Ahead of today’s (Saturday) FA Cup final at Wembley between Arsenal and Chelsea, Chris Lyles has unearthed a few facts and figures about the world’s oldest football competition.
• The cost of the original trophy, which was made by Messrs Martin, Hall & Co and was less than 18 inches high, was £20. It was three weeks between Wanderers winning the first FA Cup final 1-0 against Royal Engineers at Kennington Oval in 1872 and being presented with the trophy at their annual dinner. Two thousand spectators attended that first final, with each of them paying one shilling.
• The heaviest player to appear in a final is, by common consent, Bill “Fatty” Foulke, a goalkeeper who won the Cup with Sheffield United in 1899 and 1902, as well as being a losing finalist in 1901. It is estimated that Foulke, who was capped by England and also played first-class cricket for Derbyshire, tipped the scales at more than 25 stone.
• There has been only one occasion when the Cup has been won by a non-league club – in 1901 when Spurs beat first division Sheffield United (Foulke an’ all). Of Spurs’ eight FA Cup victories, five have come when the year has ended in a “1”, with their other triumphs occurring in 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991.
• Four finals have finished goalless. The last without a goal was the 2005 contest between Arsenal and Manchester United, which Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties. The three previous goalless draws were in 1886, 1911 and 1912.
• Only two clubs have won the Cup in three successive years. Wanderers did so in 1876, 1877 and 1878 before Blackburn Rovers repeated the feat in 1884, 1885 and 1886.
• It is 135 years since an amateur team – Old Etonians – won the Cup.
• The 1970 Cup final replay at Old Trafford between Leeds United and Chelsea, which the London club won 2-1 after extra time, was a brutal affair that was watched by a British television audience of more than 28 million. Even by the standards of the day, the two teams kicked lumps out of each other, although Chelsea’s Ian Hutchinson was the only player to be booked. David Elleray, a modern-day referee, watched a recording of the match in 1997 and concluded that the two sides would have collected six red cards and 20 yellow cards between them if he had been officiating the match in the modern era.
• Arsenal and Manchester United have each won the Cup a record 12 times. Spurs have won it eight times, followed by Aston Villa, Liverpool and Chelsea with seven apiece. 43 different clubs have won the Cup, with the past two first-time winners being Wimbledon in 1988 and Wigan Athletic in 2013.
• Since Wimbledon shocked Liverpool in the 1988 final, this season’s Premier League runaway top seven finishers (Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton) have won every FA Cup final apart from when Portsmouth (2008) and Wigan (2013) triumphed against the odds. The power of money and all that….