The new season’s FA Cup with Budweiser competition, the 132nd in history, gets under way in a few days’ time.
Most of the 200 Extra Preliminary Round ties take place on the Saturday but four will be played on Friday night (10 August). Those four are Thrapston Town v Cogenhoe United, Ascot United v Sandhurst Town, Wootton Bassett Town v Calne Town and Lye Town v Bartley Green.
Which player will have the honour of scoring the 2012-13 competition’s first goal?!
The FA Cup is at its most fascinating when a team enters at one of the earliest rounds and wins all the way through to the Competition Proper in November. Redbridge, the Isthmian League Division One North side, took the eye last season with just such a run.
The Motormen came in at the Preliminary Round on 3 September and won 2-1 at Cockfosters from the Spartan South Midlands League Division One. Three months later they were still in The Cup, following victories over Wingate & Finchley, Bury Town, Dunstable Town, Ebbsfleet United and Oxford City. They finally went out at League Two Crawley Town in the Second Round Proper.
We love those Cup ‘giant-killings’ and we’ll all have a favourite. Colchester beating Leeds in Round Five in 1971 will probably feature in any short list. Leeds were League Champions in ‘69, runners-up in both the League and The FA Cup in ’70, and would go on to win The Cup in ’72. The following year they would reach The Cup Final again as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
But they had no answer to Colchester, the Division Four side racing into a 3-0 lead after 55 minutes and managing to hold on for a sensational win after Leeds had pulled two goals back. Before the match, U’s boss Dick Graham had said he would scale the walls of Colchester Castle if they won. He was true to his word.
Also on the list you might find Yeovil v Sunderland (1949), Hereford v Newcastle (1972), Burnley v Wimbledon (1975), Sutton v Coventry (1989) and Wrexham v Arsenal (1992).
The FA Cup is back in our thoughts again. Bryon Butler, author and journalist, wrote: “Every season it touches, directly, the heart of hundreds of cities, towns and assorted dots on the map; and it enchants scores of millions, all over the globe, by way of television and radio. It offers fantasy, passion, democracy, warfare, tradition, ritual, instant fame and handy profit in one big and irresistible package. It is a band of gold in the fabric of a sporting nation”.
It’s The FA Challenge Cup…The FA Cup…The Cup.