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FA Cup

Who are the top scorers in FA Cup history?

Harry Cursham was an early version of Haaland or Messi, scoring 49 FA Cup goals in 44 games for Notts County. We take a look at the top five.

Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (C) lifts the trophy after the English FA Cup final football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley stadium, in London, on June 3, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world, first taking place in 1871-72 and won in its first two editions by the now-dissolved Wanderers Football Club, who beat the Royal Engineers in the first final and Oxford University a year later to complete the first domestic back-to-back cup triumph in the history of the game. Those three sides would go on to share the first seven FA Cup titles, with Wanderers winning three more on the bounce from 1875-78 after Royal Engineers and Oxford University each took the prize. It would be a few more years until some more familiar names for today’s football fans would etch their name on the trophy: Blackburn Rovers in 1884, 1885 and 1886; Aston Villa the following season and then West Brom.

Overall, Arsenal are the most successful club in the history of the FA Cup with 14 wins in club history, followed by Manchester United (12), Chelsea (8), Spurs (8), Liverpool (8), Manchester City (7) and Villa (7).

Arsène Wenger accounted for seven of those Arsenal triumphs, making the Frenchman the most successful manager in the history of England’s oldest competition, while his former pupil Ashley Cole holds the record for the most wins as a player, also with seven (three at Arsenal and four at Chelsea).

FA Cup record goalscorers

Given the number of top-class forwards who have passed through the English top flight it is perhaps surprising – or an indication of how significantly the sheen of the FA Cup has dimmed in the era of Champions League qualification - that the FA Cup’s all-time top scorer plied his trade before the turn of the 20th century.

Harry Cursham scored 44 goals in 49 FA Cup appearances for Notts County between 1877 and 1888, a 1.1 goals-per-game average that is more than a match for the finest strikers of the modern age. It is worth noting that games tended to be a bit more one-sided during Cursham’s day – defending was still largely unexplored at the time – and the County forward bagged six in a single game against Wednesday Strollers in 1881-82 and added another four in 1886-87 against Basford Rovers in a game County won 15-0.

Ian Rush holds modern-era record

Behind Cursham is Ian Rush, who will be more familiar to contemporary football fans. The great Liverpool striker banged in 44 FA Cup goals in 75 appearances for the Reds (39), Chester City and Newcastle, and he also holds the record for the highest number of goals scored in FA Cup finals with five.

Third on the all-time list is Denis Law, who retired short of Rush’s 44 after knocking in 43 for Huddersfield, Manchester United and Manchester City. Jimmy Greaves, one of the most naturally talented goalscorers in the history of the English game, is fourth with 42, mostly scored during his lengthy Spurs career with a few at Chelsea, West Ham and Barnet, with Steve Bloomer completing the top five after his 39 goals for Derby and Middlesbrough in the pre-First World War era.