The FA Cup has witnessed many memorable giant-killings throughout its long and distinguished history, and it was 30 years ago today that a Welsh club caused arguably the biggest upset ever.

On January 4, 1992, Brian Flynn’s Wrexham, who had finished rock bottom of the Football League the previous season, welcomed reigning First Division champions Arsenal to the Racecourse Ground.

George Graham’s men, who would go on to win the cup the following season, had only lost once when claiming the 1990-91 league title, their second in the space of three years.

They arrived in North Wales with a side packed full of household names including David Seaman, Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Alan Smith, and were odds-on to win the third-round tie.

Wrexham, whose young team featured old heads Mickey Thomas and Gordon Davies, had beaten non-league Winsford United and Telford United to set-up the meeting with the Gunners.

A crowd of 13,343 saw the Londoners take an expected lead just before half-time through Smith, who slid the ball home after Merson had got the better of Mark Sertori.

But despite dominating possession and territory, Arsenal couldn’t double their advantage and make the game safe.

And they paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness in front of goal, as the hosts turned the tie on its head inside the last 10 minutes.

Davies won a free-kick on the edge of the Arsenal box with eight minutes left and up stepped 37-year-old Thomas to arrow his shot into the top corner past a despairing Seaman.

Still on a high after Thomas’ brilliant strike, Wrexham stunned Graham’s charges with a winner two minutes later.

Davies hooked the ball into the danger zone and when Arsenal skipper Adams made a hash of his clearance, 20-year-old Steve Watkin pounced to beat Seaman from close range.

The visitors tried to salvage a replay but the home side wouldn’t be denied.

“That was our plan from the off, from the Monday morning when we started thinking about the game,” Flynn told The Leader.

“We kept telling the players to try and stay in the game but we were lucky to still be in the game at half-time. They battered us.

“If they’d have done all the stats like they do now, Arsenal’s possession would have been about 80 per cent.

“But we stopped them playing in the second half, nicked the ball off them and grew with confidence.

“I’m not convinced it was a free-kick leading up to Mickey’s goal but Gordon’s used all his experience and Mickey’s scored the goal that everyone’s talked about for years.

“And then Wrexham’s Roy of the Rovers, Steve Watkin, hits the winner.”

For Arsenal, a miserable day was compounded that evening when their coach broke down on the way home.

“George Graham was a man of very few words and especially at Wrexham that day,” said Smith. “He told us to ‘get changed and get on that coach’.

“We did get on the coach quickly but it broke down in the middle of nowhere and we spent some time on the hard shoulder waiting for the replacement coach to pick us up.

“I suppose that summed up our day.

“Losing at Wrexham was a sickener but you always get one major shock every year in the cup. Unfortunately, that year it was us.”

Wrexham drew 2-2 at West Ham United in the fourth round before their run was ended by the Hammers in a replay in front of nearly 18,000 fans.

The Welshmen would exact revenge for that defeat five years later when they won 1-0 at Upton Park in a third-round replay.

So, where does Wrexham’s 2-1 victory rank in the list of great FA Cup upsets?

Given where the two teams finished the previous season, many believe it to be the biggest giant-killing in the competition’s history.

It’s certainly up there with Wimbledon’s defeat of Liverpool in the 1988 final, Bradford City’s 4-2 win at Chelsea in 2015 and Sutton United’s 2-1 win over top-flight Coventry City in 1989.


1 Vince O'Keefe

2 Andy Thackeray

3 Phil Hardy

4 Brian Carey

5 Mickey Thomas (c)

6 Mark Sertori

7 Gordon Davies

8 Gareth Owen

9 Karl Connolly

10 Steve Watkin

11 Waynne Phillips


12 Joey Jones

14 Jimmy Kelly


1 David Seaman

2 Lee Dixon

3 Nigel Winterburn

4 David Hillier

5 David O'Leary

6 Tony Adams (c)

7 David Rocastle

8 Kevin Campbell

9 Alan Smith

10 Paul Merson

11 Jimmy Carter


12 Andy Linighan

14 Perry Groves