Saturday, 11 May 2013


An unfashionable, un-fancied, former non-league club and in terms of crowds an unloved team against one littered with international superstars is how what was to become one of the most famous finals in FA Cup history was described in 1988. We all know that The Crazy Gang of Wimbledon overcome all the odds that day and there are a number of parallels that can be drawn in today's final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City.

One being that Wimbledon's starting XI that day cost just £505,000 in transfer fees opposed Liverpool's (at the time reasonably massive amount) of £6,110,000. In their last Premier League games played Wigan's starting XI totalled just £10,000,000 which is dwarfed by that of Manchester City at £188,300,000. An indication as to how much football finances have changed at the top end of the game over the past 25 years is that City's starting team in their last game cost 209 times the amount Liverpool paid Watford for John Barnes in 1987.  

Secondly, Manchester City are rated as 1/3 favourites with Wigan Athletic ranked at 8/1 outsiders. Liverpool were the overwhelming favourites in 1988. Nobody expected Wimbledon to win even though they had finished seventh in the top division just below Arsenal. The draw is rated at 17/4.

Newport County left the league at the end of the 1987/88 season and returned by winning the Blue Square Premier Play-Off final this season. Could this be an Omen for the small club to triumph?

The Cold End will be supporting Wigan Athletic (who entered the football league one year after Wimbledon did) today. I've got nothing against City but we all love an underdog and it would be fantastic for football if they were to emulate what Wimbledon did in 1988. If would show that the little clubs can do it if they build and keep faith in their manager no matter what.

It has to be said today's game shows how far Manchester City have progressed also as this is a repeat of the 1999 Division Two (now League One) play-off semi-final which City won 2-1 on aggregate and went on famously to beat Gillingham in the Final at Wembley Stadium.

Below are some pictures of the match programme Wigan Athletic produced for the FA Trophy Second Round clash versus Enfield FC in 1978 which ended 1-1. Tony Bass scored The E's goal at Springfield Park. It's a good example of how far The Latics have come in the last 35 years. Wigan, who lost the 1973 Trophy final to Scarborough, will become the first team to play in both the FA Trophy and FA Cup final today. The game against The E's was replayed at Southbury Road and ended all square at 1-1 with a further replay at Leicester's City's Filbert Street ground ending 3-0 to Wigan who lost to Leatherhead in the 3rd Round.

I'm sure lots of fans will today comment on how the FA Cup is not as good as it used to be and has lost it's magic. I think for the majority of non-league fans it's the best competition to play in. Ask the supporter's of Hastings United who made the memorable Third Round trip up to Middlesbrough this season? Many Enfield Town fans have happy memories of trips with the old Enfield club to Leicester City, Cardiff City, Torquay United, York City, Chesterfield, Preston North End (then managed by David Moyes), Peterborough United and many more football league clubs. Hopefully next season we might be that club who get a good run in the world's greatest knock out competition.

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