Two FA Cup Finals, two decisive own goals, the joy and pain of football on the world’s biggest stage. Gary Mabbutt experienced it all – and our tie against Coventry City brings it all flooding back.
Our legendary former skipper inadvertently played the biggest part of the famous 1987 FA Cup Final when Coventry City, the underdogs, upset us at Wembley.
Clive Allen put us ahead on two minutes but Dave Bennett levelled just six minutes later.
Gary got the final touch in a challenge with Brian Kilcline to restore our lead before half-time but Keith Houchen's famous diving header took the game into extra time. Gary then diverted Lloyd McGrath's cross over Ray Clemence and into his own net for what turned out to be the winner in the 95th minute.
It might have been one of the great finals of the modern era, but that’s little consolation to Gary, who is no doubt reminded of his own goal every day, let alone having drawn them in the third round of this season’s competition!
“We had a great season in 1986-87,” reflected ‘Mabbsy’. “We finished third in the league, reached the semi-finals of the League Cup and the final of the FA Cup.
“We were the favourites to win the final against Coventry because we’d had a great season playing great football.
“Clive Allen scored 49 goals as a lone striker and we went into it very confident. But it didn’t turn out that way.
“It was Coventry’s day, we lost 3-2 and unfortunately the winner came off my left knee. It wasn’t a great day. It’s the only cup final Tottenham have lost. It was a fantastic cup Final, but not the best memories for myself or anyone involved in Spurs.”
It took four years for Gary to experience the glory, glory of FA Cup Final day.
Having beaten Arsenal – and denied them a potential double – in the first Wembley semi-final, to cap a memorable, Paul Gascoigne-inspired run to the final, we came from 1-0 down and losing Gazza to injury to beat Forest 2-1 on May 18, 1991.
“It was another great cup final, probably remembered more for Gazza,” said Gary, whose pressure forced Des Walker to head into his own net.
“He was outstanding for us that season but in the final, he suffered a bad injury.
“We still managed to come back after going 1-0 down and then, quite ironic really, an own goal by Des Walker won the cup for us.
“I received the trophy from the Duchess of Kent, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were also there and the moment I turned to the supporters and lifted the cup, the noise was absolutely amazing. It’s every schoolboy’s dream.”