This season the FA have abolished replays in FA Cup Quarter Finals in a move stated by the FA as one designed to re-invigorate the competition, but in truth more likely to be a decision taken to appease the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
Whatever the reasons for the decision, this removal of replays opens up the possibility of Quarter Final ties requiring extra time (and maybe even penalties) to settle them in what is the first meeting between the clubs in the round, becoming the only round (outside of those taking place on neutral territory) that will be concluded at first time of asking.
However, if any of this year’s four Quarter Finals do require extra time, it won’t be the first time an extra 30 minutes has been used to try to determine who goes on to the Semi-Finals. Far from it … although it will be the first time a Quarter Final tie required extra time and didn’t have the option of a replay should the scores still remain level.
The first FA Cup Quarter Final tie to utilise extra time to try to settle it on the day occurred way back in 1875, in what was just the fourth season the FA Cup had been running, between Shropshire Wanderers and Woodford Wells. Perhaps the experience of being the only club ever to be knocked out of the FA Cup on the toss of a coin the previous season, and wishing to avoid repeating that fate, caused Shropshire Wanderers to agree with Woodford Wells that their Quarter Final tie should have an extra 30 minutes should the scores be level at full time. It was all to no avail, though, as the scores were level at one apiece at full time and neither side were able to add to their tally in the ensuing extra half hour. The replay occurred two weeks later, which Shropshire Wanderers won 2-0 to become the only club from that county to appear in an FA Cup Semi Final.
It was commonplace in the early days of the FA Cup that clubs had the option to decide whether or not to have extra time in the first match, and many matches were settled that way, but it was still quite rare in Quarter Final ties for it to be required. In all the next three occasions it happened, in 1878, 1879 and 1880, extra time failed to separate the clubs involved and replays were necessary to determine the Semi-Finalists. However, the following year did see the first FA Cup Quarter Final ever to be settled in extra time in the first meeting between the two clubs.
Old Carthusians were drawn at home to Cup holders Clapham Rovers and the clubs agreed on the provision of extra time should it be needed. The scores were level at one apiece after 90 minutes but Old Carthusians scored twice in the extra half hour to progress to the Semi Final on their own way to lifting the trophy.
Having been the first club to benefit from winning a Quarter Final in extra time in the first game, Old Carthusians became the second team to lose in such a way six years later, losing 2-1 at home to Preston North End after the sides were level at one-all after 90 minutes. Preston North End were involved in another Quarter Final tie utilising extra time in the first game a further six years later when drawing 2-2 at Middlesbrough Ironopolis. This time a replay was required which Preston won 7-0, the biggest FA Cup Quarter Final victory in a replay following a first game utilising extra time.
Extra time has actually been used just 14 times to try to settle an FA Cup Quarter Final tie, and has only been successful in doing so on three of those occasions, just 21% of the time, so it might be expected that many of the future Quarter Finals to require it will need penalties to determine the winner. The third and final occasion extra time resulted in a winner was in 1894 when Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa were locked at two goals each after 90 minutes. Wednesday scored in extra time to settle the tie.
1894 was also the first occasion two of the four Quarter Finals used extra time to try to settle the tie at the first time of asking. The other tie saw local rivals Nottingham Forest and Notts County finish one apiece after extra time, with County winning the replay 4-1. The only other time 50% of the Quarter Final ties used extra time was also the next occasion extra time was used, 21 years later in 1915, a decision to do so probably borne out of trying to minimise resources and people’s time during the early days of the First World War. Ironically both ties required replays before being settled.
Those two ties in 1915 were the 12th and 13th occasion extra time was used to try to settle the tie at the first attempt, and it has only occurred on just one more occasion, but not for another 33 years. The provision of extra time to settle ties at the first attempt by now were only allowable on the discretion of the FA, but in the first few years after the Second World War it was recognised that, particularly for ties involving long journeys, it was prudent to agree to the provision of extra time should it be needed in the first game to try to minimise the use of what were rationed materials, such as fuel.
The most famous instance of this provision being put in place occurred in 1949 when First Division Sunderland travelled to Non-League side Yeovil Town and were defeated 2-1 by a goal that happened in that agreed extra 30 minutes. However, that was a Fourth Round tie, and it was actually a season earlier when the last instance of extra time in the first meeting in a Quarter Final tie was used.
That Quarter Final tie, 69 years ago, saw Division Three South high-flyers Queens Park Rangers host Derby County from Division One. QPR took the lead only for Derby to equalise, and the score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes, with extra time then played. However, the extra 30 minutes failed to generate further goals and the tie had to go to a replay anyway, a replay won 5-0 by Derby.