Leicester City and the FA Cup:
Forever the bridesmaid and never the bride
Leicester City embark on yet another FA Cup campaign aiming to avoid an all too familiar heartbreak | Photo: Getty/ Plumb Images

Leicester City and the FA Cup: a marriage that so often ends in divorce.

120 times the Foxes have attempted to lift the famous old trophy and 120 times they have failed and been left heartbroken.

Brendan Rodgers now takes his charges to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon looking to end that barren run in the world’s oldest cup competition and finally find that happy ending.

Final failure

Leicester’s collection of FA Cup runner’s up medals is well-explored. The club have reached the final on no less than four occasions, departing Wembley Stadium as the losers each time. No side has ever reached more finals in the competition’s history without actually claiming the trophy. As a matter of fact, they are well clear of nearest challengers Watford, Queen’s Park, Crystal Palace and Birmingham City who have each reached the final on two occasions.

That elusive FA Cup crown has not any felt further away, with the majority of the Foxes’ finals coming in the 1960s; 1949, 1961, 1963 and 1969.

Even talked up as overwhelming favourites before the 1963 showpiece against Manchester United, they fell once again, this time to a 3-1 defeat.

The poor record does not end there though. Leicester have been eliminated at the semi-final stage on a further three occasions to make the angst of supporters and players to lift the trophy even greater.

In simple terms, they’ve been jilted at the alter four times, whilst three further proposals have ended in despair.

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The missing piece of the jigsaw

That frustration is certainly understood when observing the FA Cup-shaped hole in the club’s trophy cabinet. Having lifted the League Cup on three occasions, as well as the Community Shield, Leicester’s domestic honours were elevated in 2016 as they shocked the footballing world to claim the Premier League crown.

It would of course be quite the achievement to see the Foxes complete the domestic set but with the FA Cup still to lift, they are yet to do that.

With everything else in place, that missing piece will wrangle with supporters until their club are eventually able to find what they have all been lusting after for over a century.

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Those aforementioned battles for alternative silverware or differing targets at the King Power Stadium could well be the reason behind Leicester having never won the FA Cup. Throughout their long history, allowing for one season, the Foxes have been bouncing between the top two divisions of English football. The vast majority of those campaigns have seen them attempting to do one of two things: escape relegation or earn promotion.

After all, the East-Midlanders have earned four promotions to the Premier League, as well as been relegated three times. No other side have in fact won more second-tier titles than Leicester.

Even in the campaigns where they were not aiming to either change or remain in a division, a Premier League title, a European run or the pursuit of a Champions League place have seen their resources deployed elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether they let their eye wander once again just before the big day this time around.

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Rotten recent record

Leicester’s record has to be put into context though, with those final and semi-final disappointments actually being the best that the Foxes have to offer. Since their most recent progression to the last-four in 1982, they have only reached five quarter-finals including last season where they were ousted by Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Whilst there have been some admirable and possibly undeserved exits in that time, there have also been some infamous shocks. Two particular embarrassments come to the forefront; a 2-1 defeat to third-tier Wycombe Wanderers in the quarter-finals in 2001 and another 2-1 reverse at the hands of League Two outfit Newport County in 2019.

Those two losses have gone down in the annuls of FA Cup folklore, forever pinning Leicester City as the fallen villain in a romantic underdog love story, when in fact the Foxes would of course prefer to be one of the enamoured couple.

That tentative and often fractious relationship begins once again this weekend at the Bet365 Stadium, and for Leicester’s sake, it ought to be a happy and fruitful one this time around to avoid yet more heartache.