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Useful Notes / The FA Cup

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The Football Association Challenge Cup, better known as the FA Cup, is an English knock-out football tournament inaugurated in the 19th Century that takes places over several months. It is open to all members of the Football Association, including numerous amateur and semi-professional football clubs as well as the top professional ones (Premier League). The lower ranked teams have to play numerous qualifying rounds before getting to the First Round (when the teams in Football Leagues One and Two join in). The top teams (Premiership and Championship) enter in the Third Round which takes place in January; the Final is the Eighth Round and takes place in May. It is well known for the prospect of Giant Killing, where a lower ranked team will somehow, against the odds, triumph against a larger team who would normally trounce them. For the small clubs, the FA Cup is a chance to get some valuable prize money, personal glory and some Crowning Moments of Awesome thrown in for measure. For the higher ranked clubs, the FA Cup is the top domestic knock out competition and generally provides some classic football moments as well as an additional opportunity for some to qualify for European competition the following season.

Unlike other single-elimination tournaments, teams are not paired or arranged based on predetermined seeding. Each round, clubs are draws into match-ups note  at random, with the first club pulled hosting in all rounds up to the Sixth Round (quarterfinals). This means small clubs have equitable opportunity to host giants and get a home crowd on their side. If the first match ends in a draw, the visiting club hosts the replay.

Traditionally, drawn matches could go to indefinite replays in the event of a tie, however, in recent years though the initial match will go to a single replay note . If that match is drawn, it will be settled in extra time, then on penalties if needed. The semifinals and final are hosted at Wembley Stadium in London.

  • The media in Britain love the FA Cup for the prospect of Giant Killing, to the point that previews of the matches seem to work on the assumption that Underdogs Never Lose.
  • However, Manchester United contributed towards weakening the magic of the FA Cup by refusing to enter one season, having been encouraged by the Football Association to enter the Club World Cup as part of an effort to bring the World Cup back to England.
  • Awesome moments happen occasionally, with Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard in particular crowning successful careers with brilliant Cup goals. However, Ronnie Radford's goal for non-league Hereford United in 1972 to defeat Newcastle United was a single great moment in an unspectacular career, which also launched the career of John Motson (the commentator who'd been assigned that game) and even got Hereford United elected to the Football League several years later.
  • Any lower league player who achieves one of these awesome moments will be forever subject to possible Remember When You Blew Up a Sun? interviews before the 3rd Round every year (the afore-mentioned Radford being the most obvious example). The same goes for players who do something spectacular in the Final, such as goalies Bert Trautmann (who played on after breaking his neck note ) and Dave Beasant (the first player to save a penalty in the Final). Some clubs even get similar treatment; any TV or newspaper report on the FA Cup regarding Blackpool will mention the 1953 Final!
  • Obviously, there have been a load of superstitions that have been applied to the Cup. It was thought that Derby County were subject to a gypsy Curse in the early 20th Century after a 6-0 battering by Bury in the Cup Final added to a list of near misses. A payment to descendants of the gypsies who were kicked off their land so Derby could build the Baseball Ground was apparently an effective Curse Escape Clause as they won the 1946 Cup.
  • Newcastle United were also Cursed before World War I when they reached five Finals at Crystal Palace; they only won one, and that was in a replay at Goodison Park. They'd also been knocked out in intervening years by Crystal Palace F.C.!

It is Older Than Radio. It started in the 1870s when it was won by Old Public school boys playing for Old Etonians, Wanderers or Oxford University, for example. As the game spread in the 1880s, the Cup migrated Oop North and to The Midlands, where it was won by now-mid-table Premiership clubs (usually) such as Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was spread around clubs, increasingly from London, Liverpool and Manchester until the 1980s, when the London, Liverpool and Manchester teams started to dominate.

Won most often by Arsenal (14 titles), Manchester United (12), and Tottenham Hotspur (8). Currently held by Manchester City.