THINK of Manchester United winning the FA Cup in 1990 and one image invariably springs to mind.
Mark Robins’s winner in the third round at Nottingham Forest may not, as common perception suggests, have been the goal that saved Alex Ferguson’s job.
But it is the outstanding moment from a run that led the Old Trafford club all the way to Wembley via stop-offs in Hereford, Newcastle, Sheffield and a semi-final at Maine Road.
Steve Bruce was a key part of that success and, as his Hull City side tonight look to take another step towards the national stadium by beating Brighton & Hove Albion on the south coast, he cannot help but cast his mind back 24 years to the season that brought Ferguson his first trophy in English football.
He said: “I look at Wigan winning the Cup last year and Sunderland getting to the League Cup final this time around and I think, ‘If those two can do it, why can’t we?’ Can it be one of those years where we don’t have a home draw but we don’t face a top team? I have done that before.
“When we won it with Manchester United in 1990, we never got a home draw but we never got a top team, either. So, that shows it can be done. Maybe we can do the same.”
Victory tonight at the Amex – which would finally give Hull a home tie, against Sunderland – would not compare to the goal Robins struck at the City Ground to knock Brian Clough’s Forest out in January, 1990. The Huddersfield Town manager rightly holds a place in football folklore for that strike.
But, for Hull it would mean only a second quarter-final since 1989 when Eddie Gray’s side lost 3-2 at home to Liverpool in one of the most memorable matches Boothferry Park witnessed.
With a home tie against Bruce’s former club Sunderland waiting in the next round, a clear path to a semi-final appearance at Wembley will have opened up.
“If we can get past Brighton then all of a sudden you’re in the quarter-final of the FA Cup,” said Bruce. “Then it starts getting exciting.
“If you look at the whole competition, with the four big teams drawing each other in the fifth round, there’s an opportunity for someone, somewhere along the line. Why can’t it be us? The one thing we can’t do is win the Premier League. But, as Wigan and Swansea did last year, you can win a Cup. Win five games and you’re in the final.”
Last six games: Brighton & Hove Albion LWDLWW, Hull LWLDWL.
Last time: Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Hull City 0; February 9, 2013; Championship.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).