It may surprise you to learn that City have won more FA Cup fourth round ties than lost, with a 54% success ratio. Of course, statistics can be somewhat blinding, and City have only ever contested the last 32 of the competition 26 times before this weekend, which isn’t a stellar record for a club with 113 years of history. Getting to the fourth round itself used to be regarded as an achievement not so long back, with a notorious 20-season spell of recent vintage seeing the Tigers exiting the competition at the third round stage – at best. Anyway, we’ve looked at those 26 fourth round ties and highlighted five of them…
1: 1927 v Everton
The first FA Cup fourth round tie City managed to win came in historically one of the most successful seasons in the club’s history. Everton had their ace goalscorer Dixie Dean settled in their team by now but were struggling at the wrong end of the First Division, whereas City were a comfortable and threatening presence in the top half of Division Two.
The Tigers had already beaten one top tier side in the third round with a 2-1 win on Anlaby Road against West Bromwich Albion but made much harder work of it against the Toffeemen in a first ever meeting between the teams. George Martin scored in a 1-1 draw, then in front of 45,000 at Goodison Park, goals from Henry Scott and big Scottish centre forward George Guyan forced a 2-2 draw.
Five days later the sides met neutrally at Villa Park to try to settle things, and City won a thriller by the odd goal in five with three Georges – Martin, Guyan and Whitworth – all on the scoresheet. Martin impressed Everton so much they signed him midway through the following season, during which time Dean banged in his record 60 goals in the top tier.
City, irritatingly (and perhaps typically) then proceeded to exit the competition in their first ever fifth round tie to Wolves, who were below them in the Second Division table. Cardiff won the competition in the end and to date it’s the only the time the FA Cup has been won by a team not in England.
2: 1972 v Coventry City
Great footballers score great goals. Great strikers score a few great goals, but loads of scruffy goals. Ken Wagstaff was a great footballer and a great striker, and boy, was this a scruffy goal. But as it was the only one of the game, and defeated a useful top flight side on their own patch to snaffle a last 16 place for the second straight season, it was beguiling in its scruffiness.
Six months after leaving the Tigers, Chris Chilton played against his old club for Coventry and was made captain for the day by his manager Noel Cantwell. He was also given a guard of honour by the two sets of players before the game but his day peaked at this point; a forlorn figure, he barely took part in the occasion and was transfer-listed straight afterwards, unable to settle in his new Midlands base. He retired at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, City now had two impressive away wins in the FA Cup as underdogs, having already beaten divisional rivals (and eventual champions) Norwich City at Carrow Road in the third round. And so Terry Neill’s men went into a fifth round tie labelled a “revenge mission” at Stoke, following the controversial and gutting 3-2 defeat at Boothferry Park in the quarter finals the year before. Waggy scored again – he notched seven goals in seven FA Cup ties over those two seasons – but there was no reprisal for City, as their hosts comfortably won 4-1.
There was revenge the following season, however. Unfortunately, it was Coventry who achieved it, beating City 3-0 in the fifth round.
3: 2012 v Crawley Town
If you insist. Having achieved a far harder task by beating Ipswich Town in the third round, Nick Barmby’s side were handed a rather enigmatic tie in the last 32, having never played Crawley Town before at any level. It was only the West Sussex side’s second season out of non-league football and the previous year they had reached the fifth round of the competition, losing to Manchester United.
They also had oafish fraudster Steve Evans in charge, reason alone for City to take the tie seriously and prevent such an unpleasant individual from receiving more of the oxygen of publicity he had gulped up so readily the year before.
So the rest was inevitable.
Matt Tubbs scored just before the hour, and City fans started wondering if the inconvenient but unique replay that acted as distinctly second best Plan B was now the best case scenario. Sadly, the players didn’t even get us that far. Despite being experienced enough – aside from Danny East, in his second and final senior appearance – to avoid banana skins like this, they kept slipping. The box with Crawley’s name adjacent to it remains unticked to this day, and the unlikely scourge of City that season went on to lose to Stoke in the fifth round, having sold Tubbs to Bournemouth just two days after he knocked City out.
4: 1958 v Sheffield Wednesday
The phrase “oddly enjoyable defeats” has become a part of footballing parlance within City fans in recent times, with lots of punching above one’s weight on show in the last decade or so, prior (usually) to surrendering the points. It is entirely possible there was something “oddly enjoyable” about losing an away tie at Sheffield Wednesday by the odd goal in seven.
There were two divisions between the sides at the time, with City having a bit of a languish in the Third Division North, but each time Wednesday took a hold on the game, the Tigers roared back. Bill Bradbury, Johnny Stephens and Brian Bulless scored a goal each in an end-to-end, ripsnorting Yorkshire derby under the Hillsborough lights. The 51,000+ crowd departed feeling thoroughly entertained, while the majority were also mightily relieved.
The draw sent Wednesday to Old Trafford for round five, the mouth-watering prospect of facing the Busby Babes soon extinguished by the horrors at Munich a few days later, though a patched up Manchester United, full of kids, reserves and loanees, still won the tie 3-0. Wednesday were relegated, while City stayed in the third tier as regionalisation came to an end.
5: 1987 v Swansea City
- that X-rated tackle by Frankie Bunn.
- that insanely celebrated winner by Richard Jobson.
- those red shorts.
And then it was Wigan Athletic away in the fifth round, an ordinary, history-free side in a lower division. Jackpot for City!
(They beat us 3-0).