FA Cup Third Qualifying round time again and the players and officials of every team can be forgiven if their thoughts start to turn to the ‘propers’. Win this game and they are 90 minutes away from that chance to draw a fallen giant *cough* Sheffield Wednesday or even a big local league side. The words ‘spinner’ and ‘money’ must also spring to mind for the officials, the words ‘TV’ and ‘live’ for the players.
We’re a whore for the underdog here so, in a rare moment of madness, we’ve decided to take a break and have a look at the big lads at this level. Who are the teams with FA Cup previous, who will the league clubs want to get a taste of their own giant killing medicine, if that’s not a contradiction in terms?
Lancaster City.v. FC Halifax
There have been fairly regular trips to the propers for City and in fact they were prevented from adding another journey by no other side than Halifax (Town) themselves, in 4th Qualifying in 1994. On one of the occasions they did manage it, in 1972, they lost 2-1 to Notts Co in Round 2. As Halifax Town, the Shaymen got to the 5th Round in 1952/53, losing 3-0 to Spurs but having beaten Stoke and Swansea on the way. They famously beat a troubled WBA in Round 1 in 1993 and, more amusingly, a less troubled Man City 1-0 in Round 3 in 1979/80.
Whitby Town .v. Blyth Spartans
This fixture has happened twice before – in 1967/68 in the 2nd Qualifying Round Whitby won 2-1 and in 1996/97 by the same margin for a place in the propers. When there they drew 0-0 with Hull City which didn’t really set up expectation for the replay, which featured a whopping twelve goals, finishing 8-4 to Hull. Whitby beat the aforementioned Halifax 1-0 in Round 1 in 1983/84 before losing 1-0 to Wigan.
Given Blyth Spartans are one of the great giant killers in FA Cup history, you have to wonder how Whitby managed to twice beat them. They’ve got to the propers on numerous occasions and in 1977/78 equalled a non league record and got to the 5th round. On the way they beat Chesterfield and Stoke before drawing 1-1 with Wrexham. The replay was put centre stage at St James’ Park Newcastle and Wrexham squeaked through 2-1.
The 5th Round is the joint furthest a non league side has got in the modern era and the draw with Wrexham made Spartans the first one to make it into the Round 6 hat. Most recently they played Blackburn in Round 3 but probably the most notable thing about Blyth’s cup exploits is that, regardless of opposition, they’ve rarely been thumped by the bigger boys, even in defeat the games have been close and they’ve often taken teams to replays.
Cray Wanderers .v. Dartford
This one is a bit of a derby, despite Cray being based in Bromley at the moment. And, despite being one of the oldest clubs in the world, Cray’s FA Cup record is virtually non existent. 4th Qualifying round the best. Dartford of Blue Square South are almost non league mainstays in the competition, making the propers over 30 times. Despite the disparity in records, given the regional nature of the early rounds and the proximity of the clubs, it means this is the 4th meeting in the FA Cup and the previous three happened within four seasons between 1960-64. Dartford took the first 5-4, Cray won the second 1-0 and Dartford thumped Cray 5-0 in the most recent.
Hyde .v. Bradford Park Avenue.
1956/57 will long be remembered by those fans of Hyde still alive to tell the tale. It was a festival of goals. They played 10 FA Cup games that season, both they and the opposition scored in every game, there was at least 5 goals in every game, 71 in total and an average of 7 per tie. Three of the ten games ended in 4-4 draws, two of those against Stalybridge Celtic alone.
(Kind of) Like Halifax, Bradford Park Avenue are the odd team out in this round, on account of them being a professional league side until 1970 and having finished 9th in the top flight on one occasion. Consequently, their best-in-article Quarter Final appearances are less surprising than everyone else’s achievements. However, their greatest Cup successes were when they were in the old Division 2. In 1919/20 they lost 4-1 to Chelsea in the QF after beating Forest 3-0 and Notts Co 4-3. They beat Everton in 1923/23 and again got to the quarters in 1945/46 but lost 6-0 to Brum after a 2-2 draw at home. They returned to propers in 2003/04 but got humped 5-1 by Bristol City.
Slough Town .v. Hanworth Villa
They’ve fallen on hard times and they’ve been on here a few times this season but, once, Slough Town were a force. They’ve knocked out Wycombe, Walsall and Millwall and taken Cardiff, Orient, Reading and Macclesfield to replays. In contrast Hanworth Villa are in their inaugural FA Cup season and, with patronisation not intended, they’ve already done superbly well to get this far.
Hednesford Town .v. Corby
In the halcyon days of the mid/late 90s, Hednesford were a notorious Cup side, remember their famous, epic 3-2 loss to Middlesbrough in 1996/97? They got to at least the 1st round for the next four seasons too. Corby themselves had a healthy Cup record in the post war years, culminating in a Round 2 replay victory over Luton in 1965/66. Hednesford won the only FA Cup meeting between the sides, 3-1, in 1995/96.
Solihull Moors .v. Grantham Town
This could be a record at this stage … Grantham’s first ever FA Cup game was against Clapham Rovers in 1877. One hundred and thirty four years ago. We weren’t even alive then. They lost either 1-0 or 2-0 depending on who you believe, Rovers say 2, the Gingerbreads say 1. Who knows? Since then they’ve accounted for Bradford Park Avenue, when they were good, and they also despatched Stockport and Rochdale between the mid 60s and 70s when they got to the propers 9 times in eleven years.
Billericay Town .v. Leatherhead
Billericay will be one of the more annoyed non league sides in the FA Cup. They’ve twice got to the propers and twice drawn non league sides. No glory tie for them. They also lost both times. Doh! Leatherhead are right up there with the giants though. In 1974/75 they got to Round 4 beating Brighton and Colchester before facing Leicester at Filbert Street. The tanners were even 2-0 up at one point but got pegged back to lose 3-2. They got to the propers 6 times in 7 years after that.
Lowestoft Town .v. Chelmsford
Not really quite a derby but this one’s one of the hottest tickets of the round. Town got to the propers twice in the 60s losing to Leyton Orient and Watford by just one goal. They managed the same in the 70s against Cambridge and recently aginst Wrexham. Like their Blue Square South foes Dartford, Chelmsford City have been regular toe-treaders in the FA Cup over the years. They got to Round 4 in 1938/39 beating Darlington and Southampton.
Maldon & Tiptree .v. Hendon
Only recently merged neither Maldon nor Tiptree have done much in the FA Cup as a unit or individually. Hendon on the other hand are from the same semi-pro minefield as Chelmsford and Dartford. The Greens famously held Newcastle to a 1-1 draw at St James in Round 3 in 1973/74 and beat Reading 2 years later and Leyton Orient in 1997/98. Not only that but the club’s now sadly forgotten Claremont Road ground was opened to some fanfare for an FA Cup tie and provided the backdrop for Hendon’s largest attendance, 9000 against Northampton in the FA Cup.
Stourbridge .v. Evesham United
For a team that first entered the FA Cup in 1896 and has entered nearly 70 times, Stourbridge only managed to get past the fourth qualifying round two years ago when they drew near neighbours Walsall. They lost 1-0 but over 2000 people turned up to watch for the first time in over 30 years. It’s a similar story for Evesham, although they hadn’t quite been trying for as long and managed it a year earlier, losing 2-0 to Torquay. The two teams have met before, though, in 1995/96 when Evesham won 3-0 after a replay.
Nantwich Town .v. Kendal Town
Nantwich have only managed this stage before, so could be on the verge of greatness. Kendal, though, were relative regulars in the first round proper (as Netherfield) between the 40s and 60s and twice got to the second round, including their record attendance versus Grimsby of 5184. But we’ve included them here for their what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger attitude. In 1980/81 before the stupid (or kind, as Kendal might be more apt to say) abolition of multiple replays, they managed a whopping 6 replays against Bridlington Trinity in the FA Trophy, which nearly killed them. The postponed games and rearrangements cost them £1800 and they had to drop down a league the following season. Won’t happen this year though. Phew.
Sutton United .v. Bognor Regis Town
Still the last non league team to dump a top flight side out of the FA Cup. And they were the current holders to boot. Much has been written about Sutton’s win over Coventry in 1988, my god even we’ve had a bash. Bognor Regis are not short of giant killing themselves, in their heyday of the mid/late 80s they got to Round 1 five times, beating Swansea and Exeter along the way.
This is by no means an exhaustive list so if your team is in the hat, not on this page but has got some form in the propers, please feel free to add a comment. We could go on, of course, Dover were one of our teams of the season last year and don’t get a mention, but we can sense you nodding off … so [end].
With thanks to the superb Football Club History Database. Someone please keep this going and update, if only we had time …