1987 FA Cup Final

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][2]

1987 FA Cup Final
Old Wembley Stadium (external view)
Event1986–87 FA Cup
Coventry City Tottenham Hotspur
3 2
Date16 May 1987
VenueWembley Stadium, London
RefereeNeil Midgley (Manchester)


BBC commentator John Motson stated that it was "the finest Cup Final I've had the pleasure of commentating on". There were no bookings and the game was generally considered a good advertisement for English football. In contrast to the modern game, all but one of Coventry's players were English, the exception being Welsh international David Phillips, while eight of the Spurs starting eleven were also English.

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.[3]

Tottenham had been knocked out of the Football League Cup in the semi-finals 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.[4]

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."[5]

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. Houchen was also awarded the BBC's Goal of the Season for 1987.

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.[6][7]

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'
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. ^ "Back then it was the Holy Grail... and we won it! Houchen explains his big day at Wembley, that goal, and not having a picture". Daily Mail. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  3. ^ "1987 FA Cup Final Kits". Historical Kits. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  4. ^ The Scotsman, 31 January 2009, accessed 23 April 2010
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ "Cup earned by the Blue crew". Guardian. 16 May 1987. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. ^ "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.

External links

1987 FA Charity Shield

The 1987 FA Charity Shield (also known as the General Motors FA Charity Shield for sponsorship reasons) was the 65th Charity Shield, a football match contested by the holders of the Football League First Division and FA Cup. This edition was contested between Everton and Coventry City at Wembley on Saturday 1 August 1987. Everton had won the 1986–87 Football League and Coventry had won the 1987 FA Cup Final to qualify for the season opener for the first time. It was played two weeks before the new league season kicked off. This was Everton's fourth successive appearance in the Charity Shield. The match was shown live on ITV with commentary from Brian Moore and Ian St. John.

Shortly before the interval, Wayne Clarke scored the only goal of the game to win the trophy for Everton.

Allan Gunn

Allan Gunn (23 November 1943 – 2004) was an English former football referee in the Football League, Premier League, and for FIFA. During his time on the List he was based in Sussex, initially Burgess Hill and later Chailey, near Lewes. Prior to officiating Gunn played as a left-winger for Sussex County League side Whitehawk.

Brian Borrows

Brian Borrows (born 20 December 1960) is an English former professional footballer who played as a defender from 1980 until 1999.

He played for Everton and Bolton Wanderers, but spent the majority of his career with Coventry City. He finished playing with Swindon Town.

Brian Kilcline

Brian Kilcline (born 7 May 1962) is a retired professional English footballer. He played as a centre half for Notts County, Coventry City, Oldham Athletic, Newcastle United, Swindon Town, Mansfield Town and Halifax Town, and was famous for his long hair and moustache.

Kilcline captained Coventry City in the 1987 FA Cup Final at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur. At the time it was thought that Kilcline was possibly responsible for scoring an own-goal to give Spurs a 2-1 lead on the 40 minute mark, but this goal was eventually accredited to Gary Mabbutt. Kilcline and Mabbutt were to clash again in the second half when Kilcline brought down Mabbutt with a tackle. Kilcline was not cautioned by referee Neil Midgley but had to be replaced by substitute Graham Rodger just a minute before the end of normal time due to the injury he himself sustained in the clash. After Coventry's extra time winner (the match finished 3-2) Kilcline limped slowly up the famous Wembley step to receive the trophy for the only time in Coventry's history.In 1991, Kilcline joined newly promoted Oldham Athletic but his stay at the club was not to be a long one.

When Kevin Keegan became manager of Newcastle United in 1992, "Killer" Kilcline was his first signing, and was immediately installed as club captain. He became known for his hard tackling and aerial ability - he often would prefer a diving header to a volley, even for balls only half a metre off the ground. Keegan later remarked that Kilcline was the most important signing he had ever made for the club. This was echoed by fans, who considered him partially responsible for saving the club from relegation and possible bankruptcy.

During the 1993-94 season, he briefly played for Swindon Town in the Premier League and wore the squad number 31.

David Phillips (footballer)

David Owen Phillips (born 29 July 1963 in Wegberg, Germany) is a former professional and Welsh international footballer who played as a midfielder for Plymouth Argyle, Manchester City, Coventry City, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Lincoln City and Stevenage Borough.

Gary Mabbutt

Gary Vincent Mabbutt (born 23 August 1961) is an English former professional footballer who made more than 750 appearances playing for Bristol Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur, and won 16 caps for the England national team. He mostly played in central defence but was a versatile player who excelled also in midfield.

George Curtis (footballer, born 1939)

George Curtis (born 5 May 1939) is an English former footballer who played in the Football League as a defender for Coventry City and Aston Villa.

Go for It (song)

"Go For It" was a single released by the English football team Coventry City to commemorate reaching the 1987 FA Cup Final. It reached number 61 in the UK Singles Chart. In contrast, Tottenham Hotspur, whom Coventry defeated in the final, reached number 18 with their single "Hot Shot Tottenham!"

Graham Rodger

Graham Rodger (born 1 April 1967) is a Scottish-born English former professional footballer and football manager who works as a community coach and chief scout for League Two side Grimsby Town.

As a player, he was a defender from 1984 until 1998 for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Coventry City and Luton Town before finishing his career with a six-year stint at Grimsby Town, where he retired in 1998 following the club's promotion to Football League First Division. Since his retirement from the playing side of the game Rodger has remained with Grimsby, firstly holding the position of community coach and later assistant manager and caretaker manager. In 2006, he had a brief stint as the club's permanent manager but was dismissed after 5 months in charge. Shortly after his dismissal he was brought back to the club once again taking up his role in the community.

Hot Shot Tottenham!

"Hot Shot Tottenham!" was a single released by the English football team Tottenham Hotspur, accompanied by Chas & Dave, to celebrate reaching the 1987 FA Cup Final (which Tottenham lost to Coventry City). It reached number 18 in the UK Singles Chart.

John Sillett

John Charles Sillett (born 20 July 1936) is an English football player and manager. He played for Chelsea, Coventry City and Plymouth Argyle. He won the Championship with Chelsea in 1955, playing alongside his brother Peter Sillett. He was manager of Coventry City from 1986 until 1990, winning the FA Cup in 1987, and also had two spells as manager of Hereford United.

Keith Houchen

Keith Morton Houchen (born 25 July 1960) is an English former professional footballer and football manager. A forward, he scored 184 goals in 687 league and cup games.

He started his professional career at Hartlepool United in February 1978, after failing to win a contract at Chesterfield. He was coached by Billy Horner to become a strong centre-forward, using his natural strength and power to retain possession in attacking positions. Financial difficulties forced the club to sell him on to Leyton Orient for £25,000 in March 1982. After failing to impress in his two years in London, he was moved on to York City for £15,000 in March 1984. He played seven games in the club's Fourth Division title winning season in 1983–84, before transferring to Scunthorpe United for £40,000 in March 1986. He did not settle at the club, but in the summer he was fortunate enough to win a £60,000 move up through three tiers to First Division side Coventry City.

Though never a prolific player for the "Sky Blues", he scored a spectacular headed goal in the 1987 FA Cup Final at Wembley, which earned him Match of the Day's Goal of the Season award. He featured in the 1987 FA Charity Shield, but faded from the first team picture at Highfield Road, and in March 1989 he joined Scottish Premier Division side Hibernian for a fee of £325,000. He returned to England in August 1991 when he was sold to Port Vale for £100,000. After falling out with manager John Rudge he returned to Hartlepool on a free transfer in June 1993. He was appointed as player-manager in April 1995, but endured a tough time at Victoria Park, and left the club in November 1996. He later coached at the Middlesbrough Academy and entered the property market.

Lloyd McGrath

Lloyd McGrath (born 24 February 1965) is an English retired professional footballer.

A hard-working midfielder, McGrath made his senior debut for Coventry City on 28 April 1984 in one of their heaviest defeats ever - an 8-2 Football League First Division defeat at Southampton. However, three years later he took part in the biggest success of their history so far - the 1987 FA Cup Final triumph over Tottenham Hotspur.He set up the winning goal with a cross that was deflected off the knee of Gary Mabbutt.

By the time of his departure to Portsmouth at the end of the 1993-94 season, when the Sky Blues finished 11th in the FA Premier League, he had played 214 league games for the club and scored four goals.He played for Pompey for the rest of his professional career, retiring in 1997. He now has business interests in the north of Coventry as licensee of the Hawkesmill Social Club.

Mitchell Thomas

Mitchell Thomas (born 2 October 1964 in Luton) is an English retired football defender. While at Tottenham Hotspur he started in the 1987 FA Cup Final.

Nick Pickering

Nicholas Pickering (born 4 August 1963 in South Shields) is a former professional footballer who played as a midfielder in the Football League for Sunderland, Coventry City, Derby County, Darlington and Burnley. He was capped once for the England national team, against Australia in 1983, and remains one of only two players of modern times (the other being Tony Allen) to have been discarded by England while still in his teens.

He was part of the England U21 team that won the 1984 European under-21 championships and reached the semi-final two years later. As a Coventry City player he was on the winning side in the 1987 FA Cup Final.Since retiring as a player he has been involved in youth coaching, and working on the radio in the North East.In his first season in Sunderland's first team he had the honour of being voted both the club's young player of the year and player of the year by the fans.He is married with two sons.

Richard Gough

Charles Richard Gough (born 5 April 1962) is a Scottish former footballer, who played as a defender.

He came to prominence in the successful Dundee United team of the early 1980s, winning the Scottish league title in 1982–83 and reaching the European Cup semi-final in 1984. Gough captained Tottenham Hotspur in the 1987 FA Cup Final. He then captained Rangers to nine successive Scottish league titles. He also played for Scotland 61 times and played in the finals of three major international tournaments.

Gough had a brief spell as manager of Livingston and is currently a global ambassador for Rangers.

Stuart Linnell

Stuart Linnell MBE is a UK radio and television broadcaster, particularly well known in the Midlands of the UK, specially in Northamptonshire, Coventry and Warwickshire. He is also Chair of Healthwatch Coventry.

Stuart presented the weekday (Monday-Friday) Afternoon and Drive Time Show on BBC Radio Northampton, until the end of March 2019. He took on that role in February 2018 after seven years as host of the station's weekday Breakfast Show. Before that he fronted the station's Lunch Show. On 29 March 2019, after ten years at BBC Radio Northampton, Stuart hosted his final regular daily show, having announced that he was taking semi-retirement.

Stuart has regularly presented the Sky Blues Live football show and, from time to time, other shows on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. He was part of the on-air team at the launch of Radio Hallam in Sheffield in 1974, and he was also a front-line presenter at the launch of Coventry based Mercia Sound in 1980. He worked at Mercia for 15 years, becoming the station's Programme Controller and Managing Director. He has also presented the breakfast shows at both BBC Coventry & Warwickshire and BBC WM.

Sutton United 2–1 Coventry City (1989)

Sutton United 2–1 Coventry City was a football match played on 7 January 1989 at Gander Green Lane, Sutton. The match was an FA Cup Third Round tie.

It is one of the most famous 'giant-killings' in the competition's history, notable for being one of those rare occasions when a non-League side defeated a club from the highest tier of English football. It remained the most recent such occasion for 24 years, until Luton Town beat Norwich City in the FA Cup Fourth Round in 2013.

The home team, Sutton United, played in the Conference. The away team, Coventry City, played in the old First Division.

For Coventry, it was a stark role-reversal from their success 19 months earlier in the 1987 FA Cup Final, when they had been on the right end of a much-celebrated underdog triumph.

World Forum/Communist Quiz

"World Forum/Communist Quiz" is a Monty Python sketch, which first aired in the 12th episode of the second season of Monty Python's Flying Circus on 15 December 1970. It featured four icons of Communist thought, namely Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Ché Guevara and Mao Zedong being asked quiz questions.

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