Gary Liddle recalls FA Cup giant killing against Chelsea as he prepares to lead Hartlepool United against Crystal Palace

When it comes to FA Cup upsets, Gary Liddle knows a thing or two.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 7:00 am

The Hartlepool United defender was part of one of the greatest cup shocks in recent history when playing for Bradford City as they got the better of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Bantams were 2-0 down in their fourth round tie seven years ago before the League One side produced a memorable comeback, scoring four times unanswered.

And while Liddle doesn’t necessarily remember his own impact in the game, it is a day that has remained with him throughout his career.

Gary Liddle has enjoyed FA Cup success as an underdog in the past and will be hoping for similar as Hartlepool United visit Crystal Palace. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

“A few of the lads have been asking me about that,” said Liddle.

“It was a great occasion. Taking last season’s promotion aside, it was the best day of my career.

“I’ve watched it quite a few times. I can’t actually remember getting a touch in the game to be honest, but we managed to win the game 4-2. It was a great day and one I’ll never forget.

“What I do remember from that day was a lot of the first team players, and Jose Mourinho, were unbelievable with us and I’m sure Crystal Palace and Patrick Vieira will be exactly the same.

Garry Liddle and Andrew Davies of Bradford celebrate at the end of the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Bradford City at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

“They came into the dressing room after the game and wished us all the best and congratulated us and I don’t think we quite took it in at the time as to what a great moment it was for us and what it actually meant.”

Liddle will be hoping to add a similar memory to his collection this afternoon when he leads Pools out at Selhurst Park for their fourth round tie with Crystal Palace.

The 35-year-old is enjoying an unforgettable second spell at the Suit Direct Stadium having helped guide the club back to the Football League last season, but the defender will need to call upon all of his experience, including that afternoon at Stamford Bridge, if Pools are to be successful against Patrick Vieira’s side today.

“It’ll be very similar to what Saturday will be. A full house and hopefully they’ll play as strong a team as Chelsea did on the day.

“We go into it as massive underdogs, like we did on that famous day, so hopefully we can cause another upset.

“Ultimately, and I hope the manager doesn't mind me saying this, nine times out of 10 we shouldn’t, and won’t, win this game.

“But once every year there's an upset along the road and hopefully it can be this weekend and it can be Hartlepool United.”

Of course, there is no formula for causing an upset in the FA Cup. But the fact this competition continues to throw up such shocks season-upon-season is why it retains its allure.

For Liddle and Pools the task is enormous, but not insurmountable.

“You’re coming up against the best players in the world and international footballers in the biggest league in the world in their backyard,” said Liddle.

“You need a lot of luck on the day. You need the opposition players to have an off day and you need your own players to be on their game at the same time which is very rare.

“But as it showed on that famous day at Stamford Bridge it can happen and hopefully it will do this weekend.”

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