Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the English Football Association Cup. for the equivalent Scottish competition, see Scottish FA Cup
The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world. As such its prestige as the sport's premier domestic cup competition is without par around the world. As it involves clubs of all standards playing against each other, there is great scope for "giant-killers" from the lower divisions to eliminate top clubs from the tournament.
The competition is a knockout tournament with pairings drawn completely at random - there are no seeds. The draw also determines which team will play at home. If a match is drawn, there is a replay at the ground of the other team. Drawn replays are now settled with extra time and penalty shootouts, though in the past further replays were possible, and some ties took as many as six matches to settle. For the 2005/6 season only, any later-round ties involving teams still involved in European competitions will not be replayed, but settled on the day; this is to allow an early finish to the domestic season in advance of the 2006 World Cup.
The final is normally played at Wembley Stadium in London. During the redevelopment of Wembley, finals have been played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This is the first time the final has been played outside of England. The final is expected to return to Wembley on May 13, 2006.
The semi-finals are contested at neutral venues; in the past these have usually been the home grounds of teams not involved in that semi-final, such as Old Trafford in Manchester, Villa Park in Birmingham and Hillsborough in Sheffield. However, in 2005 both semi-finals will be held at the Millennium Stadium and in future years all semi-finals will be played at Wembley.
The competition begins with the Extra-Preliminary rounds contested by non-league clubs in August, which any F.A. affiliated club meeting a basic standard of ability and ground facilities may enter. 644 clubs entered the competition in the 2003/04 season, and a record 660 for 2004/05 (the old record was 656 in 1921/22). Following the Extra-Preliminary Round is a Preliminary Round, four Qualifying Rounds, and six Rounds of the competition proper, followed by the Semi-Finals and the Final. All Football League clubs may enter. Non-league clubs may also enter if they competed in the previous season's FA Trophy or FA Vase and are deemed to be playing in an "acceptable" league for the current season. All clubs entering the competition must have a suitable and safe stadium capacity.
Teams from the higher levels of the non-league "pyramid" may get exemptions from some of these rounds: Clubs from the Nationwide Conference are given a bye to the Fourth Qualifying Round, clubs from Football League One and Two join the winners of the Fourth Qualifying Round in the draw for the First Round proper in November. Football League Championship and Premier League teams are given a bye into the Third Round, traditionally held in the first weekend in January. The Final is played at the end of the season in May. Since the foundation of the Football League, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in 1901 have been the only non-league winners of the FA Cup. They were then playing in the Southern League and were only elected to the Football League in 1908. At that time the Football League consisted of only two 18-team divisions; Spurs's victory then would be comparable to a team near the bottom of the second step of the English football pyramid, the Football League Championship division, winning today.
The winning team qualifies by right for the first round of the UEFA Cup. If the winners qualify for the Champions League, the losing finalist qualifies for the UEFA Cup. If both finalists qualify for the Champions League, an extra UEFA Cup place is given on the basis of Premier League position.
At the end of the final, the winning team is presented with a trophy, also known as the "FA Cup", which they hold until the following year's final. Traditionally, at Wembley finals, the presentation was made at the Royal Box, with players, led by the captain, mounting a staircase to a gangway in front of the box and returning by a second staircase on the other side of the box. At Cardiff the presentation has been made on a podium on the pitch. The cup is decorated with ribbons in the colours of the winning team; a common riddle asks, "what is always taken to the Cup Final, but never used?" (The answer is, "the losing team's ribbons"). Individual members of the teams playing in the final are presented with winners' and losers' medals.
The present FA Cup trophy is the fourth. The first, the 'little tin idol', was used from the inception of the Cup in 1871-2 until it was stolen from a shop window in Birmingham while held by Aston Villa in 1895. It was never seen again and is presumed to have been melted down. The second trophy was a replica of the first, and was last used in 1910 before being presented to the FA's long-serving president Lord Kinnaird. It is still in private hands and is expected to be sold at Christie's in May 2005; the estimated price is £200,000 - £300,000. A new, larger, trophy was bought by the FA in 1911 designed and manufactured by Fattorini's of Bradford and won by Bradford City in its first outing, the only time a team from Bradford has reached the final. This trophy still exists but is now too fragile to be used, so an exact replica was made and has been in use since the 1992 final. Therefore, though the FA Cup is the oldest domestic football competition in the world, its trophy is not the oldest; that title is claimed by the Scottish Cup.
The FA Cup has a long tradition of lower-division and non-league teams becoming "giant-killers" by defeating highly-ranked opponents. Yeovil Town F.C. reached the fifth round in 1948-49 while in the Southern League, and defeated League opposition many other times before winning promotion to the Football League in 2003. In 1956-57 Bournemouth beat Wolves and Spurs before a controversial quarter-final defeat by Manchester United. Non-league Hereford United F.C. famously beat Newcastle United in 1972. A fifth-round tie in 1977-78 pitched two giant-killers together: Third Division Wrexham, who had beaten Bristol City and Newcastle, and non-league Blyth Spartans A.F.C. who had beaten Stoke. Wrexham won the replay in front of a huge crowd at St James' Park in Newcastle, but were beaten by Arsenal in the next round. Wrexham did get some revenge a few years later when they beat Arsenal in a 1992 third round tie in north Wales. The achievement was especially notable as the previous year Arsenal had been league champions and Wrexham had finished bottom of the league. In 1988-89 Coventry, the winners two seasons previously, lost away 2-1 to Sutton United of the Conference.
Notable events in the FA Cup
- On March 16, 1872, Wanderers F.C. became the first winners of the FA Cup, beating Royal Engineers AFC 1-0 at The Oval.
- In 1903 Bury defeated Derby County 6-0, in what is still the highest score in an FA Cup final.
- The first final to be played at Wembley, in 1923, drew an over-capacity crowd of more than 200,000. Spectators spilled onto the field, but were moved back by a single mounted policeman, and the game (which came to be known as the "White Horse Final ") was played with spectators lining the edge of the pitch.
- The 1927 final resulted in a Cardiff City victory over Arsenal. To the present day, Cardiff City are the only non-English based team to win the trophy.
- The 1945-1946 FA Cup was the first played since the competition was suspended during World War II. As the intermediate Football League North and Football League South were of variable quality, to boost clubs' income each tie was played over two legs (one home, one away with the scores being added together to decide who went through) to increase the number of matches in the season. Matches that were level at the end of both legs were replayed at the stadium of whichever team had played the second leg away. The semi-finals and final (both played at neutral venues) remained single match affairs.
- The final of 1953 is known as the Matthews Final . The match between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers saw Stanley Matthews, at the age of 38, in his third attempt to win an FA cup winners medal for Blackpool. Bolton were 3-1 up with 22 minutes remaining and looked set to win the match when Blackpool's Stan Mortensen scored from a Matthews cross. With less than five minutes remaining Blackpool equalised from a Mortensen free kick and shortly after the restart, with everybody anticipating extra time, Matthews passed to Bill Perry who put the ball in the back of the net securing a 4-3 victory for Blackpool.
- The final of 1956 saw Manchester City win 3-1 against Birmingham City. Roughly 15 minutes before the end of the game, Man City's goalkeeper Bert Trautmann (a German who had been taken as a prisoner of war by the British in 1945) injured his neck when he made a save at the feet of Birmingham's Peter Murphy. Despite being in terrible pain he continued to play till the end of match and collected his winners' medal still clutching his neck. An x-ray later revealed that he had broken his neck.
- 1956-57 also the record for highest number of rounds played in set, when former League club New Brighton played in nine rounds. They started in the preliminary round, and progressed through four qualifying rounds to the fourth round proper, where they lost to Burnley. They had just one replay - for their first round tie.
- In 1967 the first substitutes were allowed after many years of finals proving unbalanced due to injuries which forced players into leaving the field early. Players had suffered broken bones in the 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1965 finals.
- In 1972 the FA Cup celebrated its 100th birthday (though not its 100th season, due to interruptions for the two world wars). Leeds United won the final against holders Arsenal.
- In 1973, Sunderland A.F.C. created the biggest ever upset in a final when they beat holders Leeds United 1-0. At that time, Leeds were one of Europe's best club sides, whereas Sunderland, although a massive club, had been struggling in the Second Division. The immortal goal was scored by Ian Porterfield , but the incredible double save by Sunderland goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery is probably even better remembered.
- The 1973-74 compitition saw the record set for the highest number of games played by one club. Bideford played 13 games over five rounds: one for the 1st qualifying round, two for the 2nd qualifying round, five for the 3rd qualifying round, four for the 4th qualifying round, and one for the 1st round proper. Multiple replays no longer take place, so this record is unlikely to be beaten.
- The 1977-78 competition saw New Brighton's 1956-57 nine-round record equalled by Blythe Spartans , who progressed from the 1st qualifying round to the 5th round proper. The games for the 2nd qualifying round and the 5th rounds proper went to a replay.
- The 1979-80 compitition saw the nine-round record equalled by Harlow Town, who progressed from the Preliminary round through four qualifying rounds to the fourth round proper, where they lost to Watford. The matches for the 2nd and the 3rd rounds went to a replay.
- In 1980, West Ham United became the last side to date to win the competition from outside the top division in football. They were a Second Division outfit when they beat holders Arsenal 1-0 thanks to a goal by Trevor Brooking. Two clubs - Sunderland in 1992 and Millwall in 2004 - have since been to the final, though both lost.
- In 1983 Norman Whiteside became the youngest player ever to score in an FA Cup final, whilst playing for Manchester United against Brighton and Hove Albion. As of 2004 this record remains unbroken.
- In 1984, Johnny Hore's Plymouth Argyle side narrowly missed out on being the first Third Division side to reach the final. In a tense semi-final at Villa Park, Watford came out on top, 1-0 victors. Starting in the first round proper, Argyle had beaten Southend United (on a replay), Barking , Newport County (on a replay), West Bromwich Albion and Derby County (on a replay).
- In 1988 underdogs Wimbledon beat Liverpool 1-0 to cause one of the most famous upsets in FA Cup history, Lawrie Sanchez scoring a 37th minute header for the Dons from a Dennis Wise free kick. Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant saved a 61st minute John Aldridge penalty in the second half, becoming the first goalkeeper to do so in an FA Cup final. He was also the first goalkeeper to captain a team to FA Cup success.
- In 1989 during the opening minutes of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, 96 people were crushed to death because of overcrowding. See the Hillsborough disaster.
- The first FA Cup final played outside of England was in the final of the 2000/2001 season at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool came from behind (against the balance of play) to snatch a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. Arsenal went back to Wales the following two seasons to win the Cup.
- For the first time, the FA Cup was played under a roof in the final of the 2002/2003 season, held on May 17, 2003 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with Arsenal F.C. and Southampton F.C. benefitting from cover from the rain (Arsenal were the 1 - 0 winners).
- That same year, Team Bath (from the University of Bath) became the first university team to enter the competition since 1880, and progressed through the qualifying rounds before being knocked out in the first round proper by Mansfield Town.
- In 2004 Roy Keane of Manchester United became the first player to play in six finals since the 19th century, and Curtis Weston of Millwall became the youngest ever player to play in the final at the age of 17 years and 119 days.
- The first match at the new Wembley Stadium will be the FA Cup Final to be held on May 13, 2006.
Past Winners of the FA Cup
Manchester United have won the cup the most times - eleven in all. Two clubs have won the cup on three consecutive occasions - Wanderers (1876-8) and Blackburn Rovers (1884-6). Leicester City hold the unfortunate record of having appeared in four FA Cup finals without ever winning the cup.
The top 10 clubs by number of wins (and when they last won and lost a final):
|Club||Winner||Last win||Runner-up||Last losing final|
|West Bromwich Albion||5||1968||5||1935|
Six clubs have won the FA Cup as part of a League and Cup double, these are Preston North End (1889), Aston Villa (1897), Spurs (1961), Arsenal (1971, 1998, 2002), Liverpool (1986) and Manchester United (1994, 1996, 1999). The double winners are highlighted in bold in the table below. Arsenal and Manchester United share the record of three doubles. Arsenal are the only club to win doubles in distinct decades, and have in fact won in three different decades.
In 2001, Liverpool did not win the league, but won the League Cup and UEFA Cup to complete a different treble. This less prestigious set of results has been called, by opposition fans, the Tin Pot Treble. They also won the FA Charity Shield.
The full results of the final:
- The FA Cup - official Football Association site
- FA Cup going under the hammer - BBC News story on the sale of the second trophy
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