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Carabao Cup

The League Cup: 1990-1999

In the next part of our decade-by-decade review of the competition, we look back through the '90s!

27 February 2020

The introduction of the Alan Hardaker Trophy, a first triumph for Manchester United and a maiden victory for a foreign manager. There were plenty of talking points in the '90s!


Forest were back again, as Brian Clough walked out alongside Oldham Athletic boss Joe Royle. Oldham had been superb on their road to Wembley, beating Scarborough 7-0 in Round Three, scoring three past Arsenal in Round Four and beating West Ham 6-3 on aggregate in the Semi-Finals.

Royle: “It’s been an incredible journey, and I still can’t quite believe that it’s happened.”

In the end, though, it was Forest’s day, as they won 1-0 to lift the trophy once again. The Alan Hardaker Trophy was first awarded in 1990, Des Walker was the inaugural recipient.


Another year and another rebranding for the competition, which became known as the Rumbelows Cup.

It was won by Sheffield Wednesday, who beat Manchester United 1–0 in the Final. A single goal from John Sheridan gave Wednesday – managed by former United boss Ron Atkinson - the trophy.

The '91 League Cup remains the last time that one of English football's major honours was won by a team outside the top flight, as Wednesday were in the second division at the time. It was their first major trophy in more than 50 years.


The Class of 92’. Four-time winners Nottingham Forest edged past Tottenham to reach their sixth League Cup Final in 15 years, while Manchester United overcame Middlesbrough to reach the Final for the third time. United would go on to win the competition for the first time in their history, thanks to a goal from Brian McClair.


The 1992/93 League Cup was the 33rd instalment of the competition. In the Semi-Finals, Arsenal comfortably overcame Crystal Palace, with Ian Wright scoring in both legs against his old club, while Sheffield Wednesday overcame Blackburn Rovers in the other tie by a similar margin.

Arsenal beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in the Final, in what was the first of three Wembley finals between the two sides that season. Arsenal and Wednesday also met in the FA Cup Final of that year (which went to a replay), the only time this has ever happened in English football. The match was also the first in which any European clubs had used squad numbers and player names on their shirts.

In the celebrations after the match, Arsenal skipper Tony Adams attempted to pick up match-winner Steve Morrow and parade him on his shoulders, but Adams slipped and Morrow awkwardly hit the ground. He broke his arm and had to be rushed to hospital. Unable to receive his winner's medal on the day, he was eventually presented with it before the start of the FA Cup Final the following month.


Manchester United's quest for a unique domestic treble continued as they defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 in the Semi-Final first leg at Old Trafford before a fine 4-1 win at Hillsborough in the second. Tranmere Rovers boosted their hopes of a first-ever major trophy by defeating Aston Villa 3-1 in the first leg of the other Semi-Final, but they then found themselves on the receiving end of a 3-1 Villa win and lost the shoot-out, meaning that Villa went through.

Ultimately, Villa would deny United that treble, winning 3-1 at Wembley. The match was also the last to be covered on the original BBC Radio 5; the station closed down that night, with BBC Radio Five Live launching the following morning.


Liverpool were back in the Final after an eight-year absence in 1995, and made sure they made the most of the occasion. Up against Bolton Wanderers, the first Greater Manchester side to reach a domestic final in 37 years, the Merseysiders won 2-1 in front of over 75,000 supporters at Wembley.

Liverpool's win qualified Liverpool to play in European competition the following season, while Bolton would win promotion to the Premier League following a 4-3 victory in the First Division Play-Off Final.


The ‘96 Final took place at Wembley Stadium between Aston Villa and Leeds United. This was the 36th Final and the 30th to be played at Wembley. Aston Villa had won the trophy two years earlier, while Leeds' last victory was in their only Final appearance in 1968.

Villa eventually ran out 3-0 winners, their fifth success in the competition, at the time equalling the record set by Liverpool.


The year 1997 saw Leicester City reach their first cup final in 28 years, at the expense of Wimbledon, while Division Two underdogs Stockport County gave Middlesbrough a run for their money, going out by a single goal.

The Final at Wembley ended 1-1 after extra-time. Fabrizio Ravanelli opened the scoring only for Leicester's Emile Heskey to equalise in the last minute of extra-time. Leicester won the replay, and their second League Cup, in the game played at Hillsborough Stadium on 16 April 1997 with another extra-time goal, this time from Steve Claridge. This was the last year that the League Cup Final was decided by a replay.


Boro were back 12 months later, and looking for revenge. This time they faced Chelsea, who had ended Arsenal’s hopes of a treble en route to Wembley.

Chelsea, under new player/manager Gianluca Vialli – who did not select himself - won with two extra-time goals and won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup later that season. Middlesbrough's second consecutive defeat in the Final was followed by promotion back to the Premier League after just one season.


The 1998/99 League Cup was known as the Worthington Cup, and the last Final of the century was again held at Wembley.

In the Final were Tottenham, bidding to win their first major trophy, and place in Europe, for eight years. They faced Leicester, who had reached their second Final in three seasons.

Tottenham – managed by former Arsenal boss George Graham - won the game, and their third League Cup, with an injury-time diving header from Allan Nielsen. The match also saw Justin Edinburgh become the last-ever player to be sent off at the old Wembley.

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