Every now and then an FA Cup stat is unearthed that seems too incredible to be true. Usually it is because the achievement is so great it would only occur once in a blue moon. A level nine club making the 1st Round, as Westfields have done this season, perhaps? No, that last happened only six years ago (Tipton Town and Hythe Town). A 1-0 away victory by a non-league club at a League One side perhaps, as Macclesfield Town have done? No, they themselves did just that only 10 years ago, both times at Walsall.
No, the surprising stat of this year’s 1st Round is that the 6-0 victory by Sheffield United over Leyton Orient turns out to be The Blades’ biggest ever FA Cup win.
This stat in itself doesn’t sound too remarkable, but when put into context of the club’s FA Cup history, and the history of record scores in the competition, it is quite astonishing. The biggest win was Preston North End 26-0 Hyde, and clubs have scored more than six goals in over 2,550 FA Cup matches. The stat is so surprising, in fact, that it sows seeds of doubt as to whether the records that have been researched are in fact accurate.
Sheffield United first entered the FA Cup in the nineteenth century, in 1889, a period when the better teams regularly won by the proverbially cricket scores, and the Blades were one of those better teams, winning the first of their four FA Cup trophies in the last year of the 1890s. The club is competing in its 118th FA Cup campaign and has played more than 380 FA Cup ties, but their previous best wins, both occurring in the 19th century, were 6-1 victories over Scarborough and perennial whipping boys, Loughborough.
For comparison, neighbours Sheffield Wednesday have twice scored 12 goals in FA Cup matches. Even their other close neighbours, the World’s Oldest Football Club, Sheffield, have won an FA Cup match 8-0. The last time the Blades came close to breaking their best FA Cup win was a 5-1 victory over Wrexham 33 years ago, and even that was only the seventh time the club had scored five goals in a Cup game.
So the FA Cup continues to spring surprises, and sometimes even what appears run-of-the-mill can be surprising.