Anfield side travel to Field Mill to take on non-league opposition.
Geoff Hurst may have won the 1966 World Cup for England but he still smarts from a defeat at lowly Mansfield who are out to cause another famous FA Cup upset against Liverpool on Sunday.
The Reds’ trip to Field Mill is the third round’s standout tie, a classic David-versus-Goliath encounter where the glamour clubs enter the draw and have to slum it with the minnows.
It pitches European and domestic title-laden Liverpool against fifth-tier Mansfield, an unremarkable club relegated from the Football League in 2008 and still struggling to get back out of the Conference National.
They call such encounters the romance of the FA Cup — and there will be plenty of that on hand as Mansfield manager Paul Cox, who celebrates his 41st birthday on Sunday, was due to marry his fiancee the day before the match.
Last year’s finalists Liverpool might give a debut to £12 million new striker Daniel Sturridge and need to win the FA Cup to salvage a poor season.
But if Reds stars like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard want to avoid a giant-killing, they might do well to heed the advice of World Cup legend Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in England’s 1966 final win against West Germany.
Mansfield’s finest hour came on February 26, 1969, when Hurst’s West Ham visited Field Mill in a fifth-round tie and lost 3-0.
The Stags were a third-tier club who narrowly avoided relegation that season, while West Ham were fourth in the old First Division.
The Hammers featured three World Cup winners: Hurst, England captain Bobby Moore and Martin Peters. Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp and Billy Bonds were also on the teamsheet.
The giant-killing left such an impression that Hurst has an entire chapter in his autobiography entitled “Memories of Mansfield”.
“Some things stick in your mind, especially people and places,” he wrote.
“I’ll never forget Pele and Bobby Moore, for instance, nor Wembley, Hampden Park, the Maracana in Rio, the Azteca in Mexico City and the Field Mill ground at Mansfield.
“The good people of Mansfield have never let me forget Field Mill. I have tried.”
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson has got the message.
“They’ll be really up for it. It’ll be a cup final for them, so we have to treat it as a cup final for us and do the job properly,” he said.
Mansfield winger Louis Briscoe said: “They are a huge football club coming to little old Mansfield and it’s going to be a tough ride for them.
“It’s a chance of a lifetime so you have to grab it with both hands.”
Mansfield is a former mining town of 100,000 people in England’s east Midlands. The coal industry’s demise in the late 1980s hit hard and the Nottinghamshire town remains ranked among those most vulnerable to the economic downturn.
And Liverpool’s stars will find Field Mill a far cry from their plush Anfield fortress.
Three redeveloped sides of the ground were opened in 2001 but Reds manager Brendan Rogers will sit in front of the narrow, condemned Bishop Street Stand, a boarded-up, ramshackle shed wedged up against terraced houses with a gaping hole in the roof.
The ground has some history though, hosting Britain’s first competitive game under floodlights in 1930, and English football’s first match with the winter yellow ball in November 1998.
Relegated from the Football League amid a bitter, long-running spat between fans and the then-chairman, Mansfield is now in the more stable hands of insurance firm owner John Radford, 46.
He made headlines in 2011 by appointing fashion businesswoman Carolyn Still, 30, as England’s youngest football club chief executive in a world where women in the boardroom are rare. They announced their engagement two weeks later.
She has denied reports that she worked as an escort while a student.
The odds of Mansfield winning are 11/1. Do Liverpool have anything to worry about? Perhaps ask Hurst.
New Liverpool signing Daniel Sturridge could make his debut in Sunday’s FA Cup game at Mansfield following his recent move from Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers may opt to rest leading goalscorer Luis Suarez meaning Sturridge could get his chance.
Jose Enrique will miss out through injury, meaning Andre Wisdom should retain his place in defence.
For Mansfield, Ritchie Sutton returns from suspension while striker Jake Speight is expected to start.
Sutton, Geohaghon, Beevers, Thompson
Howell, Clements, Murray, Daniel
Wisdom, Coates, Carragher, Johnson
Henderson, Sahin, Assaidi
Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge
Head to head
• These clubs have only met in one second round League Cup tie in September 1970.
• Liverpool needed extra time to win 3-2 in the second leg at Anfield, having finished the first leg goalless at Field Mill.
• Mansfield are enjoying their best FA Cup run for five years, and are setting their sights on emulating their performance in 2008 when they reached the fourth round in the same season they were relegated from the Football League.
• The Blue Square Bet Premier outfit go into the weekend 93 places lower than Liverpool on the league ladder, with the Reds the first league club they are facing in this FA Cup run.
• It is 44 years since the Stags dumped a top-flight club out of the competition. They were in the old Third Division when they thrashed West Ham 3-0 in the fifth round at Field Mill, on their way to a club record appearance in the quarter-finals.
• Mansfield are the first non-league club Liverpool have faced in the FA Cup since Havant & Waterlooville in the fourth round in 2008, which they won comfortably 5-2 at Anfield.
• Southern League Worcester City were the last non-leaguers to knock out Liverpool; the Merseysiders, a Second Division club at the time, lost the third round tie 2-1 away, on 15 January 1959.
• Only three clubs have won the FA Cup more often than Liverpool’s seven – Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham. They last lifted the silverware in 2006, after beating West Ham on penalties in the last final to be staged at the Millennium Stadium. The most recent of their 14 appearances in the final was last season, when beaten 2-1 by Chelsea.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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