendly match to “open” The Den’s floodlights. On this occasion, Millwall almost pulled off another upset, turning in a stoic defensive performance. Eventually, though, United broke the deadlock as Jack Rowley netted the winner with just four minutes to play.
Walthamstow Avenue 2 United 5
5 Feb 1953, Fourth Round Replay
Non-league Walthamstow Avenue had garnered a brave 1-1 draw at Old Trafford five days earlier, thanks to a second-half equaliser by thermos flask salesman Jim Lewis. The replay at Highbury attracted 49,119 fans but there was no fairytale ending for the East London side. United stormed into a four-goal lead after 30 minutes before Lewis completed a personal hat-trick of sorts by scoring from the spot just before half-time and then from open play on the hour mark. But the Reds’ flying start meant Walthamstow’s task remained too great and Jack Rowley crowned the win on 85 minutes.
Wimbledon 0 United 3
20 Feb 1994, Fifth Round
This United side was renowned for its attacking flair and at Selhurst Park the Reds, wearing the now iconic green and gold kit, tore Wimbledon apart. Eric Cantona opened the scoring with a sublime volley, sent crashing into the top corner after he’d deftly controlled a clearing header. Paul Ince, Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes then drew smart saves from goalkeeper Hans Segers before Ince headed home a Giggs corner and Denis Irwin skipped around two defenders and slammed the ball into the far corner. Although the game finished 3-0 it could have been so many more.
Chelsea 3 United 5
4 January 1998, Third Round
Stand up, David Beckham. A brilliant first-half performance by Becks, including a boo-silencing opener and one of his trademark free-kicks, helped United to a healthy 3-0 lead at the break. Andy Cole also netted a brace – one either side of half-time – and Teddy Sheringham headed in on 75 minutes to nudge the scoreline towards embarrassing proportions. But with the game won, the Reds lost concentration and conceded three late goals to give the travelling Reds the fright of their lives. Ultimately, though, Chelsea’s rally was too little, too late.
Chelsea 0 United 2
10 Mar 1999, Sixth Round Replay
Following as entertaining a goalless draw as you’re likely to see (both teams missed chances and Paul Scholes and Roberto Di Matteo were given marching orders), United and Chelsea met again at Stamford Bridge three days later. This time the net bulged twice for Dwight Yorke, who netted his 25th and 26th goals of the season. His first came after just four minutes as the striker capitalised on panic in the Blues’ box. The Reds then soaked up Chelsea pressure, threatening almost exclusively on the counter-attack. The strategy workd and Yorke’s second arrived on the hour to set up a semi-final tie against Arsenal that would prove unforgettable.
Fulham 1 United 2
7 Jan 2001, Third Round
Back in the FA Cup after missing the previous year’s competition due to Club World Cup commitments, the Reds’ quest for silverware began with a trip to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side who would go on to win promotion to the Premier League later that season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opened the scoring after just eight minutes before Fulham, spearheaded by future United striker Louis Saha, equalised through a curling Fabrice Fernandes free-kick. The Cottagers almost hung on to earn a replay, but Teddy Sheringham swept home Luke Chadwick’s pass with just a minute remaining to break Fulham hearts and send United into the fourth round.
Fulham 0 United 4
7 Mar 2009, Sixth Round
United’s most recent and, perhaps, most convincing FA Cup win in the capital came towards the end of a 15-game unbeaten run in early 2009. The Reds certainly looked like a team in form as Carlos Tevez netted twice – one a brilliant strike from 25 yards – in the first half. Wayne Rooney added a third with an equally stunning long-ranger shortly after the break before Ji-sung Park sealed victory nine minutes from time. After such an assured performance, however, the Reds misfired at Wembley in the semi-final against Everton and went out on penalties following a 0-0 draw.