5 Greatest FA Cup Third Round Shocks of All Time

Does it qualify as a shocking FA Cup upset anymore when a Premier League side fields their reserves in the Third Round against a lower division side that subsequently turns them over?

On Friday, plucky Exeter City held Liverpool to a terrific 2-2 draw which forced a replay at Anfield, but the Supporter's Trust owned club was facing a Merseyside outfit bereft of most of their regular starting eleven. 

So while it was a great achievement for the League Two club, you can't help but feel that it's tempered by the fact that they didn't come up against a full strength Liverpool side.

Before the emergence of the Champions League, and the all consuming need of the big clubs to finish in the top four, to go along with the obscene TV deals that make Premier League survival critical for smaller sides, the FA Cup really meant something. Club's would never have considered fielding a weakened side in years gone by.

It is the oldest club competition in world football and a big day at Wembley in May is still the dream of many supporters, so old misty eyed romantics like me wish that club's took it as seriously as they once did.

With the big club's entering the competition at the Third Round stage this weekend, and hopefully more than a few of them fielding full strength sides, I thought we'd have a look at five of the greatest all time shocks at that stage of the competition:

5.) Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Everton, Third Round, 2003

David Moyes went on to have a great reign in the hotseat at Goodison Park, as he transformed Everton into a tough to beat outfit that was often threatening the top five of the Premier League. Moyes didn't get off to the best of starts though as his first season at the club saw his side dumped out of the FA Cup by League One Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow thanks to two goals from journeyman striker Nigel Jemson.

4.) Bournemouth 2 Manchester United 0, Third Round, 1984

The 1980's were an up and down decade for Manchester United. Sandwiched between their FA Cup winning triumphs of 1983 and 1985 was this shocking defeat to Third Division Bournemouth. Not only did Harry Redknapp's side knock Ron Atkinson's cup holders out of the competition at the first hurdle, but they thoroughly outplayed them and deserved to go through.

3.) Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1, Third Round, 1992

Going into this tie, George Graham's Arsenal side were the reigning First Division champions, with their famous backline anchored by Tony Adams at its pomp and Wrexham were a struggling club in the Fourth Division. After taking the lead through Alan Smith, The Gunners seemed to be comfortably heading into Round Four but then 37 year old Micky Thomas thundered in a brilliant freekick to level the score with only eight minutes to go and then Steve Watkin grabbed the winner two minutes later.

2.) Walsall 2 Arsenal 0, Third Round, 1933

Arsenal, under legendary manager Herbert Chapman, were the best team in England during the 1930's. So their humiliating defeat by Walsall, then plying their trade in the Third Division North, was by some distance the greatest pre-war FA Cup upset. That day at Fellows Park 24,032 witnessed a near miracle as second-half goals from Gilbert Alsop in the 60th minute and Bill Sheppard ten minutes later sent the eventual league champions crashing out. Chapman was so enraged by the defeat that he immediately sold Tom Black, the defender responsible for the goals.

1.) Hereford 2 Newcastle 1, Third Round, 1972

Newcastle were a solid top flight side in the early 1970's, with goalscoring superstar Malcolm "Supermac" Macdonald terrorizing defences around the country. Hereford were a non-league club with a ramshackle ground and seemingly no hope against their illustrious opposition. Unbowed, Hereford took 5,000 away fans to St. James Park to witness their side snatch a terrific 2-2 draw in the Third Round, but the best was yet to come in the replay back at Edgar Street. On a bog of a pitch, 14,000 supporters witnessed Newcastle grab an 82nd goal through Macdonald before Hereford's Ronnie Radford scored one of the most famous goals in the competition's history with a stunning 30 yard blast into the top corner to level the score on 85 minutes. In extra time, second half substitute Ricky George lashed home the winner in the 103rd minute to send Hereford's fans into dreamland.


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