Haven’t We Met Before?

With Arsenal being drawn against Hull City in the Fifth Round of this season’s FA Cup it will be the third successive year that the two clubs will have met in the competition, most notably in 2013/14 in the FA Cup Final when Arsenal came back from two down to win 3-2 in extra time. Arsenal also beat Hull last year in the Third Round on their way to retaining the trophy, and now will be hoping that there is a connection between beating Hull and going on to win the FA Cup for a record equalling third successive year, too.

As a consequence of this draw, there has been interest in knowing what the most common repeated FA Cup fixture might be, finding out which two teams have faced other the most in the FA Cup in successive years. Meeting in three consecutive seasons isn’t as unusual as one might imagine, particularly in the Preliminary and Qualifying Rounds which have traditionally been regionalised meaning that the better clubs in each region invariably will come face to face as one or other of them progresses to a round with where there is a national draw.

The most common fixture in FA Cup history is Chippenham Town versus Trowbridge Town. These two clubs have been drawn to face each other on 20 different occasions resulting in a total of 26 FA Cup matches. In the midst of those 26 meetings, the two clubs faced each other in five successive seasons from 1960/61 to 1964/65.

Another match-up that happened in five successive seasons is that between Cambridge Town and King’s Lynn. The two clubs had already met each other in three consecutive seasons from 1929/30 to 1931/32, and for four successive years from 1934/35 to 1937/38, before having to face each other in each of the first five seasons following the Second World War.

Welsh clubs Barry and Lovell’s Athletic were drawn to play each other in six consecutive seasons not once, but twice. The two sides met each other 15 times in total in those twelve years which happened across two separate six year periods. The first run covered 1926/27 to 1931/32, the second from 1934/35 to 1945/46 by which time Barry had added the word ‘Town’ to their name.

However, the most consecutive seasons that two teams have been drawn to face each other in the FA Cup is NINE. That honour belongs to Kettering Town and Peterborough United whose face-to-face run began in the 1936/37 season with a 2-0 win to Peterborough. Kettering won 1-0 in a replay the following year and Peterborough won 2-1 in 1938/39. Football was interrupted by World War II, but when the competition resumed the two clubs were drawn to meet again in 1945/46, this time with Kettering winning by two goals to one. The following four years saw the two clubs battle it out again and again with Peterborough triumphant every time. The ninth and final meeting in this sequence was in 1950/51 when Kettering won 2-1 after a two-two draw.

Of course, all of the aforementioned sequences happened in the Preliminary and Qualifying Rounds while Arsenal and Hull City are meeting for the third successive time in what are called the ‘Proper’ Rounds. So is three the record number for repeated match-ups in ‘Proper’ Rounds, then? Well, three consecutive meetings isn’t even the most for Arsenal themselves. In the first four seasons of the 21st Century Arsenal came face-to-face with Chelsea, being triumphant every time including, most notably, 2-0 in the 2002 Final itself. Other match-ups to happen in four successive seasons between current League clubs includes Leicester City versus Manchester City (1965/66 to 1968/69) and Luton Town versus Queen’s Park Rangers, although their four meetings all happened in the later Qualifying Rounds between 1899/1900 and 1902/03.

Other clubs facing each other in four successive seasons are Basingstoke Town v Fareham Town (1963-66), Great Yarmouth Town v Lowestoft Town (1948-51), Maidstone United v Sittingbourne (1901-04), Ashington v North Shields (1955-58), Bideford v Falmouth Town (1967-70), Harwich and Parkeston v Lowestoft Town (1963-66), Devizes Town v Trowbridge Town (1961-64), Slough v Wycombe Wanderers (1920-23), King’s Lynn v Norwich CEYMS (1905-08), Desborough Town v Kettering Town (1909-12), Barry Town v Gloucester City (1954-57) and the earliest instance of four on the trot between Grimsby Town and Lincoln City from 1892/93 to 1895/96.

If you are aware of any consecutively repeated fixture in the FA Cup that should be added to this list then please do let me know.

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