No. 11 in an occasional series of Club Focussed FA Cup specials.
It’s fair to say that South Yorkshire based outfit Armthorpe Welfare doesn’t have, what one might call, FA Cup pedigree, but like every club that has ever participated in this illustrious competition, they do have Cup history and they do have a memorable Cup run.
Originally formed in 1926 the Wellie competed in seven FA Cup campaigns in their first incarnation whilst members of the Doncaster Senior League (one season pre-World War II as members of the Sheffield Association League). The club’s first FA Cup match came in the 1936/37 season but they made an inauspicious start losing 3-0 in the Extra Preliminary Round at home to Goole Town, at the time members of the higher Yorkshire League. The club only had to wait one season, though, before registering their first FA Cup win, a 2-0 home victory over Thorne Colliery in that season’s Extra Preliminary Round. Thorne Colliery also competed in the Yorkshire League so this was something of an upset, a feat they couldn’t repeat against Midland League side Frickley Colliery in the Preliminary Round, going down 4-0 at home.
So before disbanding in 1974 the club had only ever made it as far as the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, and after re-forming in 1976 it would be another 10 years before the club returned to the competition as a Northern Counties East Premier League side, a division the team has resided in ever since. Even though the club appeared in the First Qualifying Round for the first time in their returning 1985/86 season in the FA Cup, they didn’t actually win a Cup match that season having been exempted from the Preliminary Round. A 1-1 draw away at Burscough from North West Counties League Division One was followed up by a 1-0 defeat at home in the replay.
However, it was a different story the following season where the club won more FA Cup games in that one season than they had done in the previous eight FA Cup campaigns all together. In that 1986/87 season the Wellie had to start in the Preliminary Round where they began with a 2-2 draw away at North West Counties League Division One outfit Curzon Ashton. However, history was not to repeat itself and Armthorpe won the replay 4-1, a scoreline that would be recorded as their biggest win in the competition for the nest 13 years. The First Qualifying Round would see Armthorpe take on another Tameside club in the shape of Ashton United, who were members of North West Counties League Division Two at the time. A tight 2-1 home win not only gave the Wellie two FA Cup wins in the same season for the first time, but took the club into the Second Qualifying Round for the first time, too.
Another North West League Division One side in the shape of St Helen’s Town were to be overcome in that Second Qualifying Round. Their opponents had registered their best FA Cup run to the Fourth Qualifying Round in the previous season and would have been confident of progressing. The first match at the Welfare ground ended in a 1-1 draw, but against the odds it was Armthorpe who secured a 1-0 win in the replay at St Helens to reach the Third Qualifying Round for the first time in the club’s history. Northern Premier League outfit Chorley were to visit the Welfare Ground, a season after having equalled their own FA Cup run to the First Round Proper. Chorley proved too strong on the day winning 2-0 and on their way to breaking their own FA Cup personal best. Armthorpe had to settle for setting a record three FA Cup match wins in one season and a first appearance in the Third Qualifying Round.
The Wellie has competed in the FA Cup every season since that record run, only coming close to emulating that Third Qualifying Round appearance on three occasions; in 1991/92 (lost 3-1 at North West Counties League Division One side Eastwood Hanley), in 2005/06 (lost 2-0 at home to Rossendale United from Northern Premier League Division One) and as recently as last season, where after equalling their club record of three FA Cup wins in the same season, the Wellie eventually went down 6-1 at home to Buxton from Northern Premier League Premier Division.