The 2015/16 Emirates FA Cup got underway this weekend, knocking the Premier League off the back pages of almost no national publications.
Just the 13 rounds to negotiate for the clubs before someone gets a chance to lift the famous old jug.
It’s rumoured that no one remembers the loser but that’s simply not true, who can forget Coventry City, Newcastle and Norwich, all vanquished by non league teams and none of them have won an FA Cup since those games. So, here’s a shout out for this year’s teams who finished second.
Let’s start with the big ones, shall we? 18 teams lost by five goals or more. The record for this year’s team that came second by the largest margin goes to Ellesmere Rangers. Defeated 11-0 by Coleshill Town, the second successive year that the Rabbits (historical nickname alert) have hit double figures in the Extra Preliminary Round, this year with Luke Barlone scoring four and becoming the second highest scorer in the round. St Francis Rangers will be glad of that winning margin as they managed to lose by only eight goals to fellow Sussex County League side Shoreham.
Chadderton and Wellingborough Town are next with seven goal defeats. These were slightly more galling for fans as they came at home, Chadderton losing 2-9 to AFC Liverpool with Steve Jones scoring five and the Doughboys losing 1-8 to Ashford Town (Middx), who have now negotiated the Extra Preliminary Rounds 21 times without defeat.
Horley Town beat Wick & Barnham United 7-0 and AFC Emley scored seven against Parkgate on Sunday (7-1) but the ‘Seven Derby’ disappointingly only saw two goals. Everyone was hoping for a repeat of the famous 7-7 Cup draw between Dulwich Hamlet and Wealdstone but the fans had to settle for a 1-1 draw between Sevenoaks Town and Seven Acre & Sidcup and a replay on Wednesday night.
The closest game among the high scorers saw a thriller at Oak Farm. Cove went into a comfortable 4-1 lead with 20 minutes to go but nearly contrived to shoot themselves in the foot. Shrivenham fought back to 4-3 with 5 minutes left before Cove seemed to seal the tie on the stroke of full time with a fifth.
Shrivenham made it 5-4 in injury time but they had left it too late and Cove held on. Further north, Guisborough went 4-2 up away at Sunderland RCA after 75 minutes but, with the RCA twitter feed conceding there had already been hapless defending at both ends, there seemed like more goals. There were, two, both for the home side as a very late equaliser earned another Wednesday night replay after a 4-4 draw.
Elsewhere Alsager Town’s 1-0 win over Atherstone Recreation was the first time they’d got past the Extra Preliminary Round in eight seasons. Verwood Town won their first FA Cup game at the sixth attempt with 2-0 win over Newport IOW, a feat that Cadbury Athletic also managed at their fifth attempt with a 2-0 win over the lowest placed team in the competition, Tipton Town.
Heaton Stannington were returning to the FA Cup for the first time in 39 years. Their last game was a 3-0 defeat to Shildon in 1976 but this time a 3-1 win over Norton & Stockton Ancients saw them win an FA Cup game for the first time since 1954.
Stourport Swifts 5-1 away win at Brockton meant they continued their record of never having been knocked out in the Extra Preliminaries. The Swifts’ record of 24 successes had been bettered by Brigg Town, who hadn’t been knocked out in the Extra Preliminaries in 79 attempts. But they lost 5-1 at Cleethorpes Town to see an end to their enviable record.
In the East, our game was at Great Yarmouth Town where a hard fought and interesting game saw numerous bookings and a first half sending off that was ultimately The Bloaters undoing. A 3-0 win for Norwich United was justly deserved, especially for Paul Cook’s brilliant curling goal that went satisfyingly in off the post to round off the win.
There were many other records set and doughty performances this weekend in the FA Cup, simply too many to mention in one review. There are replays already arranged for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so just search the #FACup hashtag on Twitter to see more.
The FA Cup is underway, sadly none of these teams will win the thing but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that someone might win the equivalent six games and make a name for themselves by reaching the hallowed ground of the 1st Round.
Additional info: Phil Annets @FACupFactFile