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King of Cups 10/01/02


BBC Sport's Alan Hansen loved the FA Cup as a player and his passion for the competition is undiminished.

The beauty of the FA Cup is that anyone can beat anyone on their day. When I was at Liverpool, we had to go to York in one of the early rounds of the Cup in 1986. We were a formidable side. We had great players like Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish and went on to win the Double that year. But we had to fight for our lives at Bootham Crescent.

York were fired up, the pitch was boggy and we were lucky to come away with a 1-1 draw. We hammered them when they came back to Anfield, but they had given us a real fright.

Beating Everton in the final in 1986 is definitely my FA Cup highlight. It was great to see Blues and Reds mixing together in the stands at Wembley that day and the atmosphere was fantastic.

We started the match badly and went 1-0 down to a goal from Gary Lineker, who is now my Match of the Day colleague. But we got our act together and fought back to win 3-1. Victory sealed the double for us in Kenny Dalglish's first season as manager.

But the best thing was the next day, travelling round Liverpool on an open-top bus and showing our fans the FA Cup. The build-up to an FA Cup final is different from any other game. It starts at least a week before the match.

As soon as you see the twin towers on your way to the ground you start to shake.

My biggest disappointment was undoubtedly the 1988 Cup final, which we lost 1-0 to Wimbledon.
Liverpool had another great side that year and I was lucky enough to be captain. We cruised to the league title and had some fabulous players, like Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and John Aldridge.
I think the bookies had us down as the biggest favourites in FA Cup final history.

Wimbledon were novices in the top flight and didn't have anything like the talent that we had.
But we played badly on the day and Wimbledon played out of their skins.

The crucial moment came midway through the first-half when Peter Beardsley scored a perfectly good goal and play was stopped for a dubious offside in the build-up. Vinnie Jones has said that he intimidated our players in the tunnel before the game. He's welcome to think that but it's not true. We were Liverpool.

But I'm not making any excuses. My good memories of the FA Cup far outweigh the bad ones.