Freight Rover, Sherpa Van, Leyland DAF, Autoglass, Auto Windscreens, LDV Vans and now Johnstone Paints. Many names for the Football League Trophy, or the Associate Members Cup. It doesn’t matter what it is called, it is simply the easiest way that teams from the lower reaches of the Football League can enjoy a day out at Wembley. Previous winners since its inception in 1983 have included five current Premier League clubs, as well as current Blue Square Bet Premier League sides Grimsby Town, Mansfield Town and Luton Town. The most successful side in the history of the tournament has been Carlisle United who have played in six finals, winning twice, including last season’s trophy.
Despite the fact the Football League having toyed around with the format to try to increase its interest amongst the fans, it is still only the final that gets the crowds through the doors. For the period between 2000 and 2006 the 48 Football League sides were joined by a host of teams from the Conference, including the likes of Leigh RMI (Now playing in the North West Counties League as Leigh Genesis), Scarborough (on five occasions – who are now known as Scarborough Athletic and playing in the Northern Counties East Premier League) and Dover Athletic now in the Blue Square Bet South. But crowds for some of the games dropping below the 700 mark it was decided to keep it just to the Football League clubs.
This season’s competition started with some of the bigger names in the competition falling by the wayside early on. Sheffield Wednesday lost to Bradford City on penalties and holders Carlisle United went out to Accrington Stanley. In one of the more remarkable games, Leyton Orient lost to neighbours Dagenham & Redbridge 14-13 on penalties in a game that was still going on at near 11pm. Continue reading