History of Quarter Final Matches which Utilised Extra Time in their First Game

This season the FA have abolished replays in FA Cup Quarter Finals in a move stated by the FA as one designed to re-invigorate the competition, but in truth more likely to be a decision taken to appease the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.

Whatever the reasons for the decision, this removal of replays opens up the possibility of Quarter Final ties requiring extra time (and maybe even penalties) to settle them in what is the first meeting between the clubs in the round, becoming the only round (outside of those taking place on neutral territory) that will be concluded at first time of asking.

However, if any of this year’s four Quarter Finals do require extra time, it won’t be the first time an extra 30 minutes has been used to try to determine who goes on to the Semi-Finals. Far from it … although it will be the first time a Quarter Final tie required extra time and didn’t have the option of a replay should the scores still remain level.

The first FA Cup Quarter Final tie to utilise extra time to try to settle it on the day occurred way back in 1875, in what was just the fourth season the FA Cup had been running, between Shropshire Wanderers and Woodford Wells. Perhaps the experience of being the only club ever to be knocked out of the FA Cup on the toss of a coin the previous season, and wishing to avoid repeating that fate, caused Shropshire Wanderers to agree with Woodford Wells that their Quarter Final tie should have an extra 30 minutes should the scores be level at full time. It was all to no avail, though, as the scores were level at one apiece at full time and neither side were able to add to their tally in the ensuing extra half hour. The replay occurred two weeks later, which Shropshire Wanderers won 2-0 to become the only club from that county to appear in an FA Cup Semi Final.

It was commonplace in the early days of the FA Cup that clubs had the option to decide whether or not to have extra time in the first match, and many matches were settled that way, but it was still quite rare in Quarter Final ties for it to be required. In all the next three occasions it happened, in 1878, 1879 and 1880, extra time failed to separate the clubs involved and replays were necessary to determine the Semi-Finalists. However, the following year did see the first FA Cup Quarter Final ever to be settled in extra time in the first meeting between the two clubs.

Old Carthusians were drawn at home to Cup holders Clapham Rovers and the clubs agreed on the provision of extra time should it be needed. The scores were level at one apiece after 90 minutes but Old Carthusians scored twice in the extra half hour to progress to the Semi Final on their own way to lifting the trophy.

Having been the first club to benefit from winning a Quarter Final in extra time in the first game, Old Carthusians became the second team to lose in such a way six years later, losing 2-1 at home to Preston North End after the sides were level at one-all after 90 minutes. Preston North End were involved in another Quarter Final tie utilising extra time in the first game a further six years later when drawing 2-2 at Middlesbrough Ironopolis. This time a replay was required which Preston won 7-0, the biggest FA Cup Quarter Final victory in a replay following a first game utilising extra time.

Extra time has actually been used just 14 times to try to settle an FA Cup Quarter Final tie, and has only been successful in doing so on three of those occasions, just 21% of the time, so it might be expected that many of the future Quarter Finals to require it will need penalties to determine the winner. The third and final occasion extra time resulted in a winner was in 1894 when Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa were locked at two goals each after 90 minutes. Wednesday scored in extra time to settle the tie.

1894 was also the first occasion two of the four Quarter Finals used extra time to try to settle the tie at the first time of asking. The other tie saw local rivals Nottingham Forest and Notts County finish one apiece after extra time, with County winning the replay 4-1. The only other time 50% of the Quarter Final ties used extra time was also the next occasion extra time was used, 21 years later in 1915, a decision to do so probably borne out of trying to minimise resources and people’s time during the early days of the First World War. Ironically both ties required replays before being settled.

Those two ties in 1915 were the 12th and 13th occasion extra time was used to try to settle the tie at the first attempt, and it has only occurred on just one more occasion, but not for another 33 years. The provision of extra time to settle ties at the first attempt by now were only allowable on the discretion of the FA, but in the first few years after the Second World War it was recognised that, particularly for ties involving long journeys, it was prudent to agree to the provision of extra time should it be needed in the first game to try to minimise the use of what were rationed materials, such as fuel.

The most famous instance of this provision being put in place occurred in 1949 when First Division Sunderland travelled to Non-League side Yeovil Town and were defeated 2-1 by a goal that happened in that agreed extra 30 minutes. However, that was a Fourth Round tie, and it was actually a season earlier when the last instance of extra time in the first meeting in a Quarter Final tie was used.

That Quarter Final tie, 69 years ago, saw Division Three South high-flyers Queens Park Rangers host Derby County from Division One. QPR took the lead only for Derby to equalise, and the score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes, with extra time then played. However, the extra 30 minutes failed to generate further goals and the tie had to go to a replay anyway, a replay won 5-0 by Derby.

qpr-v-derby-1948-press

qpr-v-derby-1948-pic

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Radical Change Proposals to FA Cup if Replays are Scrapped

Top football pundit Gary Lineker, along with many other media commentators of our National game, wants FA Cup replays to be scrapped because otherwise the money obsessed Premier League clubs will continue to treat the competition with contempt and eventually it will die.

I’m completely opposed to the scrapping of FA Cup replays. They are an essential part of the competition, originally designed to give the opportunity to a team unluckily drawn away from home the chance to take the tie back to their place. It was a chance to overcome being on the wrong end of a random draw. Nowadays, however, they are more looked upon by lower league clubs as an opportunity to get a money-spinning trip to a Premier League giant, a trip that financially would secure their future (for the time being anyway).

So Premier League clubs (and Championship clubs) do not want replays and lower league clubs want a pay-day at a top tier stadium. Well, of the answer is to scrap replays then let’s not stop there, let’s introduce some real change to the competition. Here’s my two-step radical plan to change the way the FA Cup works.

It’s a plan that will appease the profit maximising focused Premier League Chairmen and women, a plan that will generate a financial windfall for those lower league and Non-League clubs who have battled their way through to the 3rd Round and beyond, a plan that will bring attacking excitement to every tie with a guaranteed outcome on the day, and a plan that will ‘save’ the FA Cup (as if it really needs saving!)

Step One – from the 3rd Round onward any tie that involves two clubs from different Divisions will be played at the higher league club’s ground thereby maximising the potential revenue for the lower level side. Ties involving clubs from the same Division will be played at the first drawn team.

Step Two – and this is the radical one – the away side in all FA Cup ties from the 3rd Round onward start with a one goal lead. Every time any team ‘scores’ during the game it will be worth two goals. That way no match can ever end in a draw (and gets rid of the lottery of the dreaded penalties) and at all times in the game one side is always behind the other, and therefore should create matches with much more attacking intent. Scoffing at the idea of goals counting double? Well it’s been a part of European football now for over 60 years.

Of course lower league clubs may ‘park the bus’ to try to defend the one goal advantage given to them, but because there is no threat of a replay the higher league side is more likely to play a near full-strength side, one more capable of breaking down any stubborn lower league obstacle.

So there you have it. My grand plan to change the FA Cup to please all parties if we have to get rid of replays. Lower league club plays away from home and all ties begin with the away side having a one goal lead with all future ‘goals’ worth double.

However, I’d much rather replays were maintained and top sides’ decision makers treated the competition as something worth winning. I can assure you, the majority of their fans wish they did.

 

FA Cup 2016/17 5th Round Preview

Overview

Two Non-League clubs are into the Fifth Round in the same season for the first time since the current FA Cup format was put in place in 1925/26 season. (Note, two non-league clubs or more have been in the last 16 at the same time before, but they all occurred before 1921).

Both Lincoln City and Sutton United now have the opportunity of becoming the first Non-League club to appear in a FA Cup Quarter Final since Queens Park Rangers achieved that feat way back in 1914. To achieve it, the National League clubs will not only have to achieve personal best FA Cup runs, but will also have to equal a modern record set by Telford United in 1985, that is defeat their fourth League club in the same FA Cup campaign.

The draw for the last 16 has kept all the remaining Premier League clubs apart and no tie involves clubs who will meet each other in League action this season.

There are nine former FA Cup winners amongst the final 16 clubs in this year’s competition, with three ties pitting former winners against each other. One of those ties, Blackburn Rovers versus Manchester United, is also one of the two most common ties of the Round. The North West rivals have met each other six times in the competition, as have London rivals Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.

 

Tie-by-Tie Previews

 

  1. Burnley (Premier League) v Lincoln City (National League)

Level 1 v Level 5

Four previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Lincoln City winning on the first occasion in 1904/05, but Burnley winning through on the following three times.

Lincoln City are into the Fifth Round for only the second time in their FA Cup history, the first being 130 years ago in 1887, but it is the club’s fourth appearance in the last 16 of the competition. However, the Imps are yet to make the Quarter Finals. One time FA Cup winners Burnley haven’t gone beyond the Fifth Round for 14 years.

 

  1. Fulham (EFL Championship) v Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Six previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Tottenham Hotspur winning through on the first five occasions, but Fulham won 4-0 in the latest meeting just six years ago.

It is seven years since Fulham made FA Cup Quarter Finals, whilst seven times winners Tottenham Hotspur are trending to Quarter Finals this season having gone out in the 3rd Round, 4th Round and 5th Round in the last three years.

 

  1. Blackburn Rovers (EFL Championship) v Manchester United (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Six previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Blackburn Rovers having the upper hand with four wins to two, although all of Blackburn’s wins came before 1929, two of them heavy wins over Newton Heath in the 19th Century.

Blackburn reached the Quarter Finals twice in their last four FA Cup campaigns whilst FA Cup holders Manchester United have appeared in the last eight three times in the same period.

 

  1. Sutton United (National League) v Arsenal (Premier League)

Level 5 v Level 1

Unsurprisingly this is the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Sutton United are into the FA Cup Fifth Round for the first time ever in what is the club’s 95th FA Cup campaign. Sutton have the poorest record in the FA Cup of all the remaining 16 clubs, whilst Arsenal have the best record of all clubs who’ve ever taken part in the FA Cup. Arsenal are appearing in the Fifth Round for the seventh successive season.

 

  1. Middlesbrough (Premier League) v Oxford United (EFL One)

Level 1 v Level 3

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs despite 203 campaigns between them.

It is eight years since Middlesbrough last appeared in an FA Cup Quarter Final, something the club has achieved 16 times. Oxford United have only ever reached the last eight on one previous occasion, back in the 1963/64 season, a rare appearance by a fourth tier club in that round.

 

  1. Wolverhampton Wanderers (EFL Championship) v Chelsea (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Chelsea 2 to 1 ahead in terms of victories.

Wolves are in the Fifth Round for the first time in nine seasons and it is a further five years before then since the club appeared in the Quarter Finals. Chelsea have only failed to reach the Fifth Round twice in the 21st Century.

 

  1. Huddersfield Town (EFL Championship) v Manchester City (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, both won by Manchester City, but both times not until after a replay.

It is 45 years since Huddersfield Town last reached the FA Cup Quarter Finals, coincidentally the same season the club was last in the top flight. Manchester City have been at least Quarter Finalists five times in the last 11 campaigns before this one.

 

  1. Millwall (EFL One) v Leicester City (Premier League)

Level 3 v Level 1

Four previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Leicester City triumphant on the first two occasions and Millwall the winners on the latter two occasions.

Millwall reached the Semi-Finals just four seasons ago and the Final nine years before that. Leicester City, on the other hand, have just three Quarter Final appearances this Century.

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Non-League Clubs in FA Cup Quarter Finals and Beyond

National League sides Lincoln City and Sutton United are making waves in this year’s FA Cup competition, both reaching the 5th Round after giant-killing after giant-killing after giant-killing.

The ill-informed mass media trumpet that this is the first time since the Football League was established in 1888 that two non-league sides have made it to the last 16 of the FA Cup in the same season. Not to denigrate the two clubs’ fantastic achievement, but that fact is baloney, a fact iterated out of the ignorance of lazy research and the desire to make a memorable soundbite.

Technically it’s true that it is the first time that two non-league clubs have made the Fifth Round in the same season since the Football League began, but not actually the last 16, as that statement conveniently forgets that for almost 40 years after the League’s formation there wasn’t actually a round known as the Fifth Round. From 1888 to 1925 the last 16 of the FA Cup was variably the Fourth Round, the Third Round and even the Second Round!

During that 37 year period, at least two non-league clubs made the last 16 of the FA Cup in the same season on 25 separate occasions – the last such occasion in 1920. Many of the non-league clubs that reached the last 16 during that time were members of the Southern League, at the time a league that more than matched the quality and standard of the Football League.

But Non-League clubs didn’t stop at the last 16, far from it. Thirty-five of the 98 clubs in the last 16 also won through to the Quarter Finals, with eleven progressing on to the Semi-Finals, four making it all the way to the Final itself, and as any football historian knows, Tottenham Hotspur winning the FA Cup as a Non-League (Southern League) club in 1901.

Southampton were runners-up either side of Tottenham lifting the trophy, but the first Non-League club to make the FA Cup Final was Sheffield Wednesday in 1890, then playing as The Wednesday in the Football Alliance, going on to lose the Final by what is now known as the second biggest margin, 6-1 to Blackburn Rovers.

When Southampton repeated the feat of The Wednesday 10 years later by reaching the Final they actually beat another Non-League club, Millwall (Athletic), in the Semi-Final, the only time two Non-League clubs made the FA Cup Semi Final in the same season.

Nottingham Forest (in 1892) and Swindon Town (twice in 1910 and 1912) are the only other Non-League clubs so far to make it as far as the Semi-Finals, but Queens Park Rangers are the last Non-League club to appear in the Quarter Finals, two years later in 1914.

Prior to QPR other Non-League Quarter Finalists were West Ham United, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Portsmouth, Reading (all future Football League clubs playing in the Southern League at the time), and before the Southern League was formed there was Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Stoke (City), Bootle (original club), Birmingham St George’s and Chatham (Town).

Since the FA Cup adopted its current structure in 1925 no Non-League club has been able to repeat the feat of reaching the Quarter Finals. Wouldn’t it be marvellous, though, if just one of Sutton United or Lincoln City did just that?

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FA Cup 2016-17 4th Round Review

What a Fourth Round of FA Cup matches! Cup upset after Cup upset, with FA Cup records falling all over the country. Some say the FA Cup is dead, but this weekend proved that it is definitely alive and kicking.

The stars of the weekend are National League sides Lincoln City and Sutton United, both clubs successfully defeating EFL Championship promotion chasing clubs in the shape of Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United respectively. Two Non-League clubs in the last 16 isn’t unprecedented, it last happened in the 1919-20 season, but since the current structure of the FA Cup was set up in 1925, it has never happened before. In fact, only seven Non-League clubs in total had ever made the Fifth Round in the last 91 years.

Lincoln City have been in the last 16 a few times, but all in the 19th Century, and on the first of those occasions (in 1887), the last 16 was also called the Fifth Round of the FA Cup so the Imps will at least equal their best ever FA Cup run.

Sutton United not only exacted revenge on Leeds United after a period of 47 years, but also are into the last 16 and the Fifth Round for the first time in their history, in what is the club’s 95th FA Cup campaign.

The Cup upsets weren’t restricted to the heroics of these two Non-League clubs. After overcoming Premier League side Stoke City in the Potteries in the Third Round, EFL Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers did it again by beating Liverpool on Merseyside. Whilst both victories for Wolves are considered upsets, as far as FA Cup history is concerned it is just in line with previous head-to-head records between Wolves and the two Premier League clubs.

Elsewhere EFL One side Millwall were knocking out their second Premier League club at the Den. In the Third Round it was AFC Bournemouth, in this Round it was Watford, in what was the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Also meeting in the FA Cup were EFL One side Oxford United and EFL Championship side Newcastle United which produced another FA Cup upset at the Kassam Stadium as the Oxfordshire side ran out 3-0 winners. Oxford United are now just one win away from equalling their best ever FA Cup run, last achieved in 1963/64 season.

Completing the Cup upsets of the Fourth Round are EFL Championship club Fulham who thrashed Premier League side Hull City 4-1, with their visitors also missing two in quick succession penalties. Just like Wolves, Fulham already had a better head-to-head record against Hull City in the FA Cup.

EFL Two clubs also gave a great account of themselves despite not causing an upset. Wycombe Wanderers looked as if they were going to produce the shock of the round going 2-0 up at half-time at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. However, despite also going 3-2 up, Spurs won the game 4-3 with two very late goals. Accrington Stanley never actually got their noses in front at Premier League club Middlesbrough, but only went down 1-0 and in the process equalled their best ever FA Cup run.

EFL Championship club Derby County still have a chance of adding the the Cup upset quota after being held to a 2-2 by Premier League champions Leicester City at Pride Park. Derby have never lost to Leicester in the FA Cup so the omens are good for another upset.

Other ties went the way of League status or the form book. Premier League sides Manchester United, Chelsea and Burnley comfortably beat EFL Championship clubs Wigan Athletic, Brentford and Bristol City at their respective home grounds. Manchester City and Arsenal both won convincingly at fellow Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively. EFL Championship clubs Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers both defeated lower level EFL clubs. Huddersfield won at EFL One side Rochdale and Blackburn beat EFL Two club Blackpool.

This all leaves 17 clubs standing in this season’s FA Cup. Eight are from the Premier League, five from the EFL Championship, two from EFL One and two Non-League clubs from the National League. The last time a Non-League club made the FA Cup Quarter Finals was in 1914, Southern League side Queens Park Rangers. It was 1912 the last time two Non-League clubs were in the last eight (Swindon Town and Fulham).

The way this season’s FA Cup is going I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Lincoln City and Sutton United replicating that feat.

 

FA Cup 2016-17 4th Round Preview

Overview

Two Non-League clubs are into the Fourth Round for the first time since Macclesfield Town and Luton Town appeared in it in 2013. Sutton United and Lincoln City both now have the chance of equalling the best ever FA Cup run by a Nonleague club since the current Cup format was put in place in 1925/26 season. Only seven clubs have achieved the feat, the last being the aforementioned Luton Town.

Both Sutton and Lincoln face Championship clubs, a three league gap, a gap matched by Wycombe Wanderers and Accrington Stanley who both travel to Premier League sides.

Accrington Stanley and Sutton United are both equalling their best ever FA Cup runs by appearing in the Fourth Round, whilst Lincoln City and Rochdale are both just one win away from equalling their best runs.

There are only two all-Premier League clashes in this year’s Fourth Round, Southampton versus Arsenal and Crystal Palace versus Manchester City, and these are the only two of the 16 ties that pit clubs together who will meet in League matches this season.

Ten ties involve clubs who’ve met in the FA Cup before (with Southampton versus Arsenal the only ‘repeat’ FA Cup Final of the round) and the most common match-up being Liverpool versus Wolverhampton Wanderers, who’ve met five times before with Wolves winning three out of the five. However, the not such good news for Wolves is that they hold the record for most FA Cup 4th Round exits with Thirty. (Coincidentally, Liverpool hosted the club with the most 3rd Round exits, Plymouth Argyle, in the previous round.)

Half of the clubs in the Fourth Round are former FA Cup winners with a further nine clubs counting being beaten Finalists as their best ever FA Cup performance.

Arsenal are into the Fourth Round for a record 21st successive time with Chelsea just behind them with 19 consecutive Fourth Round appearances.

 

Tie-by-Tie Previews

  1. Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League) v Wycombe Wanderers (EFL Two)

Level 1 v Level 4

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Wycombe Wanderers are in to the Fourth Round for only the second time in 112 FA Cup campaigns. The last time was 16 years ago when the Chairboys went all the way to the Semi-Finals. Tottenham Hotspur are currently trending to reach the Sixth Round (Quarter Finals) this season after being eliminated in the Third Round three years ago, the Fourth Round two years ago and the Fifth Round last season.

 

  1. Derby County (EFL Championship) v Leicester City (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Two previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, both won by Derby County without conceding a goal. These previous meetings took place so long ago, 1893/94 and 1908/09, the Foxes were still known as Leicester Fosse!

Both clubs were formed in 1884, but Derby County have six more campaigns and one more FA Cup win (1946). Leicester City, famously, hold the record of most FA Cup final appearances without lifting the trophy with four.

 

  1. Oxford United (EFL One) v Newcastle United (EFL Championship)

Level 3 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Newcastle United are into the Fourth Round for the first time in five years, and it is 11 years since the club appeared in the Fifth Round. Oxford United are into the Fourth Round for the second successive season, but it is 23 years since they last appeared in the Fifth Round. One of these clubs will end their long wait this season.

 

  1. Sutton United (National League) v Leeds United (EFL Championship)

Level 5 v Level 2

One previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, a 6-0 4th Round victory for Leeds United 47 years ago when the perceived difference between the two clubs was much greater than it is today.

Sutton United are equalling their best ever FA Cup run for the third time, achieved first in 1970 when facing Leeds United, and then again in 1989 after memorably defeating Division One side, and recent FA Cup winners, Coventry City in the Third Round. Leeds United last lost to Non-League opposition eight years ago when as a third tier side they were beaten 1-0 by Conference Premier club, Histon. A similar result would mean Sutton United would equal the best FA Cup of any Non-League club sine the current structure was put in place for the 1925/26 season.

 

  1. Liverpool (Premier League) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Five previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with the lower league side Wolverhampton Wanderers having the upper hand with three victories as opposed to just two for Liverpool. However, this is the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs for 65 years.

It is six years since Wolves last appeared in the Fourth Round and a further three years since making the Fifth Round. Liverpool never failed to be in the Fourth Round over those same six years, but will be wary of their opponents who have already knocked out one Premier League side at their ground this season.

 

  1. Southampton (Premier League) v Arsenal (Premier League)

Level 1v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, all won by Arsenal including an FA Cup Final in 2003. In fact this is the earliest in the competition the two clubs have ever met with the three previous meetings occurring in the Quarter Finals (1979), Semi Finals (1927) and Final (2003).

Arsenal are in to the Fourth Round for a record consecutive 21st season and only failed to progress to the Fifth Round in four of those years, the last time being in 2010. Southampton have progressed beyond the Fourth Round just seven times over that same time period.

 

  1. Lincoln City (National League) v Brighton and Hove Albion (EFL Championship)

Level 5 v Level 2

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with one win apiece. The clubs first met in 1914/15 season when it was Brighton who were the Non-League club. However, it was the Seagulls who won on that occasion, but the Imps won in 2003/04 when they were the underdogs. A similar outcome this year will see Lincoln equal the best FA Cup run of any Non-League club since the current structure was put in place for the 1925/26 season.

Lincoln City are appearing in the Fourth Round for the first time in 41 years, but haven’t appeared in the Fifth Round for 130 years, two seasons before the Football League even started, when they were defeated 3-0 by Glasgow Rangers. Brighton and Hove Albion, on the other hand, have made the Fifth Round three times in their last six FA Cup campaigns.

 

  1. Chelsea (Premier League) v Brentford (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, both won by Chelsea, but in the last meeting four years ago it required a replay to separate them.

Chelsea are in to the Fourth Round for the 19th successive season, the second longest run ever, behind Arsenal currently on twenty-one. Chelsea have only failed to make the Fifth Round twice in that time. Brentford, however, haven’t reached the Fifth Round for 11 years.

 

  1. Manchester United (Premier League) v Wigan Athletic (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

FA Cup holders Manchester United are now level with Arsenal in terms of FA Cup wins (12 times), Runners-Up (7 times), and losing Semi-Finalists (9 times). The two most successful clubs in FA Cup history are only separated by the fact Arsenal have one more Quarter Final appearance to their name. Wigan Athletic are the last club to add their name to the list of FA Cup winners, becoming the 43rd different club to lift the trophy in 2013.

  1. Millwall (EFL One) v Watford (Premier League)

Level 3 v Level 1

First ever FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Both clubs have one FA Cup runners-up set of medals between them and both have been beaten Semi-Finalists within the last four seasons.

  1. Rochdale (EFL One) v Huddersfield Town (EFL Championship)

Level 3 v Level 2

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, both won by Huddersfield Town and both at Spotland, the first time after a replay.

A win for Rochdale would mean the club would equal their best ever FA Cup run, achieved just twice before in 1990 and 2003. Huddersfield Town are in Fourth Round for first time in three years having been knocked out by Reading in both the last two campaigns.

 

  1. Burnley (Premier League) v Bristol City (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Burnley last progressed beyond the Fourth Round six years ago whilst Bristol City haven’t reached the Fifth Round for 16 years.

 

  1. Blackburn Rovers (EFL Championship) v Blackpool (EFL Two)

Level 2 v Level 4

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, both won by Blackburn Rovers, both resulting in Blackburn making at least as far as the Semi-Finals (1925 and 1960).

Blackburn Rovers have made the Quarter Finals twice in the last four years whilst before this season Blackpool hadn’t won an FA Cup tie during that same period.

 

  1. Fulham (EFL Championship) v Hull City (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Fulham winning twice and Hull City winning once. It took three games to separate them the last time they met in 1975.

Both clubs are FA Cup beaten finalists, Fulham in 1975 and Hull City in 2014. Fulham haven’t gone beyond the Fourth Round for six years.

 

  1. Middlesbrough (Premier League) v Accrington Stanley (EFL Two)

Level 1 v Level 4

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Accrington Stanley are equalling their best ever FA Cup run by appearing in the Fourth Round, achieved just once before in 2010. Even the original Accrington Stanley club only ever made it as far as the Fourth Round. Middlesbrough were beaten finalists 20 years ago and have made the Fifth Round twice in the last four seasons.

 

  1. Crystal Palace (Premier League) v Manchester City (Premier League)

Level 1 v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Crystal Palace winning once and Manchester City winning twice, including an 11-4 win in 1926, which still represents the biggest ever FA Cup defeat for Palace.

Manchester City are in to the Fourth Round for the fifth successive season with the last of their five FA Cup Final wins six years ago. Palace lost their second of two Finals just last season, both times to Manchester United.

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When Non-League Clubs Crash the FA Cup Party

FA Cup history is made this season as victories for Lincoln City and Sutton United means that for the first time ever two Non-League clubs will be in the last 16 of the competition, since the current format was put in place 92 years ago.

One of the first facts about the FA Cup you ever learn when first diving into its history, well one of the first facts that you ever learn about English Football per se, is that Tottenham Hotspur are the only club to win the famous trophy as a Non-League club.

This is a true fact (since the Football League began in 1888), and in all likelihood will never be repeated, but without diminishing that achievement, it did actually happen in an era when the dividing line between top League clubs and Non-League was considerably thinner than it is now.

At the turn of the 20th Century, and in 1901 in particular when Tottenham achieved their famous win, there were only two League divisions and just 36 League clubs, the majority of which were based in the Midlands and the North, where professional football had its roots. In fact Arsenal, then known as Woolwich Arsenal, were the only club based south of the West Midlands competing in League football.

All other southern based clubs at that time, historians now class as ‘Non-League’, and the better quality Southern clubs competed in the Southern League, a league considered to be on a par standard-wise with the top League Division One. So much so, in fact, that many Southern League clubs were exempted from the Qualifying Stages of the FA Cup, whilst several League clubs had to participate in those rounds. As a consequence, non-league Southern League clubs regularly appeared in FA Cup Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and the Final itself, with Southampton twice being runners-up in the seasons either side of Tottenham lifting the trophy.

The Southern League was eventually amalgamated into the Football League in 1920 forming en masse as the Third Division. A year later a Northern Division Three was added to create the four leagues we are so familiar with in current times, albeit with an adjustment in 1958 when the regional nature of two separate Division Threes was replaced with a straightforward merit based Divisions One through to Four.

However, soon after the amalgamation of the Southern League into the Football League it became clear that the FA Cup structure needed to be amended to reflect the increase in what were regarded as League clubs, and in 1925 this new format was introduced, a format that has more-or-less remained the same ever since.

Ostensibly, clubs in the top two League Divisions were exempted until what was called the Third Round Proper, whilst all Division Three clubs were exempted until the First Round Proper. All Non-League clubs would have to qualify for the ‘Proper’ Rounds, although in the inaugural years of this new structure there were a few exceptions such as the FA Amateur Cup finalists being exempted until the First Round and, in recognition of their contribution to the development of football in England and across the world, Amateur club Corinthians were exempted until the Third Round.

These non-league exemptions were soon phased out and a final change to the structure was implemented in 1951 reflecting exactly how the FA Cup is structured now in the 21st Century. Eighty clubs compete in the First Round Proper made up of 48 lower league clubs and 32 non-league clubs. That number of 32 non-league clubs is the same regardless of how many non-league clubs participate in any one FA Cup season, and explains why it is so much harder nowadays for non-league clubs to be successful in the competition than it was in the days when Tottenham Hotspur were triumphant. But some plucky non-league clubs do occasionally gate-crash the FA Cup party.

In that first season of the current FA Cup structure, in 1925/26, three other non-league clubs battled their way to join Corinthians in the Third Round. Midland League side Boston (a forerunner to the current Boston United) started their Cup run in the 4th Qualifying Round with a 2-1 victory over Grassmoor from the Derbyshire Senior League playing in their 5th FA Cup match of the campaign. Boston were defeated 8-1 by First Division Sunderland in the Third Round. Northern Alliance club Chilton Colliery Welfare also began their run in the 4th Qualifying Round beating Tyneside League club Usworth Colliery 3-0 who had started their campaign in the 1st Qualifying Round. Chilton Colliery Welfare lost 3-0 themselves to South Shields from Football League Division Two in the Third Round. As the 1925 FA Amateur Cup winners, Isthmian League club Clapton were exempted until the 1st Round Proper where they won 3-1 at home to Division Three South side Norwich City before eventually narrowly losing 3-2 to Swindon Town from the same Division in the Third Round played at Upton Park.

Corinthians held First Division strugglers Manchester City to a 3-3 draw before succumbing to a 4-0 defeat at Maine Road in the replay. However, the amateurs became the first Non-League club to appear in the Fourth Round in the very next season. They had a comfortable 4-0 Third Round win at Walsall from Division Three North before losing 3-1 at home to First Division Newcastle United in the Fourth Round. They achieved the feat again two seasons later in the 1928/29 season (losing 3-0 at First Division West Ham United), but this time they were joined by another Non-League club who had had to qualify for the Proper Rounds.

Mansfield Town were competing in the Midland League and began their FA Cup campaign that year with a Fourth Qualifying Round 2-2 draw at Barnsley Association League outfit Ardsley Athletic who had begun their own campaign in the Preliminary Round. The Stags won the replay 2-0 before going on to win 4-2 at fellow Midland League side Shirebrook in the First Round Proper, to triumph 2-1 at Division Three North side Barrow in the Second Round and 1-0 at Division Two club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Third. Mansfield thus became the first Non-League club to qualify for the Proper Rounds of the FA Cup and make it as far as the Fourth Round where they went down 2-0 to First Division Arsenal.

The next club to qualify for the Proper Rounds and make it all the way to the Fourth Round was North Eastern League Division One side Workington five years later in 1933/34 season. Like Mansfield before them, the Reds began their campaign in the Fourth and last Qualifying Round meaning they only had to win one match to make the Proper Rounds. This they did by defeating Cheshire County League side Manchester North End 6-3 in a replay after the two sides had played out a 3-3 draw in the first match. Workington then became the first Non-League side to defeat three League sides in the same season beating Division Three sides, Southport, Newport County and Gateshead, before eventually losing 2-1 at home to Second Division Preston North End in the Fourth Round.

The next Non-League club to make the Fourth Round had a more remarkable journey to get there, and set all sorts of FA Cup records in doing so. In 1938 Essex based amateur club Chelmsford folded after 60 years of existence. The football club gap in the town was filled by the formation of an aspiring to be professional club, Chelmsford City, who were admitted to the Southern League for the 1938-39 season (the amateur club had been playing in the lower Essex County League). Because of their late formation, Chelmsford City had to begin their FA Cup campaign in the Preliminary Round (other Southern League clubs began theirs in the 4th Qualifying Round or even the First Round Proper).

Chelmsford City were drawn away at Athenian League club Barking whom they beat 2-1, the first of eight FA Cup victories in the same season. They beat London league Division One side Ford Sports (Dagenham) 6-2 in the First Qualifying Round, Eastern Counties League side Crittall Athletic (now Braintree Town) 4-2 in the Second Qualifying Round, the second of four incarnations of Romford (playing in the Athenian League) 3-1 in the Third Qualifying Round, and Isthmian League side Dulwich Hamlet 5-1 in the Fourth Qualifying Round. The First Round Proper saw a 4-0 home win over Birmingham and District League outfit Kidderminster Harriers, followed up by a 3-1 victory over their first League opposition, in the shape of Darlington from Division Three North, in the Second Round. Their eighth FA Cup victory of the season was a 4-1 Third Round defeat of Second Division Southampton, and the run only came to a shuddering halt with a 6-0 Fourth Round defeat to First Division Birmingham (City).

Nine FA Cup ties is the joint equal highest number of ties any club has ever played in one season of the FA Cup, and the Fourth Round is the furthest any club has ever reached in their first season since the current structure was put in place. A truly remarkable run which the club has yet to replicate in 72 further campaigns so far.

Another Essex based club who entered the FA Cup for the first time in the same season that Chelmsford City did, not only became the first Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round of the competition, but also became the first Non-League club to knock out a top flight opponent. Like Chelmsford City, Colchester United were formed following a former club in the town folding, in their case Colchester Town. In another connection, Colchester United began their record breaking 1947-48 campaign with a 3-1 Fourth Qualifying Round victory over fellow Southern League side Chelmsford City.

Colchester United then defeated Banbury Spencer (now United) from the Birmingham Combination 2-1 in the First Round Proper before defeating Third Division North Wrexham 1-0 in the Second Round. Colchester were the only Non-League club to reach the Third Round this year and very few outside the town would have expected there to be any in the Fourth Round as they were drawn to face First Division Huddersfield Town. However, Colchester won the match 1-0 to become the first Non-League club to knock out top flight opposition since the current structure was put in place. This terrific win was followed up by a tight 3-2 home win over Second Division Bradford (Park Avenue) in the Fourth Round to make further history for the club as the first Non-League side in the Fifth Round. Division One side Blackpool proved a hurdle too far and they lost 5-0 to the club that would eventually finish as runners-up in this year’s competition.

Just one season later history repeated itself as Southern League side Yeovil Town became the second Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round, the second Non-League club to knock out top flight opposition and the only Non-League club to make the Third Round that year. Yeovil’s FA Cup exploits, however, are far better documented than Colchester United’s due to who they beat in 1949 and their record number of victories over League clubs whilst a Non-League outfit.

Yeovil began their campaign with a tight 3-2 Fourth Qualifying Round victory over fellow Southern League side Lovell’s Athletic. The Glovers then defeated Romford (now playing in the Isthmian League) 4-0 in the First Round Proper and Western League Division One side Weymouth by the same scoreline in the Second Round. As the sole Non-League representatives in the Third Round they were drawn at home to Second Division Bury, a tie they might not have been expected to win, but Yeovil had a secret weapon, their famous sloping pitch. The Shakers were defeated 3-1 and next up in the Fourth Round was the mighty Sunderland, who’d only ever known First Division football up till then. The clubs had agreed to play extra time if necessary given the distance between the two clubs, a decision that Sunderland would rue, as Yeovil won the match 2-1 in that extra time amidst foggy conditions to knock out their illustrious visitors in what many regard as the greatest FA Cup shock of all time. No such fortune for Yeovil in Round Five as they were drawn away to Cup holders Manchester United and were on the wrong end of an 8-0 defeat.

Two years later, the current FA Cup structure came into being making it more difficult for Non-League clubs to make the Fourth Round, never mind the Fifth Round. Some did make the Fourth Round, of course, famously Walthamstow Avenue in 1953 (knocked out by Manchester United, but not until they had held them to a 1-1 draw), New Brighton in 1957 (having begun in the Preliminary Round the club weren’t knocked out until nine rounds later 9-0 by Burnley), Worcester City in 1959 (after having beaten Liverpool in the Third Round) and Hereford United in 1972, Ronnie Radford and all that, But it wasn’t until 1978 that a third Non-League club made it as far as the Fifth Round.

A First Qualifying Round 3-0 victory over fellow Northern League side Shildon was the unremarkable start of an amazing journey for Blyth Spartans, the lowest level side ever to make it to the Fifth Round. Another Northern League side, Crook Town, were defeated 3-0 in the Second Qualifying Round, but not until after the two sides had drawn 1-1 in their first game. And a third was dispatched in the Third Qualifying Round as the Spartans won 4-1 at Consett. Spartans were drawn away to a fourth Northern League club in the Fourth Qualifying Round this time winning 1-0 at Bishop Auckland.

A home draw at last in the First Round Proper resulted in a 1-0 victory over Burscough from the Cheshire County League, and this was followed up by a similar 1-0 win at home to Division Three side Chesterfield in the Second Round. A third 1-0 home win was achieved in the Third Round this time over Isthmian League Premier Division side Enfield, but it was the Fourth Round victory that made the footballing world take notice. Twice postponed at late notice, Blyth Spartans finally got to face Second Division Stoke City at their Victoria Ground, and in awful conditions, and having fallen behind in the second half, Blyth Spartans eventually won 3-2 and became TV stars overnight. After eight wins, Blyth actually went one further than the other Non-League clubs that had made the Fifth Round, by taking their opponents, Third Division Wrexham, to a replay before finally succumbing 2-1 in the second game.

Telford United were the next Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round, but by the 1984-85 season the Non-League scene had changed enormously since Blyth Spartans’ endeavours. The Non-League pyramid was put in place the following season after Blyth’s FA Cup exploits with the creation of the Alliance Premier League and a formal feeder structure below that, and many clubs competing in the Alliance Premier could easily have held their own in the Fourth Division. Telford United were members of this top level Non-League Division when they achieved their greatest FA Cup run.

Having fallen just one round short of achieving the feat of making the Fifth Round in the previous season, the Bucks were actually exempted to the First Round Proper in the 1984-85 season. There they defeated Division Three side Lincoln City 2-1 after a 1-1 draw, followed by a 4-1 win at Preston North End, also from the Third Division, in the Second Round. Another Third Division side was put to the sword in the Third Round as Bradford City were beaten 2-1 at home, and then Darlington from Division Four became a record fourth League club to be beaten by the same Non-League club in the same season as Telford won 3-0 after a 1-1 draw. The run only ended with a 3-0 defeat at eventual Finalists and soon-to-be League Champions Everton in the Fifth Round.

The difference in standard between the higher Non-League clubs and the lower League clubs was becoming more negligible as time went on, and more and more Non-League clubs were making it to the Third Round. However, it was to be almost 10 years before Kidderminster Harriers replicated the feat of those other four Non-League clubs as they made their way to the Fifth Round in 1993-94. Members of what was now being called the Vauxhall Conference, the Harriers started their campaign off with a 4-1 Fourth Qualifying Round victory at Isthmian League Premier Division side Chesham United. Fellow Conference side Kettering Town were defeated 3-0 in the First Round Proper and another, Woking, beaten 1-0 at home in the Second Round. The Third Round saw a famous 2-1 victory at local First Division (second tier) side Birmingham City, with Third Division (fourth tier) Preston North End defeated 1-0 in the Fourth Round. Premier League opposition in the shape of West Ham United came to Kidderminster in the Fifth Round, but the Harriers narrowly lost the tie 1-0.

Despite the lack of perceived difference in quality between Non-League and lower League clubs, it would be another 17 years before another Non-League club appeared in the Fifth Round. By 2010-11 season the Conference had expanded and Crawley Town were members of its Premier Division and heading for Football League status. The Fourth Qualifying Round saw a 1-0 victory at fellow Conference Premier League side, the re-formed Newport County. This was followed up by a convincing 5-0 win at Conference North club Guiseley in the First Round Proper. The Second Round saw League One (third tier) side Swindon Town defeated 3-2 after extra time in the replay at the County Ground. Crawley then defeated Championship side Derby County 2-1 in the Third Round before winning 1-0 at League Two (fourth tier) side Torquay United in the Fourth Round. Then came a trip to soon-to-be-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United where the lower level Red Devils were narrowly defeated 1-0 by their more illustrious fellow Red Devils.

The final club so far to make the Fifth Round as a Non-League side is actually a former FA Cup finalist and League Cup winners. In 1959 Luton Town lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest in that season’s FA Cup Final, but by 2012-13 season the Hatters were plying their trade in what was now known as the National League and started their campaign by beating another former League club Cambridge United 2-0 in the Fourth Qualifying Round. They beat fellow National League side Nuneaton Town by the same 2-0 scoreline in the First Round Proper before seeing off Conference South outfit Dorchester Town 2-1 in the Second Round. The Third Round saw the Hatters win 1-0 at home to Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers, but even better was to come in the Fourth Round. There they were drawn away at Premier League club Norwich City where Luton Town, by winning 1-0 again, became the latest Non-League club to knock out a top flight club by beating them on their opponent’s ground. The journey ended for Luton, as it had for six previous Non-League clubs, with defeat in the Fifth Round, losing 3-0 at home to Championship side Millwall.

So National League sides Sutton United and Lincoln City, by winning their Fourth Round ties, become the eighth and ninth Non-League clubs to reach the FA Cup 5th Round . It’s the first time ever two clubs have achieved this feat in the same season. Now the question is, can either or both of them become the first Non-League Quarter Finalist for 103 years?