the real fa cup

FA Cup Qualifying Review

This season’s FA Cup has had it’s high and low points. Let’s get the latter out of the way. Atherstone, Sleaford and Huntingdon. Shame on you or your fans. Done. Now, onto the good bits.

First up, Clapton have given this site joy on two occasions this season but the highlight was amusement at errant streamers interfering in play:

There have been plenty of upsets in this tournament so far, many were “just” those where a decent team from one league beat a not so hot one from the league above. Well done, you – but when you stretch that out to two or more tiers things start to look a bit more exciting. There have been 613 ties so far in this season’s FA Cup and, in those 613, only thirteen times has a team beaten opposition two or more tiers higher up the food chain. Four teams managed the feat twice, which means they’re a little bit special.

Earlier on in the competition the Northern League’s West Auckland Town set down a marker by ruthlessly despatching Northern Premier League side Whitby by a convincing four goals to one. West then upped the ante by racking up a 5-0 thumping of another Northern Premier League side Skelmersdale, in what was arguably one of the most convincing upsets of the whole tournament.


Registering as heroes as well as villains, the Midland Combination’s Atherstone Town also beat a team from two tiers above them (Coalville) after having already knocked out Redditch from three tiers above in the Southern Premier League. Atherstone’s surprise 2-1 away win ranks as the third biggest statto’s upset this season with 61 teams separating the two sides at the time of play.

The third side to achieve this double feat are this season’s big headline makers so far. Southern League Shortwood United first pricked up the ears when they beat Conference South strugglers Dorchester Town. And, although Aldershot were also in big trouble in 23rd in the Conference, that still meant 63 league teams separated Shortwood from the Shots when they met in Hampshire last week. Perhaps because it’s the 4th Qualifying round, perhaps because they earned a home tie against League 1 play off contenders Port Vale and perhaps because there were no other surprises that night but Shortwood’s 2-1 win over the Shots has captured the imagination and seen hearty back-slapping from fans and clubs across England.


But, top of the pile in qualifying are Brislington. The Western League side raised an eyebrow when beating Southern Premier League side Truro 3-2 in the 2nd Qualifying Round. In the 3rd Qualifying Round, when placed 7th in the league they travelled to 5th placed Conference South side Weston-super-mare and beat them 3-2 in their own park. 64 teams and three tiers of the football pyramid separated the two sides and Bris sadly didn’t get the kudos reserved for Shortwood but both should be commended for being the biggest giantkillers in the non league section of the 2013-14 FA Cup.

Hats off also to Heybridge Swifts, Marske, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Sholing and Eastbourne United Association who also beat teams two tiers above them.


So, who can catch Brislington for our prestigious annual award, The Real FA Cup Non League Team of the Tournament? Well, obviously, Shortwood can pretty much nail the title if they beat Port Vale on 9th November. Shortwood are also one of two teams currently in their 6th round of the tournament. The other, Daventry, have also garnered some good PR for their run but, other than their quite splendid away destruction of Grays (0-4 being perhaps the challenger to West Auckland for performance of the tournament), their progression has been much easier, with most of their ties having been against teams at the same level or below them in the pyramid. Stourbridge or Biggleswade represent the next most likely teams to catch Brislington and Shortwood, though that is largely because they’ve been drawn against each other in the 1st Round, because both have only beaten one side above them in the pyramid.

The next couple of months will see how this pans out, maybe a Conference side will tear into the Quarter Finals and snatch our much coveted award …

Previous Winners:
2012/13 – Hastings United
2011/12 – Redbridge FC
2010/11 – FC United of Manchester
2009/10 – Wealdstone

And, finally, the ‘Best Winning Goal In A Cupset’ goes to Danny Bennell. Danny’s winner in ‘little’ North Greenford’s 2-1 victory over Ryman League Premier neighbours Harrow Borough was captured fortuitously …

  1. Regarding Shortwood’s win at Aldershot – I know Shots are 23rd in the table, but they have had 10 points deducted and therefore are not 23rd on form. As I type this, their results would actually put them 13th in the Skrill Premier, so it could be argued that they are 73 places above Shortwood, making that upset a bigger one than Brislington v Weston. Also, Shots are a higher-level club anyway having just come down from League Two.

    • Partly true, Mark. However, sadly for them, the Shots have had points deducted and are 23rd in the table and were at the time of the game. Them’s the breaks.

  2. Giant Killings like the one in the video above are what makes the FA Cup the most magical competition in the world. The fact that a team full of ametuer bricklayers and waiters actually have the chance to share a pitch with the teams they support, or players they idolize is brilliant. You have to have a bit of luck to make it through the early qualifying rounds, however, the motivation of getting one of the big pro teams cannot be matched.

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