the real fa cup

The Real FA Cup 2014 Awards

Last season’s FA Cup had some big highs and some depressing low points. Let’s get the latter out of the way. Atherstone, Sleaford and Huntingdon. Done.

Now, onto the good bits. In the 1st Round Proper Blue Square North side Brackley Town beat League 1’s Gillingham 1-0, the two sides were separated by 63 places in the league pyramid making it the biggest shock of the round and the joint second biggest of the tournament. Conference Premier side Macclesfield also grabbed the Round 1 headlines by beating a League 1 side but their headlines were more about the manner of their 4-0 destruction of Swindon.

Kidderminster Harriers gained the most plaudits in the propers, the only non league side to get to the 4th Round and they beat League 2’s Newport County and League 1’s Peterborough United at London Road along the way. Kidderminster played in 5 rounds, which was pretty impressive but, unfortunately for them, was not the most achieved by a non league side last year.

There were plenty of upsets in the qualifying rounds as well. Many were “just” those where a decent team from one league beat sa not so hot one from the tier above. Good but when you stretch that out to two or more tiers things start to look a bit more exciting. Nine teams beat opposition two or more tiers higher up the food chain. Four sides managed it twice.

Result of The Tournament: West Auckland 5-0 Skelmersdale
Earlier on in the competition the Northern League’s West Auckland 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 the most convincing upset of the whole tournament.

Not to be outdone, and before they disgraced themselves, the Midland Combination’s Atherstone beat Coalville from two tiers above after having already knocked out the Southern Premier League side Redditch. There was 61 places separating the two sides at the time of play and their 2-1 away win ranks as the third biggest upset this season.

But none of these sides feature in our short-list of six. As commendable as their feats were, they don’t pass muster in context. This season’s Real FA Cup non league team of the tournament has been trickier to decide than previous years. There were the above individual performances but there were six teams who played in the most rounds and, therefore, got the furthest from their starting point.

Short-list for Real FA Cup Team Of The Season
Stourbridge, Daventry Town, Shortwood United, Marske United, Brislington and Hartley Wintney. First of all, hats off to these six, only Sheffield United and Arsenal won more FA Cup games in 2013/14.

Stourbridge got the furthest (2nd Round Proper), however, they started later than the others so there’s no real way to separate them on that score. Daventry, 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. However, three of the sides in the short list beat at least two sides above them in the pyramid and also sides three tiers above them in the pyramid.

Marske’s five FA Cup wins included three over league peers, one over Halesowen from the tier above and the most impressive was their 3-1 away win over Frickley of the Northern Premier League.

Southern League Shortwood United went one better, they first pricked up the nation’s ears when they beat Conference South strugglers Dorchester Town. And, although Aldershot were in big trouble in 23rd in the Conference at the time, when the Woods beat them 2-1 at the Recreation Ground, 63 teams separated them in the pyramid.

But, top of the pile 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 on 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. Brislington’s case was further enhanced by just failing to hold off Conference Premier side Welling in the 4th Qualifying Round, they lost only 1-0 to a side four tiers of the pyramid higher.

Brislington, welcome to the Hall of Fame:

2014 Winners Brislington
2013 Winners Hastings United
2012 Winners Redbridge FC
2011 Winners FC United of Manchester
2010 Winners Wealdstone


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