Manchester United may have lifted the FA Cup nine times at Wembley and once at Crystal Palace, but when it comes to the competition’s earlier rounds, London’s not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Reds.
In fact, barring finals, semi-finals and, in 1970, a third-place play-off (that initiative was scrapped after just five years), United have won only eight FA Cup matches in the capital in 24 attempts. Here we take a look at each of those London successes:
Fulham 1 United 2 - Sixth round, 6 March 1926
Tom Smith and Frank McPherson netted at Craven Cottage to hand the Reds a deserved 2-1 victory and United's first FA Cup win in London in seven matches. But the real story surrounded Fulham’s scorer, Albert Pape. The Londoners had bought Pape from United barely five months earlier, but a clause in the striker’s contract meant he still lived in the north and trained with the Reds. Incredibly, this FA Cup tie wasn’t the first time Pape had travelled to a match with the opposition and then scored against them. United famously signed the Yorkshireman in 1925 just 90 minutes after he’d arrived at Manchester Piccadilly with that day’s opposition, Clapton Orient. Word spread around the city and a bumper crowd showed up at Old Trafford (reports even suggest it swelled by 7,000 between kick-off and half-time) to see him net against his former club.
Millwall 0 United 1 - Third round, 10 January 1953
Millwall inhabited the Third Division South in 1952/53 so, on paper, shouldn’t have posed too many problems for a United side led by Matt Busby and littered with internationals. What’s more, Busby’s men knew all about The Lions, having lost 2-1 three months prior in a friendly match to “open” The Den’s floodlights. On this occasion, Millwall almost pulled off another upset, turning in a stoic defensive performance. Eventually, though, United broke the deadlock as Jack Rowley netted the winner with just four minutes to play.
Walthamstow Avenue 2 United 5 - Fourth round replay, 5 February 1953
Non-league Walthamstow Avenue had garnered a brave 1-1 draw at Old Trafford five days earlier, thanks to a second-half equaliser by thermos flask salesman Jim Lewis.