the real fa cup

Extra Preliminary Round Up

Worksop Town Woe with Worst Ever Cup Performance

Already 184 teams should have been knocked out of this season’s FA Cup (182 are definitely out with two other matches abandoned), that’s twice as many as the number of League clubs who are exempt from taking part until the ‘Real FA Cup’ rounds have been completed.

The most notable casualty of those clubs knocked out at this early stage is Worksop Town from the Northern Counties East League Premier division. The Tigers first entered the FA Cup in 1893 and this is the first time the club has been eliminated at the Extra Preliminary stage in 107 seasons of competing in it. Nine times they have made it beyond the qualifying rounds, most recently just 13 seasons ago, and they even made one third round appearance in 1955/56 when as a Midland League side they lost by a solitary goal away to Swindon Town from Division Three South.

One team that should have progressed to the Preliminary Round but didn’t is Thatcham Town, who failed to learn two important lessons; how to beat 10 men and how to defend in-swinging free-kicks. In their away match at Slimbridge on Saturday they took a 1-0 lead against their hosts after seeing their opponents reduced to 10 men, but failed to hold on and were pegged back to one each. Then, in the replay on Tuesday night, they were 1-0 up with five minutes remaining, again against ten men, but this time they went one worse and let in two identical goals to lose, both goals in-swinging free-kicks headed over the ‘woefully short at reaching the ball’ advancing goalkeeper into an empty net.

Other clubs that might have expected to make it to the next round after achieving excellent away draws, but failed to do so are Crowborough Athletic and Harborough Town, who both somehow capitulated to heavy defeats in their replays, incredulously after doing the hard part, to Dorking (0-7) and Blaby & Whetstone Athletic (1-6) respectively.

And what of those 21 teams taking part for the first time ever in the FA Cup? Well, not too bad at all as it happens with 1874 Northwich, Athersley Recreation, Baldock Town, Bedfont and Feltham, Bromsgrove Sporting, Cleethorpes Town, Clipstone, Cribbs, Ellistown and Ibstock United, FC Romania, Handsworth Parramore, Knaphill, Lichfield City, Sileby Rangers and Witheridge all winning through to the Preliminary Round. These 15 teams are joined by another first-timer, Haverhill Borough, who will go at least one round further than their close neighbours Haverhill Rovers who, despite having 42 years more FA Cup experience than them, were knocked out by one of the new teams, FC Romania.

A local Birmingham based side called Headingly hold the record for most appearances in the FA Cup without ever progressing beyond the Extra Preliminary round, a total that stands at 11 seasons, achieved consecutively between 1928 and 1939. There are however several current teams who are working their way towards beating this long standing record. Standing at four consecutive seasons is Barnoldswick Town, but on five Extra Preliminary stage knock out seasons are Holyport, Verwood Town and Wigan Robin Park. Taking themselves off this list with a first ever win in six attempts is Sussex based side St Francis Rangers. We can only keep our fingers crossed that each of the other four clubs also fashions an FA Cup victory before the 2021/22 season.

Finally, congratulations to Combined Counties League side Molesey and to Birmingham based outfit Coleshill Town for winning their Extra Preliminary cup ties 11-0 and 10-0 respectively.

Words: Phil Annets
Phil is an FA Cup historian, the designer of Whirred PLAY and is on Twitter @PhilAnnets.

Extra Preliminary Round Reports:

Handsworth Parramore 5-1 Oadby Town
Cray Valley (PM) 1-3 Raynes Park Vale
Waltham Forest 1-1 Hoddesdon Town
Jarrow Roofing Boldon CA 4-1 Eccleshill United
Staines Lammas 3-2 Bedfont Sports
Staveley Miners Welfare 2-0 Worksop

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