The 1987 FA Cup Final took place on 16 May 1987 at Wembley Stadium. It was contested between Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs were appearing in their third final in seven seasons, having won the trophy in 1981 and 1982 and were strong favourites, while unfancied Coventry were appearing in their first ever domestic cup final. Spurs were going for a record eighth victory and had never lost a final. In an exciting match, Coventry eventually triumphed 3–2 after extra time.
BBC commentator John Motson stated it was "the finest Cup Final I've had the pleasure of commentating on". It was a clean, good-willed yet well-contested final, with no bookings and high-quality football being produced by both sides. Both teams exercised quick, neat passing ability interspersed with exciting wing play and it was generally considered a good advertisement for English football. In marked contrast to the modern game, all but one of Coventry's players were English, the exception being Welsh international David Phillips, while eight of the Spurs starting eleven were also English.
Spurs played the game in their new kit for the following 1987–88 season but with white shorts instead of blue. Due to a mix up only half of the Spurs players wore the Holsten sponsorship on their shirts.
Tottenham had been knocked out of the Football League Cup in the semi-finals and had finished third in the league, and so, having spent most of the season challenging for a unique domestic treble, they ended it with no major trophies at all. Aside from the Third Round against Bolton Wanderers, Coventry had progressed to the final impressively, by winning all of their games away from home, including victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford (Alex Ferguson's first FA Cup loss with United).
One downside to Coventry's remarkable triumph was that they would not be able to make a challenge for the European Cup Winners' Cup; UEFA had voted for the ban on English clubs in European competitions, imposed in 1985 following the Heysel disaster, to continue for a third season. In an attempt to show some reward for their achievement, Coventry arranged 'the Anglo-Scottish Challenge Cup', a two-legged match against the Scottish Cup winners, St Mirren. After a 1–1 draw at Highfield Road, attended by fewer than 5,000 spectators, the second leg at Love Street was postponed and eventually forgotten.
In Keith Houchen's 2006 book A Tenner and a Box of Kippers: The Story of Keith Houchen, he describes his goal which levelled the match. "The cross came in and I never took my eyes off it. I had to throw myself at it, or I would never have got on the end of it. I can’t say I was consciously thinking: ‘If it comes in, I’m going to dive and head it.’ It’s all instinct. When it is perfect timing, it’s like a dance — it all comes together. I knew I was getting it. When I scored, I was totally disorientated. I hit the ground, bounced back up again and off I went. All you could hear was this deafening noise. I always thought I’d score in the Cup. The fact it was such a spectacular goal made it sweeter. There was only one team going to win. It’s like two boxers; all of a sudden, one punch changes everything."
Steve Ogrizovic, who remained with Coventry until retiring as a player in 2000, was Coventry's last remaining player from the game when he played his last game for them. Gary Mabbutt, who remained with Tottenham until 1998, was the last player to leave runners-up Tottenham.
Clive Allen scored his 49th goal of the season for Tottenham in the final, after a prolific season where his scoring exploits earned him the Player of the Year awards from both the FWA and PFA.
London rockers Chas & Dave released a song called Hot Shot Tottenham!. It reached No. 18 in the charts. Coventry's single 'Go For It' reached No. 61.
Home teams listed first.
After only two minutes, Clive Allen scored his 49th goal of the season, heading past keeper Steve Ogrizovic at the near-post from a perfect Chris Waddle cross from the right. Within seven minutes though, the Sky Blues were level through Dave Bennett, a Cup Final loser in 1981 for Manchester City, coincidentally at the hands of Spurs. Bennett collected the ball in the box and got around the advancing goalkeeper to hit left footed into the net past Steve Hodge on the line.
The London club were back in front five minutes before the break though through defender Gary Mabbutt when he deflected the ball past the goalkeeper after a cross from the right. Midway through the second half the Midlanders were level again – Bennett's pinpoint cross from the right was met by striker Keith Houchen with a diving header from six yards out for a memorable goal, which was voted in the top 10 goals ever scored at Wembley. Houchen was also awarded the BBC's Goal of the Season for 1987.
The scores stayed level until full-time and the game went into extra-time. Six minutes in, the unfortunate Mabbutt scored an own goal after Lloyd McGrath centred the ball from the right and it took a deflection off of the Spurs defender's left knee from six yards out and over keeper Ray Clemence. One of Coventry's fanzines remains mischievously entitled 'Gary Mabbutt's Knee' also known as GMK.