The League Cup competition was the brainchild of Alan Hardaker, who was secretary of the Football League from 1957 to 1979. Hardaker, known as the Godfather of Football, realised a tournament based on two-legged ties would be more financially attractive to lower league members, as opposed to the FA Cup where a small club could go several seasons without ever benefiting from a money-spinning home tie.
Of course, this new 'cup for the common good' did not impress the survival-of-the-fittest brigade in the top division, and six of them immediately refused to enter. "What's the point?" the critics argued. "A more balanced cup competition would mean lower league clubs would rarely progress anyway."
But these detractors were immediately proved wrong in the inaugural competition, in the 1960-61 season, as Second Division Rotherham United finished runners-up to Aston Villa.
The very next year, as if to reiterate the competition's utilitarian nature, Rochdale became the first Fourth Division team to reach a cup final. It was also the first major final not to feature a club from the top league, as Second Division Norwich City went on to lift the trophy.
It was then that the 'big boys' started taking an interest and, in the first of a series of all-top division finals in 1963, sleeping giants Birmingham City gained victory over local rivals Aston Villa. The following year it was the turn of fellow midlanders Stoke City and Leicester City to contest the final - with the Foxes coming out on top.
The lure of the League Cup was growing and 1965 saw the first 'glamour club' take part in a final, with Chelsea beating Leicester 3-2 on aggregate.
European qualification was the proverbial carrot dangled in front of the winners for the 1966 competition. And the late, great Jeff Astle weighed in with a goal as West Bromich Albion beat a West Ham United side containing Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst who were to become World Cup heroes a few weeks later.
This was the last final to be decided over two legs. The format was unnecessary as the growing popularity of the tournament meant it could now be decided at a neutral venue.and the Twin Towers beckoned.
The romance for the smaller clubs returned with the Wembley ticket: in 1967, a young Rodney Marsh helped QPR on the way to their first proper piece of silverware. They beat West Brom 3-2 and, in the process, became the first Third Division club to win a major trophy. The Super Hoops added to their haul a few weeks later by picking up the Third Division title too. The League Cup was fast becoming the 'Lucky Cup'.The fact that 98,000 fans packed into Wembley for the 1967 final was conclusive proof that the League Cup was now extremely popular. In just seven years it had earned the right to stand alongside the FA Cup as a showpiece final. In every subsequent year, Wembley would be a sell-out.
The 1968 League Cup Final saw a clash of the big guns as Don Revie's Leeds United went head to head with Arsenal and squeezed out a 1-0 win to grab their first major trophy.
The drama continued 12 months later as Third Division Swindon Town defeated the mighty Arsenal 3-1 in one of the greatest cup shocks of all-time. The Robins' achievement was all the more remarkable when you consider the Gunners were to complete the League and FA Cup double just two years later.
In 1969-70 the competition boasted bigger crowds than the FA Cup (FA Cup average attendance was 17,805; League Cup average attendance was 18,851) In that season, the strong Manchester City side of the era defeated West Brom, who were making a record-breaking third appearance in the final. Aston Villa equalled the Baggies' feat in 1971, though this time they returned as a Third Division side and were beaten 2-0 by Tottenham Hotspur.
The Cup's magic was sprinkled again in 1972 as another previously success-starved club had a shot at the big-time. Veteran manager Tony Waddington secured Stoke City's first major trophy against a Chelsea side literally dripping with stars. Meanwhile, the Potters' goalkeeper Gordon Banks picked up another League Cup winners' medal to add to the one he won with Leicester eight years earlier. They would take pride of place either side of a certain other gong from 1966.
Spurs became the first club to win the trophy twice as they defeated Norwich City1-0 in 1973 and in a third consecutive all-top division final in 1974, Wolves beat Manchester City 2-1.
The Cup's Midas touch struck again in 1975 as two Second Division teams reached the final. Aston Villa beat Norwich 1-0 but the lucky association rubbed off on each club as they both subsequently gained promotion to Division One.
The last time Manchester City fans could lord it over their United rivals was in 1976. The Light Blues picked up the League Cup with a win over Newcastle, while the Reds lost the FA Cup Final to Southampton.
As if to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee year, 1977, the tournament conjured up something special: the longest ever cup final marathon. Aston Villa and Everton slogged it out over 330 minutes of football at three different venues: Wembley, Hillsborough and Old Trafford. By the time they had finished, the turnstiles had clicked over 200,000 times and Villa had won an unprecedented third League Cup.
1978 saw a replay too, Nottingham Forest beating Liverpool 1-0 at Old Trafford after a goalless Wembley draw. Another curiosity in the cup's history sprang up here, as Forest 'keeper Chris Woods became the first player to participate in a Wembley final before making his league debut.
Like Don Revie with Leeds United before him, Brian Clough's first trophy in the City Ground cabinet hailed the dawning of Nottingham Forest's most successful era.
After the Forest v Liverpool final of 1978 both teams continued to dominate the League Cup competition. For seven seasons running one club or the other reached the final with Cloughie's team winning it twice and Liverpool an unparalled four-in-a -row. Only Wolves broke up this duopoly by beating Forest 1-0 in 1980.
In 1982 the competition blazed the trail for sponsorship deals in football, and after a tie-up with the Milk Marketing Board, it became the Milk Cup. The very next year the league linked up with photographic firm Canon and, some time later, the FA Cup followed suit with insurance firm AXA. Over the next few seasons the League Cup would adopt a number of sponsorship guises, including the Littlewoods Cup, Rumbelows Cup and the Coca-Cola Cup.
In 1983 Liverpool completed the Championship/League Cup double for the second year in succession and, in 1984, added the European Cup to make up a unique treble. But in 1985, for once, the lucky omen tag deserted the cup. Norwich beat Sunderland to lift the trophy but, in a cruel twist of fate, both teams were relegated from the First Division.
However, the magic returned a year later with little Oxford United winning their first major trophy, beating QPR 3-0. In a sign of the times that season, Luton had banned away supporters from their league games but were themselves subsequently banned from the League Cup with people complaining that their ban brought them an unfair advantage. Once again, the cup struck for the common good.
In 1987, Arsenal recorded their first success in the competition, by now known as the Littlewoods Cup, by beating Liverpool 2-1. It was third time lucky for the Gunners who were previously finalists in 1968 and 1969. But the luck rubbed off onto Luton Town the following season, who, as so many clubs had done before in the League Cup, claimed their first major trophy by beating Arsenal 3-2.
Forest returned to win the cup twice in a row in 1989 and 1990 to equal Liverpool's haul of four, defeating Luton and Oldham respectively, the former failing to retain the trophy and the latter contesting their first major final.
In the 1990s, with money becoming the dominant factor in football, the big guns attached more and more importance to the League Cup, especially as it still carried the financial clout of UEFA Cup qualification, unlike the FA Cup which yielded entry into Europe's third trophy, the Cup-Winners' Cup.
But the situation was complicated by the trophy hoarders who claimed multiple routes into Europe. In 1993, Arsenal won the first ever League Cup/FA Cup double, with both finals featuring the same teams for the first time - the unfortunate bridesmaids being Sheffield Wednesday, who themselves had won the trophy in 1991 - the first under the moniker of Rumbelows - with a 1-0 win over Manchester United. A year later, United had their hands on the trophy for the first, and only time, after a Wembley win over Nottingham Forest.
In 1994, the Red Devils would have completed the domestic treble (a feat that has remained elusive) were it not for Aston Villa beating them in the League Cup Final - the first of two victories in three years for the Midlanders, whose name was again carved into the roll of honour in 1996, this time after victory over Leeds. That was their fifth triumph in the competition, equalling the record of Liverpool, who had notched up their fifth win in 1995, beating Bolton 2-1.
In 1997, Martin O'Neill's Leicester emerged triumphant after a marathon final against Middlesbrough. They finally won the replay 1-0 after extra-time, after the first match had ended 1-1, again following an extra 30 minutes at the end of the scheduled 90.
A year later, Chelsea won the cup for the second time - a full 33 years after their first victory - with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, who finished as runners-up for the second year in a row.
For the 1998-99 campaign, the Football League agreed a five-year, £23m sponsorship deal with Worthington and the competition became known as The Worthington Cup.
In that same season Manchester United could have completed a grand slam (domestic treble plus European Cup) had they not gone out against Tottenham in the fifth round of the League Cup. Spurs went on to win their only trophy under George Graham, beating Leicester 1-0 in the final.
But 12 months later, the Foxes were back at Wembley for the third time in four years as League Cup finalists. And for the second time in those four years, and the third time in their history, they left with the trophy after beating Tranmere Rovers 2-1.
In 2001, Liverpool completed another treble: the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. Of course, their victory over Birmingham in the League Cup Final marked the first major football final played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as Wembley was closed down. It was also the first ever domestic final to be decided on penalties, the Reds sealing a record breaking sixth League Cup win.
Graeme Souness collected his second piece of silverware as an English club manager in 2002 when he led his newly promoted Blackburn side to the Worthington Cup Final. They defeated Spurs 2-1 in Cardiff, Andy Cole and Matt Jansen scoring the goals that brought European football back to Ewood Park.
2003 marked the end of Worthington's sponsorship, and their association with the League Cup really did end on a high as Manchester United and Liverpool contested the final in Cardiff. And it was the Merseysiders who came out on top, thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen, earning the Reds their seventh victory in the competition, putting them two ahead of Aston Villa in the all-time list.
2004 saw Carling take over as sponsors and Middlesbrough claim their first League Cup win after two previous attempts. They ran out 2-1 winners against a stubborn Bolton side, with Joseph Desire Job and Bolo Zenden netting the 'Boro goals.
Chelsea bought a new team in 2005 and claimed their first trophy under Jose Mourinho, edging a tense encounter with Liverpool. The Reds had one hand on the trophy as an early John Arne Riise goal gave them a one-goal lead until the 88th minute when Steven Gerrard put the ball in his own net. Chelsea won the tie in extra time.
2006 saw Manchester United travel to the Millennium Stadium to take on Wigan Athletic. Wayne Rooney put in a man of the match performance, scoring the first and last of United's four goals as they comprehensively beat the Latics 4-0. Louis Saha scored the Red Devils' second with Ronaldo scoring shortly after as they romped to victory.
The following year, 2007, saw Chelsea make another appearance in the final, hoping to reclaim the trophy they had won two seasons before. They faced stiff competition in the form of Arsenal who opened the scoring thanks to a goal from Theo Walcott. Didier Drogba's brace helped the Blues to a 2-1 win, seeing them crowned League Cup winners once again.
In 2008, the Carling Cup final returned to the re-developed Wembley Stadium, as did Chelsea in another all-London affair. Their opponents this time were Tottenham Hotspur. Dider Drogba, continuing his impressive scoring run in this competition's final, found the back of the net late into the first half. Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov scored an equaliser with 15 minutes remaining, while Jonathan Woodgate found the winner to break Chelsea hearts deep into injury time.