When Coventry Captured the FA Cup - The Coventry Observer

When Coventry Captured the FA Cup

Coventry Editorial 25th Sep, 2023   0

When Fankaty Dabo missed his penalty in the playoff shootout against Luton in May 2023, Coventry’s hearts were broken. After dropping as low as League 2 in 2017, Mark Robins’ men had enjoyed a successful few years, culminating in a fifth-placed finish in the Championship that had seen them claim a playoff spot and dream of reclaiming their place at English football’s top table.

What Next for Coventry?

With their Premier League dreams over for at least another year, Coventry lost Viktor Gyokeres who had scored 43 goals for the club in 116 games. The 25-year-old Swede left to join Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.

What effect losing their talisman has on their hopes of promotion this season remains to be seen. Southampton and Leicester both dropped out of the Premier League at the end of last season and are favourites to make an immediate return. But those betting on football may look at the Sky Blues to return to Wembley in this season’s playoffs, who will be hoping for a happier end to their season.

And if they can get there, they’ll want to replicate the result of their FA Cup triumph in 1987.

A Great Day at Wembley

While the club’s most recent to the home of English football resulted in tears, back in 1987 it was a very different story. Under the stewardship of George Curtis and John Sillett, the club won one of the most captivating finals in the history of the FA Cup.

Along the way, they beat Man Utd at Old Trafford in the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Victories over Stoke (1-0) and Sheffield Wednesday (3-1) set up a semi-final against 2nd Division Leeds United. Despite being strong favourites, Coventry went behind but eventually came back to win 3-2 with goals from Cyrille Regis, Keith Houchen and Dave Bennett.

Next up came Coventry’s date with destiny. In the final, they faced David Pleat’s Tottenham who had already come close to winning the league and been knocked out in the semi-final of the League Cup.

Spurs’ star-studded team boasted the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle and the First Division’s leading scorer, Clive Allen. They were firm favourites to lift the cup, and a comfortable win looked on the cards when Allen headed home his 49th goal of the season in the 2nd minute of the game.

But Coventry didn’t lie down. In the 8th minute, they were level when Dave Bennett latched on to a flicked header by Houchen to score from close range.

Coventry thought they had the lead when Cyrille Regis headed home, but the goal was disallowed for a foul by Houchen. And there was a scare for Coventry a short while later when a poor clearance from goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic set up a chance first for Hoddle and then Allen. But neither could convert.

As half-time approached, Spurs were back in front when Gary Mabbutt turned in a Glenn Hoddle free kick. Then midway through the second half came the moment that sealed Keith Houchen’s place in Coventry history as he scored with a diving header that would send the game into extra time.

Coventry went ahead early on through an own goal by Mabbutt and went into dominate the additional 30 minutes and saw out a fantastic win that brought Coventry their first – and so far only – major trophy.


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