TheFA.com takes a brief look at the rich history of the oldest and best domestic Cup competition in the world.
At a meeting held in the offices of The Sportsman in London on 20th July 1871, a proposal by FA Honorary Secretary Charles Alcock "that it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete" met with favour and was finally approved three months later.
The first FA Cup competition in season 1871-72 had fifteen entries. (This season more than 700 took part.) Wanderers, a team formed by ex-public school and university players, won the first final 1-0 against Royal Engineers at Kennington Oval. A crowd of 2,000 attended the match and they each paid one shilling for the privilege. The first Cup Final goal was scored by Morton Betts, playing under the assumed name of 'A.H. Chequer'. He was an Old Harrovian who had once played for Harrow Chequers.
The original trophy, much smaller than the present one, was made by Messrs Martin, Hall & Co. and cost £20. In 1895, after Aston Villa had won the competition, the cup was stolen from the window of a firm of football outfitters in Birmingham where it had been placed on display. It was never recovered.
The present trophy, played for since 1992, is the competition's fourth and an exact replica of the third. Manchester United have won the Cup the most times (11), followed by Arsenal (10) and Tottenham Hotspur (eight). Forty-two different clubs have won it.
In January 1922 the Duke of York, later to become King George VI, cut the first turf to mark the beginning of the building of Wembley Stadium and it was completed in under a year at a cost of £750,000.
The 1923 FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United (pictured) was the first football match at the new stadium and it drew an estimated crowd of 200,000, vastly exceeding the official capacity. It was only due to the good nature of the spectators and the efforts of the police, notably PC George Scorey on his white horse 'Billie', that the match took place at all.
The Cup Final was played at Wembley in every year, excluding the war years, until 2000. The FA Cup has become established as one of the country's great sporting institutions. It is now over 130 years old and yet, season by season, it generates tremendous interest not only in the country of its birth but all over the world. The history and tradition of the competition, and the pageantry of the Cup Final, is familiar to millions.
The new Wembley hosted its first Final in 2007. Sir Bobby Robson, a Cup winner as Ipswich Town's manager, once said: "The FA Cup Final is the greatest single match outside the World Cup Final - and it's ours".
Classic Cup Finals
2006 - Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (Liverpool won 3-1 on penalties)
1990 - Manchester United 3-3 Crystal Palace
1988 - Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool
1987 - Coventry City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
1984 - Everton 2-0 Watford
1981 - Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City
1976 - Southampton 1-0 Manchester United
1975 - West Ham United 2-0 Fulham
1973 - Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United
1953 - Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers
1927 - Cardiff City 1-0 Arsenal
1923 - Bolton Wanderers 2-0 West Ham United
1872 - Wanderers 1-0 Royal Engineers