The FA, under pressure from Premier League clubs, has ruled that all fifth round ties will be settled at the first attempt, and they will all take place in midweek. Just what is being allowed to happen to the world’s greatest domestic club competition?
Remember, this is the only competition in which your favourite Premier League team competes with your local non-league club. Banbury United, Brackley Town and Easington Sports all started out in the early stages of this season’s FA Cup, so you can trace it right back from the final in May at Wembley to a late summer tie that took place just down the road.
Some of this season’s third and fourth round ties had VAR, others didn’t, it shouldn’t have been at any of them. There are still some interesting ties to be concluded but gone are the days of several replays being required to settle the outcome.
Oxford City and Alvechurch share the record for the most replays in one tie and, obviously that will never be broken now. It took place in November, 1971 when the two clubs met in a final qualifying round tie and it took another five replays to find a winner.
The two sets of players barely knew each other for the original tie at Alvechurch but by the time they had met for the sixth time at Villa Park most of them were on first name terms!
In between, there were draws at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground, where 3,600 watched the game, Oxford City’s long gone but beloved White House Ground, and Oxford United’s old Manor Ground which hosted two of them.
With such small squads back then, some players got injured during the run of games and the club’s respective trainers became experts on dealing with cramp!
Just one of the many stories from some famous FA Cup replays which I fear will soon be scrapped altogether to please the big clubs in the Premier League and their precious players.