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How one FA Cup final changed the course of history

November 29 2021

The FA Cup

The FA Cup

The 1990 FA Cup final was memorable for so many reasons, writes Marc Toomey.

Not only did it spark a revolution at Manchester United, but it also represented something of a missed opportunity for Crystal Palace.

Having already knocked Liverpool out of the competition, fans were confident that they could cause another upset. Sadly for Palace fans, it wasn't meant to be.

Will Palace ever win the cup?

They have come close on a couple of other occasions since then. Alan Pardew's Eagles side famously reached the final again in 2016 but again came up against a Manchester United manager trying to save himself from being sacked.

On that occasion, United won again. The future was very different for their manager boss Van Gaal, though. When Jesse Lingard scored the winner on that occasion, many Palace fans were inevitably asking whether they will ever win the FA Cup.

Patrick Vieira is now in charge at Selhurst Park. There's a vibrancy that probably hasn't been around since the 1990s. How successful will the former Arsenal captain be though?

A cup win would make him a god amongst the support but current odds with indicate that Palace are outsiders at 51.00, with that equalling a probability of 2%.

A throwback to 1990

The FA Cup is less of a priority now, but in 1990 it was still a huge deal. The previous round went down in history and many regard it as the greatest day in FA Cup history, according to

First of all, Palace knocked the champions-elect Liverpool out. Alan Pardew scored the winner late in extra time. After that, Manchester United drew 3-3 with Oldham Athletic. The Red Devils eventually progressed a nervy replay to set up a meeting with Palace at Wembley.

The final was also an incredible battle. The first match finished 3-3 after a manic 120 minutes. The Eagles took the lead in extra time through a second goal from Ian Wright. However, a late Mark Hughes equaliser took it to a replay. Manager Steve Coppell probably sensed it was something of a missed opportunity.

In the second match, a goal from Lee Martin gave United the win and probably saved Alex Ferguson from being sacked. It's a game that most Palace fans of a certain age won't need reminding of too much.

How different would things have been had Palace triumphed?

It's always hard to tell but Palace winning the cup would have meant qualification for the European Cup Winners' Cup and there's every chance the opponents from Manchester don't have quite the successful decade without the confidence boost of a cup win. In addition for Palace, many of the players from that period might have stayed for longer.

The likes of Ian Wright, immortalised in the hall of fame at, would go on to have successful careers after starting at Palace.

With some success at the club and the added confidence, maybe Wright and others would have been tempted to stay? The club was unfortunately relegated three times in '93, '95 and '98.

The decade ultimately petered out in a way that would have seemed unthinkable for Palace fans walking down Wembley Way in May 1990.

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