Part of the reason we started this blog was to give a platform to the smaller teams in the FA Cup. We still do that but, in these mid-stage qualifying rounds we have perhaps been guilty of featuring the middlin’-to-diddlin’ non league sides rather than the real troopers punching above their weight.
We’re now at the third qualifying round and the teams left in are daring to dream about the hallowed ground of the ‘propers’. Unless we’ve mis-calculated, which is entirely plausible, the lowest teams left in are all from level nine of the football pyramid and there’s just five of them left. The Combined Counties League have two representatives left while the NCEL, Eastern Counties and Wessex leagues also have a team left.
Blackfield & Langley lie in 13th place in the Wessex League. This makes them the lowest placed team left in the FA Cup. As if to underline their status as ultimate underdogs, this is also the furthest they’ve ever got in the tournament. The Watersiders must only traverse Southampton Water and one tier of the football pyramid to beat struggling Southern League South & West side Sholing for a shot at one of the plethora of former football league sides lurking in the BSB Premier in the next round.
The second lowest ranked side left in are Tadcaster Albion. Currently 10th in the NCEL they face the unenviable task of hosting and beating mid table Blue Square North side Boston United. Also on their best ever cup run Tadcaster face probably the toughest task of any side left in the competition. Boston, of course, are a former league side but before that regulars in the ‘propers’ over half a century.
Another side currently on their best ever run in the FA Cup is Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Premier League side Dereham Town. Currently joint top of the league, ironically also their highest ever league position, their 128 year history is being re-written by Matt Henman’s black and white army. Dereham face a massive task against Ryman Premier side Met Police but they are at home and will be looking at a big, enthusiastic crowd, hopefully swelled by Norwich City being away from home.
Chippenham Town host our fourth level nine side, Combined Counties 4th placed side, Badshot Lea. Running very well in the league simply might not be enough for Badshot because they are giving away two tiers in the pyramid to the home side. Their last appearance on therealfacup, courtesy of Danny Last, didn’t go so well … but they do have the dubious distinction of being the only of these teams to have appeared on this site before! Wow!
Two places above Badshot Lea, South Park host Ryman 1 North side Brentwood Town and such is the upward curve on which Park find themselves, there has to be a decent chance of a shock here.
We wouldn’t be fulfilling our globally accepted objectives if we didn’t say “FORZA LIVELLO NOVE”