No. 3 in an occasional series.
There have been many clubs representing the Croydon name in the FA Cup since the competition began in the late Nineteenth Century, but only one has ever made it as far as the Second Round Proper, the current Croydon club formed in 1953 as Croydon Amateurs.
Croydon Park was the first of these clubs entering the 1893-94 competition but being on the wrong end of a 10-0 scoreline in their only match at home to 2nd Scots Guards in the Second Qualifying Round. West Croydon from Southern Suburban League Division One came next in 1899 losing 1-0 at home to Bromley in their only match that year in the First Qualifying Round, and not winning an FA Cup match until two seasons later a 5-0 home win over West Norwood. The club made the Third Qualifying Round in 1902-03 season after wins over Bromley (2-1), Godalming (1-0) and Richmond Town (2-1) before losing 3-1mto Lowestoft Town and disappearing from the FA Cup altogether.
Croydon Wanderers were next, entering in 1902 and making five appearances in total, reaching the First Qualifying Round three times before scratching in 1906 and disappearing altogether. A 3-2 win over Godalming the club’s only FA Cup victory. The first club playing under the name Croydon entered the FA Cup in 1903 season for the first time. Playing variously in the Southern Suburban League, the Mid-Surrey League and the Southern Amateur League, this club entered the FA Cup on 14 different occasions reaching the First Qualifying Round on half of these occasions before folding at the start of the 1922-23 season. Ironically the club’s first win was a 2-0 victory of Croydon Wanderers.
The first Croydon team of note entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1907, Croydon Common of the Southern League. The club were formed in 10 years prior to their first entry and folded 10 years after it, but in that time the club appeared in the First Round Proper on six separate occasions. However, apart from a couple of draws with Woolwich Arsenal and one with Leicester Fosse (City), the club never actually managed to win a ‘Proper’ Round FA cup match. But they had plenty of wins in the Qualifying Rounds: 10-1 over Farncombe, 9-0 over 1st Grenadier Guards, 7-0 over London Caledonians, before folding during World War I, the only Southern League club not to return after the Great War.
A Croydon Rovers club entered the FA Cup in 1951 but scratched before playing their Preliminary Round match at Dorking. Croydon Amateurs was formed at the end of the following season and entered the FA cup in 1966 as an Athenian League side. That first game ended in a 2-1 home defeat to fellow Athenian League side Hornchurch. The club’s first FA Cup win came two seasons later, a 4-0 win at Staines Town before going out in the Second Qualifying Round to the original Brentwood Town. The club dropped the Amateur moniker in 1973 and joined the Isthmian League Division Two the following season. A season later they made it all the way to the Fourth Qualifying Round to set a new club record. Wins over Erith and Belvedere (3-1 after a replay), Bromley (2-1) and Molesey (4-0) saw them face Wycombe Wanderers in the Fourth Qualifying Round. Unfortunately, following a 2-2 draw, Croydon was thwarted in their attempt at making the First Round by losing 5-2 in the replay.
By the 1979-80 season Croydon were an Isthmian League Premier Division side. A 2-0 win against Sussex County League side Bexhill Town on neutral territory in the First Qualifying Round was followed by an identical 2-0 win at Southern League Ashford Town in the next round. Another Southern League side, Bognor Regis Town, was beaten 1-0 in the Third Qualifying Round before fellow Isthmian League Premier Division side Leatherhead were despatched 3-0 after a 1-1 draw to take the club into the ‘Proper’ Rounds for the first and so far only time.
As often happens in the FA Cup the club’s First Round opponents were Wycombe Wanderers and an opportunity for the club to exact revenge for that earlier Fourth Qualifying Round defeat to the same club a few years earlier. Despite having to travel to Loakes Park Croydon won the match comfortably 3-0 with goal each from Rod and Andy Ward and one from Constable. That win was rewarded with a home draw to Football League opposition in the shape of Division Three Millwall. The tie was switched to be played at Selhurst Park and in front of almost 10,000 people Croydon held their League opponents to a 1-1 draw thanks to another Rod Ward goal. The replay three days later couldn’t separate the two sides after 90 minutes with Constable scoring twice for Croydon and Millwall eventually winning the match 3-2 after extra time.
Two Fourth Qualifying Round appearances in 1985/86 (4-1 defeat to Bath City) and 1987/88 (3-0 loss to Merthyr Tydfil) are the closest the club has got to reaching the ‘Proper’ Rounds again. Still this is one round further than local rivals Croydon Athletic ever reached in their 23 FA Cup campaigns and AFC Croydon Athletic has yet to win an FA Cup match in three attempts.