FA Cup 2017-18 EP Round Preview

This is a top-line overview of some of the key facts and stats in this year’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. A full tie-by-tie version is also available.

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Odd Number

Unusually there are 737 clubs in this year’s FA Cup resulting in an Extra Preliminary Round containing 370 clubs and 185 ties. This is two more clubs and one more tie than has been normal recently and has come about because a Step 4 club, Isthmian League’s Guernsey, has decided not to enter the FA Cup this year. Step Four clubs come into the FA Cup in the Preliminary Round so in order to make up the numbers for that round two extra Step Six clubs get to partake in this famous competition. Appropriately, in a year when there is an odd number of clubs in the FA Cup, it was the Western League’s Odd Down who were the last club drawn out of the Extra Preliminary Round hat?

 

Familiar Foe?

Sixty-eight of the 185 ties (36.75%) involve two clubs who will also face each other in League action this season. That is slightly up from last year, but still a fair way below the majority of matches often thought to contain such opponents. The Northern League bears the brunt of these kind of fixtures with eight ties in total.

Another perception is that clubs play the same opponents over and over again in these early FA Cup rounds. Well the evidence suggests otherwise. Just 24 ties (13%) involve clubs who’ve met before in the FA Cup, and just five of these ties involve clubs with multiple meetings in the competition. The all-Northern League tie Consett versus Bishop Auckland is the standout exception as this will be their seventh FA Cup meeting having won three times each against each other in the past.

 

Can’t Wait

There will be 23 clubs experiencing the FA Cup for the first time, although two have links to clubs who’ve competed in it in the past. South West Peninsula Premier League side Exmouth Town is a re-formed version of Exmouth Town who folded in 2006 (the original club had 19 FA Cup campaigns from 1934-35 season, and the re-formed club was initially called Exmouth Town 2006), whilst Essex Senior League side Hackney Wick is a club that has absorbed London Bari who competed in the FA Cup over the last two years.

Most clubs who get to take part in the FA Cup tend to do so within a few decades of forming, but two of this year’s new clubs have had to wait considerably longer, more than 130 years after forming. Eastern Counties League side Framlingham Town were formed in 1887 and have the fifth longest wait to enter the FA Cup. However, formed two years earlier in 1885, is Chipping Sodbury Town from the Western League. The Sods have had to wait 132 years and have the third longest wait in FA Cup history. I’m sure both they and the Castlemen will think the wait was worth it.

Other debutants are AC London and Eversley & California (both Combined Counties League), Bearsted and Rusthall (both Southern Counties East League), Birstall United, Kimberley Miners Welfare and West Bridgford (all East Midlands Counties League), Charnock Richard, City of Liverpool, Litherland REMYCA, Whitchurch Alport and Widnes (all North West Counties League), Little Common (Southern Combination League), Stockton Town (Northern League), Wadham Lodge and West Essex (both Essex Senior League), and Woodley United (Hellenic League).

Also entering the FA Cup for the first time are Spartan South Midlands League side Biggleswade, and Hellenic League club Brackley Town Saints. What links these two clubs is that they were both former Reserves sides who have broken away from their parent clubs (Biggleswade Town and Brackley Town respectively – both in this year’s FA Cup, too) to create their own first team identities.

Four of the new clubs have been drawn to play each other – Framlingham Town versus Wadham Lodge and Chipping Sodbury Town versus Brackley Town Saints – so at least two newbies will grace the Preliminary Round, which is more than 18 other clubs in this year’s competition have done, clubs who have a FA Cup history but who have never actually won an FA Cup tie.

 

All is Lost

Several clubs with many FA Cup campaigns already in the bag are looking to register their first ever win in the competition. North West Counties League side Barnoldswick Town have had six attempts to progress beyond the Extra Preliminary Round but have so far failed to do so. Just behind them are Wessex League club Fawley who have had five FA Cup campaigns without a win, Southern Counties East League side AFC Croydon Athletic with four, and Northern League club Sunderland Ryhope Colliery Welfare who have had two campaigns without a win.

Potentially added to this list are AFC Uckfield Town from the Southern Combination League and the aforementioned Hackney Wick. The Sussex based club have had just one FA Cup campaign being knocked out of the Extra Preliminary Round last season. However, AFC Uckfield had six campaigns without registering a win, and the FA consider the current club to be a continuation. If they were the same club then they would head this list of ‘yet to win clubs’ in the FA Cup with seven unsuccessful attempts.

 

Forgotten Success

Other clubs who are looking to win in the FA Cup for the first time in quite a while include Eastern Counties League side Diss Town and Southern Combination League side Hailsham Town who have both exited the competition in the Extra Preliminary Round in each of their last EIGHT campaigns.

For Eastern Counties League side Woodbridge Town and Western League club Keynsham Town it is SIX successive Extra Preliminary Round knock-outs each. Northern League club Sunderland Ryhope Community Association, Northern Counties East League side Liversedge, Essex Senior League side Enfield 1893, Eastern Counties League club Walsham-le-Willows and United Counties League club St Andrews have all gone out on the Extra Preliminary Round in each of their last FIVE campaigns.

For Northern Counties East League side Hallam, Eastern Counties League sides Ely City and Stowmarket Town, Spartan South Midlands League club Langford, Hellenic League side Fairford Town, Southern Counties East League side Crowborough Athletic, Southern Combination League clubs Lancing, Worthing United and Mile Oak, Western League club Melksham Town, Wessex League club Lymington Town, Essex Senior League club Takeley and United Counties League sides Wellingborough Town and Potton United it is Extra Preliminary Round exits in each of their last FOUR campaigns.

Three other Eastern Counties League clubs Swaffham Town, Gorleston and Haverhill Rovers, along with Spartan South Midlands League side FC Broxbourne Borough, Southern Combination League sides Lingfield and Wick, Wessex League club Shaftesbury, Western League side Hengrove Athletic, and United Counties League sides Buckingham Town and Huntingdon Town, have all had THREE successive Extra Preliminary Round eliminations. West Midlands Regional League side Wolverhampton Casuals have also exited the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round in each of their last three campaigns adding to their record total of 22 Extra Preliminary Round exits.

 

No EP KO

Several clubs are protecting long runs of having never been knocked out of the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round led by North West Counties League side Northwich Victoria who have had 108 campaigns FA Cup campaigns so far. Admittedly, the Vics only other appearance in this round happened 69 years ago, a game they won 2-0 against Ellesmere Port Town.

Spartan South Midlands League club Southall are returning to the FA Cup after 12 years away and are appearing in the Extra Preliminary Round for the first time in 68 years. They have 93 FA Cup campaigns under their belt without going out at this stage. Combined Counties League side Walton and Hersham have 71 campaigns protecting their unblemished record, but actually they only appeared in this Round for the first time ever last season.

Burscough are another North West Counties League club who’ve never gone out in this Round but they too have only appeared in it once in 70 campaigns, back in the 1950/51 season. For 65 campaigns, Southern Combination League club Eastbourne Town never even appeared in the Extra Preliminary Round, but they have now managed to avoid defeat at this stage in each of the last three seasons.

Another Spartan South Midlands League club returning to the FA Cup after 11 years away, Edgware Town, have had 54 campaigns with just three Extra Preliminary Round appearances, Northern Counties East League side Harrogate Railway Athletic had to come through this Round for the first time in their 30th campaign last season, likewise as did Wessex League club Bashley in their 29th campaign.

Combined Counties League club AFC Hayes have put their perfect record in jeopardy five times in 23 campaigns and Eastern Counties League side Wroxham have done so seven times in 22 campaigns, so these two clubs can probably claim to have the most challenged unblemished Extra Preliminary Round records. The last two clubs to have had more than 20 FA Cup campaigns and to never have been knocked out in the Extra Preliminary Round despite having had to compete in it are Western League club Bridgwater Town (once) and Essex Senior League side Great Wakering Rovers (twice) who have 21 FA Cup campaigns apiece.

However, Rugby Town from the Midland Football League have had 41 FA Cup campaigns so far without ever being knocked out in the Extra Preliminary Round, but this is actually because this is the very first time the club is appearing in it.

 

How Far Could You Go?

Two clubs in this year’s Extra Preliminary Round have actually made it as far as the Quarter Finals in the past, but both the aforementioned Northwich Victoria and Southern Counties East League side Chatham Town achieved the feat way back in the 19th Century.

 

We used to be Giants

Three former Football League clubs are competing in this year’s Extra Preliminary Round: Northern League side Ashington, North West Counties League side Nelson and the ubiquitous Northwich Victoria.

 

Low Rollers

There are nine all-Step 6 ties guaranteeing at least nine clubs from the lowest level in the pyramid that are eligible to enter the FA Cup will be in this year’s Preliminary Round.

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