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History of the FA Cup

| 14.05.2019

How old is the FA Cup and what does it stand for? Well its official name is the Football Association Cup and it’s the oldest cup competition in football history.

The FA Cup dates back to the 1871-1872 season which included 12 British teams, ultimately won by Wanderers FC at Kennington Oval.

The Champions League may be the big dog in Europe now, but the FA Cup is still held in the hearts of many as the most romantic competition to win.

Wembley Stadium has been hosting the latter rounds since 2008 with both semi-finals and the final now taking place at the national stadium.

Long gone are the days of those fascinating semi-final clashes at Villa Park or Old Trafford in the early noughties, when Wembley was getting a face-lift.

It’s every footballer’s dream to win the FA Cup isn’t it? The players will parade ‘Big Ears’ – the trophy’s nickname –  around the pitch – but that’s not all there is to gain from winning the final.

In the modern game, the winners will bag a coveted UEFA Europa League spot at the group phase (If they haven’t qualified through the league already).

And the prize money isn’t half bad either; the winning team takes home £3.6 million in prize money.

The runners up will walk away with £1.8 million to help nurse their broken dream.

Chelsea are the reigning champions after beating Manchester United 1-0 in May 2018. But how does it all work? We have run through the FA Cup winners history and results history right here. Check out the latest betting odds for FA Cup Final at Ladbrokes.

How does the FA Cup work?

The FA Cup has a whopping 13 rounds starting in August and ending with the showpiece final in May. Check out everything you need to know about the FA Cup final before the big day!

This is a far cry from the first-ever FA Cup in 1871-72, when there were only five rounds in the whole thing!

But fast-forward and we’ve seen the competition expand over its illustrious history. It all kicks-off in August with clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers of the English football pyramid competing in the Extra-Preliminary Rounds, which usually see around 200 matches to trim the numbers.

We then have five more regionalised qualifying rounds where non-league clubs are whittled down to 32.

The first round proper gets underway in November as League 1 and 2 clubs join the party. The Premier League big boys getting involved at the third round stage in January.

Before every ‘proper’ round is decided with numbered balls representing each team in the competition placed in a spinning bowl.

These are then randomly picked out until all the balls have been drawn, which is usually a televised event from the first round.  

The FA Cup’s knockout format does include replays until the fourth round if a match is drawn after 90 minutes. This means if the match ends in stalemate from the fifth round onwards, the tie will be decided on the day by extra-time and penalties.

It’s the magic of the cup that often gets talked about. The fact a part-time teacher for instance can say he’s played in the same competition as Chelsea or Manchester City is part of the reason why.

Where is the FA Cup final played?

Since its glitzy reopening in 2007, the FA Cup final has been played out at Wembley Stadium. This year will mark the 13th consecutive final at the revamped home of English football.

Chelsea beat Aston Villa in the last final played at the ‘Old Wembley’, with Roberto Di Matteo netting the only goal.

During 2001 and 2006, the showdown was played outside of England at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Although looking at where it all began, the first final was held at the Kennington Oval – nowadays strictly reserved for Cricket.

It was then moved to Lillie Bridge Stadium in West Brompton from 1873, before it called Kennington Oval home once again between 1874 and 1892. The finale then spent two years in the north of England, first at Fallowfield in Manchester in 1893 and Goodison Park in 1894.

Crystal Palace took it on from 1895-1914 before transferring back to Manchester and Old Trafford in 1915.

The cup final then returned to West London and Stamford Bridge after World War 1 this time for a two year spell between 1920 and 1922.

For all but those five years between 2001 and 2006, the game has been hosted at Wembley Stadium since 1923.

Who has the most FA Cup wins?

Arsenal (13 titles) lead the way with most FA Cup wins followed by Manchester United on 12 being the two most successful clubs in the competition’s history.

The Gunners bagged their most recent win in the 2017 FA Cup final against Chelsea. Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal a 2-1 win.

Man United’s last victory in this competition came in 2016 with an extra-time victory over Crystal Palace.

Chelsea and Spurs are locked together on eight apiece, after Chelsea’s triumph over Man United in the 2018 final.

Tottenham’s last win in this competition came in 1991, beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 after extra time.


FA Cup Final Wins



  Manchester United


  Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur


  Aston Villa, Liverpool


  Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United


  Everton, Wanderers FC, West
  Bromwich Albion, Manchester City


  Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United,
  Wolverhampton Wanderers


  Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham


  Bury, Nottingham Forest, Old
  Etonians, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Sunderland


  Barnsley, Blackburn Olympic,
  Blackpool, Bradford City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic, Clapham
  Rovers, Coventry City, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Leeds
  United, Notts County, Old Carthusians, Oxford University, Royal Engineers
  A.F.C, Southampton, Wimbledon, Wigan Athletic


  Derby County, Leeds United, Leicester City, Oxford University, Royal
  Engineers A.F.C, Southampton, Sunderland


  Blackpool, Burnley, Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest


  Barnsley, Birmingham City, Bury, Charlton Athletic, Clapham Rovers,
  Crystal Palace, Notts County, Queen’s Park (Glasgow), Watford


  Blackburn Olympic, Bradford City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol
  City, Coventry City, Fulham, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Luton Town,
  Middlesbrough, Millwall, Old Carthusians, Queen’s Park Rangers, Stoke City,
  Wimbledon, Wigan Athletic


Who has the FA Cup goal record?

The fastest goal in FA Cup history was scored by Louis Saha for Everton after just 25 seconds in the 2009 FA Cup final against Chelsea.

The most FA Cup goals scored was 48 scored by Harry Cursham of Notts County between 1877 and 1887. Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush has the most goals in FA Cup finals with five. But with a whopping 880 goals, Kettering Town hold the record for most overall team goals.

Who won the first FA Cup?

The first FA Cup winners were London based Wanderers FC in 1872. It was a Morgan Betts 15th-minute strike that was enough to down Royal Engineers at the Kennington Oval.

Who has the most FA Cup appearances?

Leading the way for the most appearances are Arsenal and Man United. The Premier League giants have been in 40 finals between them, with 20 apiece.

Liverpool are ranked third on the appearance list with 14. The Merseysiders’ last appearance in the end of season showpiece was in 2012.

They’ve only won seven of those, with their last win coming in 2006 in a penalty shoot-out victory over West Ham United at the Millennium Stadium.

Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton each have 13 FA Cup final appearances to their name. The former being the most successful of the trio, winning eight of their finals.


FA Cup Final Appearances

  Arsenal, Manchester United




  Chelsea, Newcastle United, Everton


  Manchester City


  Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion


  Tottenham Hotspur


  Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers


  Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End


  Old Etonians, Sheffield United, Sheffield


  Huddersfield Town, Portsmouth, Wanderers FC, West
  Ham United


  Derby County, Leeds United, Leicester City,
  Oxford University, Royal Engineers A.F.C, Southampton, Sunderland


  Blackpool, Burnley, Cardiff City, Nottingham


  Barnsley, Birmingham City, Bury, Charlton
  Athletic, Clapham Rovers, Crystal Palace, Notts County, Queen’s Park
  (Glasgow), Watford


  Blackburn Olympic, Bradford City, Brighton &
  Hove Albion, Bristol City, Coventry City, Fulham, Hull City, Ipswich Town,
  Luton Town, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Old Carthusians, Queen’s Park Rangers,
  Stoke City, Wimbledon, Wigan Athletic



Charlie Dear

Charlie has covered sport for the likes of The Guardian, Football365 and FourFourTwo. Arsenal sufferer. German football enthusiast.