The Isuzu FA Trophy

The history of The FA Trophy

Kingstonian won The FA Trophy in 2000
Clubs from the leagues immediately below the Football League had no realistic chance of playing in a Wembley Final before the FA Council decided to start an ‘FA Challenge Trophy’ competition in 1969. It was open to all non-Football League clubs registering professional players.

Macclesfield Town, then Northern Premier League champions, were the first Trophy winners and 28,000 saw them beat Telford United 2-0 at Wembley. Their second goal was scored by Brian Fidler, whose trademark was a goal celebration that involved running round most of the pitch.

The Trophy is now in its 44th season. There have been 37 Wembley Finals, plus five at Villa Park and one at Upton Park. Scarborough, Telford United and Woking lead the way with three Trophy wins each. Another nine clubs have won it twice – Altrincham, Barrow, Enfield, Grays Athletic, Kingstonian, Macclesfield Town, Stafford Rangers, Stevenage Borough and Wycombe Wanderers.

Isthmian League Dagenham became the first of the old ‘amateur’ clubs to win The Trophy in 1980. In the following year Bishop’s Stortford’s winning team included goalkeeper Terry Moore, an Amateur Cup winner with the same club in 1974.

The late Ian Crawley scored the goal that won The Trophy for Telford United in 1989 - six years after netting the winner for VS Rugby against Halesowen Town in The FA Vase Final.

Martin O’Neill, a highly respected manager, was in charge at Wycombe Wanderers from 1990 to 1995. He took the Conference club to two Trophy Finals and they won both.

Their 2-1 success against Kidderminster Harriers in 1991 attracted a crowd of 34,842 to the old Wembley and that remained the record attendance for a Trophy match until six years ago. Steve Guppy, the Chairboys’ outside-left, played for the full England team against Belgium in 1999.

After Wycombe came Geoff Chapple’s Woking and they were Trophy winners in three seasons out of four. Clive Walker, the former Chelsea and Sunderland winger, played in all three Finals for the Cards (in 1994, 1995 and 1997) and then went on to collect another winners’ medal with Cheltenham Town in 1998!

The last Trophy Final at the old Wembley, featuring Kingstonian and Kettering Town in 2000, was a five-goal thriller and Geoff Chapple, the man with the Midas touch, won The Trophy for an incredible fifth time as a manager. He had done it three times with Woking and twice with Kingstonian.

Burscough, managed by former Aston Villa stalwart Shaun Teale, were surprise Trophy winners in 2003. They were only placed 18th in the Northern Premier League. After they had beaten Tamworth an emotional Teale said: “I asked them to go out there and give everything for 90 minutes. If your body aches after that – but you’ve won The FA Trophy – you don’t care”.

The Trophy Final returned to Wembley in 2007 and a record 53,262 fans saw Stevenage Borough beat Kidderminster Harriers 3-2 after being two goals down.

Stevenage have returned twice since then, too. They beat York City 2-0 in the 2009 Final, but lost to Barrow a year later.

Darlington were the victors here in 2011 thanks to Chris Senior’s winner against Mansfield Town in the last minute of extra time.

Last year York City got over their 2009 defeat to beat Welsh outfit Newport County 2-0. Matty Blair opened the scoring and Lanre Oyebanjo added the second as the Minstermen cruised to victory.

Wrexham took The FA Trophy to Wales in the 2013 Final, which was played in late March, as they beat Grimsby Town on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time.