Classic FA Cup finals: Spurs v Man City, 1981

Martin Cooper May 10, 2020
Classic FA Cup finals: Spurs v Man City, 1981
Photo by Allsport/Getty Images

After covering Sunderland versus Leeds in 1973 and Arsenal versus Manchester United in 1979, my next classic FA Cup final is, in fact, a replay.

But that’s not to say the first meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in 1981 was dull.

It was anything but.

The 1-1 draw stood out for City’s Tommy Hutchison, the oldest man playing in the final, and scoring both goals.

In what was the 100th FA Cup final, City took the lead in the 30th minute when Hutchison met Ray Ranson’s cross with a soaring diving header that beat Spurs keeper Milija Aleksic.

Photo by P. Donnelly/Keystone/Getty Images

City held the lead until 11 minutes from normal time. City keeper Joe Corrigan looked to have Glenn Hoddle’s chipped free-kick covered. Hutchison, however, left the defensive wall to try to flick the ball away but wrong-footed Corrigan instead.

Extra time remained goalless, so the teams reconvened under Wembley’s floodlights five days later. The match would turn out to be a classic, with one of the best goals scored in an FA Cup final before or since.

Cracking start

Both starting XIs remained unchanged and the match got off to a cracking start. Ricky Villa gave Spurs the lead in the eighth minute after great work by fellow Argentine Ossie Ardiles.

City hit back three minutes later when 19-year-old Steve MacKenzie smashed a volley into the top corner after being set up by Hutchison. It was a wonderful goal worthy of winning any game.

Kevin Reeves put City ahead with a 50th minute penalty after referee Keith Hackett adjudged Dave Bennett had been brought down.

Back came Spurs, with Garth Crooks stabbing home with help from Steve Archibald after another great Hoddle chip.

Photo by Allsport/Getty Images

On the ropes

With City on the ropes, Villa got what turned out to be the winner in wonderful style.

Tony Galvin broke away down the left in the 76th minute and fed Villa, who found himself surrounded by three City players. The big Argentinian, who had been unhappy at his substitution five days before, twisted and turned through City’s defence before slotting past Corrigan.

Two years later, Villa was on his way to the US to join Fort Lauderdale Strikers. However, he won the Wembley goal of the century award in 2001 for that special finish.

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Martin Cooper is Group Editorial Lead at GRV Media and edits copy to ensure it is legal, entertaining and fit for purpose. He is also Master Of The Style Guide after writing and maintaining the GRV ‘Bible’ and enforcing its rules with a rod of iron. Martin has 20 years’ editing experience working on newspapers such as The Sunday Times as well as commercial magazines, books and online. Industries he’s worked in range from aeronautics and agriculture to sustainable energy and sport. Starting his working life as a printers’ compositor in the Dark Ages, he knows the true meaning of the terms 'leading' and 'type cases'. Martin is a long-suffering Pompey and England fan who is used to having his weekends ruined.