The FA Cup

The FA Cup

FA Cup History and Background

Begun in the 1871/72 season, The FA Cup - full title, The Football Association Challenge Cup - is the crème de la crème of English cup football and is the oldest football competition in the world. Many other countries have their own version of The FA Cup, inspired by the original, although none come close to it.

The main difference The FA Cup has over other cups is that any team can play and be the potential victors. Literally hundreds of teams start off in round one every year, where teams are drawn from the Football League and FA Premier League.

FA Cup Format

The FA Cup is a knockout tournament with no seedings, where pairings are drawn ‘out of a hat’ and any two teams in the entire line-up can be pitched together – Hereford United (Conference) and Manchester United (Premier League), for example. The draw also determines which team will play at home and, if a match is drawn, there will be a replay at the other team’s ground. If drawn again, the matches will be settled by extra time and then penalties.

The competition begins in August with the Extra-Preliminary Qualifying Round for the lower rank clubs in the English football league system. As long as an FA affiliated club has a basic standard of ability, a suitable stadium capacity and ground facilities they may enter, and this season (2006/07) has seen a record 687 entries.

After the Extra-Preliminary Qualifying Round is the Preliminary Qualifying Round, followed by four Qualifying Rounds, six proper competition Rounds, and then the Semi-Finals and the Final.

Byes are also in place so that clubs that are higher up the English football league rankings can jump to certain rounds. Byes are given for clubs playing in the Conference North or Conference South to the Second Qualifying Round and Conference National clubs to the Fourth Qualifying Round. Clubs in leagues one and two are given byes into the First Round proper, while Football League Championship and Premier League teams are boosted to the Third Round.

The FA Cup Final is traditionally played at the home of football, Wembley Stadium, at the end of the football season in May. Wembley has been out of action since 2001, however, due to redevelopments and a brand new stadium being built; therefore, the final has been held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff since then. The FA Cup Final will hopefully return to the new Wembley Stadium on completion in time for the FA Cup 2006/07 Final.

Semi-finals used to be held at neutral grounds of the teams involved in the semis, but this may be redrafted so that future semis will be held at Wembley Stadium, as with Cardiff in the 2004/05 season cup. The winning team qualifies by right for the first round of The Uefa Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur were the only non-league winners of the FA Cup, 1901, who were then playing in the Southern League. For a comparison, Tottenham in 1901 would be roughly equivalent to a struggling League One team winning the cup today.

FA Cup Trophies

The FA Cup is on its fourth trophy. The first one, known as the 'little tin idol' and dating from the cup’s inception in 1871, was stolen in 1895 and presumably melted down. A replica was built and used up to 1910 before being presented Lord Kinnaird, the then FA’s president. This replica was recently sold at Christie's for £420,000 to the chairman of Birmingham City, David Gold.

A third FA Cup trophy was built in 1911 to replace the replica and was one by Bradford City, funnily enough where it was made; Bradford has never reached the final since. Although this third trophy is still in existence, it was replaced with another replica for the 1992 Final as it was just too fragile to be passed around anymore. So, although The FA Cup is the oldest domestic football competition in the world, the trophy isn’t; the Scottish Cup takes that crown.

As for the winners of The FA Cup, the cup is adorned with ribbons of the team colours, while the team members playing in the final are presented with medals.

FA Cup Table of winners

The FA Cup is envied the world over and is the most prestigious domestic cup competition of anywhere.

Many teams have repeatedly won The FA Cup with the most prolific winner, Manchester United, having picked it up 11 times, closely followed by Arsenal on 10.

The following table displays the top 10 clubs that have won the FA Cup the most times, as well as runner up, last win, and last losing final statistics:

Club Winner Last win Runner-up Last losing final
Manchester United 11 2004 7 2007
Arsenal 10 2005 7 2001
Tottenham Hotspur 8 1991 1 1987
Liverpool 7 2006 6 1996
Aston Villa 7 1957 3 2000
Newcastle United 6 1955 7 1999
Blackburn Rovers 6 1928 2 1960
Everton 5 1995 7 1989
West Bromwich Albion 5 1968 5 1935
Chelsea 5 2009 4 2002

Famous Shock Results

The FA Cup has also had its upsets over the years, where underdog clubs have defied all odds and beaten the biggest and the best:

Result Cup Year / Round
Brentford 2 - Sunderland 1 (2005-2006, Round 4)
Fulham 1 - Leyton Orient 2 (2005-2006, Round 3)
Burscough 3 - Gillingham 2 (2005-2006, Round 1)
Oldham Athletic 1 - Manchester City 0 (2004-05, Round 3)
Liverpool 0 - Crystal Palace 2 (2002-2003, Round 4 replay)
Shrewsbury Town 2 - Everton 1 (2002-2003, Round 3)
Cardiff City 2 - Leeds United 1 (2001-2002, Round 3)
Leicester City 1 - Wycombe Wanderers 2 (2000-2001, Quarter-Final)
Barnsley 3 - Manchester United 2 (1997-1998, Round 5 replay)
Stockport County 2 - Queens Park Rangers 1 (1993-1994, Round 3)
Liverpool 0 - Bristol City 1 (1993-1994, Round 3 replay)
Liverpool 0 - Bolton Wanderers 2 (1992-1993, Round 3 replay)
Wrexham 2 - Arsenal 1 (1991-1992, Round 3)
Oldham Athletic 3 - Aston Villa 0 (1989-1990, Quarter-Final)
Oldham Athletic 2 - Everton 1 (1989-1990, Round 5)
Sutton United 2 - Coventry City 1 (1988-1989, Round 3)
Middlesbrough 1 - Grimsby Town 2 (1988-1989, Round 3)
Wimbledon 1 - Liverpool 0 (1987-1988, Final)
Tottenham Hotspur 2 - Coventry City 3 (1986-1987, Final)
Birmingham City 1 - Altrincham 2 (1985-1986, Round 3)
York City 1 - Arsenal 0 (1984-1985, Round 4)
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 - Liverpool 0 (1983-1984, Round 4)
Bournemouth 2 - Manchester United 0 (1983-1984, Round 3)
Blyth Spartans 3 - Stoke City 2 (1977-1978, Round 3)
Southampton 1 - Manchester United 0 (1975-1976, Final)
Burnley 0 - Wimbledon 1 (1974-1975, Round 3)
Sunderland 1 - Leeds United 0 (1972-1973, Final)
Hereford United 2 - Newcastle United 1 (1971-1972, Round 3 replay)
Colchester United 3 - Leeds United 2 (1970-1971, Round 5)
Bournemouth BA 3 - Tottenham Hotspur 1 (1956-1957, Round 4)
Wolves 0 - Bournemouth BA 1 (1956-1957, Round 3)
Arsenal 1 - Norwich City 2 (1953-1954, Round 4)
Worcester City 2 - Liverpool 1 (1950-1951, Round 3)
Yeovil Town 2 - Sunderland 1 (1948-1949, Round 4)
Walsall 2 - Arsenal 0 (1932-1933, Round 3)
Cardiff City 2 - Oldham Athletic 0 (1919-1920, Round 1)

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