Sixty-four non-league clubs are just 90 minutes away from a potential FA Cup tie against the likes of Football League sides Sunderland, Portsmouth or Ipswich Town.
Having kicked-off their FA Cup campaign at the beginning of August, Isthmian League Division One South East side Chichester City is the only club left standing in the competition who started in the Extra Preliminary Round. They have already played the same number of FA Cup ties as a Premier League club would need to do to reach the Final itself. Their 4th Qualifying Round tie at Isthmian League Premier Division side Bowers and Pitsea guarantees at least one club will be appearing in the First Round ‘Proper’ for the first time ever.
The tie between Royston Town of Southern League Premier Division Central and Maldon and Tiptree of Isthmian League Division One North also guarantees FA Cup history will be made for the winning club, whilst the one between Isthmian League Division One South East club Whyteleafe and Chippenham Town from National League South ensures a club is guaranteed to at least equal its best ever FA Cup run.
There are also four ties where both sides currently play below Step Two, so there are guaranteed to be at least four clubs in the 1st Round ‘Proper’ who sit below the National League. And seven other lower level clubs host National League sides, so that number could potentially rise to double figures.
The lowest ranked club in the competition, Colne of Northern Premier League Division One North West, are also looking to make the ‘Proper’ Rounds of the FA Cup for the first time, as are Peterborough Sports and Kings Langley (both from Southern League Premier Division Central), King’s Lynn Town (National League North) and Potters Bar Town (Isthmian League Premier), who host local rivals Barnet from the National League.
Also looking to make the First Round ‘Proper’ for the first ever time in their 64th FA Cup campaign is Northern Premier League Division One South East side Belper Town. The Nailers have been drawn away to Notts County, who are competing in the Qualifying Rounds of the FA Cup for the first time since 1888-89 season and who have never failed to appear in the ‘Proper’ Rounds in any of their previous 133 FA Cup campaigns. It’s also the biggest gap between two sides in the 4th Qualifying Round and has the makings of the ultimate FA Cup upset.
Notts County are also the first former FA Cup winners to have to participate in the Qualifying Rounds of the competition since Nottingham Forest did so in the 1914-15 season!
There are a dozen ties involving two clubs who’ve met in the FA Cup before. Of the multiple meetings, Hayes and Yeading United and Poole Town have one win apiece, whilst FC Halifax Town defeated Harrogate Town both times they’ve met in the competition.
Ebbsfleet United have a two wins to nil record against fellow National League side Woking in their three previous meetings, whilst Altrincham are ahead two wins to one against Southport, also from the National League North.
The most common tie of the Round, however, involves two other National League sides, Chesterfield and Wrexham, and their FA Cup history is intriguing indeed. They have met in the FA Cup four times before with two wins apiece. Most notably, though, their last head-to-head in the competition came in the 1996-97 season … in the Quarter Finals!