FA Cup Flashback | Kevin McNaughton recalls 2007/08 campaign
We begin our Emirates FA Cup campaign for another season this Saturday, taking on Sheffield Wednesday in the third round at Hillsborough.
The Bluebirds have great history in the competition, lifting the iconic trophy in April 1927, following a 1-0 win over Arsenal, in which Hughie Ferguson netted a second half winner.
City also reached the final in a remarkable run in the 2007/08 season, playing in front of a total of 89,874 fans, which remains the largest attendance in the new Wembley’s history.
We take a look at the memorable campaign with defender Kevin McNaughton, who started in every round that season.
Round Three saw the Bluebirds enter the competition with an away tie against Chasetown.
Despite falling behind, City showed character and fought back to earn a 3-1 victory, as Peter Whittingham curled home with a trademark left-footed finish.
Making his first appearance in the FA Cup, Aaron Ramsey, who had just turned 17 years old and signed his first professional contract, marked the occasion with a goal, before winger Paul Parry secured the win.
15 years on, the fixture remains a special memory for Ramsey, whose header was his first goal for the Club.
Looking back at the emergence of the Academy product, Kevin said: “I remember a few lads coming through at the time, like Joe Ledley and Darcy Blake, there were a few boys on the fringes as well, but you could tell in training that he just had that little bit more about him. He oozed that class.
“His decision-making at a young age and his technique, they were leaps and bounds above his age. He was played pretty sharply in the First Team, which for me, once that had happened, everyone could see his ability.
“He had no fear and always wanted the ball, that’s always a good sign. He looked to dominate training and always looked to make an impression. There was a close-knit changing room at the time and I think that helped him. He was a confident lad and got along with everybody. He definitely wasn’t out of place.”
As a whole, the FA Cup campaign had a running theme of players netting their first goal in City colours.
After Ramsey’s effort in the Third Round, it was Kevin’s turn in Round Four, as the Bluebirds took on Hereford United at Edgar Street.
On the stroke of half-time, the right-back struck a brilliant volley into the net to open the scoring, before winning a penalty in the second half, which was dispatched by Steve Thompson.
During his nine years with City, Kevin consistently produced high-quality performances, but has fond memories of his showing against Hereford.
"It was weird, because I always used to stay back for corners, but someone told me to push up a little bit higher and I moved up to the edge of the box," Kevin added.
"Obviously, I'm not renowned for my goal-scoring, but it just sat up so nicely. There was just a gap and I caught it pretty sweetly. I just remember having a little chuckle to myself when it went in. I think that's the closest to the opposition box that I got all season!
"I've not got many goals, I think it would have to rank in the top five, because I only scored five in my career! I had a good goal for Scotland U21s as well, so they're probably my two favourites. That one against Hereford is quite special, because it helped us to get to the Final, it probably ranks as my best."
The Bluebirds would go on to face fellow Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers in Round Five, before taking on Premier League side Middlesbrough in the Quarter-Final in search of a place at Wembley.
Both rounds included a sprinkle of Whittingham magic, taking just 90 seconds to find the net, converting from Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink’s flick-on. It was the latter’s turn to show his quality for the second goal, picking out the top left-hand corner.
Facing a talented Middlesbrough side for a spot in the Semi-Final, City again rose to the occasion, coming out of the blocks quickly through a Whittingham opener, curling home just nine minutes in.
Defender Roger Johnson netted some important goals during his time as a Bluebird, none more so than his header to double City's advantage, proving to take the contest out of the hosts' grasp.
Recalling a huge win at the Riverside Stadium, Kevin said: "At the time, I don't think we were having a good league campaign, we were about mid-table. But, we had a lot of quality in the team, so we were a very good cup team, because on our day, we were decent.
"I think when it got to playing against Middlesbrough, we had a few experienced boys like Floyd-Hasselbaink and a strong backbone with Gavin Rae and Stephen McPhail. A lot of these boys had played in even bigger games than that, which made it easier for us.
"For me, it was certainly an experience facing a Premier League side. I had played a few teams previously in the cups, but they were struggling a bit at the time, so it helped us that they were playing at home. When we scored, you could see that they were under a bit of pressure. That helped us on the day."
The Semi-Final saw the Bluebirds face off against fellow Championship side Barnsley.
Through much of the campaign, City made a habit of making fast starts and did so again at Wembley Stadium, taking the lead after just nine minutes through a memorable goal.
With Tony Capaldi delivering a long throw, the ball dropped in the path of Ledley, who brilliantly volleyed home. His strike was worthy of being the matchwinner and was just that, as City booked a place in the Final.
"It was an amazing experience," Kevin said. "It was quite a nail-biting game, I think both teams were a bit cagey, so it became a bit of a scrappy match.
"I just remember the celebrations after reaching the Final, it was quite surreal. My phone was going off after the game and I think half of Scotland were on the way down to watch the Final!
"I remember the ball just sitting nicely for Joe and he has a quality left peg. It hit the back of the net and he wheeled away and I remember just thinking in my head, 'wow, we've got a chance now' and we had a good record against Barnsley. I think once we got a lead, we felt we could hold onto it."
After a remarkable FA Cup run, City took on Portsmouth in the Final in front of an attendance of 89,874 fans.
Despite narrowly missing out on the trophy in a 1-0 defeat, Kevin recalled a memorable day in his stellar Bluebirds career.
"It was an amazing achievement to get there. The Final was a scrappy game and we never really got a foothold in it, neither team did. We got punished by a quality striker [Nwankwo Kanu] on the day and that was the difference.
"That cup campaign is right up there with the promotion season for me, in many ways. The fans, similar to us, took it as a bit of a bonus. I remember watching the FA Cup Final as a kid, watching the build-up, the guys in their suits and everything, then watching the game, I have a lot of fond memories of the competition as a kid.
"Then, to be a part of it, getting to the Final, it was surreal. It's still the highest crowd that's been there. It was a childhood fairytale for me."
During his nine years with the Bluebirds, the right-back built a strong relationship with the City fanbase and was a popular figure at the Club.
The defender went on to be part of the side that returned to Wembley Stadium in the 2012 League Cup Final, as well as gaining promotion to the Premier League in the following year.
Kevin concluded: "It was amazing. It was a second home for me. I like to go down to games as often as I can. I'm a Cardiff City supporter now, I spent nine years there.
"Through the welcome I got from supporters and how I was treated during my time at the Club, they became my team. It's the first result I look for and I felt like I became one of the fans when I was at the Club."