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FA Cup 2018-19 Extra Preliminary Round Overview
This season sees the FA Cup revert back to 736 participants, but interim Non-League Pyramid re-structuring by the FA means that exemptions for the early rounds have been affected. The Extra Preliminary Round contains 18 clubs from Step 4 who might have expected to be exempted until the Preliminary Round as in previous seasons. The FA will need to review the structure of the competition once the 2-4-6-8-16 pyramid is finally in place, but in the meantime there will be anomalies in exemptions.
The New Boys
There are 17 clubs making their debut in this season’s 2018-19 FA Cup with all but two of them beginning in the Extra Preliminary Round (the exceptions are the merged club Ossett United and Coggeshall Town who survived the cut-off point of Step 4 clubs in the Extra Preliminary Round). Several of the clubs were only formed in the 21st Century – Baffins Milton Rovers, Balham, Blyth, Langney Wanderers, Sandbach United and of course Ossett United – whilst three have had to wait since the nineteenth century to get a taste of FA Cup football.
Andover New Street were formed sometime in the 1890s and Winslow United were founded in 1891, so both of these clubs have waited up to 127 years to compete in the FA Cup. However, the aforementioned Coggeshall Town were formed in 1878, and so 140 years have passed since their formation and first kicking a ball in the most famous Cup competition. That 14 decade wait is now officially the longest any club has gone from formation to playing in the FA Cup, bypassing the 137 year-long wait of Brading Town from the Isle of Wight back in the 2008-09 season.
Thirty-odd clubs are returning to the FA Cup after a period of non-participation, the majority of whom are doing so after just one to four or five seasons away. However, a couple are re-kindling their relationship with the competition after a much longer hiatus. Prestwich Heys competed in the FA Cup for 15 consecutive years from the beginning of the 1970s until the mid-80s. The Heys made the 2nd Qualifying Round three times then including in their last FA Cup campaign to date in the 1983-84 season, 35 years ago.
Bristol based Roman Glass St George, however, have been gone for much longer, so long ago that they were playing under a different guise and so it was not obvious that they had played in the FA Cup before. Formed as Bristol St George in 1882 the Glass first entered the FA Cup in their tenth season and went on to compete in it a total of 30 times reaching the 4th Qualifying Round at the end of the 19th Century. The club last competed in the FA Cup in the 1953-54 season and so 65 years and three name changes have passed before they now return to participate in it once again.
One of the consequences of the interim FA non-league re-structure is that there are more Leagues at Steps 3 to 6 and the impact of that increase is that fewer clubs will face opponents in the FA Cup whom they will also meet twice in League action. Two years ago 118 clubs met familiar foe in the Extra Preliminary Round, and last season that number rose to 136 clubs. However, in this season’s competition only 96 clubs will face opponents from the same League in the Extra Preliminary Round.
The number of clubs facing opponents who they have met before in the FA Cup tends to be around the 50 to 60 mark, and this season is no different. There are 29 ties involving clubs with FA Cup history between them and in the majority of cases there have been just one or maybe two previous encounters. However, some clubs do seem to come across the same opponents time and again. For example, Haywards Heath Town and Lancing have met four times before in the FA Cup with both sides winning through twice, but to be fair it is over 50 years since they last met.
Deal Town and Whitstable Town have faced each other five times before in the FA Cup with Deal Town coming out on top with three victories to two, including a 7-2 thrashing in the 1964-65 season. The most common tie of the Extra Preliminary Round was the first one drawn out of the hat as Consett take on North Shields for the eighth time. The Steelmen may not be over enamoured by the draw given that the Robins have won six of their previous seven encounters.
Some clubs are looking to avenge FA Cup defeats from just last season. Hanley Town beat Atherstone Town 4-1 in the competition last year, Haughmond won 3-2 against Wolverhampton Sporting Community, Arlesey Town defeated Desborough Town 3-1, and Rugby Town beat Coventry United 2-1 all in the Extra Preliminary Round in the 2017-18 season. However, Chatham Town have had to wait 64 years for the opportunity to avenge a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Walton and Hersham in the FA Cup.
Aside from all the clubs making their FA Cup debuts this season there are also 24 other clubs yet to taste victory in the FA Cup. For many of these they have only tried once or twice before to get through to the Preliminary Round, but for others the wait has gone on for far longer. AFC Croydon Athletic have had five FA Cup campaigns and five Extra Preliminary Round exits. Holyport are returning to compete in the FA Cup after a couple of years away and they will be hoping for a change in fortunes against Brimscombe and Thrupp having lost all six of their previous FA Cup matches.
Several other clubs are on long unwanted streaks of Extra Preliminary Round elimination. Glasshoughton Welfare are returning to the FA Cup after a three year absence and following four consecutive Extra Preliminary Round exits. Rothwell Corinthians, Lymington Town and Lingfield are on similar streaks of four successive FA Cup losses spread over four to six seasons.
Malvern Town, Melksham Town, Lancing and Ely City have all exited the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round in each of the last five seasons. Teversal have a similar sequence in their last five campaigns and are returning after a five year gap to try to do something about ending it. Leicester based club St Andrew’s are on six for six in Extra Preliminary Round exits spread over the last eight seasons, whilst Enfield 1893 and Walsham-le-Willows will be weeping at six consecutive Extra Preliminary Round eliminations. Sandhurst Town are returning after five years away to try to end their run of six consecutive Extra Preliminary Round knock-outs.
However, Suffolk based Woodbridge Town and Bristol side Keynsham Town hold the current non-winning streak of all clubs participating in this year’s FA Cup with seven consecutive Extra Preliminary Round exits across nine and 14 seasons respectively.
The 2018-19 draw has paired together Widnes and Northwich Victoria who both exited the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round last season. The difference was that it was the first ever FA Cup game for the Dragons of Widnes whilst it was the first time in their 109 FA Cup campaigns that the Vics had ever been knocked out of the competition as early as the Extra Preliminary Round.
Northwich Victoria are also one of only two clubs competing in this year’s Extra Preliminary Round to have made it as far as the Quarter Finals in the past. They did so in the 1883-84 season, losing 9-1 at Blackburn Olympic, whilst in 1888-89 Chatham Town became the joint first non-league club to reach the last eight, but they lost 10-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion, the heaviest ever home defeat in an FA Cup Quarter Final.
Reputations on the Line
A handful of clubs have competed in the FA Cup a few times and have managed to avoid going out in the competition in the earliest Extra Preliminary Round, but there are several clubs who are putting their FA Cup histories to the test having never been eliminated at this stage of the competition in many, many years of participation.
Bishop’s Cleeve are one such team with 14 FA Cup campaigns under their belt and no Extra Preliminary Round exits. The aforementioned Prestwich Heys long awaited return to the FA Cup comes on the back of 15 campaigns of never having lost in the Extra Preliminary Round before, but that is simply because that particular round didn’t exist in the 70s and 80s. Bridgwater Town have had 22 FA Cup campaigns and not a single Extra Preliminary Round elimination.
Harrogate Railway Athletic are another such team and they travel to Bridlington Town in their 32nd campaign in the knowledge of having defeated their opponents 2-0 the last time they met in the FA Cup 16 years ago. Rugby Town have a 42 campaign unblemished record and having beaten their opponents Coventry United at this stage last season will be confident of making it forty-three.
Eastbourne Town have competed in the FA Cup 69 times without ever tasting defeat at this stage, but they will be wary of their opponents Cray Valley Paper Mills who registered their best FA Cup run just last season. Similarly, Burscough host 1874 Northwich having had 71 previous FA Cup campaigns without an Extra Preliminary Round exit, but aware that their opponents posted their best ever run in the competition just last season, too. For Walton and Hersham it is 72 FA Cup campaigns and no Extra Preliminary Round exits.
But Southall are the club really testing their reputation having had 94 previous FA Cup campaigns and zero Extra Preliminary Round eliminations. Their opponents, Leverstock Green, have gone out at this stage nine times in their total of 14 campaigns so history suggests their record should remain intact. But it is the FA Cup after all.
Sunderland Ryhope Community Association versus Sunderland Ryhope Colliery Welfare is not only one of two very close derbies in this year’s Extra Preliminary Round (the other is Haverhill Rovers vs Haverhill Borough), but at 67 letters in total it is also probably the longest combined names of any FA Cup tie in history.
Interestingly, it is the FA that add the word ‘Sunderland’ to Ryhope Colliery Welfare’s name, the club do not include it, which is a shame really because ‘Sunderland Ryhope Colliery Welfare’ is the only club name competing in the FA Cup this year that contains all the letters of the words ‘FA Cup’ in it.
Heanor Town will travel to Lutterworth United, a club making their FA Cup debut this season. They will be the ninth club Heanor Town have faced who are playing their first ever FA Cup match. For the record, Heanor Town have won four and lost four of the previous eight.