All You Wanted to Know About the FA Cup

History of FA Cup

The FA Cup started as all new things are known to start, small, full of promise and riddled with challenges. Thanks to the innovation of a certain man by the name Charles W. Alcock, the FA cup would go on to be the father of organized football in the world. It was once, to England what the world cup now is to the world; the pinnacle of it all, the epitome of all that is football. The Football Association Challenge Cup also brought about the global commercialization of the sport which some call soccer.

The FA Cup is the oldest Football competition in the world, it’s older than the world cup with more than half a century and it is also older than football at the Olympic Games. It started in 1847 somewhere in Wales U.K.

The Football Association Challenge cup wasn’t always played by the big boys the professionals. It was played by amateurs, Engineers, teachers, even church teams. As long as they could put together a team, the competition was opened to them. The opportunity to attain glory, financial reward, and nationwide popularity wasn’t one to be tossed aside. It was not to remain a thing for the amateurs alone though, the pros wanted in.  So they got in and with that came the decline of the amateur teams.  Things took an upward turn though, and this tournament which started with just 12 teams has gone on to bring together over 700 teams in a single season’s competition

What is so special About the FA Cup?

Now that’s the question on everybody’s lips. So apart from the fact that it is the oldest surviving football competition in the world, there’s something that endears it to everyone, especially the team of the lower cadres in England. It gives every team from the level 10 and upwards, the opportunity to compete for that trophy. So that’s the eligibility to compete. The team must be at least a level 10 team, and their stadium must be up to certain standards.

Qualification Process for FA Cup

After all the teams that can play have been determined, the lots are drawn. It starts with play-offs from the lowest divisions.  All the teams in one region are put together in one pool and then a draw is made. This will determine who plays at home and away. The top teams in England don’t join the tournament immediately. The lower teams play and at a certain stage, teams from the upper division join all the way up to the premier league teams. Then this is where the competition starts proper.

The method of the tournament is very simple. It is a knockout based tournament, you lose you go out, you win you progress. And if there’s a draw, then a replay is organized in the home stadium of the away team. If the match still ends in a draw, then 30 minutes extra time is given. If scores don’t change, then penalties are taken. It wasn’t always like this though. Up until 1991, if there are draws the teams will keep on having replays until one team eventually wins.

However, things have changed now. And most recently from 2000-2001 semi-final matches did not go into a replay. They went into extra time and then penalties. Speaking about semi-finals, from 2008 all semi-Final matches and also final matches were and are still played at the Wembley Stadium. And in 2016-2017 season quarter-final matches also stopped going into a replay. They were decided with extra time and if needed penalties.

The tournament usually starts in August; this is when the lowest teams start the “extra elimination round”. And then by the third round sometime in January, the Premier League teams are supposed to join; By May all things being equal the final is played.

Whoever wins the final qualifies (irrespectively of their league level) automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa Cup, this is the tournament for the second best teams in Europe.

Top 8 Most Successful FA Cup Teams

FA Cup Champions. 2017. Arsenal

Blackburn Rovers with 6 FA Cups

New Castle United with 6 FA Cups

Aston Villa with 7 FA Cups

Chelsea 7 FA Cups

Liverpool with 7 FA Cups

Tottenham Hotspur 8 FA Cups

Manchester United 12 FA Cups

Arsenal 13 FA Cups

Arsenal is the most successful club at the FA cup tournaments and Arsene Wenger is also the most successful coach at the tournament.

Through the ups and lows of the FA Cup, one thing has remained constant, and that’s the fact that almost any team in England has a chance meeting the guys in the big league on the field of play. And this factor alone will keep on endearing millions to this tournament.


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