Football has a million and one stories and just as many facts and figures. Here are a few of them - the record-breaking, unusual and bizarre.

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The FA Cup - The Football Association Challenge Cup to give it its full title - is the oldest competition in football. Fifteen clubs entered the first competition in 1871/72 - Barnes, Chequers, Civil Service, Clapham Rovers, Crystal Palace (not the current League club), Donington School (Spalding), Great Marlow, Hampstead Heathens, Hitchin, Maidenhead, Queens Park (Glasgow), Reigate Priory, Royal Engineers, Upton Park and Wanderers. The first four matches were played on Saturday November 11th 1871 -

Barnes 2 - 0 Civil Service
Crystal Palace 0 - 0 Hitchin
Maidenhead 2 - 0 Marlow
Upton Park 0 - 3 Clapham Rovers

Jarvis Kenrick of Clapham Rovers was the first player to score an FA Cup goal. Full results of the 1871/72 competition.


For many years the competition was known as the 'English Cup' although only for a short time was it an all-English competition. Welsh clubs have long been entrants, Cardiff are the only club from outside England to win the competition (in 1927). In the 19th Century clubs from both Scotland and Ireland played in the FA Cup. Queen's Park of Glasgow were beaten finalists in 1884 and 1885, winning a semi-final in Edinburgh in 1885, while in a tie in 1886 Partick Thistle of Scotland beat Cliftonville of Ireland 11-0. The last Scottish side to play in the competition proper was Gretna who reached the 1st Round in 1991/92 (when in the Northern League) and 1993/94 (when in the Northern Premier League).


Too often it is the unsporting gestures that make the headlines but back in 1999 'fair-play' saw an FA Cup tie replayed.

FA Cup holders Arsenal met Division 1 side Sheffield United in the 5th Round of the FA Cup at Highbury on Saturday 13th February 1999 in front of 38,020 fans. With some ten minutes left an unspectacular match was looking as if it was going to end in a 1-1 draw - but then something happened which was unique in the history of the FA Cup.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Alan Kelly had kicked the ball out of play to allow an injured player to receive treatment. Ray Parlour restarted the match with a throw-in intended for Kelly but Kanu intercepted the ball and centred for Marc Overmars to score the winner. Kanu was making his debut for Arsenal which was his first match in English football and later said he was unaware of the circumstances and believed it was an attacking move. Sheffield United's manager Steve Bruce and his players vehemently protested that the goal be disallowed but although an unwritten rule had been ignored no actual law had been broken so the goal stood, and Arsenal won the match.

However, immediately after the game Arsenal manager  Arsene Wenger and chairman David Dein offered to play the tie again. Sheffield United accepted the offer and the FA sanctioned the re-staging by declaring the original match void. The second match was played at Highbury on Tuesday February 23rd in front of 37,161 fans with Arsenal again winning by 2-1.


Before the days when penalty shoot-outs were introduced to prevent FA Cup ties going more than two matches there were some marathon cup-ties. The longest was back in the 1971/72 season when the Alvechurch v Oxford City 4th Qualifying Round tie took 11 hours to decide over 6 matches. Those matches being - 

Saturday November 6th 1971 - FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
Alvechurch 2 - 2 Oxford City
Tuesday November 9th 1971 - replay (aet)
Oxford City 1 - 1 Alvechurch
Monday November 15th 1971 - 2nd replay at St Andrews, Birmingham City FC (aet)
Alvechurch 1 - 1 Oxford City
Wednesday Nov 17th 1971 - 3rd replay at the Manor Ground, Oxford Un. FC (aet)
Alvechurch 0 - 0 Oxford City
Saturday November 20th 1971 - 4th replay at the Manor Ground, Oxford Un. FC (aet)
Alvechurch 0 - 0 Oxford City
Monday November 22nd 1971 - 5th replay at Villa Park, Aston Villa FC
Alvechurch 1 - 0 Oxford City

The longest tie in the competition proper was 9 hours 22 minutes over 5 matches in a Third Round tie between Stoke City and Bury in the 1954/55 season (results).


In the early days of the competition it was not unusual for clubs who fell foul of the law-book to be expelled but in more recent years that has rarely happened. However League 2 side Bury found themselves unwelcome visitors to the national football headlines in late December 2006 when they had to suffer the consequences of breaking the rules.

All seemed well at the Gigg Lane club when they disposed of Chester City in an away FA Cup Second Round replay to earn a home tie with Championship side Ipswich Town in the Third Round. However Bury then realised that they had fielded on-loan Stephen Turnbull in the replay at the Deva Stadium without the necessary clearance and they reported the error to the Football Association.

Turnbull had joined Bury on loan from Hartlepool United and Bury manager Chris Casper had been given verbal permission by his Hartlepool counterpart, Danny Wilson, to play Turnbull in the FA Cup replay.  Danny Wilson told Casper that Hartlepool would send the confirming paperwork to Bury and Casper assumed that all was in order. However nothing was sent which meant that Bury had selected Turnbull without receiving the required permission from Hartlepool United and lodging that permission with The FA. Bury also failed to comply with the required timescales for registration of players for the FA Cup

Bury admitted the charges and were expelled from the competition - a punishment upheld on appeal - and Chester City were re-instated.

It was a hard lesson for the 31-year-old Bury manager - the youngest in the League at the time. Casper had offered his resignation to the board, which they did not accept, but was clearly upset by the FA punishment. "If that's justice, then the FA can keep their justice" was his parting shot.  2006/07 FA Cup results.


Another tie decided by the rule book took place between League 2 side Chesterfield and Blue Square North side Droylsden in the 2008/09 season. In the first match at Saltergate the non-leaguers were leading the Second Round tie 1-0 when it was abandoned at half time due to fog. The restaging of the match at Saltergate ended in a 2-2 draw with the game being held up for five minutes because of a disputed goal. Droylsden had put the ball out of play after an injury to their striker Carl Lamb but from the throw-in Chesterfield kept possession and took a 2-1 lead through Jack Lester. After the arguments Chesterfield allowed Steve Halford to walk the ball through unchallenged to give the non-leaguers a replay. That replay ended in controversy when the floodlights failed with just 19 minutes remaining and visitors Chesterfield winning 2-0. There were those who thought the floodlight failure was very convenient! So to a fourth match which was played just two days before Christmas Day. In that Droylsden defender Sean Newton scored twice as the non-leaguers beat 10-man Chesterfield 2-1 (Jack Lester had been sent off) to earn a Third Round tie at Ipswich. Or so we thought!

It was discovered that Sean Newton, Droylsden's goalscorer in the victory, should have been serving a one-match ban on December 23rd and the FA expelled the non-leaguers from the competition and re-instated Chesterfield. So Chesterfield progressed to the Third Round and for the second time in two years Ipswich played a side who had been re-instated into the FA Cup (see above). 2008/09 FA Cup results.


It looked as though Bradford City would fall victim to the rule book after the Valley Parade club were expelled from the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player in the drawn Second Round tie against Brentford on Friday 30th November 2012. They fielded on-loan Newcastle United defender Curtis Good in the tie before he had been correctly registered. The FA stated "Bradford City did not have the necessary written permission for Curtis Good to play in the competition, whilst on loan from Newcastle United, by the 12pm deadline on Friday November 30 prior to the fixture that evening."  However on appeal Bradford City were re-instated into the competition and were fined just £1000 instead. The Football Association considered the original punishment excessive saying "The Appeal Board accepts that the failure to obtain and submit the acceptance from Newcastle United giving approval to play the player by noon on the match day was a genuine error and recognised that corrective action was attempted as soon as the omission was discovered and that no attempt to deceive was made." It proved to be a memorable 24 hours for Bradford City as the evening before their re-instatement they had beaten Arsenal in the Capital One Cup to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup for the first time.


After fielding ineligible players had seen clubs expelled from the FA Cup (Bury and Droylsden), expelled from the FA Cup and then reinstated (Bradford City) a new ruling was handed down by the FA during the 2014/15 season. Chesterfield fielded Georg Margreitter in their 1-0 away victory over Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday December 6th 2014 in a Second Round match but the Austrian defender, on loan from Wolves, was found to be ineligible for the tie as he did not have written permission to turn out in the FA Cup fixture. The FA ordered the match to be replayed, the first time that had happened when an ineligible player had been fielded, obviously to the displeasure of the Chesterfield camp. The Spireites manager Paul Cook said "I just think it is disgusting for everyone involved. It's a waste of time. Our fans travelled in great numbers. If we broke the rules, then we should be chucked out, and if we didn't, then we should be through to face Scunthorpe. Nobody deserves to face a replay."


The FA Cup Second Qualifying Round tie between Farnham Town and Herne Bay in the 1999/2000 was another that turned out to be far from straightforward. The first match at Farnham was drawn 2-2, the replay was abandoned after 66 minutes because of floodlight failure with Herne Bay 1-0 up but Herne Bay seemed to get the better of the re-arranged match, winning 3-2 on penalties after extra time. Then it was discovered that in that match Herne Bay had used four substitutes rather than the permitted three and the Kent side feared expulsion from the competition. But an FA investigation found that the officials were at fault for not spotting the honest mistake by the club and the match was ordered to be replayed, which Herne Bay again won.

Later the same season Sunderland had reason the feel aggrieved by another mistake by officials in an FA Cup tie - but they were less happy with the outcome. The Story.


Ted MacDougall was more fortunate with his FA Cup goals. His six  against Oxford City in a 8-1 First Round replay victory for Bournemouth in 1970/71 set a new goalscoring record for his club. That record lasted just 12 months and against Southern League Premier Division side Margate in a First Round tie on Saturday November 20th 1971 he scored nine goals in Bournemouth's 11-0 victory at Dean Court. Those goals were - and still are - the highest scored by any player in the competition proper of the FA Cup. He later said 'I was disappointed as I thought I should have got 11.' Less than a year after that match he had been signed by Frank O'Farrell for Manchester United. History shows that he probably wished he had stayed at Bournemouth.....


There was a time when Leeds and the FA Cup just didn't get on, particularly when Cardiff City were their opponents. Three seasons in a row - 1956/57, 1957/58 and 1958/59 - Leeds draw Cardiff at home in the Third Round of the FA Cup, and each time Cardiff won 2-1. Those results were part of a disastrous FA Cup run by Leeds. After beating Bradford PA in a Fourth Round tie on February 2nd 1952 they didn't manage another win in the competition until March 6th 1963 when they beat Stoke in the Third Round.


It was once possible to finish 3rd in the FA Cup although the experimental 3rd/4th place play-off match only lasted 5 seasons - details.


Because of a combination of Christmas holiday printing deadlines and bad weather when Chelsea printed the programme for the FA Cup Third Round tie in 1981/82 they weren't sure who or when they would be playing. So - surely uniquely - they printed an undated programme with either/or opposition. The Second Round tie between Hull and Hartlepool was eventually played after the original date of the Third Round with Chelsea's Third Round tie against Hull being played two weeks later, the match ending in a draw. Full 1981/82 FA Cup results.



In pre-floodlight days fixtures had to kick-off early enough to ensure their was enough natural light to complete the match (so FA Cup replays were played in midweek afternoons). The referee at the FA Cup 5th Qualifying Round replay between Chesterfield and North Shields Athletic on Wednesday December 17th 1913 anticipated problems with the light so started the match early. By the time scheduled kick-off time had arrived Chesterfield were 5-0 up, eventually winning 8-2 with Billy Egerton scoring five goals.


If you ever think the magic of the FA Cup is fading spare a thought for the two Oldham Athletic fans who had to be treated for hypothermia while queuing for tickets for Oldham's FA Cup Third Round visit to Liverpool in January 2012. Fans started queuing at 4 o'clock in the morning in driving winds and freezing rain for a chance to buy one of the 6200 tickets for the Third Round tie at Anfield. Sadly there was nothing in the result to warm up the Latics fans - Liverpool walloped them 5-1.






In May 2020 in the TV programme 
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? 
a contestant took the £500,000 prize rather than risk getting the £1m question wrong. That jackpot question was a sports question - now would you have got it right?

In the history of motor sport, which of these iconic races was held first?
a) Le Mans 24 hours      b) Monaco Grand Priz
c) Indy 500    d) Isle of Man TT

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