FA cup final will make history
It will either be Watford’s first ever major trophy, or the first ever domestic treble in English football.
FA Cup (photo by John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images)
History in the making
Whoever wins the FA Cup final this weekend will be making history for their club but in very different ways. Watford is one of the 5 least successful clubs currently in the Premier League, having never won a major trophy. This weekend provides the best opportunity at major silverware since they lost 2-0 to Everton in the 1984 FA Cup final.
A Manchester City victory, on the other hand, would make them the 8th English team to have won ‘the’ double, and having won the league on Sunday and league cup in February it would also give them a domestic treble. Though the other big Manchester team have won the Continental treble, and Liverpool have also won 3 major trophies (European as well as domestic) in a year on 2 occasions, this would be the first time an English team has won all 3 major domestic competitions in a single season.
The oldest football competition in the world
Having won 5 FA Cups previously, Manchester City currently sits as joint 9th most successful team in the history of the competition, equal with, amongst others, Wanderers FC. Naming themselves based on their lack of a home ground to play at in their early years, Wanderers won the 1872 FA Cup, this being not only the first FA Cup final but also the first final of any football competition anywhere in the world. Wanderers went on to win another 4 FA Cups by 1878, having made The Oval (now used exclusively for cricket) their semi-permanent home. After this Wanderers went into a decline that has not been reversed, unlike Manchester City’s drop to the 3rd tier of English football in the late 1990s now well and truly behind them.
Playing through the pain
Manchester City’s third final win in 1956 was one of the most notable in the competition’s history. Playing in goal for Manchester City was one Bert Trautmann, a German who had settled in England after being captured and held prisoner there during WWII. Prior to this he had already been captured by—and escaped from—the Soviet Union and the French Resistance; in the early years of the war, he was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery on the Eastern Front.
Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive
Such character was on display again at Wembley Stadium on May 5th, 1956. With Manchester City 3-1 up in a relatively tight contest, Trautmann dived at the feet of a Birmingham City forward about to take a volley from within the Man City 6-yard box, taking a knee to the head in the process. Substitution not being introduced into the English game until 1965, and though in obvious pain, he continued to play the last 17 minutes of the match, taking another kick to the head in the process. His crooked neck was noted by Prince Philip during the trophy presentation, and 4 days later an X-Ray showed him to have broken his neck.
The romance of the cup
Though it is difficult to expect the same from today’s players, we can at least hope for an exciting encounter in which history will be made whatever the outcome. Having beaten Watford on all 8 meetings between the teams since Watford were promoted to the top division in 2015, Manchester City is a heavy favourite to secure the first domestic treble in English football history. The beauty of the oldest knockout competition (of any sport) in the world, however, is the potential for giant-killings, and Watford will fancy their chances on the back of their highest league finish since 1987.