1987 FA Cup Final

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1987 FA Cup Final
1987 FA Cup Final programme.jpg
The match programme cover
Event1986–87 FA Cup
Date16 May 1987
VenueWembley Stadium, London
RefereeNeil Midgley (Manchester)

The 1987 FA Cup Final took place on 16 May 1987 at Wembley Stadium. It was contested between Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs were appearing in their third final in seven seasons, having won the trophy in 1981 and 1982 and were strong favourites, while unfancied Coventry were appearing in their first ever domestic cup final. Spurs were going for a record eighth victory and had never lost a final. Coventry eventually triumphed 3–2 after extra time.[1]


BBC commentator John Motson stated that it was "the finest Cup Final I've had the pleasure of commentating on".[citation needed] There were no bookings and the game was generally considered a good advertisement for English football.[citation needed]

Spurs played the game in their new kit for the following 1987–88 season but with white shorts instead of blue. Due to a mix up only half of the Spurs players wore the Holsten sponsorship on their shirts.[2]

Tottenham had been knocked out of the Football League Cup in the semi-finals, by fierce rivals Arsenal (who went on to win the trophy) and had finished third in the league, and so, having spent most of the season challenging for a unique domestic treble, they ended it with no major trophies at all. Aside from the third round against Bolton Wanderers, Coventry had progressed to the final by winning all of their games away from home, including victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford (Alex Ferguson's first FA Cup loss with United).

One downside to Coventry's triumph was that they would not be able to make a challenge for the European Cup Winners' Cup; UEFA had voted for the ban on English clubs in European competitions, imposed in 1985 following the Heysel disaster, to continue for a third season. In an attempt to show some reward for their achievement, Coventry arranged 'the Anglo-Scottish Challenge Cup', a two-legged match against the Scottish Cup winners, St Mirren. After a 1–1 draw at Highfield Road, attended by fewer than 5,000 spectators, the second leg at Love Street was postponed and eventually abandoned.[3]

In Keith Houchen's 2006 book A Tenner and a Box of Kippers: The Story of Keith Houchen, he described his goal which levelled the match. "The cross came in and I never took my eyes off it. I had to throw myself at it, or I would never have got on the end of it. I can’t say I was consciously thinking: ‘If it comes in, I’m going to dive and head it.’ It’s all instinct. When it is perfect timing, it’s like a dance — it all comes together. I knew I was getting it. When I scored, I was totally disorientated. I hit the ground, bounced back up again and off I went. All you could hear was this deafening noise. I always thought I’d score in the Cup. The fact it was such a spectacular goal made it sweeter. There was only one team going to win. It’s like two boxers; all of a sudden, one punch changes everything."[4][deprecated source]

Steve Ogrizovic, who remained with Coventry until retiring as a player in 2000, was Coventry's last remaining player from the game when he played his last game for them. Gary Mabbutt, who remained with Tottenham until 1998, was the last player to leave runners-up Tottenham.

Clive Allen scored his 49th goal of the season for Tottenham in the final, after a prolific season where his scoring exploits earned him the Player of the Year awards from both the FWA and PFA.

London musicians Chas & Dave released a song called Hot Shot Tottenham!. It reached No. 18 in the charts. Coventry's single 'Go For It' reached No. 61.

Road to Wembley

Home teams listed first.

Coventry City

Round 3: Coventry City 3–0 Bolton Wanderers

Round 4: Manchester United 0–1 Coventry City

Round 5: Stoke City 0–1 Coventry City

Round 6: Sheffield Wednesday 1–3 Coventry City

Semi-final: Coventry City 3–2 Leeds United

Tottenham Hotspur

Round 3: Tottenham Hotspur 3–2 Scunthorpe United

Round 4: Tottenham Hotspur 4–0 Crystal Palace

Round 5: Tottenham Hotspur 1–0 Newcastle United

Round 6: Wimbledon 0–2 Tottenham Hotspur

Semi-final: Tottenham Hotspur 4–1 Watford

Match summary

The bus in which the victorious Coventry players paraded the cup through the city after their victory. It is now on display in the Coventry Transport Museum.

After only two minutes, Clive Allen scored his 49th goal of the season, heading past keeper Steve Ogrizovic at the near post from a Chris Waddle cross from the right. Within seven minutes, though, the Sky Blues were level through Dave Bennett, a Cup Final loser in 1981 for Manchester City, coincidentally at the hands of Spurs. Bennett collected the ball in the box and got around the advancing goalkeeper to hit left footed into the net past Steve Hodge on the line.

The London club were back in front five minutes before the break through defender Gary Mabbutt when he deflected the ball past the goalkeeper after a cross from the right. Midway through the second half the Midlanders were level again – Bennett's cross from the right was met by striker Keith Houchen with a diving header from six yards out, for a goal which was voted in the top 10 goals ever scored at Wembley.[citation needed] Houchen was also awarded the BBC's Goal of the Season for 1987.[citation needed]

The scores stayed level until full-time and the game went into extra-time. Six minutes in, Mabbutt scored an own goal after Lloyd McGrath centred the ball from the right and it took a deflection off of the Spurs defender's left knee from six yards out and over keeper Ray Clemence. One of Coventry's fanzines is entitled 'Gary Mabbutt's Knee' in commemoration of the goal.[5][6]

Match details

Coventry City3–2 (a.e.t.)Tottenham Hotspur
Bennett Goal 8'
Houchen Goal 62'
Mabbutt Goal 95' (o.g.)
Report C. Allen Goal 2'
Mabbutt Goal 40'
Attendance: 96,000
Tottenham Hotspur
GK 1 England Steve Ogrizovic
RB 2 Wales David Phillips
LB 3 England Greg Downs
MF 4 England Lloyd McGrath
CB 5 England Brian Kilcline (c) Substituted off 89'
CB 6 England Trevor Peake
MF 7 England Dave Bennett
MF 8 England Micky Gynn
CF 9 England Cyrille Regis
CF 10 England Keith Houchen
MF 11 England Nick Pickering
DF 14 England Graham Rodger Substituted in 89'
MF 12 England Steve Sedgley
England John Sillett and George Curtis
GK 1 England Ray Clemence
RB 2 Republic of Ireland Chris Hughton Substituted off 97'
LB 3 England Mitchell Thomas
MF 4 England Steve Hodge
CB 5 Scotland Richard Gough (c)
CB 6 England Gary Mabbutt
CF 7 England Clive Allen
MF 8 England Paul Allen
MF 9 England Chris Waddle
MF 10 England Glenn Hoddle
MF 11 Argentina Ossie Ardiles Substituted off 91'
FW 12 Belgium Nico Claesen Substituted in 97'
DF 14 England Gary Stevens Substituted in 91'
England David Pleat

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Replay if scores still level.
  • Two named substitutes
  • Maximum of 2 substitutions.


  1. ^ "Classic Cup Finals: 1987". The FA. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  2. ^ "1987 FA Cup Final Kits". Historical Kits. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  3. ^ The Scotsman, 31 January 2009, accessed 23 April 2010
  4. ^ "Coventry to roll back the years by wearing 1987 FA Cup final kit in third round tie at Spurs". Daily Mail. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Cup earned by the Blue crew". Guardian. 16 May 1987. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  6. ^ "How Tottenham's Gary Mabbutt gave Coventry City an epic knees-up in 1987 FA Cup final". Daily Telegraph. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2014.

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