Unbeaten in the FA Cup

Sometimes an innocuous question can lead to some very interesting answers.

I ran a Twitter competition asking for guesses on how many clubs had played just one FA Cup match (the answer to that question is 267 so far), and received the following question in return from Twitter handle @ChoirboyDave

“How many clubs played one match, won it, and then withdrew, thereby having a 100% record in the FA Cup?”

So, of course, I had to find out. My database of FA Cup records is vast and immense and has been cut a myriad of different ways, but I’d never attempted to determine whether or not there were any clubs with 100% FA Cup records. However, I knew I had set the database up so that with a little bit of leg work I could find out.

It turns out there are two clubs with 100% FA Cup records,  but there are nine in total who have an unbeaten record, including three clubs who have won more than one match,  one who made it as far as the 3rd Qualifying Round, and just one to have been unbeaten since the Second World War.

Two clubs from the 19th Century were the first to be classed as unbeaten in the FA Cup, both occurring in the 1892-93 season. Tameside based club Ashton-under-Lyne, whose League status at the time I’ve yet to establish, were drawn at home to Lancashire League outfit Higher Walton, who had eight years of FA Cup experience behind them, including a 3rd Round appearance in the season before the Football League began.

The two clubs played out what I can only presume was a very entertaining 3-3 draw in Tameside, but Ashton scratched before the replay. There’s no record of the reason why. It wouldn’t have been fear of a thrashing as Higher Walton finished bottom of the Lancashire League in 1893, but it wasn’t uncommon in the 19th Century for clubs to scratch due to either high costs of travel or through being unable to raise a side for a replay.

Whatever the reason Ashton-under-Lyne never entered the FA Cup again (unless they changed their name to Ashton North End or Ashton Town, two clubs from the same area who competed in FA Cup soon after), and so remain unbeaten in the competition.

Also competing in the FA Cup for the first time in the 1892-93 season was Cleveland Amateur League side Loftus, who actually received a ‘Bye’ in the 1st Qualifying Round, before being drawn to travel to Teesside League outfit Port Clarence in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Both sides struggled in their respective leagues that season, but Loftus triumphed in their FA Cup encounter with an exciting 3-2 win.

However, the 3rd Qualifying Round saw Loftus have to travel to the more formidable Stockton FC of the Northern League (this Stockton club merged with Norton Cricket Club in 1980 to form the recently folded Norton and Stockton Ancients). It may well have been fear of a drubbing that caused Loftus to withdraw before facing their higher league opponents, or just the usual reason of costs or player availability, but either way the withdrawal not only means the club has a 100% FA Cup record, but also means they went the furthest an unbeaten club has ever gone in the competition.

It would be 10 years before there would be another occurrence of an unbeaten FA Cup side, and once again there were two clubs. 1902-03 season saw Hemsworth draw 0-0 at fellow Sheffield Association League club Royston United in the 2nd Qualifying Round before scratching ahead of their scheduled replay. Both clubs finished in the bottom three of the League that season so that might explain their lack of goals.

Hemsworth thereby are the only unbeaten FA Cup side to have also failed to score in the competition, although my records show both clubs entering the FA Cup at this 2nd Qualifying Round stage, there could of course be some as yet undiscovered record of them playing in an earlier round as other clubs from their League did.

Also this season, but in the 1st Qualifying Round, Newhall Red Rose were drawn to travel to fellow Burton and District League club Allsops, and came away with a 2-0 victory. The 2nd Qualifying Round saw the Derbyshire club drawn to face Football League Division Two side Burton United.

In the fledgling years of the Football League it wasn’t unusual to see, especially Division Two sides, entering the FA Cup in the early qualifying rounds of the competition. Burton United were not the most formidable of opponents, but maybe to the players of Newhall Red Rose they were seen as too big a giant to slay and so they withdrew without facing them. As a consequence the club joined Loftus in becoming the only two clubs to be unbeaten in the FA Cup with a 100% record.

A couple of seasons later saw London based club Kensal Rise enter the FA Cup for the first time. The club hosted fellow FA Cup debutantes Middlesex Wanderers in the Preliminary Round and ran out convincing 5-0 winners. This was followed up with an equally convincing 3-0 home win over the more established Richmond Association club who had made the 5th Qualifying Round just four seasons previously.

This set up a 2nd Qualifying Round tie at Civil Service FC, a club who competed in the first ever FA Cup competition in 1871-72 and who were on the verge of joining the Isthmian League the following season to this Cup tie. The first game ended all square at one apiece, but the replay was an altogether more exciting goal-fest with the two sides playing out a 4-4 draw. For some reason Kensal Rise scratched before facing Civil Service for a third time so not only remain one of an elite group of unbeaten FA Cup teams, but also with 13 goals scored are the unbeaten team with the most number of goals.

In 1909/10 East Riding County League side Filey United entered the FA Cup. The club were drawn to host Northern League side Saltburn in the Preliminary Round and held their higher league opponents to a credible 1-1 draw. However, maybe the prospect of facing them again on their own territory was too much, but the Yorkshire coastal side withdrew before the replay could take place.

Two seasons later witnessed another club to win twice in the FA Cup and remain unbeaten. Shobnall Villa of the Burton and District League entered the competition in the Extra Preliminary Round where they travelled to East Derbyshire League champions New Whittington Exchange making their debut in the competition, too. Shobnall won the tie 2-1 to earn a trip to Matlock and District League outfit Ashbourne Town.

That 1st Qualifying Round tie ended in a 1-1 draw before Shobnall won the replay 2-1, but a trip to Gresley Colliery in the next round did not happen as the club withdrew from the competition with their unbeaten FA Cup record intact.

In the first couple of years following the First World War it wasn’t unusual for clubs to withdraw from the FA Cup, but one club in the 1920-21 season equalled the feat of Kensal Rise and Shobnall Villa before them by winning twice before deciding not to carry on. Gilberdyke FC of the East Riding Counties League were drawn away at North Lindsey League club Frodingham Athletic in the Extra Preliminary Round and the small village side ran out 1-0 winners.

The Preliminary Round required the club to travel to the original Cleethorpes Town, members of the Grimsby and District League. Gilberdyke once again triumphed, this time winning the match 3-1 to secure a home time in the next round against South Yorkshire side Brodsworth Main Colliery. The two clubs fought out a 2-2 draw, but for some reason Gilberdyke withdrew ahead of the scheduled replay, probably due to cost of travel. However, the club is just one of three to remain unbeaten in the FA Cup after having won two matches.

The final instance of a club remaining unbeaten in the FA Cup happened just after World War Two. Similarly to the period just after the First World War, it wasn’t unusual for clubs to scratch out of the FA Cup. Brigham and Cowan were a Hull shipyards based works team, one of many such teams that formed (and many folded) in the first ten years after the end of the Second World War. The club were drawn at home to Northern League ‘giants’ Billingham Synthonia, who had finished third in that League the previous season.

A credible 2-2 draw was achieved by the works based team, but maybe it was all too much for them to travel to Billingham for the replay, or maybe they just couldn’t raise a suitable team due to work shift patterns. Either way the club joins the eight others to go into the record books as the only unbeaten FA Cup clubs.

Clubs don’t scratch from the FA Cup as regularly as happened in the past, more often non-playing of a tie is down to a club being disqualified rather than choosing not to compete, but it is still feasibly possible, albeit unlikely, we could see a 10th team create an unbeaten FA Cup record in the future.

Preview of 2016-17 FA Cup Final

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC (Wembley Stadium – 27 May 2017)

This will be 136th FA Cup Final to be contested and pits the most successful club in the competition’s history, Arsenal FC, against the most successful FA Cup club in the 2000s, Chelsea FC.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup 12 times and this will be a record 20th appearance for the Gunners in the Final whilst Chelsea are into their 12th Final in total having won seven times previously. Since 1999 both clubs have won the FA Cup five times, but Chelsea have the slightly better FA Cup record by virtue of one more Quarter Final appearance.

Whoever wins this year’s Final can rightly make the claim to be regarded as the best FA Cup team of the 2000s.

Additionally, Arsene Wenger has the opportunity to lead his team to FA Cup glory for a record SEVENTH Time.

This is the 14th time the clubs have been ‘drawn’ against each other in the FA Cup. In fact, Arsenal are Chelsea’s most common FA Cup opponent, and Chelsea become Arsenal’s joint most common opposition equal to Manchester United.

The Gunners have won eight of these London rivals’ previous FA Cup encounters whilst the Blues have won just five times. There have also been six draws. Chelsea had the upper hand in their early meetings winning the very first encounter 1-0 in 1914/15 season. Arsenal, however, have been dominant in recent history, although the Blues did win 2-1 the last time the clubs met in the FA Cup in the Semi Final in 2009.

Their 19 previous matches have returned 38 goals in total (an average of two goals per game) with both clubs having scored the same number of FA Cup goals against each other.

Of course, the two sides have also previously met in the Final itself, at the Millennium Stadium in 2002, where two goals in the last 20 minutes by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg gave the Gunners a 2-0 victory.

This is the 19th time that two clubs will meet in the FA Cup Final after already previously having met at this stage of the competition. This is actually the second successive ‘repeat’ FA Cup final following Manchester United and Crystal Palace last season, the first time that has happened for 21 years when Manchester United met first Everton and then Liverpool in successive finals, the second time the Red Devils had met both Merseyside clubs.

The very first time there were two successive ‘repeat’ FA Cup Finals was way back in 1878 when The Wanderers beat Royal Engineers for the second time a season after defeating Oxford University for the second time!

Arsenal have scored 16 goals en route to this season’s FA Cup Final, one more than their opponents Chelsea, but one less than Tottenham Hotspur who are the current highest scoring League club in the competition this season with 17 goals. However, that is significantly lower than Westfields of the Midland League who scored 25 goals from their first tie in the Extra Preliminary Round way back in the first week of August, right up to their eventual departure in the First Round in November.

Theo Walcott is Arsenal’s top scorer in the FA Cup this season with five goals, whilst both Pedro and Willian have netted four times for Chelsea. Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) and Adam Morgan (for Curzon Ashton) are the top goal-scorers with six apiece for all ‘Proper’ Round games (from First Round onwards). However, Olly McCoy (now at Birmingham City) scored NINE goals for Southern League side Beaconsfield SYCOB as they battled through to the Fourth Qualifying Round.

As Premier League champions, Chelsea have the opportunity to achieve the ‘Double’ for the second time in their history, last achieved seven years ago after defeating Portsmouth 1-0 in the FA Cup Final. They would become only the third club to claim a ‘Double’ on more than one occasion with both Manchester United and Arsenal having achieved the feat three times apiece.

All in all, there is potential for a lot of bragging rights for whoever wins the FA Cup this year. Record ever number of FA Cup Final victories, top dog in the Cup since 1999, top goalscorer of this year’s competition, a chance for FA Cup Final revenge, and the opportunity for a potential double ‘double’.

And with neither side never having lost an FA Cup Final at the New Wembley, Chelsea 4 wins and Arsenal 2 wins, it should make for a fascinating encounter.

Nb. If incorporating any of this information in your own communications please quote source as ‘@FACupFactfile on Twitter’

The Great News of the Non-League Pyramid Change Proposals?

It has been announced this week how Step 3 and Step 4 in the Non-League pyramid will be changed and expanded, bringing a much needed, much better geographical balance within the Leagues’ constitutions, and giving the opportunity for many more Non-League clubs to play at a higher level in 2018/19 than they ordinarily would have been able to do if the existing promotion structures remained.

So it’s great news for all Non-League clubs, isn’t it? A move from three Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs each to Four divisions each containing 22 clubs will increase the number of clubs at Step 3 from 72 to 88. That’s great news, for sure. Sixteen more Step 4 clubs will be ‘promoted’ which can only be good news.

Six Step 4 divisions with a mix of 22 and 24 clubs, totalling 136, will be transformed into Seven divisions each containing 20 clubs, giving a total of 140, meaning that 20 current Step 5 sides can be ‘promoted’ up a level, providing they meet all ground grading criteria, which again can only be great news.

But is it great news across the board? Well in the FA Cup the news is not so universally great. If the FA decide to maintain the current structure of just 32 Non-League clubs qualifying for the First Round ‘Proper’ alongside sticking with six qualifying rounds where clubs at certain steps enter the competition in certain rounds, then there would be a reduction in the number of Non-League clubs that could participate in the FA Cup.

Currently 736 clubs compete in the FA Cup, of which 644 are from the Non-League world. Twenty-four Step 1 clubs are exempted until the Fourth Qualifying Round, 44 Step 2 clubs exempted until the Second Qualifying Round, 72 Step 3 clubs exempted until the First Qualifying Round, 136 Step 4 clubs exempted until the Preliminary Round, and 368 Step 5 and 6 clubs starting out in the Extra Preliminary Round (see table)

Current Qualified Exemptions Total Ties
EP Step 5 & 6 0 368 368 184
PR Step 4 184 136 320 160
Q1 Step 3 160 72 232 116
Q2 Step 2 116 44 160 80
Q3 80 0 80 40
Q4 Step 1 40 24 64 32
R1 EFL 1 & 2 32 48 80 40
R2 40 0 40 20
R3 EPL & EFLC 20 44 64 32
R4 32 0 32 16
R5 16 0 16 8
QF 8 0 8 4
SF 4 0 4 2
Final 2 0 2 1
736

This approach of only allowing 32 Non-League clubs to enter the First Round has been in place since there was first established a Football League of 92 clubs back in 1950/51. That Non-League quota is unlikely to change given the FA’s track record of introducing change. Having said that, though, since the turn of the Century the FA has actually steadily increased the number of Non-League clubs that have a chance of reaching the First Round.

An extra 178 Non-League clubs now take part in the FA Cup than did back in 1999, and the total has only been limited to 644 clubs based upon a mix of ground criteria and round quota standardisation introduced in 2014. Again, though, this round quota standardisation is unlikely to change and the Step exemptions detailed above are likely to be maintained.

This is great news for those clubs that have been ‘promoted’ to Steps 3 and 4, as more clubs will now be exempted in the FA Cup to a later round than they had been used to. However, to accommodate this increase in the number of clubs exempted until later in the competition, there is a knock-on negative effect on the number of Step 5 and 6 clubs who can enter the FA Cup (see table below).

Future Qualified Exemptions Total Ties
EP Step 5 & 6 0 296 296 148
PR Step 4 148 140 288 144
Q1 Step 3 144 88 232 116
Q2 Step 2 116 44 160 80
Q3 80 0 80 40
Q4 Step 1 40 24 64 32
R1 EFL 1 & 2 32 48 80 40
R2 40 0 40 20
R3 EPL & EFLC 20 44 64 32
R4 32 0 32 16
R5 16 0 16 8
QF 8 0 8 4
SF 4 0 4 2
Final 2 0 2 1
684

So if the FA retain the limit of just 32 Non-League clubs qualifying for the First Round ‘Proper’ and retain the exemption rounds for each Step in the pyramid then there’ll be room for 52 fewer clubs in the FA Cup, all of whom are likely to come from Step 6 in the pyramid. That’s a significant decrease from the current level of 82 Step 6 clubs down to just 30 of them.

This obviously isn’t great news for those 52 clubs who would now miss out on participating in the greatest Cup competition in the world.

However, there is a potential solution to actually increase the number of Non-League clubs who can take part in the FA Cup without changing the FA’s policy of just allowing 32 of them to qualify for the First Round. But this option does require a change to the rounds in which clubs from each Step in the pyramid are exempted from during the qualifying stages of the competition. It doesn’t require any more rounds, but would allow for moreclubs to enter.

The proposals are detailed in the table below and require two substantial changes to the exemptions. Currently, the 24 top level National League clubs are exempted until the Fourth Qualifying Round, two rounds later than those clubs just one step below them. So, the proposal recommends these 24 clubs actually join the competition earlier in the Third Qualifying Round.

Potential Qualified Exemptions Total Ties
EP Step 5 & 6 0 400 400 200
PR 200 0 200 100
Q1 Step 3 & 4 100 228 328 164
Q2 Step 2 164 44 208 104
Q3 Step 1 104 24 128 64
Q4 64 0 64 32
R1 EFL 1 & 2 32 48 80 40
R2 40 0 40 20
R3 EPL & EFLC 20 44 64 32
R4 32 0 32 16
R5 16 0 16 8
QF 8 0 8 4
SF 4 0 4 2
Final 2 0 2 1
788

The second change is to delay the introduction of Step 4 clubs and have them join the FA Cup in the same round as the Step 3 clubs, namely the First Qualifying Round. What this does is two things. Firstly, it allows for more Step 5 and 6 clubs to enter the competition, and secondly it will ensure that the better Step 5 and 6 clubs are the ones that make it to face clubs two or three levels above them thereby reducing potential mis-matches.

This proposal would allow for 52 extra clubs to participate in the FA Cup than currently do, taking the overall number to 788 of which 696 would be Non-League clubs. And this extra 52 clubs would all come from Step 6, raising their numbers to 134, opening up this wonderful competition to many more clubs, all of whom are itching to take part. This would definitely be great news all round.

However, to really make this into an absolutely fantastic story then the FA needs to review how the ‘Proper’ Rounds are structured to enable more than 32 Non-League clubs to compete in those rounds, a subject and a proposal I have put forward before, one which requires only a minor change to the structure of the ‘Proper’ rounds, but can really boost the number of Non-League clubs in the First Round significantly.

Click on this link to see the details: http://www.wsc.co.uk/news/13546-proposals-to-include-more-non-league-clubs-into-the-fa-cup-first-round

Now that really would be great news.

FA Cup Graphs to 2017 by Club

FA Cup graphs showing year-by-year performance in FA Cup for individual clubs. (Will be continually updated).

Can’t see your favourite club? Then Tweet club name and preferred graph colour to @FACupFactfile to have your club’s FA Cup graph added to this blog

Aldershot Town

Aldershot Town

Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Barkingside

Barkingside

Barrow

Barrow

Biggleswade United

Biggleswade United

Boreham Wood

Boreham Wood

Boston United

Boston United

Braintree Town

Braintree Town

Bromley

Bromley

Bury

Bury

Carlton Town

Carlton Town

Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic

Chester

Chester

Dagenham and Redbridge

Dagenham and Redbridge

Dartford

Dartford

Dover Athletic

Dover Athletic

Eastbourne United

FA Cups-page-001

Eastleigh

Eastleigh

Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers

Gateshead

Gateshead

Guiseley

Guiseley

Halesowen Town

Halesowen Town

Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United

Lincoln City

Lincoln City

Macclesfield Town

Macclesfield Town

Maidenhead United

Maidenhead United

Maidstone United

Maidstone United

Marlow

Marlow

Matlock Town

Matlock Town

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough

North Ferriby United

North Ferriby United

Redbridge

Redbridge

Solihull Moors

Solihull Moors

Southport

Southport

Stoke City

Stoke City

Sutton United

Sutton United

Torquay United

Torquay United

Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere Rovers

Watford

Watford

Wigan Athletic

Wigan Athletic

Woking

Woking

Wrexham

Wrexham

York City

York City

The Record Breaking Story of the 2016/17 FA Cup

History was made in this season’s FA Cup, time after time after time, a phenomenal achievement given this illustrious competition was running for its 136th season.

The record-breaking started way back on the evening of Friday 5th August 2016 when 10 clubs kicked off this season’s competition, the earliest the tournament had ever started, a full 296 days before the FA Cup Final to be played at Wembley on the 27th May, 2017. Extra Preliminary Round matches took place at Hinckley AFC, Ascot United, Sholing FC, Bashley FC (Lymington Town versus Hamworthy United) and at Thame United, where the home side’s Lynton Goss scored the ‘earliest in the season’ FA Cup goal ever recorded in its entire 146 year history.

Also in the Extra Preliminary Round, Cambridgeshire side Yaxley from the United Counties League Premier Division smashed their FA Cup goal-scoring record with a 12-0 demolition of their League rivals Huntingdon Town. It was the equal second highest margin of victory in the FA Cup in the 21st Century and has only been bettered 45 times in over 65,000 FA Cup matches. Bizarrely, Yaxley were then drawn against the previous club to have won 12-0 in the FA Cup, Dereham Town, in the Preliminary Round, a game that lived up to its high-scoring billing by ending four goals apiece with Dereham going on to win the replay via a solitary goal.

Another exciting, but at the time innocuous, Extra Preliminary Round tie saw Hereford based club Westfields knockout local rivals and fellow Midland Football League Premier Division side Stourport Swifts by four goals to three. It was the first time the Swifts had been knocked out of the FA Cup at such an early stage in their 25 campaigns. However, little did we know then that that match would be the launch-pad for an amazing FA Cup journey for Westfields. Twenty-five goals and six wins later, including three against higher-league opposition, the Hereford club found themselves not only in the First Round Proper (three rounds further than they’d ever been before), but also in the media spotlight as the BBC cameras, Dan Walker et al descended on their allpay.park ground.

Westfields were the first club in six years, since Tipton Town and Hythe Town in 2010-11 season, to make it all the way from the Extra Preliminary Round to the First Round Proper. Seven FA Cup ties is one more tie than the eventual winners will have actually competed in, and the club’s eventual tally of 25 goals is the highest total scored in the FA Cup this season. However, Westfields weren’t the only club in this year’s FA Cup to participate in seven ties.

Forty-three miles north-east of Westfields can be found Northern Premier League Premier Division club Stourbridge. The Glassboys had never even appeared in the First Round Proper until the club’s 105th FA Cup campaign back in 2009-10 season, but have now done so five times since then, always after beginning in the First Qualifying Round, and winning more FA Cup matches over that time period than any other club aside from Chelsea and Arsenal. Three times the club made the Second Round, but this year after a terrific 1-0 win over EFL Division One side Northampton Town (being knocked out in the Second Round for a record 31st time), the club found themselves in the Third Round for the first time ever. Their tightly contested narrow defeat at another EFL Division One side Wycombe Wanderers was the club’s seventh FA Cup tie of the season.

And then the record breaking baton was passed on to two more non-league clubs, Sutton United and Lincoln City, both competing in the National League. Both these two clubs registered personal record breaking FA Cup runs, but their combined performances had the mass media producing mass hysteria over their FA Cup achievements. Both Non–League clubs reached the last 16 of the competition, the first time that feat had been achieved since the current structure of the FA Cup was put in place in the 1925-26 season, that is from the year of introduction of when clubs from the top two divisions are exempted until the Third Round.

Prior to World War II and immediately afterwards there were only two League Divisions and clubs competing in the Southern League were considered as good as, if not better, than those classified as League teams. As a consequence now-called non-league clubs regularly appeared in the latter stages of the FA Cup (with Tottenham Hotspur famously lifting the trophy as a non-league club in 1901) and it wasn’t uncommon for at least two of them to appear in the last sixteen. The last such occurrence was in the 1919/20 season when both Cardiff City and Plymouth Argyle progressed to that stage.

But the FA Cup records this season didn’t stop being broken at the last 16 stage. Lincoln City produced a fine 1-0 win at Premier League side Burnley resulting in the Clarets becoming the first Top Flight team to lose at home to non-league opposition for the second time since the current FA Cup structure was established.

By making the Quarter Finals for the first time in the club’s 123rd FA Cup campaign, The Imps became: the first Non-League side to beat a top flight club for four seasons; the third club to compete in seven FA Cup ties this season; the first non-league Quarter Finalists since Queens Park Rangers in the 1913/14 season; and the first Non-League club to defeat four League clubs in the same FA Cup run since Telford United in the 1984/85 season (and the third club ever to achieve this feat with Tottenham Hotspur having done the same when the won the Trophy in 1901).

And still the records continued to fall. Lincoln City eventually lost to Premier League Arsenal, who had faced consecutive non-league clubs in the FA Cup for the first time in 108 years, and who subsequently reached the FA Cup Semi Finals for a record 29th time. And a semi-final win over Manchester City means the Gunners are the first club ever to appear in the FA Cup Final a total of 20 times. History of a different kind was also made in their semi-final with Manchester City when, by coming onto the field of play in extra time, Kelechi Iheanacho became the first ever fourth substitute to be used in an FA Cup match.

In the other Semi-Final, Tottenham Hotspur set an unwanted FA Cup record by losing their seventh successive FA Cup Semi-Final. When Spurs last won the FA Cup in 1991 it established them as the Top club in FA Cup history at the time. Their Semi-Final opponents this season, Chelsea, were only positioned 27th best then. If the Blues win the FA Cup this season it would be their 8th victory and they would leapfrog Spurs into 3rd place, by virtue of more Final appearances, and would be sitting only behind Arsenal and Manchester United.

A victory for Arsenal in the Final this season would set a new competition record of 13 FA Cup wins, almost 10% of all the times the famous trophy has been lifted. It would also represent a record 7th win for manager Arsene Wenger after successes in 1998, 20002, 2003, 2005, 2014 and 2015. The Frenchman would surpass the six trophies won by Aston Villa manager George Ramsay between 1887 and 1920.

That’s the real beauty of the FA Cup. Every season more football history is made, whether it is out of the spotlight in the Extra Preliminary Round amongst clubs eight and nine levels below the Premier League, or in the glaring eyes of the world’s media in the Final itself at Wembley.

And long may that continue!