Geoff Hurst may have won the 1966 World Cup for England, but he still smarts from a defeat at lowly Mansfield, who are out to cause another famous FA Cup upset against Liverpool today.
The Reds’ trip to Field Mill is the third round’s standout tie, a classic David-versus-Goliath encounter where the glamor clubs enter the draw and have to slum it with the minnows.
It pitches European and domestic title-laden Liverpool against fifth-tier Mansfield, an unremarkable club relegated from the Football League in 2008 and still struggling to get back out of the Conference National.
They call such encounters the romance of the FA Cup — and there will be plenty of that on hand as Mansfield manager Paul Cox, who celebrates his 41st birthday today, wed partner Natasha Bertin on Friday.
The bookmakers who sponsor the league Mansfield play in say they will pay for a VIP honeymoon for the pair if the club can overcome Liverpool.
If Reds stars like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard want to avoid a giant-killing, they might do well to heed the advice of World Cup legend Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in England’s 1966 final win against West Germany.
Mansfield’s finest hour came on Feb. 26, 1969, when Hurst’s West Ham visited Field Mill in a fifth-round tie and lost 3-0.
The Stags were a third-tier club who narrowly avoided relegation that season, while West Ham were fourth in the old First Division.
The Hammers featured three World Cup winners: Hurst, England captain Bobby Moore and Martin Peters.
The giant-killing left such an impression that Hurst has an entire chapter in his autobiography entitled “Memories of Mansfield.”
“Some things stick in your mind, especially people and places,” he wrote. “I’ll never forget Pele and Bobby Moore, for instance, nor Wembley, Hampden Park, the Maracana in Rio, the Azteca in Mexico City and the Field Mill ground at Mansfield.”
“The good people of Mansfield have never let me forget Field Mill. I have tried,” Hurst wrote.
Mansfield winger Louis Briscoe said: “[Liverpool are a huge football club coming to little old Mansfield and it’s going to be a tough ride for them.”
“It’s a chance of a lifetime so you have to grab it with both hands,” he said.
Liverpool’s stars will find Field Mill a far cry from their plush Anfield fortress. Three redeveloped sides of the ground were opened in 2001, but Reds manager Brendan Rogers will sit in front of the narrow, condemned Bishop Street Stand, a boarded-up, ramshackle shed wedged up against terraced houses with a gaping hole in the roof.
Liverpool visit fifth-tier Mansfield Town in the
English FA Cup third round at Field Mill today:
Ground: Anfield (45,276).
Average attendance this season: 44,653.
Highest finish: Champions (18 times).
Honors: 18 League titles, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups.
‧ Mansfield Town
Ground: Field Mill (9,990, currently restricted to 7,574).
Average attendance this season: 2,353.
Highest finish: 21st, Division Two (1977-1978).
Honors: 1 Division Three title (1976-1977), 1 Division Four title (1974-1975).