Remembering Arsenal disasters – cup shocks are more common than you might think

By Tony Attwood

I sometimes think that many of the fans who moan about the current (2013) state of Arsenal, and make their comments about “the worst Arsenal team ever” have no concept of history at all.

Perhaps because I have lived there and been through them, any new ones that come along are less vivid and hurtful than for other supporters, although that is not to say they don’t hurt.  Maybe as one gets older they don’t hurt quite so much.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with.  It was actually a much larger list for the period I arbitrarily chose, than I expected it to be.

The criteria I have used is Arsenal being beaten in the FA Cup or League Cup by a club from a lower league that season.   I think I have found them all, and removed any occasions where we are beaten by a team we now think of as lower league (eg Luton Town) but who were in the top division at the time.

1969/70 Blackpool 2-3 FA Cup 3rd round Mee
1973/4 Tranmere 0-1 League Cup 2nd Mee
1978/9 Rotherham 1-3 League Cup 2nd Neil
1979/80 Swindon 3-4 League Cup QF Neil
1983/4 Walsall 1-2 League cup 4th Neil
1983/4 Middlesbrough 2-3 FA Cup 3rd round Neil
1984/5 Oxford United 2-3 League Cup 3rd Howe
1984/5 York City 0-1 FA Cup 4th round Howe
1991/2 Wrexham 1-2 FA Cup 3rd round Graham
1993/4 Bolton 1-3 FA Cup 4th round Graham
1994/5 Millwall 0-2 FA Cup 3rd round Graham
1995/6 Sheffield U  0-1 FA Cup 3rd round Rioch
1996/7 Leeds U 0-1 FA Cup 4th round Wenger
1999/2000 Leicester 0-0 pens FA Cup 4th round Wenger
2000/1 Ipswich 1-2 League Cup 3rd Wenger

My point here is that defeats by lower league clubs happen.  And indeed they can happy twice in one season, as has happened in 2012/13 – look at 1983/4 for example.

In fact the whole thing is common and doesn’t mean too much really.  It is terribly upsetting and frustrating, but it is there, it happens on the day.

And I don’t think it is just Arsenal that suffers.  Obviously I don’t have the level of reference books for other clubs as I have for Arsenal, but I do recall Manchester United lost to Coventry in 2007.    And indeed Tottenham and Liverpool seem to me to have some difficulty this season with lower league teams.

In a very real sense the historical perspective doesn’t make the defeat I witnessed yesterday to Blackburn any easier to take, but at least history shows us that this is just an occasional recurring theme.  It does not represent the end of the world, or the end of an era.


We’ve just found the first ever Arsenal song!


The books…

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3 Replies to “Remembering Arsenal disasters – cup shocks are more common than you might think”

  1. I seemed to remember Swindon town in the final in 69 or does this not count because it was the final it still hurts to this day how many times Arsenal do this to their supporters still up the Arsenal.

  2. Tony, I’m tearing my hair out here!
    In fact, if I had a bowl of cornflakes in front of me, I’d have choked on them by now.
    The three Cup Defeats you’ve listed which occurred under Wenger were all against top-flight opposition!
    In fact, Ipswich beat us in a season where they finished high enough in the table to qualify for the UEFA Cup.
    As for Leicester,they were our opposition in Henry’s league debut the very same season.

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