Matt Smith and five more unlikely FA Cup heroes


Everyone loves a cup giant-killing, especially when the players involved are just regular Joes. 23-year-old Matt Smith joined an elite group of FA Cup heroes yesterday, scoring a brace as Oldham downed Liverpool in the fifth round. Just a couple of years ago Smith was a student, playing part-time football for Solihull Moors before turning professional in 2011. Here are five more unlikely heroes who have made names for themselves in the world's oldest cup competition:


Ronnie Radford

The scorer of one what is perhaps the FA Cup's most iconic goal didn't play for Manchester United or Liverpool. He wasn't an England international or a global superstar. Ronny Radford was a journeyman striker who, after unsuccessful spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, ambled through English football's lower leagues, playing part-time while also earning money as a carpenter. When his non-League Hereford side met first division Newcastle in the FA Cup few expected an upset, even when the minnows managed to take the game to a replay. But this wonder strike (which comes after a lovely crunching challenge) set the tone for the definitive giant-killing. Radford ambles through the mud and spanks a shot into the top corner, prompting hundreds of fans to storm through the (very flimsy) barriers in celebration. When Radford's football career ended, he returned to his other day job, safe in the knowledge that a page in the FA Cup's history books would always be devoted to him.


Matt Hanlan

Sutton United pulled off one of the great cup upsets in 1989, beating Coventry - who had won the competition two years earlier - in the third round. The hero for the minnows was Matt Hanlan, who was working as a self-employed bricklayer. Glitz and glamour this was not; "I was staying at my sister-in-law's at the time," Hanlan told The Guardian in 2008. Despite enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, Hanlan admitted that "it was nice to get back to normal life" after the furore died down.


Roy Essandoh

FA Cup stories don't get much better than this one. While Wycombe Wanderers were battling their way to an unlikely quarter-final tie against Leicester City, Roy Essandoh was doing... not much, actually. But an injury crisis at Wycombe prompted manager Lawrie Sanchez to go to extraordinary lengths to bolster his squad. The former Northern Ireland international put an advert on Ceefax (yes, seriously) calling for strikers who weren't cup-tied. Essandoh saw the page, put a call in to his agent, and the rest is history. A bullet header downed the Foxes and put Wycombe into a historic semi-final. If only all stories of sofa procrastination had such happy endings!


Tim Buzaglo

While all the names on this list hit the headlines for their cup exploits, only one managed a hat-trick against big-name opposition. Gibraltar-born Tim Buzaglo shot to stardom in 1991, when his ruthless finishing put Woking into the fourth round at the expense of West Bromwich Albion. The first goal, a precise left-footed effort, cancelled out the Baggies' first-half opener, before his fortuitous second put the travelling fans on cloud nine. His third, a drilled volley, ensured his name will forever be associated with third round day. Buzaglo still lives in Woking and works in Surrey as a porter.


Giuliano Grazioli

OK, so this isn't technically a giant-killing (Newcastle lived to fight another day, winning the replay 2-1), but Stevenage's 1998 third round heroics certainly put them up among the cup's pluckiest minnows. FA requirements meant that the club had to build a temporary stand to house Newcastle fans for this game - underlining the gulf between the two outfits - and few would have believed that the non-leaguers would challenge high-flying Newcastle. But Giuliano Grazioli believed. With his side trailing to an Alan Shearer goal, the Londoner rose like a high tide in the Magpies' box, nodding a cross past the despairing Shaka Hislop. His joyous celebration remains one of the competition's iconic images - a reminder that, just occasionally, David can get one over on Goliath.


Read Adam Clery's piece on the magic of the FA Cup HERE.

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