Road To Wembley 2008-09: FA Cup Preliminary Round
It was just a few short months ago, May 17th to be exact, that Portsmouth claimed their first FA Cup since 1939. Well now the whole journey kicks off again. I missed the Extra Preliminary Round (there were 203 fixtures so I am not going to recap!) but I’m jumping in now at the Preliminary Round, which will have 166 fixtures.
Let the cliches about “The magic of the FA Cup” start flowing from here! I get cynical as the rounds go on but I do enjoy these early rounds with the smaller clubs. This year we are going to do things a bit differently. I am picking four teams to start with. I am selecting so many largely because I couldn’t decide between the group. It will also change up the dynamic of these postings. I’ve arbitrarily selected the teams solely because of their name.
The first, Potters Bar Town F.C. (nicknamed The Scholars — that’s what sealed it for me), are based out of Potters Bar. Potters Bar is located in Hertfordshire, which is about 20 miles north of central London. The currently play in the Isthmian League Division One North (also known as the Ryman League) which is on the 8th level of the FA league pyramid.
There is an uncited entry in Wikipedia that claims “When Potters Bar had to start charging admissions, their turnstiles came from the old Wembley Stadium.” If that’s true, it’s yet another reason to follow their fortunes in this competition.
Second is Crook Town A.F.C. and yes I expect plenty of jokes about diving and buying off refs! Crook Town were established in 1889 and joined the Northern League in 1896. They first won the Amateur Cup in 1901 by beating Kings Lynn 3 – 0 at Ipswich after a 1 – 1 draw at Dover Court in Essex.
A neat fact about Crook Town is that in 1913 Crook toured Barcelona to help establish football as the main sport in the region of Catalonia instead of bullfighting. The citizen were so against this that the Spanish King Alfonso, who had hoped to attend the three games, couldn’t do so because of the expected attempts on his life. (sourced from Crook Town’s official website). Crook Town play in Northern League Division Two which is on the tenth tier of the English football league system, six divisions below the Football League.
Next are Bishop Auckland F.C., who are known as The Bishops or The Two Blues. They are one of the most successful amateur sides, having won the old FA Amateur Cup on 10 occasions in the past. They play in Northern League Division One, a step above Crook Town.
Finally I selected FC Halifax Town (Halifax is also a city in Canada) who play in the Blue Square Premier League, which is a step below the Football League (clubs are promoted from here to League Two). This is a rebuilt club, having risen from the financial ruin that was Halifax Town A.F.C. who went into administration during the 2007-08 season and were eventually liquidated. The club was reformed and renamed FC Halifax Town in July 2008. The club has been around in some form now for more than 100 years.
I’ll be relying on the FA’s website for video highlights and scores once the weekend is over but if anyone follows these clubs or happens to be at the game, write in and give us your match reports.