Eighty clubs have battled their way through to the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round, but half a dozen of them have done so after starting their campaigns in the Extra Preliminary Round way back at the beginning of August, and after having won four matches already.
Three of those six clubs are the last remaining Step Five sides. Western League outfit Tavistock are equalling their best FA Cup run for 65 years. Essex Senior League club Hadley are equalling their best run, too, but are only in their tenth campaign.
Combined Counties League side Abbey Rangers have never been this far in the FA Cup before. In fact, ahead this season they’d never even won an FA Cup match before. Now, for the first time, they have actually won more FA Cup games than they’ve lost!
The other three clubs who began their FA Cup campaigns in the Extra Preliminary Round are all Step Four sides. Isthmian League One South East club, Chichester City, are into this round for the first time since the original club merged with Portfield in the year 2000. There hasn’t been a Chichester City club in the 3rd Qualifying Round for 48 years!
Isthmian League One South Central club Chertsey Town are appearing in this 3rd Qualifying Round for the fifth time, but for the first time in 17 years. A defeat would mean The Curfews would claim an unwanted record of most 3rd Qualifying Round appearances without ever yet going any further in the competition.
Dunston, of Northern Premier League One North West, have made it this far after starting in the Extra Preliminary Round for the second successive season, having now won nine FA Cup ties and played 13 FA Cup matches over the last two years.
Dunston’s opponents are Colne from the same division who are appearing in this round for the first time ever in their 18th campaign. A victory for Colne would make them the first club ever from the town to appear in the 4th Qualifying Round!
Other clubs making it this far for the first time include Salisbury (4th campaign), Kings Langley (10th campaign) and Bowers & Pitsea in their 16th campaign, having only set their personal best run in the FA Cup to the 2nd Qualifying Round just last season.
The Maldon & Tiptree versus Chertsey Town tie will guarantee at least one club reaching the 4th Qualifying Round for the first time ever. Peterborough Sports, Farsley Celtic and Royston Town are all also equalling their best runs this season and are looking to set a new record run for their clubs, too.
As are Bristol Manor Farm who only posted their first appearance in this round last season in their 33rd campaign, and so are hoping to set a new personal best for the second successive season.
Only 10% of the forty ties involve two clubs who’ve met in the FA Cup before. Southport beat Farsley Celtic 3-0 just last season, whilst Chippenham Town defeated Slough Town 1-0 thirty-five years ago. Spennymoor Town have knocked out Ashton United in both the previous occasions the two clubs have faced each other.
The most common match-up, however, is Stourbridge versus Stafford Rangers who have been drawn together in the FA Cup for the 11th time. Stafford Rangers have the upper hand with six wins to four, with the sides yet to require a replay in the competition. However, despite so many meetings between them in the FA Cup, this will be their first one for 61 years!