The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world and although it may have lost some of its shine among the top clubs in the Premier League in recent years, it still has the ability to produce magic as we saw last season across various stages of the tournament.
This weekend the First Round properly gets underway in which there are 40 ties involving League One, League Two and non-league clubs from various steps of the football pyramid. Teams like Warrington Town, AFC Fylde and East Thurrock United all get their chance to shine in what will be one of the biggest games in their club’s history.
Many of the sides which have safely advanced through the qualifying rounds are semi-professional which means there will be builders, plumbers and electricians all mixing with some of the professionals of the Football League, but for the 90 minutes of their encounter, they are equals.
The dream for every club in the hat for the First Round is to make it through to the Third Round when the Premier League and Championships side enter the competition. A glamorous away draw against one of the top clubs in the top flight such as Manchester United or Chelsea is not only an occasion to remember for lower league fans, but the revenue they generate can help their clubs survive for several years alone.
It is always difficult to predict exactly how many upsets there will be this weekend but here are some of the games which have the potential to carry a surprise result:-
Braintree v Chesterfield
Coventry v Worcester City
Dover v Morecambe
Gosport Borough v Colchester
Halifax v Bradford
Havant & Waterlooville v Preston
Plymouth v AFC Fylde
Warrington Town v Exeter
Weston Super Mare v Doncaster
It’s amazing how often the TV cameras pick up out right games to televise as the live games generally mean there is a good chance an upset could be on the cards. Those this weekend also look like they could have a shock in them too so the Football League clubs will be fully aware they need to be at their best to avoid a banana skin.
One of the biggest FA Cup upsets in history was Hereford’s victory over Newcastle in 1972. At the time, the non-league side were in the Southern League, while the Magpies were flying high in Division One, therefore it should have been a straightforward stroll for the North East club. The tie started at St James’s Park where Hereford forced a replay following a surprise 2-2 draw. Things got better though for the minnows in front of their own crowd in the return fixture, as they were able to produce a memorable 2-1 victory to ensure their name is always synonymous with FA Cup shocks.
One of the more recent surprise results in this competition came at Old Trafford when Exeter travelled up to the North West to take on Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in 2005. They were able to earn a replay following a goalless stablemate, but they did have chances to win the tie in which they were unable to take.
Upsets in the FA Cup don’t just occur in the early rounds either. Wigan were a huge price at Betfair in the 2013 final when they came up against Manchester City at Wembley. However, despite being relegated from the Premier League that season, Wigan lifted the trophy thanks to Ben Watson’s stoppage time winner just when the game looked set for extra-time.
All roads lead to Wembley once again in the 2014/15 competition and hopefully there will be a few memorable games to add to the history books of the great tournament.