League Cup Final of the Day: Stoke City vs Chelsea, 1972
This Sunday at Wembley, Liverpool play Manchester City in the 2016 Football League Cup Final at Wembley. Once the runt of the litter that makes up our domestic football calendar, the League Cup has found itself stabilising in recent years while the FA Cup has plunged into crisis, and as part of the build-up to this year’s final we’re gong to spend the next few mornings taking in a few of its great finals of the past. The competition had begun in 1960 as a midweek competition devised by the Football League with a two-legged final. Initially derided by the bigger clubs – many of whom boycotted it in its earlier years – it blossomed after the final was moved to Wembley in 1967, with a European place being offered to the winners – so long as they were in the First Division – shortly afterwards.
Founded in 1863, Stoke City were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League, but by 1972 had still never won a major trophy. That season, however, they defeated Southport, Oxford United, Manchester United, Bristol Rovers and – after an epic semi-final which ran to four matches, including two replays – West Ham United to reach their first final, and their opposition were Chelsea, who had won the FA Cup two years earlier and the European Cup Winners Cup the year before. A Stoke City team containing the England goalkeeper Gordon Banks would end their one hundred and nine year wait for a cup that year thanks to a second half goal from the then thirty-five year old George Eastham, and in the forty-four years since then, they’ve only reached the final of a major trophy once, losing the 2011 FA Cup final to Manchester City. Commentary comes from Brian Moore.
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