Brainchild of Alan Hardaker - the League’s former Secretary - the League Cup was first introduced in 1960/61.
It was described as “a new competition for League Clubs, a new source of entertainment for the fans. The League Cup Final, the People’s Final" and began in spectacular fashion.
Below, we look back on the Finals which took place between 1960 and 1969, with this season's instalment just around the corner.
Peter McParland, winning goalscorer for Aston Villa in first League Cup Final, helped his side overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Rotherham United.
“It was something new and, at the time, we didn’t play much midweek football. It meant we had an extra tournament to play in, and it meant we didn’t train so much!
“I scored the winner, I can tell you that. If you haven’t got it on tape, I can also tell you that I beat six men and back-heeled it into the net! No, it was a ball that dropped into the six-yard box, and I just hammered it into the back of the net.”
The following year, Norwich City hammered Rochdale, the only fourth division side ever to reach the Final. Norwich won with three first-leg goals, and one at home in the second.
This was Birmingham City’s first triumph in the League Cup, and it came against rivals Aston Villa. Two goals from Welsh international Ken Leek at St Andrew’s won them what was their only major trophy in their history until 2011.
1964 and 1965
Leicester City were finalists in each of the next two seasons; Gordon Banks keeping out his future club Stoke City in ’64, before losing to Chelsea in ’65, as Terry Venables scored a penalty.
Bobby Moore and Martin Peters were among the scorers for West Ham United in the year they would become immortalised with England. But, having lost 2-1 at Upton Park, West Bromwich Albion overturned a first-leg deficit in the League Cup Final. This was the last of the ‘home and away’ Finals.
Clive Clark, who scored in the ’66 Final, scored two more in ’67 but, by then, the competition had undergone a facelift. Wembley was the setting for this Final and Albion were favourites to retain the trophy against Queens Park Rangers, who topped Division Three. QPR, though, won 3-2, creating Wembley’s first League Cup legend in the process.
Rodney Marsh played a starring role, and later said: “When I was at QPR, we had a fantastic win in the League Cup Final at Wembley. We beat West Brom 3-2, having been 2-0 down at half-time, and QPR were a Third Division team at the time. It was a brilliant, brilliant game for me.”
A place in Europe was now offered to any First Division winner, and the leading lights of English football began to come to the fore. In the year of their first European triumph, Leeds United won the trophy after a feisty game, with a controversial Terry Cooper goal against Arsenal.
Arsenal were back to try again 12 months later, this time against Third Division Swindon Town. Arsenal captain Frank McLintock was sent a telegram from Leeds boss Don Revie, which read: “Be first up the stairs this time.” McLintock was first up the stairs, but only because the losing captain is first up on League Cup Final day.
Another Don, Don Rodgers, was one of Swindon’s heroes as they won 3-1.
“Everyone was saying Arsenal were the better team, but I don’t think there was one person on our team that thought that. We were playing really well and beat some good teams on the way, so we fully expected to win. The best memory was the third goal going in, turning around and thinking ‘you can’t beat us now’.”
Arsenal’s Bobby Gould, who scored to take the game to extra-time, shed tears after doing so, but tears of joy turned to tears of despair for the Gunners on the day. For the second time in three years, the winning captain was a Third Division captain.