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Friday, 14 March 2014

Aberdeen v Inverness Caley: Five of the biggest cup shocks in British football

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Aberdeen head into this Sunday's League Cup Final with Inverness Caledonian Thistle as overwhelming favourites for the cup. The Dons are second in the SPFL, are the only league team to have beaten leaders Celtic this season and are also one game away from reaching the Scottish Cup Final.

There will also be 40,000 fanatical Aberdonians in attendance at Celtic Park for the final - and they could have sold even more - outnumbering the Caley support by almost six to one.

However, it's hard to believe that this is the Dons' first final for 14 years. You also have to go back to 1995 for the last time they actually won anything or great note when they beat Dundee in this very competition. I was there when they beat Bradford City at Valley Parade in their centenary competition 11 years ago, but that doesn't count!

Remember this was a team that during the 80s dominated the football landscape at home and in Europe. Sir Alex Ferguson led them to three league titles, four Scottish Cups, one League Cup, the European Cup Winners Cup and European Super Cup. They broke the Old Firm's stranglehold on the Scottish game and it looked like the Dons would have to build a new trophy cabinet to cope with the success.

Unfortunately, since Fergie left to take on the challenge of a lifetime at Manchester United, Aberdeen have only managed to win three pieces of silverware. Alex Smith claimed the cup double in 1989/90 and Roy Aitken was in charge for the Coca-Cola Cup triumph five years later. Since then it's been a barren time for the men from Pittodrie.

They've suffered some horrific defeats. The very mention of teams like Queen of the South, Stenhousemuir, Bohemians and Skonto Riga send shivers down the back of all Dons fans. Celtic have rewritten the history books by pumping nine past them and they've flirted with the drop more times than I care to mention.

But Derek McInnes has restored pride and belief into the Red Army and they are marching to Glasgow this weekend with hope and expectation, determined to end 19 years of hurt. The former West Brom midfielder was axed by Bristol City but convinced chairman Stewart Milne that he was the right man for the job when former Scotland boss Craig Brown stepped down. And what an inspired choice he has proved to be. McInnes has assembled a great squad of youth and experience which is tearing up the SPFL. Aberdeen are once again entertaining to watch and fans are flooding back to Pittodrie in their droves.

Aberdeen start as favourites and have the majority of the support inside the stadium. Caley go into the game having failed to score in their last three outings and have suffered two 5-0 drubbings among them.

However, here is a word of warning. Anything can happen in football. Every dog can have its day. Something Aberdeen fans are only too aware of that following their recent record of cup shocks.

However, here are five of the biggest cup shocks in Britain.

1. Glasgow Rangers 0 Hamilton 1 1987

Rangers, managed by Graeme Souness, boasted international stars like Chris Woods, Terry Butcher, Ally McCoist and Davie Cooper and the thought of getting beat at home by little old Hamilton never crossed the mind of the 35,000 inside Ibrox that day. Adrain Sprott wrote his name in the history books with the only goal of the game to stun the team of so-called superstars. Much to the amusement of those outside of Ibrox! 

2. Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 0 1988

It may be hard for the kids of today to comprehend but Liverpool were once the kings of Europe. They dominated the game at home and aboard and could simply swat teams away like flies. Wimbledon's Crazy Gang though had enjoyed a meteoric rise from non-league football right to the top flight. Players like Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise and John Fashanu all showed their fighting qualities at the English Dons.

Going into the game, nobody gave Wimbledon a prayer, but Lawrie Sanchez had other ideas. The Northern Ireland international found space in the box to head past Bruce Grobbelaar and stun the world. Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant even saved John Aldridge's penalty - the first in FA Cup Final history. Wimbledon's name was simply on the cup.

3. Celtic 1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3 2000

Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Attrocious. The greatest headline of all time was created by Caley's monumental result against John Barnes' Celtic 14 years ago. Caley were expected to be turned over by the Glasgow giants, but the Highlanders stunned the Hoops with an incredible display. Barnes lost his job after this defeat. 

4. Wigan 1 Manchester City 0 2013

Relegation-threatened Wigan cost Roberto Mancini his job at the Etihad with this shock win last season. Roberto Martinez's men were only supposed to be at Wembley to see the sights. No-one gave them a hope in hell of actually winning the trophy, but Ben Watson's late header saw the Latics become only the 43rd team to have their name engraved on the trophy. A few days later they created some unwanted history by becoming the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season.

5. Berwick Rangers 1 Glasgow Rangers 0 1967

The boys from Ibrox were turned over by Second Division Berwick in the first round in 1967. Sammy Reid was the hero of the hour as he dumped David White's side - who would go on to compete in the European Cup Winners Cup that season - out of the competition. 

Obviously I've erased the nightmares of Stenhousemuir, Queen of the South, Queen's Park, Dundee, Dunfermline and Raith Rovers from my mind. I'm trying to stay positive!

Will Aberdeen fail in their quest for glory or will Derek McInnes write a new chapter in the Dons' history? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.

Article by Colin Illingworth

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