AVENGING recent and not so recent exits will be the order of the day for a trio of Yorkshire clubs facing glamour third-round ties in the FA Cup.
It is a weekend that, despite the way football has changed over the past decade or so, remains a highlight of the calendar in this country and 10 of the county’s teams will be in action, hoping to battle through to the next stage.
Barnsley host Middlesbrough in today’s standout tie but it is tomorrow – when four of our clubs travel to Premier League opposition – that promises the kind of upset that has made the Cup such a popular and enduring institution.
For three of those ties, the lure of causing a shock will be added to by a sense of avenging past defeats as Hull City travel to Arsenal in a re-run of last May’s final, Sheffield Wednesday return to Manchester City just three months after losing 7-0, and Leeds United take on Sunderland in a repeat of the 1973 showpiece that saw the Wearsiders pull off one of the all-time great upsets.
Hull manager Steve Bruce was left distraught at Wembley by Arsenal fighting back from being two goals down inside nine minutes to lift the Cup after extra-time.
Ahead of tomorrow tea-time’s clash at the Emirates, which will be shown live on BBC1, the Tigers chief said: “It was a great day for everyone and we were close to winning the thing.
“We weren’t quite good enough on the day, but I think everyone will remember what a spectacle it was.
“As for this tie, it couldn’t be a more difficult game. Going to the Emirates is never easy, but we were unlucky in the league (when the Gunners equalised in the last minutes to claim a 2-2 draw in October) not to win and can take heart from that.”
“That league game showed what can happen. We were close to winning and this is, after all, the FA Cup. There are always shocks and that is why everyone looks forward to third-round day.
“It will be difficult, we know that. But let’s go down there and have a real go.”
Another club hoping to make up for a recent cup defeat is Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls actually played well at the Etihad in the first half and went in level at the break.
After half-time, however, the Premier League champions ran riot to score seven unanswered goals and condemn Wednesday to their biggest defeat in 15 years.
Head coach Stuart Gray said: “The pleasing thing is we have been there and experienced it.
“A poor experience and a disappointment, admittedly. But there is no fear of the unknown this time.
“We know the stadium, the pitch, and we want to give our supporters something to cheer. I am excited about this game and so are the players. If you can’t get excited about a game like this, you can’t get excited about anything.”
Looking back to the September drubbing handed out to his team, Gray, who has watched the Blues twice in the past week at home to Burnley and Sunderland, added: “It was an even game for 45 minutes and I thought we performed very well.
“But Manchester City showed their qualities as one of the best teams in the world after the break and we all know what happened.
“So, we know what they are capable of and we know what they can do to teams. We have to go there with no fear and remember how well we did in the first half.
“They showed us total respect that night by playing their full team. I am sure whoever plays this time, there will be 11 internationals in that team.
“But this is the FA Cup and there is always a shock and I know the players want to get that last performance out of their system.”
Completing the trio of Yorkshire clubs looking to make up for disappointing past results is Leeds.
The defeat suffered by Don Revie’s side against Second Division Sunderland at Wembley in 1973 has gone down in the annals of the Cup. Current head coach Neil Redfearn, a lifelong Leeds fan, was not far short of his eighth birthday when the Wearsiders triumphed courtesy of Ian Porterfield’s first-half goal and he admits that loss still resonates at Elland Road.
He said: “Leeds United have a proud tradition in the FA Cup. We have won it in the past and that is part of our history. As are the great players such as (Allan) Clarke, (Peter) Lorimer and (Billy) Bremner, who all add to the romance that the club has got with the Cup.
“Being a Leeds fan and knowing about winning against Arsenal in 1972 and then getting beat by Sunderland in 1973, they are games that stick out in your mind as a youngster.”
Asked if it was possible to speak of avenging a game from 41 and a half years ago, Redfearn, who played in a FA Cup semi-final for Oldham Athletic, replied: “I would say so, yes. I would see it as that. There are a lot of people who associate this club with the Revie days.”
United of 2015 is, of course, very different to the homegrown team that Revie developed with Massimo Cellino having brought in a host of fellow Italians since the summer.
Educating them in the traditions of the Cup, however, is not something that Redfearn feels he will have to do ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Stadium of Light.
The Leeds head coach added: “I think they do get it about the FA Cup. The coverage of football in this country is top notch. Things get sent round the world so I think they do see it as a prestigious tournament.
“They understand that at Leeds it is important to win. When you enter a competition, you enter it to win it, not just to go as far as you can, and, in that respect, we are no different to anyone else.”
Sheffield United complete the quartet of Yorkshire clubs heading to Premier League opposition tomorrow when they take on QPR, while today sees Doncaster, Rotherham and Huddersfield host Bristol City, Bristol City and Reading respectively. Bradford City travel to Millwall.
Cup previews: Pages 2-5