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What is the biggest FA Cup upset of all time?

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The FA Cup has treated us to a huge number of shock results over the years, but which of them is the biggest?

Given the wide variety of upsets that have been thrown up in the competition’s history, there’s no easy answer to that question.

The most famous are arguably and understandably those to occur in the final, such as Wimbledon’s triumph over Liverpool in 1988 and Wigan’s win against Manchester City in 2013.

Both of those were indeed huge shocks, with the best sides in the country at the time being beaten by teams at the other end of the first division.

Ultimately though, Wimbledon and Wigan did play in the top division of English football too, which we’d say rules them out of contention when it comes to the biggest shocks ever.

That’s because, on a number of occasions, clubs playing at much, much lower levels than their opponents have claimed victory.

One modern example is when League One side Bradford fought back from 2-0 down to beat Chelsea in 2015, but that giant-killing was nothing compared to some that came before it.

For instance, a lowly second-division Sunderland side beat reigning champions Leeds in 1973, and non-league Sutton United beat Coventry, third in the first division at the time, in 1989.

Perhaps an even bigger shock than both of those came when Wrexham, playing in the fourth tier, beat Premier League champions Arsenal in 1992, and that’s right up there with the biggest of them all given just how good the Gunners were at the time.

However, it doesn’t quite take the biscuit in our eyes.

Brian Owen, Billy Meadows, Ricky George, Ronnie Radford

Plenty of reason to celebrate / Evening Standard/GettyImages

In 1972, Newcastle were an established top flight side who had won it seven years earlier and finished in the top 10 multiple time since.

Hereford, meanwhile, were playing non-league football and always had done, never making it into the top-four tiers.

Given that, it was a huge shock when they managed to hold Newcastle to a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park, forcing a replay.

While they fully deserved that result too though, few people thought that they’d actually be able to beat their opponents on home turf, brushing it off as nothing more than a fluke.

Hereford would have to wait a while to prove those people wrong, with the replay being postponed a number of times due to poor weather, but when they finally got their chance, they took it.

On a pitch that was more mud than grass, neither team was able to produce much until the closing stages, when an 82nd-minute opener from Newcastle looked to end the chances of David beating Goliath. However, Ronnie Radford had other ideas.

30 yards from goal, the ball was laid off to the midfielder and part-time carpenter and he took it first time, firing it into the top corner in stunning fashion to take the game to extra-time and spark a pitch invasion from Hereford fans with one of the greatest FA Cup goals ever.

It maybe wouldn’t be considered one of the best if not for his team-mate Ricky George though, who came off the bench to make it 2-1 in the 103rd minute, causing another pitch invasion.

The hosts would hold on to progress to the fourth round of the tournament, and while they couldn’t go any further, losing a replay to West Ham, they’d already secured their place in the history books.

Just over half a century later, it remains the biggest FA Cup upset ever.

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