From Little Wembley to Big Wembley

In the summer of 2014, after more years of active research than I can remember, I finally felt ready to share my comprehensive database regarding performances in the FA Cup for every club which had ever entered that illustrious competition since its humble beginnings 145 years ago.

At that time no-one in the world of football knew me from Adam, so I sought out an established FA Cup blogger with a view to riding on their well-known coat-tails. And I found a blogger who very kindly agreed to allow me to publish my statistical previews and reviews of all the Preliminary and Qualifying Rounds of the 2014-15 competition on their website. That blogger was The Real FA Cup, and I am extremely grateful to Damon who runs that blog and Twitter feed for the support he provided, and for allowing me to be part of his FA Cup world. My individual round reviews can be read on The Real FA Cup website by clicking on the following link: http://therealfacup.co.uk/author/phil-annets/

Throughout the 2014-15 season I used my own personal Twitter feed to start to publish random stats and facts about the FA Cup, much to the annoyance of those that were following me for all the other exciting and interesting things that were happening in my life (!). And, amazingly, I started to get noticed, being invited to provide a review of a couple of the Qualifying Rounds by BBC 5 Live’s Caroline Barker, for inclusion in the following Sunday morning Non-League Show. The season also included an approach from the BBC to provide stats for their on-line FA Cup Third Round preview blog which can be read here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/30562324

Come the summer of 2015, and on the back of the kind of fame only a specialist website and a before sunrise aired radio show can give you, I decided to go it alone for the 2015-16 season and set up both the Twitter handle @FACupFactfile and its associated blog. I set about writing a comprehensive preview of the Extra Preliminary Round and a blog about my love of the FA Cup and put @FACupFactfile out there.

I quickly grew followers for @FACupFactfile, mainly transferred from my personal Twitter account, and also made available my EP Round preview for use in match day programmes for clubs hosting and FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie. I also embarked on a little FA Cup odyssey, trying to attend as many FA Cup matches as possible throughout the Qualifying Rounds, starting as many people did, at Hoddesdon Town on the night of Friday 14th August, 2015.

The next day was to be special for me personally, as I was heading to Nelson FC for what would become the 100th ground I had ever visited. What I didn’t realise was just how special it was to be as unbeknownst to me, the club had included both my ‘Why I Love the FA Cup’ article and my ‘FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Preview’ article in their match-day programme. It was almost as if the programme was written by me.

I was absolutely gob-smacked. It was just a real shame that my visit to what is affectionately known as ‘Little Wembley’ couldn’t coincide with an FA Cup victory for the Admirals. However, the club and my visit that day will always remain memorable to me, made even more so when being contacted by BBC 5 Live to once again appear on their Non-League Show to be recorded that evening and hosted by Liam Bradford. @FACupFactfile had sort of arrived.

Over the next days and weeks I attended many more FA Cup matches, became aware of many more clubs using my articles in their programmes, and steadily, almost stealthily, continued to grow my Twitter follower base. Three and a half thousand followers is minuscule when compared to media Tweeters such as Gary Lineker, but from a standing start and from a position of relative anonymity, @FACupFactfile is gradually getting quite a following. More appearances on National radio, being published in the Non-League Paper, and twice appearing as a special guest on an American on-line radio show, have all added momentum to my FA Cup Factfile.

And now as we have concluded the business end of the FA Cup, the Final between Crystal Palace and Manchester United, you will have found FA Cup facts and stats provided by @FACupFactfile in the Cup Final programme itself. I am so chuffed and so proud to be included in the pinnacle of all FA Cup programmes. It beautifully connects @FACupFactile with the Extra Preliminary Round of the tournament way back in August to the Cup Final in May. From Abbey Hey to Yorkshire Amateur via Arsenal, Middlesbrough and York City, @FACupFactfile covers them all. No matter when your team enters or exits the FA Cup, @FACupFactfile has all the competition’s facts and stats you’ll ever need.

From ‘Little Wembley’ to ‘Big’ Wembley, @FACupFactfile has it all.

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