The 100 Year Wait for an FA Cup Win

Through my research of club records in the FA Cup I often unearth information about a club about which even members of that club are unware. One such instance this season was with regards to Peterborough Sports who, in their view, were entering the Cup for the first time in their history, but who I discovered had partaken in the competition back in the 1920s under a previous club name, Brotherhoods Works.

There was a 93 year gap between Brotherhoods Works last FA Cup match in 1922/23 season, a 2-1 Preliminary Round replay defeat at Desborough Town, and Peterborough Sports first FA Cup tie this season, a 1-0 win at Eynesbury Rovers. That 93 year gap was tentatively considered a record gap between cup ties, one which the club garnered much publicity about, particularly within their local region.

Additionally, the club’s 1-0 win was their first in the competition since Brotherhoods Works beat Bourne Town by the same scoreline in 1919, creating a gap of 96 years between FA Cup wins. Could this be another record gap for Peterborough Sports to celebrate? Well, of course, I had to do some digging, and what I found out was that there is a club that had gone longer between FA Cup wins, and as it happens, had actually gone longer than the 93 year wait to take part in the competition.

Holwell Works was formed in 1902 and, whilst competing in the Leicestershire Senior League, entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1910/11 season, where they lost their Extra Preliminary Round tie 3-2 at Sutton Town from Ashfield in Nottinghamshire. Holwell then entered the FA Cup three more times before World War I broke out, changing leagues to the Original Central Alliance during that time, and registering their one and only FA Cup win in the Extra Preliminary Round of the 1912/13 competition, 3-1 against Whitwick Imperial.

Holwell competed in the Leicester League between the two World Wars, returning to the Leicestershire Senior League in 1946 where the club remained until joining the East Midlands Central League in 2008, having by then also changed their name to Holwell Sports in 1988. Throughout that whole period the club was absent from the FA Cup, but it was by virtue of being members of the EMCL that they were able to return in the 2009/10 season. That return was to end a 95 year hiatus from the competition, two years longer than Peterborough Sports had had to wait.

Graham Lewin, Holwell Sports Chairman and former manager of the club for 20 years, said “The club was in too low a level to be involved in the FA Cup for many, many years. There was no consideration for the history when we returned a few years ago, but it’s amazing to now learn that we may hold some kind of record in the competition.”

Holwell were unsuccessful in their first four seasons back in the FA Cup (even failing to take part in 2011/12) losing all four of their Extra Preliminary Round matches, but last season they finally managed another FA Cup victory. This took the form of a 3-0 win over fellow EMCL side, Graham Street Prims, and marked an amazing 103 year gap between tasting victories in this prestigious competition, a total of seven years more than Peterborough Sports.

Just as with buses, you wait 103 years for one FA Cup win and another comes along two weeks later, a 3-1 Preliminary Round win at Northern Counties East League side, Retford United. The winning streak came to an abrupt halt two further weeks later, a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Northern Premier League Division One South outfit, Spalding United. The club has won through their Extra Preliminary Round this year and Holwell can console themselves with the knowledge that they hold two FA Cup records that will probably never be beaten, maybe even a third record given they have always played at the original Holwell Works sports ground, that is unless further research throws up yet another surprise!

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