2015/16 FA Cup Preliminary Round Review

There are always contrasting emotions after the dust has settled on any FA Cup Round and this Preliminary Round is no different. Carshalton Athletic breathed a huge sigh of relief for yet again avoiding being knocked out of the FA Cup at this stage, it’s 62 years since they last tasted defeat in the Preliminary Round. Conversely Stafford Rangers will be extremely disappointed as the club has been eliminated this early in the competition for the first time since 1970. Elsewhere two matches proved an emotional rollercoaster for those involved. Didcot Town scored four goals in the last 18 minutes to complete a 4-3 comeback win at local rivals Wantage Town, but Midland Football League Premier side Westfields went one better coming back from 4-0 down at half time in their replay at Kidsgrove Athletic to finally win the match 6-5 with a last minute penalty in extra time.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold and both Thackley and Chasetown will be feeling satisfied that their own particular hoodoos have been put to rest. Thackley faced Ashington for the fourth time in the Cup having lost 1-0 in each of their three previous meetings, but five years after the last of those defeats Thackley finally turned the tables with a 2-1 victory. Chasetown were facing Evesham United also for the fourth time and the three previous meetings had all been won 2-0 by The Robins, but seven years after the last of those defeats, Chasetown finally get to celebrate with aptly a 2-0 win of their own.

Two clubs are in the middle of trends that might suggest they will go a bit further in this year’s competition. Over the last three seasons Southern League Central outfit Barton Rovers has improved its Cup run by one round every year from 1st Qualifying Round three years ago to 3rd Qualifying Round last season. Former Quarter Finalists Glossop North End has been eliminated in a later round every year for the past four season, losing in the Extra Preliminary Round in 2011/12, through to going out in the 2nd Qualifying Round last year.

One of last season’s giant killing stars have been on the wrong end of a giant killing of their own this season. The Yellows of Warrington Town went all the way to the Second Round last season famously beating Exeter City in the First Round ‘live’ on TV, but this year the Northern Premier League side has been dumped out of this year’s competition by Abbey Hey from the North West Counties League, a club that has only once before gone beyond the 1st Qualifying Round in their 14 previous FA Cup campaigns.

Several clubs have made it through to the 1st Qualifying Round for the first time in 10 years or more. It’s 16 years since Farnham Town has made it beyond the Preliminary Round and the club now travel to Tooting & Mitcham United, a side they have faced just once before in the Cup, a 4-0 defeat in the 1949/50 season when competing as a Surrey Senior League outfit. However, the club with the longest wait to progress beyond the Preliminary Round is Washington from the Northern League, with The Mechanics competing in 17 FA Cup campaigns across 26 years between 1st Qualifying Round matches. Additionally to these teams’ long waits, by beating the world’s oldest club, Sheffield, in a replay, Goole AFC has ended a sequence of eight successive seasons of being knocked out in the Preliminary Round, and won its first ever away FA Cup match in the process.

There are many clubs making it into the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time ever. Several of these have only entered the competition over the last three or four years, but Petersfield Town has taken seven years to emulate the Hampshire town’s predecessors, Petersfield United, achievements of going beyond the Preliminary Round. Essex side Hullbridge Sports, however, has been competing in the FA Cup every year of the 21st Century but this will be the club’s first taste of Cup football at this level when they face fellow Essex Senior League side Basildon United. Special mention also to Ryman League Division One North side Phoenix Sports going at least two rounds further than the Extra Preliminary Round the club made in its first FA Cup foray last season, and to Hook Norton as the Oxfordshire side had had only one previous experience of the FA Cup five years ago and were then knocked out in the Extra Preliminary Round, but are still going this season.

There are two clubs in their debut FA Cup season who continue their first adventure in the competition. Midland Football League Division One side Hinckley AFC are up against Redditch United from the Southern League Premier Division, three levels higher, but can take heart that the higher league club has exited the competition in the 1st Qualifying Round in each of the last four seasons. Fellow debutant Rochester United from the Southern Counties East League face Isthmian League Division One outfit Herne Bay and may be pleased to learn that The Bay has not progressed beyond the 1st Qualifying Round since 2007/08 season. Eleven other first-timers found their inaugural FA Cup journey came to an end in this Preliminary Round, but they can take comfort in the knowledge that in just this one season they have progressed further than 200 other clubs ever did.

Several clubs being knocked out in the Preliminary Round have actually equalled their best ever FA Cup run. This list includes Bromley based side Holmesdale and Leicestershire outfit Kirby Muxloe both in their 7th season and Yorkshire side AFC Emley taking part in their 9th FA Cup campaign. But there are two sides who will be celebrating despite being knocked out of the competition as they have both registered their best ever Cup performance.

Brimscombe & Thrupp and East Midlands Counties League side Radford, returning to the competition after a six year hiatus, had just one Extra Preliminary Round defeat under their belts, but this season broke their FA Cup ducks. During Radford’s Cup absence Dorset based outfit Verwood Town competed in the Cup every year only to fall at the first hurdle, but this year saw The Potters make it to the Preliminary Round for the first time ever and even though they lost 3-1 at Almondsbury UWE, the club will be happy to get that particular monkey off its back.

There are many clubs that by virtue of winning their Preliminary Round tie will be in a position to at least equal their best ever Cup run, and maybe go even further than before. Holwell Sports, Kidlington, Biggleswade United, Padiham, Alsager Town, and AFC Blackpool all have ten or more FA Cup campaigns to date, but with 15 previous attempts to get into the 2nd Qualifying Round Chessington & Hook United head this particular list of clubs. However, Peterborough Sports may have had only five FA Cup campaigns in total, but it is 96 years since they last appeared in the 1st Qualifying Round. Additionally there are several clubs now given the opportunity to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round for the first time in quite some time. It is 62 years since Basford United achieved that feat, but the Nottinghamshire side is only in its fourth campaign since then. Bridport has waited 40 years Washington 36 years and Pagham 25 years for the chance to do the same.

Bedfont & Feltham, Clipstone and AFC Rushden & Diamonds can all proudly boast that they have never been knocked out of the FA Cup as early as the Preliminary Round, but they have only taken part in two or three campaigns. However, AFC Hornchurch is in its 11th season of FA Cup football and have always managed to go beyond the Preliminary Round on every occasion. Along with the aforementioned Carshalton Athletic, two other clubs have gone some time since being eliminated in the Preliminary Round, neither exiting this early this Century. Folkestone Invicta last tasted Preliminary Round defeat in 1998/99 season, whilst it is 23 years since the same happened to Burscough. Clubs on the flip side of that coin, i.e. they have failed to progress beyond the Preliminary Round for a long time, include Corinthian (21 years and 8 campaigns), North Shields (23 years, 11 campaigns), AFC St Austell (24 years, 3 campaigns), Thetford Town (24 years, 7 campaigns) and Whitton United (56 years, 8 campaigns). Pontefract Collieries, however, have had 18 FA Cup campaigns since last progressing beyond the Preliminary Round.

Ossett Town (13 years) and Banbury United (12 years) had gone some time since last tasting defeat in the Preliminary Round (not as long as Stafford Rangers, of course), but several clubs are on unwanted runs of consecutive knock outs at this stage of the competition. Cheshunt, Egham Town, Godmanchester Rovers, Great Wakering Rovers, Mossley and Walton Casuals have all exited at this stage in each of the last five campaigns, but top of this particular list is Northern Counties East League side Barton Town Old Boys with six successive Preliminary Round eliminations.

No club matched the goal-scoring feat of Coleshill Town in the Extra Preliminary Round, but South Park went close winning 10-1 at Holmesdale. Other high scorers were Molesey and  North Leigh both netting seven times, and Aveley, Bradford Town, Dorking Wanderers, Hinckley AFC, Runcorn Linnets and St Ives Town and Westfields (both in a replay) all hitting six goals each.

Finally, several clubs were nervously worried about adding to their already high number of exits in the Preliminary Round, but Whitstable Town (2nd in this list) and Chatham Town (3rd) both will be relieved to have won their respective matches. West Auckland Town, however, has climbed the top 10 of this list up to joint 6th place with their 32nd Preliminary Round exit, but top of this unwanted table is Marlow who, by losing 2-1 in extra time to Godalming Town, have been eliminated from the FA Cup in this round for a record 43rd time.

The 100 Year Wait for an FA Cup Win

Through my research of club records in the FA Cup I often unearth information about a club about which even members of that club are unware. One such instance this season was with regards to Peterborough Sports who, in their view, were entering the Cup for the first time in their history, but who I discovered had partaken in the competition back in the 1920s under a previous club name, Brotherhoods Works.

There was a 93 year gap between Brotherhoods Works last FA Cup match in 1922/23 season, a 2-1 Preliminary Round replay defeat at Desborough Town, and Peterborough Sports first FA Cup tie this season, a 1-0 win at Eynesbury Rovers. That 93 year gap was tentatively considered a record gap between cup ties, one which the club garnered much publicity about, particularly within their local region.

Additionally, the club’s 1-0 win was their first in the competition since Brotherhoods Works beat Bourne Town by the same scoreline in 1919, creating a gap of 96 years between FA Cup wins. Could this be another record gap for Peterborough Sports to celebrate? Well, of course, I had to do some digging, and what I found out was that there is a club that had gone longer between FA Cup wins, and as it happens, had actually gone longer than the 93 year wait to take part in the competition.

Holwell Works was formed in 1902 and, whilst competing in the Leicestershire Senior League, entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1910/11 season, where they lost their Extra Preliminary Round tie 3-2 at Sutton Town from Ashfield in Nottinghamshire. Holwell then entered the FA Cup three more times before World War I broke out, changing leagues to the Original Central Alliance during that time, and registering their one and only FA Cup win in the Extra Preliminary Round of the 1912/13 competition, 3-1 against Whitwick Imperial.

Holwell competed in the Leicester League between the two World Wars, returning to the Leicestershire Senior League in 1946 where the club remained until joining the East Midlands Central League in 2008, having by then also changed their name to Holwell Sports in 1988. Throughout that whole period the club was absent from the FA Cup, but it was by virtue of being members of the EMCL that they were able to return in the 2009/10 season. That return was to end a 95 year hiatus from the competition, two years longer than Peterborough Sports had had to wait.

Graham Lewin, Holwell Sports Chairman and former manager of the club for 20 years, said “The club was in too low a level to be involved in the FA Cup for many, many years. There was no consideration for the history when we returned a few years ago, but it’s amazing to now learn that we may hold some kind of record in the competition.”

Holwell were unsuccessful in their first four seasons back in the FA Cup (even failing to take part in 2011/12) losing all four of their Extra Preliminary Round matches, but last season they finally managed another FA Cup victory. This took the form of a 3-0 win over fellow EMCL side, Graham Street Prims, and marked an amazing 103 year gap between tasting victories in this prestigious competition, a total of seven years more than Peterborough Sports.

Just as with buses, you wait 103 years for one FA Cup win and another comes along two weeks later, a 3-1 Preliminary Round win at Northern Counties East League side, Retford United. The winning streak came to an abrupt halt two further weeks later, a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Northern Premier League Division One South outfit, Spalding United. The club has won through their Extra Preliminary Round this year and Holwell can console themselves with the knowledge that they hold two FA Cup records that will probably never be beaten, maybe even a third record given they have always played at the original Holwell Works sports ground, that is unless further research throws up yet another surprise!

2015/16 FA Cup Preliminary Round Preview

So for 184 clubs the FA Cup dream is over for another year, whilst a further 136 clubs, from Step 4 in the Non-League pyramid, enter the fray to try their luck at remaining in the competition until at least November.

Club Badges 15-16 EP Round KOs-page-001

Of the 160 Preliminary Round ties to be played over the August Bank Holiday weekend just 30 of them are being contested by clubs who have faced each other in the competition before. Of these match-ups it is Wisbech Town versus Holbeach United that pits the most familiar foes together, and in their case that is just four previous contests, with the Tigers of Holbeach having the upper hand over their United Counties League Premier Division opponents, with 3 wins to one.

There are 37 other ties that bring teams together who compete in the same League this season, and this includes some Step 4 battles such as Wantage Town versus Didcot Town from the Southern League Division One South and West. These sides faced each other just two seasons ago with the Railwaymen coming out on top 3-2.

One of last season’s FA Cup stars, Warrington Town, join the competition at this stage again. Last season they went all the way to the Second Round Proper, beating League Two side Exeter City in Round One before finally succumbing to Gateshead in their seventh Cup match of the season. That’s one more game played than the eventual winners, Arsenal.

Club Badges 15-16 PR Round-page-001

Several clubs appear in the Preliminary Round for the first time in their FA Cup history. These include Cadbury Athletic in at their fifth attempt, Radford, Hook Norton Phoenix Sports and Brimscombe & Thrupp all in their second campaigns, and Wessex League Premier side Verwood Town who finally registered an FA Cup win at the sixth time of asking. Other clubs such as Shaw Lane Aquaforce, AFC Bridgnorth, Hinckley AFC, Hanley Town, Risborough Rangers, Spelthorne Sports, Rochester United, Seven Acre and Sidcup, Bexhill United, Wincanton Town and Andover Town are all FA Cup debutants each seeing how far they can go on their first exciting Cup adventure, hoping to emulate Coalville Town who spectacularly went all the way to the First Round Proper in their inaugural season.

Some clubs making their bow in the Cup at this stage have already experienced matches at a much higher level in the competition, but in all cases it was in the dim and distant past. For instance, Marlow, currently plying their trade in the Southern League South and West, have actually played in a Cup Semi-Final, albeit 133 years ago and a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Old Etonians. At least Marlow are still contesting the FA Cup and can dream of experiencing such dizzy heights again, however unlikely that may be. Other clubs with FA Cup Quarter Final experience include Glossop North End, Northwich Victoria and the oldest football club in the world, Sheffield.

All of those clubs experienced their best ever FA Cup performance more than 100 years ago, but the club who has had to wait the longest since they registered their best Cup run is Uxbridge of the Southern League Central. Uxbridge first entered the FA Cup in the 1873/74 season where they made it as far as the Second Round. Admittedly, this just required a First Round 3-0 win over a team named Gitanos from Battersea, before succumbing 2-1 to Royal Engineers, but in the following 142 years the club has not even matched that first season high, never even venturing into the Proper Rounds again in all that time. But still they can dream.

Look up #FACupPR on Twitter for a full Preliminary Round match-by-match statistical analysis by @FACupFactfile

2015/16 FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Review

Three hundred and sixty eight teams contested 184 FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round ties which have consequently resulted in twice as many clubs being eliminated from the competition by mid-August than the number of teams exempt from playing in it until at least late November.

Whilst 20 clubs were making their bow in this illustrious competition, Essex Senior League side Clapton was making its 120th appearance, the most of any club competing at this stage, but unluckily the club exited at this early stage for the 13th time. Of those 20 first timers, half of them were victorious as AFC Bridgnorth, Andover Town, Bexhill United, Hanley Town, Hinckley AFC, Risborough Rangers, Rochester United, Seven Acre & Sidcup, Spelthorne Sports and Wincanton Town all have more FA Cup wins under their belt already than 10 clubs who’ve previously experienced FA Cup football.

To be fair to clubs such as Chinnor, Harrowby United, Hythe & Dibden, and Wellingborough Whitworths, they’ve only had one previous bite of the cherry, whereas other clubs have failed to register an FA Cup victory on several occasions. AFC Croydon and Team Solent have three campaigns each, Amesbury and Fawley have four, and Barnoldswick Town have competed five times without success. However, topping this unwanted table is Holyport, the Hellenic League Premier side failing to progress for the sixth successive time of asking.

There are also many clubs who do actually know the taste of FA Cup victory at this stage of the competition, but who are increasingly having to rely on their ever fading memories to remember what it tasted like. More than 40 clubs have had between three to seven successive campaigns without an FA Cup win, whilst two others top this list with eight. Diss Town has been eliminated in the Extra Preliminary Round every year in the last eight seasons, not actually having won an FA Cup tie since beating Needham Market 5-2 in a Preliminary Round match in 2005. Likewise, Sawbridgeworth Town has seen eight successive FA Cup campaigns end in Extra Preliminary Round defeat, but this spans over 11 seasons and the club’s last victory in the competition was a 1-0 win over Wisbech Town in the Extra Preliminary Round in 2004.

Many clubs this season have taken themselves out of the running for most consecutive Extra Preliminary Round defeats by registering their first victory in a while. Twenty Four clubs had had between two to five successive FA Cup campaigns without seeing Preliminary Round action, but Alsager Town had not appeared in that round since 2007/08 season, seven successive defeats halted by a 1-0 win over Athersley Recreation.

One club who are more used to Extra Preliminary Round defeats than any other is Wolverhampton Casuals, whose 1-0 defeat at the hands of newcomers AFC Bridgnorth was their 21st such exit at this stage of the competition, extending their lead at the top of this particular unwanted statistic. In fact the club has only not been eliminated this early in five other campaigns.

Two clubs have registered their first wins in the competition for the first time in more than half a century, but in both cases this is due to the fact that they have not regularly been competing in the Cup. Heaton Stannington returned after an absence of 39 years to beat Norton and Stockton Ancients 3-1, their first win since a 3-2 replay victory over Lynemouth Welfare in 1954. But Peterborough Sports has had to wait considerably longer for its second win in the competition. As Brotherhoods Works, the club competed in the FA Cup in the last four seasons following the end of World War One, registering just one official victory in that time, their first match 1-0 win over Bourne Town in 1919. And now, a mere 96 years later the club can celebrate its second FA Cup win, this time another 1-0 victory over Eynesbury Rovers. This 96 year gap between FA Cup wins may well be a record, but if my investigations prove to be correct, I think I’ve identified another club who had a 102 year gap between successive FA Cup wins! Watch this space.

By winning their Extra Preliminary Round ties, several clubs will this season at least equal their personal best performance in the competition. Some clubs have only had two or three seasons of FA Cup involvement, others like Newton Aycliffe (5 seasons), AFC Liverpool (6), Holmesdale and Kirby Muxloe (both 7) have had a few more, but with 17 FA Cup campaigns under its belt already, Hullbridge Sports will be the keenest of this bunch to go at least one round further.

There were many clubs competing in the Extra Preliminary Round this season nervously worrying that like Worksop Town last season they would be exiting the competition at this stage for the first time in their history. Particularly breathing a sigh of relief will be Stourport Swifts (in their 24th campaign), AFC Hayes (22nd) and Ashford Town (Mdx) (21st), but the club most mightily relieved is Eastbourne Town with an unblemished 66 previous FA Cup runs avoiding such an early exit to protect. I could hear the collective ‘phew’ at Colliers Wood at full time even though I was at Nelson FC.

Other clubs weren’t so fortunate. Several have had only a handful of FA Cup campaigns without tasting defeat at this stage, whilst Horndean has been knocked out in this round for the first time in 16 seasons. However, with 78 previous campaigns already, all avoiding an Extra Preliminary Round exit, it is Brigg Town who are suffering the most following the club’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Cleethorpes Town. There are also many clubs who’ve not been knocked out of the Cup so early for quite some time. Two, in particular, last tasted Extra Preliminary Round defeat in the 20th Century. Rainworth Miners Welfare, then known as Rufford Colliery, lost 5-3 to Bourne Town in 1949 before 66 years later losing 5-1 to Bottesford Town in a replay this year. However, Clevedon Town goes back even further since last tasting Extra Preliminary Round defeat. This year it’s been a 3-0 loss to Buckland Athletic, back in 1932 it was a 5-4 defeat to St Phillips Marsh Adult School. With their 1-0 win over Lancing in this year’s competition, Horsham avoided an even worse gap, not actually having lost in the Extra Preliminary Round since 1924, a 3-0 defeat to Worthing.

Some clubs by progressing to the Preliminary Round give themselves an opportunity to go one step further for the first time in a long while. No team does this apply to more than to Washington, who hope to make an appearance the First Qualifying Round for the first time since the 1979/80 season.

There were some high scorers in this year’s Extra Preliminary Round. AFC Emley, Deal Town (in a replay) and Horley Town all scored seven; Ashford Town (Mdx), Consett (in a replay) and Shoreham all hit eight; AFC Liverpool scored nine times away from home; but the highest marksmen were Coleshill Town netting 11 times without reply against Ellesmere Rangers, a feat made all the more remarkable considering they would not have been expected to top last season’s 10-0 win over Nuneaton Griff at the same stage last year. The two matches between Sunderland Ryhope Community Association and Guisborough Town produced a total of 13 goals, whilst Bedfont & Feltham only progressed through their match with London Tigers courtesy of an 8-7 win on penalties.

Witch Whirred Wood Yew Chews?

A lot can happen when travelling to an FA Cup match 200 miles away from home. Most of what occurs is exactly as one would expect such as traffic jams on the M6 through Birmingham, awful food and coffee at the service station and the inevitable incorrect direction from the satnav leading to a lot of worry then fret then panic that you won’t be able to find the ground in time for kick-off amongst the newly built identikit housing estates. All those things happened on my way to Victoria Park (AKA Little Wembley) to watch Nelson FC of the North West Counties League take on Newton Aycliffe of the Northern League in the Extra Preliminary Round of this year’s FA Cup. But another unexpected event happened on the way, one that in the end managed to touch upon almost every aspect of my life.

I am what I would refer to as an infrequent ground visitor, a groundhopper lite if you like, with the majority of grounds visited done so as part of my passion for watching FA Cup matches. My companion for my trip to Nelson was one Laurence Reade of GroundhopUK, who with over 1,700 grounds visited could not be regarded as a light groundhopper. Laurence was aware I was approaching my 100th ground, and knowing of my love for the FA Cup suggested that Nelson’s Victoria Park on FA Cup EP round day would be a memorable venue suitable to commemorate my minor milestone. It was also a ground that Laurence hadn’t yet visited having had to abort a similar attempt at this same stage last year thanks to that inevitable travel logjam on the M6.

Laurence was driving so I bugged him for use of his roving internet signal on his mobile so that I could access my @FACupFactfile Twitter account on what is the busiest day in my FA Cup calendar. I wanted to see and share all the excitement that was being communicated from up and down the country about individual club’s FA Cup adventures. In my private messages, though, was a request from Radio 5 Live’s Non-League Show to be interviewed for a special FA Cup edition of their show to be recorded that evening and aired early the following morning. This was a nice surprise and a welcome additional PR opportunity coming hot on the heels of the FA Cup Factfile being featured in the Non-League Paper the previous Sunday.

I was going to be interviewed by Liam Bradford from the show at about 8.15pm. I warned the researcher that it was likely that I’d still be travelling back from Nelson, but that I would be available to join in. It was going to be tight to be home in time for the interview but I prepared a plan in my head for how I would deal with it whatever the stage of my travel back from the match. On arriving at Nelson, it was obvious Laurence was correct in his assertion that it would be a memorable ground for my 100th visit, a unique stadium faced by a row of mill cottages down one side of the pitch in front of what is now probably a listed mill chimney. Whilst the ground was very memorable for me, not least because the programme was jam-packed full of @FACupFactfile facts and blogs, the host club will want to forget all about the match, losing 4-0 and being knocked out at this stage of the competition for the seventh successive campaign.




We left straight after the match had finished and I was about five minutes from home thinking that I was going to make it there in time when the phone rang. It was the Non-League Show with what I expected to be the one minute warning I was about to join the show. However, the call was to tell me it would be another 10 minutes, and relieved as I was that I’d be able to make the interview at home, the best thing about the call was that it was from Joel Hammer. Joel had recognised my name and was keen to speak with me. Joel used to present on BBC Radio Oxford and had been a stand-in presenter on the day in 2011 when that radio station had interviewed me about a board game I had created called Whirred PLAY. This was a most pleasant surprise, but thought nothing more of it. Click on link to learn all about WhirredPLAY http://www.whirredplay.co.uk

So finally at home, settled in front of all my @FACupFactfile facts and stats, I awaited the call from the Non-League Show. It duly arrived and I had an excellent conversation with Liam Bradford and his guests regarding the 21st Century FA Cup club rankings I had produced. And then, out of the blue, Liam decided to ask me about WhirredPLAY. This was a very unexpected turn of events and caught unawares I hope I did the game justice in the brief 30 seconds I had to talk about it in what was a terrific opportunity to increase awareness of WhirredPLAY. Whirred PLAY Box

So, it just goes to show, you just never know what might happen when you decide to make a 400 mile round trip to watch a football match at a ground, and in a part of a competition, about which the majority of football watchers are unaware, but what we in the real football world know only too well. And, despite what was said once I had left the conversation, I do have a beautiful wife and two wonderful teenage sons!

Witch Whirred Wood Yew Chews

Here’s the link to the interview that starts 24 mins in http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b065s65v

Alternatively for non-UK readers here’s the audio file https://music.microsoft.com/cloud/track/5C023A34F1F90C53!5868?NewToGroove=true

2015/16 FA Cup Match Posters

I’ll be publishing here as many 2015/16 FA Cup match posters as possible. Do keep returning to see the wonderful variety of ways clubs enthusiastically try to encourage football fans to come to watch their FA Cup adventure.

2nd Round Replay

R2R Whitehawk

2nd Round

R2 RochdaleR2 BarnetR2 BarnetR2 Welling UtdR2 Grimsby Town

1st Round Replay

R1R Oxford UtdR1R Boreham WoodR1R Newport County

1st Round

R1 Brackley TownR1 Dover AthleticR1 AltrinchamR1 Didcot TownR1 WhitehawkR1 Aldershot TownR1 BarwellR1 Crewe AlexandraR1 Brackley Town

4th Qualifying Round Replay

Q4R North Ferriby Utd

4th Qualifying Round

Q4 Chippenham TownQ4 Grays AthleticQ4 Grays Athletic 2Q4 WhitehawkQ4 AFC Hornchurrchbrackley-page-001Q4 MargateQ4 Tranmere RoversQ4 Sporting Khalsa-page-001Q4 Chesham Utd-page-001 (1)Q4 WrexhamQ4 BarwellQ4 Brackley TownQ4 Harrogate Town

3rd Qualifying Round Replay

Q3R Gosport BoroughQ3R Rugby TownQ3R Bath CityQ3R Bamber Bridge

3rd Qualifying Round

Q3 Chesham UtdQ3 Enfield TownQ3 AveleyQ3 East ThurrockQ3 Aveley 2Q3 Wingate and Finchley 2Q3 North Ferriby UtdQ3 WhitehawkQ3 Wingate and FinchleyQ3 Hastings UnitedQ3 Sporting KalsaQ3 Basingstoke TownQ3 Solihull MoorsQ3 BrockenhurstQ3 Brackley TownQ3 BarwellQ3 Brackley Town 2

2nd Qualifying Round Replay

Q2R Maidenhead United

2nd Qualifying Round

Q2 Grays Athletic1Q2 WhitehawkQ2 Wingate and FinchleyQ2 StourbridgeQ2 Grays AthleticQ2 Basford UtdQ2 Holbeach UnitedQ2 Horsham YMCAQ2 Newton AycliffeQ2 Gainsborough TrinityQ2 SittingbourneQ2 BrockenhurstQ2 Bradford TownQ2 Larkhall AthleticQ2 Chatham TownQ2 Rugby TownQ2 Deeping RangersQ2 HayesYeading-page-001Q2 BarwellQ2 ConsettQ2 Potters Bar Town

1st Qualifying Round Replays

Q1R Bamber BridgeQ1R Farnborough1Q1R Skelmersdale Utd

1st Qualifying Round

Q1 Sporting KhalsaQ1 WorthingQ1 YaxleyQ1 Newcastle TownQ1 Northwich VicsQ1 Rochester UtdQ1 Bury TownQ1 Biggleswade UtdQ1 Poole TownQ1 GNEQ1 KingstonianQ1 Hartley WintneyQ1 Beaconsfield SYCOBQ1 Bideford Re-arrangedQ1 BarwellQ1 BedfontFelthamQ1 Needham Market

Preliminary Round Replays

PRR GuernseyPRR Brightlingsea RegentPRR SpennymoorPRR Tower Hamlets

Preliminary Round

PR Farnham TownPR BurscoughPR ConsettPR North ShieldsPR HaringeyPR GNEPR Cray ValleyPR DunkirkPR Deeping RgrsPR RomfordPR TadcasterPR Risborough RangersPR Bradford TownPR WisbechPR ClipstonePR Saffron WTPR StanstedPR Welwyn GCPR SholingPR Bedfont FelthamPR Harlow TownPR MarskePR 1874 NorthwichPR Biggleswade Utd 1PR HarboroughPR BinfieldPR Runcorn LinnetsPR AFC WulfruniansPR CockfostersPR Radford

Extra Preliminary Round Replay


Extra Preliminary Round


Better than the Champions League?

Many a TV pundit will state, often appearing very misty eyed at the time, that the FA Cup is the greatest club Cup competition in the world. But is it, is it really? How can it be better than, say, the Champions League, a competition that purports to be contested for by the greatest footballers on the planet, playing for the most famous teams in the world, and watched by millions all around the globe? Well, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m with those rose tinted glasses wearing pundits on this one. The FA Cup is the greatest Cup competition of them all. And here’s why.

First, let me make some straightforward factual comparisons. The Champions League is now 60 years old, first being contested for as the European Cup by 16 mainland European teams in the 1955/56 season, the final culminating in the first of 10 record wins for Real Madrid. Sixty years is a long time, longer than I’ve even been alive, but by 1955 the FA Cup was already 84 years old! In those 84 years there had already been 74 finals with 35 different winners and over 2,400 clubs had taken part. The European Cup was just a metaphorical great grandchild of the FA Cup!

But, of course, that’s all in the past. What about today? How can the FA Cup be compared favourably with the Champions League? Well, let’s look at the number of teams that participate in each competition each year. The misnamed Champions League has just 78 clubs vying for that trophy each season. The FA Cup sees almost 10 times as many participants, 736 in all. Even if you allow for the fact that clubs have to qualify for the Champions League through their own domestic leagues the previous season (effectively the equivalent of qualifying rounds for the competition), there are still only 706 clubs that could qualify for the Champions League all across Europe. That’s still 30 short of the restricted number of entries into the FA Cup.

Ah, but the quality of the teams in the Champions League is far higher than in the FA Cup and therefore that makes it better. That quality differential may very well be true, but another reason why the oldest cup competition in the world is better than its more glamorous descendent is because it is a straightforward knockout competition. If you lose a match in the FA Cup then you are out. There are no second chances. Presuming the winner of the Champions League comes from a team exempt until the group stages, then that winner could in theory lose six matches and still be crowned Champions of Europe. Six defeats! You lose six matches in the FA Cup, that’s six years without winning the FA Cup.

Finally, and most critically in my opinion, the reason why the FA Cup is the best cup competition in the world is because it’s all about the clubs and, in particular, everyone involved in the club. The Champions League seems to me to be all about individual glory, with focus on the star players being paramount in the eyes of the TV media and press, but the FA Cup is about those who help run the clubs, not just the players getting the result on the day, but the management team, the back-room staff, the gate-people, the stewards, the volunteers, the fans. Go to any FA Cup match in August and you can’t fail to be impressed by the passion emanating from all quarters, not passion borne out of potential FA Cup glory, but passion based on pride in the club and the fact the community it represents is taking part in the greatest Cup competition in the world.

There may be, albeit modest, monetary reward for winning an FA Cup match at this stage, but that’s not why the club, its players, staff and fans are delighted. No, a win means they have another opportunity to be involved in this famous tournament, another opportunity to create future anecdotes, a further chance to be mentioned in the same breath as the illustrious winners. Ask any past player of any club who participated in the early rounds of the FA Cup if he actually played in the competition and his face will light up as he tells you all about it. The Champions League may well be all about the worldwide glory, but the FA Cup is all about a sense of collective pride, and that is what makes it the best Cup competition in the world.

Addendum. This blog has been translated into Chinese and published on many sites in China e.g.