As the oldest football competition in the world, the FA Cup has a long history and is considered a great English institution.
Here’s how the cup came about, and how it has changed and progressed over the years.
1871 – Beginnings
Charles W. Alcock suggested the creation of a “Challenge Cup” on July 20th 1871 to fellow members of the FA committee. The motion was carried and the FA Challenge Cup (to give its full title) came into being.
1871 – First tournament
The first FA Cup tournament began in November 1871. It involved just 13 matches, and in the final of March 1872, Wanderers FC became the champions.
The club folded just 13 years later, although a reformed club was founded in 2009, which plays for the benefit of various charities.
1888-89 – Qualifying rounds are introduced
A major landmark in the history of the FA Cup was the introduction of qualifying rounds. Clubs would compete on a regional level until just one club was left to take part in the Fourth Qualifying Round.
On October 6th 1888, Warwick County beat Stoke 2-1 to become the first non-league team to knockout a club from the First Division. A history of shocks and giant killings would follow…
1915 – “The Khaki Cup Final”
The FA suspended the competition after 1915 due to the outbreak of the First World War the previous year. Sheffield United thrashed Chelsea 3-0 in the last final before the end of the war.
This match became known as “The Khaki Cup Final”, because the high number of uniformed soldiers attending the match made the crowd look like a sea of army green.
1923 – Wembley Stadium opens
The 1923 FA Cup final was the first to be held in the now-iconic Wembley Stadium (then known as the Empire).
1925-26 – Top team exemption to the third round
From 1925-26 onwards, teams from the top two tiers of English football wouldn’t enter the competition until the third round.
1927 – The first final is broadcast
The 1927 FA Cup Final was the first ever to be broadcast by BBC radio. The corporation included a numbered grid in the Radio Times to help readers/listeners follow the run of play.
1938 – First TV broadcast
In 1938, the BBC first televised the FA Cup Final for the first time. It’s safe to say that not many households had TVs in 1938, so the audience was therefore limited to a small number of very wealthy people.
1967 – Substitutes introduced
For many years, injuries that forced players to leave the pitch early would blight the games and make things unbalanced.
In response, the FA allowed substitutes for the very first time in 1967. The subs weren’t used until the next year, when West Bromwich Albion’s John Kaye went off for Dennis Clarke.
1970 – The first final replay
1970 was the year that the first Wembley final went to a replay, when the match between Leeds United and Chelsea ended 2-2.
While the final was played at the usual venue, the replay went ahead at Old Trafford. Chelsea won the rescheduled match 2-1.
1991 – Replay rules change
After a draw between Arsenal and Leeds in the fourth round of the 1991 FA Cup went to a third replay, the association decided on a rule change to prevent schedule backlogs.
From 1991/92 onwards, one replay and subsequent penalty kicks would decide the outcome of each match in which scores were still level at the end of extra time.
1993 – Last final replay
The last FA Cup final replay took place in 1993 after a 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday.
Arsenal beat Wednesday 2-1 in the rescheduled game, and in doing so became the first side to win both the FA Cup and League Cup (also against Sheffield Wednesday) in the same season.
1999 – Last semi-final replay
1999 saw the last FA Cup semi-final replay take place. A goalless draw between Arsenal and Manchester United at Villa Park saw the replay take place three days later at the same venue. The replay ended in a 2-1 win to United, who went on to beat Newcastle in the final.
From 2000, both finals and semi-finals would be decided by extra time and then penalty shootouts.
2001 – The FA Cup Final leaves England
The closure and extensive redevelopment of Wembley Stadium prevented its use as the venue for the Final for the first time since 1923.
Building delays meant that from 2001 to 2006, the FA Cup Final took place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
2008 – First semi-final takes place at new Wembley Stadium
The FA first decided that FA Cup semi-finals would take place at the new Wembley in 2003. Yet this didn’t occur for another five years.
The semi-final matches (West Brom vs Portsmouth and Barnsley vs Cardiff) both took place at Wembley in 2008. In fact, every FA Cup semi-final is now held there.
2015 – Fourth Round giant killings
Few football fans in the country could believe the results that emerged in January 2015, when lower-league teams squared up against the Premiership giants and seriously ruffled some feathers.
Manchester City lost 2-0 against Middlesbrough, while the red half of Manchester just about held their own against League Two’s Cambridge United, with the game having to go to a replay.
Chelsea lost to Bradford City, Cardiff floundered against Reading, and reigning champions Arsenal scraped a victory against Brighton & Hove Albion, winning 3-2.
These Fourth Round giant killings proved once and for all that the FA Cup is anything but predictable!
In the history of the FA Cup, it has earned its place as one of the most iconic and widely-enjoyed tournaments in the world.
With smaller and lower-league teams able to pit themselves against the big contenders, this competition promises plenty of thrills and delivers an exciting programme of matches every year.