Grimsby Town's sensational win over Southampton on Wednesday has had everyone talking, and rightly so. Since the introduction of the Fourth Division in 1958-59, there have been six sides from the fourth tier of English football or lower who have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals to epitomise the magic of the cup. Here are those six trailblazers.
Grimsby Town (2022-23)
League Two Grimsby Town progressed to the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night with a 2-1 victory over Premier League outfit Southampton as they have booked themselves another south coast clash with a top-flight side in Brighton & Hove Albion in the last eight. Gavan Holohan was the hero of the night as he kept his composure to score from the spot on two occasions to keep Grimsby’s FA Cup dream alive under Paul Hurst.
The Mariners are the lowest-ranked side left in the prestigious competition and they had already beaten League One promotion hopefuls Plymouth Argyle, fellow League Two side Carlisle United and Championship play-off chasers Luton Town, who they thrashed 3-0 in their Fourth Round replay.
Mariners mayhem on south coast as Grimsby reach quarter-finals
Lincoln City (2016-17)
Everyone remembers when Danny and Nicky Cowley were making waves in their managerial careers with the Imps and, in the same year they made their way back to the Football League as National League champions, they enjoyed a magical run to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Lincoln’s biggest upset came against then-Premier League side Burnley at Turf Moor, with Sean Raggett’s dramatic 89th-minute winner making the Imps the first non-league team since 1914 to reach the last eight. Their fairytale run came to a bitter end in the following round as they were hammered 5-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates.
Cambridge United (1989-90)
Cambridge United had an exciting run to the FA Cup quarter-finals from Division Four back in 1989-90, when they overcame Division 1 team Millwall via a 1-0 Fourth Round replay victory at the Abbey Stadium. Their Fifth Round opponents were Bristol City and that match went to two replays before Cambridge pummelled their opponents 5-1 to reach the last eight. Their bubble was soon burst when they welcomed top-flight Crystal Palace to their turf and they subsequently lost 1-0.
Bradford City (1975-76)
In recent years we have come to know Bradford as a team to cause some cup upsets. They unbelievably reached the League Cup final in 2013 while in League Two and a couple years later recorded a huge 4-2 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup.
As a Division Four side in 1975-76, the Bantams went on a historic run to the quarter-finals which saw them defeat Division One Norwich City at Carrow Road 2-1 to book them a quarter-final contest with second-tier Southampton. They ultimately lost the game 1-0 at Valley Parade and the Saints marched on to cup glory from there.
Colchester United (1970-71)
Colchester United brought a lot of pride to Essex in this particular campaign when, as a Division Four side, they soared to the FA Cup quarter-finals by beating one of English football’s biggest clubs at the time, Leeds United, 3-2 at Layer Road. Ray Crawford scored a brace inside the first half to set The U’s up for the huge upset and their lead was extended to three early in the second half.
Leeds gave them a late scare by pulling two goals back but the hosts held on for the emphatic triumph. They couldn’t overcome top-flight opposition at the second time of asking as they were comfortably beaten 5-0 by Everton at Goodison Park in the last eight.
Oxford United (1963-64)
Arthur Turner’s side from the fourth tier enjoyed a mesmerising cup run to the quarter-finals back in 1963-64 which saw The U’s defeat Division One outfit Blackburn Rovers in the Fifth Round. Tony Jones scored twice to put Oxford two goals ahead before Mick Ferguson pulled one back to bring Rovers back into the tie. The game was sealed at the death Bill Calder made it 3-1 to the hosts who couldn’t believe what they had just done.
Sadly they were then drawn against second-tier side Preston North End in the quarter-finals and, despite being at home, they lost 2-1. Preston then went on to reach the final which they ultimately lost 3-2 to West Ham United.
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