League Cup Legends: The Best Games From The Last 54 Years Of The League Cup Final


The Football League Cup began 54 years ago after Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker proposed increasing the number of League clubs from 92 to 100, plus creating a new Cup competition to compensate for the loss of fixtures.

The clubs rejected the shake-up but kept the League Cup, and in 1961 the first final was played, between Rotherham United and Aston Villa.

Ever since then, it has been a competition filled with drama: no fewer than 18 of the matches have seen extra-time played, there have been five replays, and a penalty shoot-out has been required three times.

As Hardaker enthused: "If the FA Cup is football's Ascot, the League Cup Final is its Derby Day."

The League Cup went on to become the first major Cup competition to bear the name of a sponsor - The Milk Cup - following a ground-breaking deal with the National Dairy Council.

Over the next three decades, the competition went on to have a number of different sponsored titles - from The Milk Cup to The Littlewoods Challenge Cup, The Rumbelows Cup, The Coca-Cola Cup, The Worthington Cup, The Carling Cup and, now, The Capital One Cup.

Here we present the League Cup's most legendary matches from its 54 year history...

1961 Aston Villa 3 Rotherham United 2

There were no expectations that Second Division Rotherham United would trouble Aston Villa, but they stunned their First Division opponents, winning the first leg 2-0 at Millmoor in front of 12,000 fans. Unfortunately for the underdogs, natural order was restored in the return leg at Villa Park, with the claret and blues triumphing 3-0 after Peter McParland scoring the winner in extra-time.

1966 West Brom 4 West Ham 1

Regarded as the 'forgotten final, the 1966 League Cup Final was held over two legs between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United. It was the last to be played over two legs with West Brom winning 5–3 on aggregate. West Ham won the first leg 2–1 at the Boleyn Ground, with West Ham's goals coming from the legendary Bobby Moore and Johnny Byrne, with Jeff Astle scoring for West Brom. But the Baggies bounced back in the second leg, winning 4-1 with goals frtom Graham Williams, Clive Clark, Tony Brown and John Kaye.

1967 QPR 3 WBA 2

In the first League Cup final held at Wembley, QPR went 2-0 down thanks to a brace from Colin Clark. But QPR rallied in the second half and goals from Rodney Marsh and Roger Morgan led the way for Mark Lazarus to score a winner to break Baggies' fans' hearts.

1969 Swindon Town 3 Arsenal 1

League Three Swindon Town humiliated Arsenal in one of the biggest shocks in the League Cup's history. Swindon took the lead against the run of play when Roger Smart capitalised on a defensive blunder in the first half. Arsenal equalised when Bobby Gould scored late on to send the game into extra-time, but Don Rogers became a legend in Wiltshire with two goals.

1976 Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1

The memorable moment of this clash was a classic, as Dennis Tueart smashed home a stunning overhead kick at the start of the second half.

1977 Aston Villa 3 Everton 2

A game that went to two replays to separate the two teams. The clash started with a dull goalless draw at Wembley followed by a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough, with Everton's Bob Latchford equalising in the last minute. Villa eventually lifted the cup with thanks to a sensational long range strike from centre-back Chris Nicoll followed by Brian Little's second goal of the game.

1981 Liverpool 2 West Ham 1

The match that was the start of four consecutive finals for Liverpool. The Scousers followed with wins against Spurs, Man United and Everton.

1983 Liverpool 2 Manchester United 1

Liverpool vs United it almost as important as the derbies from their respective cities. This time, Liverpool had the edge.

1988 Luton Town 3 Arsenal 2

No club has lost more League Cup finals than Arsenal and they were given another pummeling at Wembley by Luton Town. The Gunners were leading 2-1 with eight minutes to go, but Andy Dibble saved Nigel Winterburn's spot kick and sparked a remarkable fightback. A header from Danny Wilson was added to by Mark Stein 90th minute free-kick, which delivered the club's first and only major trophy.

1990 Nottingham Forest 1 Oldham Athletic 0

An unremarkable game was won thanks to Nigel Jemson's goal, but it deserves a mention because it was the last trophy Brian Clough won as a manager. It was Forest's second successive League Cup Final triumph.

1992 Manchester United 1 Nottingham Forest 0

Significant because it was United's first League Cup win. Brian McClair scored the only goal of the game as United lifted the League Cup, then under its Rumbelows guise, with a narrow win over Nottingham Forest. In the process, the Reds became the first losing finalist to return and win the next season. It was Sir Alex Ferguson's fourth piece of silverware at United following successes in the 1990 FA Cup, 1991 Cup Winners Cup and the 1991 UEFA Super Cup.

2001 Liverpool 1 Birmingham 1 (Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties)

With the football league programme becoming congested with replay after stalemate, this was the first time the League Cup went to penalties to decide the contest. Birmingham youngster Andrew Johnson missed the all-important sudden-death penalty to leave his team empty-handed.

2004 Middlesbrough 2 Bolton 1

A particularly poignant moment on a personal front because this was the game when the Boro – the team my 88-year-old father-in-law had supported as boy and man - won their first ever significant trophy (after finishing runners up in the FA Cup in 1997). Ever seen an old man cry with joy? It's a wonderful thing.

2011 Birmingham City 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal were huge favourites to win once again, but Birmingham shocked Arsene Wenger's side – despite being relegated in the same season.

2013 Swansea 5 Bradford City 0

Swansea City secured the first major trophy in their 101-year history as League Two Bradford City were thrashed in the Capital One Cup final. The Bantams had beaten Premier League trio Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to becoming the first side from English football's fourth tier to reach this final since 1962. But Swansea proved a step too far and Bradford were taken apart by Michael Laudrup's side en route to the biggest win in the final of the competition.

2014 Manchester City 3 Sunderland 1

City were expected to slaughter Sunderland who had somehow managed to reach the final despite spending virtually all the season in the bottom three in the Premier League. City had to come from behind to lift the trophy and it took a stunning goal from Yaya Toure to turn the game in their favour in the second half.

2015 Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0

Jose Mourinho claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager with a comfortable Capital One Cup final victory over Tottenham at Wembley. John Terry and Diego Costa did the damage - both with the aid of deflections - either side of the interval as Spurs' hopes of repeating their success over Chelsea in the competition seven years agonever got off the ground.