In order to reach the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 2002 tomorrow, Fulham not only need to overcome a Manchester United side aiming to complete a domestic Cup double but end a hoodoo in the world’s oldest club cup competition stretching back some 77 years. The Red Devils have won eight successive FA Cup ties against the Whites and victory at Old Trafford tomorrow would equal their club record of nine against Reading. Erik ten Haag’s side saw off the Royals in the fourth round of this season’s competition to match their winning streak over Derby County.
Marco Silva told the press yesterday that he believed Fulham could not only spring a surprise at Old Trafford but had the ability to go on and win the club’s first major trophy. Such belief stems from the fact that the Whites have surprised everyone in the Premier League this season, confounding the summer predictions of a year of struggle, and will be full of confidence ahead of the only-all top flight tie despite two disappointing derby defeats.
Here’s a detailed look at Fulham’s series of defeats in the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United – including a fair few glorious failures:
6 March 1926: Fulham 1-2 Manchester United (FA Cup quarter final)
A Fulham side struggling towards the bottom of the second tier had eliminated Merseyside neighbours Everton, going well in the top tier, and Liverpool, engaged in a grim fight against relegation, before beating Notts County to set up a sixth-round meeting with the mighty Manchester United. Whereas the win over Liverpool had attracted more than 36,000 fans to Craven Cottage, the club’s decision to cash in on their big day by ticket prices saw supporters vote with their feet as the crowd numbered only 28,699.
Teenage goalkeeper Ernie Beecham, signed from Hertford with much fanfare the previous summer, had began the season as third choice but began a run of 130 consecutive appearances, which remains a Fulham record from a debut to this day, at Blackpool in December 1925 after regular number one Arthur Reynolds got injured. The nineteen year-old Beecham was christened ‘a Fulham legend’ for his saves against Everton and kept clean sheets in the next two rounds against Liverpool and Notts County, but was beaten by a tame shot from Scottish forward Frank McPherson, which squirmed under his body.
Andy Ducat’s side equalised within two minutes when centre forward Albert Pape powered a pass from outside right Jack Harris past United goalkeeper Jack Mew. The Second Division outfit more than held their own, growing in confidence after the leveller, and largely dominated the contest. They couldn’t score another in an entertaining contest played in seriously strong winds and exited the Cup, controversially, when William Smith converted a corner that most observers agreed should have been a goal kick.
22 March 1958: Manchester United 2-2 Fulham (FA Cup semi-final, Villa Park)
Almost the entire country was behind United in the most emotional semi-finals in the competition’s history, which took place just weeks after eight of the brilliant Busby babes perished in the Munich air disaster. A scratch side had somehow reached the last four to face Fulham at Villa Park and nearly 70,000 had got into the ground by kick off.
The advantage swung to both sides in a pulsating encounter that was dominated by the class of Sir Bobby Charlton, who scored both of United’s goals, having somehow survived the smouldering wreck of an aircraft that was supposed to carry United’s squad back from a famous European triumph. Charlton’s first real involvement was to shoot high into the net past Fulham’s teenage goalkeeper Tony Macedo from a pass by inside forward Ernie Taylor.
Remarkably, Fulham were back on level terms inside a minute. Jimmy Langley’s cross dissected the United defence and Arthur Stevens tucked home from close range. The superb Johnny Haynes began to pull the strings in the middle of the park and the Maestro began a brilliant move that put Roy Dwight into space, and he squared for Jimmy Hill, who maintained his record of scoring in every round, by shooting past Harry Gregg – another Munich survivor.
The Whites were unable to hold onto until half time, disrupted by an injury to left back Langley, who had to come off after tangling with Alex Dawson. There were no substitutes and, as Dug Livingstone desperately tried to reorganise, George Cohen blocked Pearson’s powerful drive but the ball fell to Charlton’s reliable right boot. In the second half, Robin Lawler deputised at left back, with Haynes filling in as a makeshift left half and holding onto the ball brilliantly for the ten men. Macedo made many magnificent saves as United pushed for a romantic winner, but Fulham held on to earn a replay four days later at Highbury.
26 March 1958: Fulham 3-5 Manchester United (FA Cup semi-final replay, Highbury)
Such was the interest in the replay that it was broadcast live on television – a rarity back then – and, whilst the Whites remained distant second favourites in the minds of the country, the mood within the Fulham camp was one of quiet confidence.
But they reckoned without a horror show from the previously reliable Macedo. The Gibraltar goalkeeper’s game to forget actually started well, with a pair of sensational saves inside the first ten minutes, but he was caught out of position allowing Alex Dawson to give United the lead from Colin Webster’s cross. Haynes produced another beautiful ball to feed Stevens to equalise but another Macedo mistake, when he got both hands to a Dawson shot but let it spin out of his grasp and into the net, saw the Whites go behind again.
Tosh Chamberlain made it 2-2 with Langley, patched up from the original tie, thundered down the left flank and sent over the perfect centre but that recovery was undermined by a third Macedo blunder. The goalkeeper got to a loose ball first in his own penalty area but lost it after being challenged by Dawson and Shay Brennan, who slotted into the empty net.
Fulham’s Cup dreams looked over when Charlton cantered down the wing, brilliantly beat George Cohen and took Frank Stapleton out of the game, with a peerless pass that played in Dawson for his hat-trick.
But the Cottagers roared back when Dwight delivered a third with twenty minutes to go and they piled serious pressure on the United goal. Haynes had one shot saved, Dwight drove over from a promising start before Haynes had a goal mystifyingly disallowed for what the morning papers claimed was handball. To add insult to injury, United put the tie to bed with another clinical finish courtesy of Charlton moments later. It was Fulham’s third failure at the semi-final stage.
31 January 1979: Fulham 1-1 Manchester United (FA Cup fourth round)
This was a throwback to the wonderful nights when the Whites served up some Division One classics in the 1960s. Bobby Campbell had brought stability to a relegation-threatened side, spurred on by a superb Good Friday SW6 derby win in 1977, and secured a pair of mid-table finishes whilst reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup. They faced a United side who had played only a single fixture in a month – the third-round win over Chelsea – and took advantage of some wintry weather by the Thames that left the fixture in doubt until mid-morning.
Fulham began brightly, even though they were missing the services of the talented Tony Gale at the heart of the defence, with John Beck, Peter Marinello and Ray Evans testing the reflexes of Red Devils’ keeper Gary Bailey. Chris Guthrie fought his own individual battle with Gordon McQueen that proved very watchable and it was some surprise when Jimmy Greenhoff drilled home a Stuart Pearson cross to give the visitors the lead with five minutes remaining of the first half.
The hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser just after the hour mark when John Margerrison headed home a clever cross from Terry Bullivant. Both sides had chances to win the contest but had to settle for a replay two weeks later.
12 February 1979: Manchester United 1-0 Fulham (FA Cup fourth round replay)
The replay, played in front of more than 41,000 fans at Old Trafford, was played on a bitterly cold evening. The Whites were well organised, with Gale back in the side after injury, but didn’t just come to put men behind the ball. Dave Sexton predicted an open game and both sides went for it, but the temperatures and two technically good teams meant there was little to excite a freezing crowd until the closing stages. Fulham were level until twelve minutes from the end when, with extra time looming, Jimmy Greenhoff conjured up a cracking volley from another Pearson cross. United made it all the way to the final, where they famously were beaten by Arsenal.
14 February 1999: Manchester United 1-0 Fulham (FA Cup fifth round)
Nearly twenty years later, Kevin Keegan’s Second Division side saw their superb FA Cup run ended by a former Fulham forward, Andrew Cole, at Old Trafford. The Whites, who had seen off Wimbledon and Premier League leaders Aston Villa in the previous rounds, were not overawed by the prospect of playing a side gunning for the treble even though Keegan was without regulars Simon Morgan, Paul Bracewell Paul Peschisolido and Geoff Horsfield. A young Kevin Betsy did brilliantly and Cole, who had been bought and sold by Keegan at Newcastle, was slightly fortunate to score the only goal via a deflection from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s pass.
The visitors should have equalised in the second half but John Salako somehow failed to score from close range – earning the ‘Cost us’ nickname he still recoils at today (as in ‘he cost us a replay’) – and the afternoon ended with the away fans singing ‘Keegan for Fulham’ in response to Old Trafford drawing attention to his suitability as a replacement for Glenn Hoddle.
7 January 2001: Fulham 1-2 Manchester United (FA Cup third round)
The tie of the round saw Jean Tigana’s Fulham, flying towards the top flight ahead of schedule, as stormed to the top of the First Division in such style face Manchester United at Craven Cottage. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had been allowed to opt out of the FA Cup the previous season after qualifying for the World Cup Championship – and United’s presence was perceived to be pivotal to ensuring the 2006 World Cup came to England. On an emotional afternoon in SW6 after Chris Coleman’s car crash, Tigana’s team produced a performance to make the footballing world sit up and take notice.
The Whites recovered from the setback of Solskjaer beating Maik Taylor from outside the box just seven minutes to give the visitors one hell of a scare. They equalised through a deflected free-kick from French winger Fabrice Fernandes and the pace and skill of Luis Boa Morte and Louis Saha worried Wes Brown and the Neville brothers throughout. With a deserved replay looming, substitute Teddy Sheringham swept a low shot into the far corner from Luke Chadwick’s pass in the 89th minute – but it would be only a few months before the two sides would be meeting each other more regularly in the Premiership.
6 March 2004: Manchester United 2-1 Fulham (FA Cup quarter final)
Fulham had survived a banana skin to beat Cheltenham and then overcome Everton and West Ham to reach the last eight and be drawn against Manchester United, with relations soured by the tapping up of Louis Saha prior to his protracted move to Old Trafford. Hopes of emulating the run to the semi-finals from two years soared when Steed Malbranque coolly converted a spot-kick midway through the first half after Wes Brown had crudely cut down Luis Boa Morte.
Chris Coleman had masterminded a famous win at the Theatre of Dreams seven months earlier but his team only led for two minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy, whose debut double had denied Fulham a famous win on their return to the top flight in 2001, drove home from Ryan Giggs’ cross. The visitors almost restored their advantage through an unlikely source before half time when Zat Knight cracked a 40-yarder against the crossbar, but van Nistelrooy tapped in a Ronaldo cross just after the hour mark to give United the lead.
Fulham hunted a late leveller with the lively Boa Morte denied at the death by a brilliant save from Tim Howard – as United went on to win the Cup, beating Millwall in a final staged at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
7 March 2009: Fulham 0-4 Manchester United (FA Cup quarter final)
Roy Hodgson’s Fulham were on the way to the club’s highest-ever finish of seventh in the top flight when they were outclassed by Manchester United in the quarter finals in 2009. The Whites had shown plenty of grit to eliminate a stylish Swansea side after a replay but appeared to have used it up as the Red Devils, by now featuring former Fulham favourite Edwin van der Sar in goal, eased to a simple success. Wayne Rooney and Ji-Sung Park added to a first half double from Carlos Tevez on a forgettable afternoon for the Whites, who gained a modicum of revenge by beating United 2-0 in the league a fortnight later.
26 January 2013: Manchester United 4-1 Fulham (FA Cup fourth round)
Aaron Hughes headed home a late consolation as Martin Jol’s feeble Fulham were easily beaten in a mismatch broadcast live on ITV. Ryan Giggs scored an early penalty after Hughes had been adjudged to have handled a corner and, although Sascha Riether went close with a blistering drive after the interval, Rooney made it 2-0 and then set up Javier Hernandez for the first of the Mexican striker’s double. Let’s hope for better tomorrow.
For the record Macedo is Gibraltarian not Maltese.
Thanks Martin – I don’t know why I’ve given him a new nationality, but it is now corrected.