FA Cup Final 1957
The 1956-57 season was, in Manchester United terms, rather significant. This was the year we became the first English club to compete in the European Cup. It also saw the Busby babes record a glorious championship victory, finishing ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. It should also have been the year we won the double. That it was not, we can solely blame on Peter McParland.
Odds on favourites for the final, United met Villa and for six minutes things were going according to plan. Then McParland poleaxed our goalie, Ray Wood, breaking his cheekbone. In the age before substitutes our young team had to trudge on for the rest of the match with ten men, other than when a dreaming Wood was let back onto the field to wander around.
To literally add insult to injury McParland scored both Villa goals and they ran out 2-1 winners. At the opening of the new Wembley the FA paraded a gallery of FA Cup legends before kick-off as United prepared to play Chelsea. McParland, first out, was roundly booed by the red end. No, we don’t forgive you.
League Cup Semi-Final 1970-71
The game that got Wilf McGuinness the chop. United warmed up for the match by losing a league match 4-1 to City the previous week. Villa were enjoying the hospitality of Division 3 at the time and a team containing Nobby, Georgie, Bobby Charlton and Kiddo managed to draw 1-1 at OT.
A week later we lost 2-1 at Villa Park. The team was Rimmer, Fitzpatrick, Dunne, Crerand, Ure, Sadler, Morgan, Best, Charlton, Law, Kidd. Average age 77. It was about then Wilf McGuinness got the chop and Sir Matt came back for half a season.
No wonder Wilf’s hair fell out.
1994 League Cup Final
My first visit to Wembley and the reason why my dad won’t let me go back. Until this point no Payne had seen United lose a cup final at Wembley and, after a careful elimination of factors, it was decided I was the unlucky charm. Lovely.
On for the first domestic treble in history United were caught cold by the performance of Dean Saunders career and Big Ron’s desire to remind everybody who he was. The game was pretty even until Kanchelskis handled on the line and gifted Villa a penalty. I went home and wept onto my Bryan Robson duvet cover. The therapy cost a fortune.
FA Cup 3rd Round 2002
Ruud Van Nistlerooy
This game is memorable for witnessing Ruud Van Nistlerooy at the absolute peak of his powers. United were on the brink of going out in the third round for the first time since stegosaurus roamed the earth. Up steps the long faced Dutchman with two deadly strikes in the second half to send United through and leave Villa Park in the doldrums.
Ruud would finish the season with a whopping 44 goals and a reputation as the most feared striker in the world. We were saved the ignominy of going out in the 3rd round until, well, last month.
United's last 3rd round exit before this season
Prediction for today’s game:
I suspect there may be goals in them there hills. Both teams have suspect defences and pacy players up front. I could see it going 3-2 either way.
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Photography from lcrf@flckrCcoms