The unthinkable had happened, Tottenham lost in the FA Cup Final at Wembley for the first time. The defeat to Coventry City occurred on this day, 16th May, 1987.
The fact that Spurs fans found it difficult to take in that Spurs had lost the FA Cup Final was nothing to do with underestimating Coventry, it was all based on the fact that Tottenham had never lost in an FA Cup Final, dating back to their non-League days and their first Cup win in 1901.
After seven successful Finals, Spurs’ amazing record was gone as they lost to Coventry City at Wembley. They had already sacrificed their record of never losing in a Cup Final or at Wembley in 1982 when they lost out in the League/Milk Cup Final to Liverpool but this was the big one.
Coventry City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (aet)
Scorers: Bennett, Houchen, Mabbutt o.g Allen, C., Mabbutt
Team: Clemence; Hughton (Claesen), Mabbutt, Gough, Thomas, T.; Allen, P., Ardiles (Stevens), Hoddle, Hodge, Waddle, Allen,C.
Spurs were firm favourites to lift the trophy as they returned to Wembley for their third FA Cup Final in seven years while Coventry were at this stage of the competition for the first time.
Clive Allen put Spurs ahead after two minutes but Coventry equalised within minutes. Gary Mabbutt restored Tottenham’s lead before the interval but Coventry again replied in the second half. In extra time Coventry went ahead when a cross hit Mabbutt’s knee and looped over the head of stranded goalkeeper, Ray Clemence.
Disappointed – to this day I have never seen Coventry receiving the Cup, although I have had to endure watching their equalising goal on many occasion as it is frequently replayed in trailers for the FA Cup.
#knowyourtottenhamhistory 16th May, 1987 Tottenham Lose To Coventry in FA Cup Final
Spurs had arrived at Wembley after a very impressive season which had seen David Pleat’s team finish third in the 1st Division behind Everton and Liverpool. They had lost in the semi-final of the Littlewoods League Cup to Arsenal after a replay was required, the tie ending all square after home and away legs. Arsenal’s late winner at White Hart Lane in that third match was the only time they had led in the tie.
Clive Allen had been the revelation of the season as he set a new goalscoring record for Spurs – 49 in all competitions, breaking the record previously held by Jimmy Greaves. The season started with his hat-trick against Aston Villa at Villa Park as Spurs claimed a 3 – 0 success and carried on from there. David Pleat introduced a system where Allen played as a lone striker supported by five in midfield and very successful it proved.
Spurs’ Road to Wembley:
Spurs’ progress to the FA Cup Final had been quite serene with few difficulties along the way with Allen scoring four goals in the competition. This was to be Glenn Hoddle’s last season with Spurs and so it was extra special for him to leave on a high note.
3rd Round v Scunthorpe United (h) Won 3 – 2 Mabbutt, Waddle, Claesen
4th Round v Crystal Palace (h) Won 4 – 0 Mabbutt, Allen, C. (pen), Claesen, Opp. o.g.
5th Round v Newcastle United (h) Won 1 – 0 Allen, C. (pen)
6th Round v Wimbledon (a) Won 2 – 0 Waddle, Hoddle
Wimbledon often proved a difficult side for Spurs to beat as they disliked their long ball, high pressured play and often came off second best. David Pleat’s side, however, showed their worth in a visit to Plough Lane and with application and commitment went through as the skill of Chris Waddle and Hoddle provided the goals to ensure the ‘Diamond Lights’ were still shining for the semi-final tie.
Semi-Final v Watford (at Villa Park) Won 4 – 1 Hodge (2), Allen, C., Allen, P.
This semi-final was one of the easiest Spurs have ever played. Watford went into the game at Villa Park with goalkeeping problems and had to call up an emergency keeper as their regular keepers were injured. A 4-1 victory did not flatter Spurs who continued their good form and won through goals from Steve Hodge(2), Clive Allen and Paul Allen. Coventry City were their unexpected opponents in the Final.
After such an easy passage to the Wembley final the outcome was a major disappointment.