FA Cup Magic

This weekend we took a break from the English Premier League as teams took part in the fourth round of the Football Association Cup. The importance of the FA Cup has become slightly diminished in recent years, especially with the added financial responsibilities of clubs which can only be fulfilled through league placement. However, the FA Cup was once the most important competition in the world and has become famous for giving the smallest teams in British football a chance to beat the biggest names in the world. The FA Cup, which is the oldest football tournament in the world was established in 1871 and allows any team in England and Wales, from professional down to pub teams, the chance to compete. This is what is known as the magic of the cup. Often teams that are having poor seasons, teams from lower leagues or teams that nobody has ever heard of will make names for themselves in this competition.

The first FA Cup in 1871 had 15 teams, Barnes, Civil Service, Hitchin, Crystal Palace, Maidenhead, Marlow, Queens Park, Donington School, Upton Park, Clapham Rovers, Royal Engineers, Reigate Priory, Wanderers, Harrow Chequers and Hampstead Heathens. The final took place at Kennington Oval in London, between Wanderers and Royal Engineers. Morton Betts of Wanderers scored the match’s only goal. Since then, the competition has grown to over 700 teams with more joining each year. Manchester United has won the competition more times then any other team, 11 total, and has taken part in more finals then any other team. Only one team has won the legendary competition while not being in any of the professional leagues in England: Tottenham Hotspur in 1901. There have been seven other teams that have won the FA Cup while not playing in the top league in England. Cardiff City was one of those teams in 1927 and they became the only team from outside of England to have won the competition.

This year’s FA Cup has already caused many shocks when non-league Luton Town beating Premier League Norwich City. It is the first time since the Premier League was conceived in 1992 that a non-league team has beaten an EPL side. Oldham Town beat Liverpool, Brentford drew with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur lost to Leeds United. We can expect many more shocks throughout the rest of this years’ competition and in future competitions. This competition has an added significance for me because it is a competition that my father played in back in the 1980’s and 1990’s for Hanwell Town Football Club against legendary players like Stuart Pearce who is now managing the England under 21’s, and Les Ferdinand of Newcastle United and Tottenham. The FA Cup may be diminishing slightly in importance, but it still has not lost its old magic and is a tournament that every player dreams of winning.