Aston Villa and Arsenal will face off today at Wembley in the FA Cup final. Arsenal, holders of the trophy, will look to retain it and win a trophy for the second season in a row. Villa though, will fancy their chances having survived relegation under new manager Tim Sherwood.
Before the match, which promises to be long, we look back at the 5 greatest FA Cup finals in history.
5 – The Cat Final (1943)
While the brave men of England were away fighting the Third Reich, football took a back seat at home. Towards the end of the war though, desperate for distraction, the FA hosted a one off FA Cup final between a group of local cats that had taken residence in the stadium. At 160,000 people, it remains the record attendance for an FA Cup final. Using a dead mouse instead of a ball, the match was called off after 2 minutes.
4 – The Spice Boys (1996)
This final became infamous for the Liverpool players taking to the pitch prior to the game carrying baskets of spices – coriander, cumin, Chinese five spice – in what ultimately would be the pinnacle for English footballers’ obsession with herbs and condiments. Manchester United won the game after Eric Cantona scored, having been granted space in the box after Phil Babb blinded himself with a handful of chilli flakes.
3 – Liverpool vs West Ham (2006)
This final will always be remembered for the performance of Steven Gerrard. Having entirely forgotten the match was even taking place, Gerrard was in Liverpool for most of the afternoon. Upon hearing an update on the radio however, he booked a helicopter ride to Cardiff and was lowered onto the pitch just in time to score a late equaliser for his side, who ultimately won on penalties.
2 – Wigan vs Manchester City (2013)
This match will forever go down in Wigan history after they defeated the expensively assembled Man City. For some though the match was spoiled by the 96 minute long speech from Wigan owner Dave Whelan. Starting off in the centre circle, Whelan meandered around the pitch for the entire match reminiscing about his broken leg and retirement until the final whistle was blown.
1 – The Matthews Final (1953)
This famous final is known for the stunning performance of Stanley Matthews who, while playing for Blackpool against Bolton, released hundreds of poisonous snakes onto the field. Havoc ensued, and being the only person with the antidote, Matthews steered his side to a remarkable victory. 7 of the Bolton players died later in hospital. Though arrested for manslaughter, Matthews avoided any charge after promising not to do it again. A promise he broke years later.