January 1, 2000


<p class=”western” style=”margin-bottom: 0cm;” lang=”en-US”>Many in football, and those who support their respective local clubs, eagerly await FA Cup draws with considerable excitement and enthusiasm; in these days of Premier this and Euro that, there is still nothing like the FA Cup to whet the appetite for the smaller underdogs to overcome the bigger favourites.

The rounds that come up with the tasty encounters are usually the First and Third Rounds of the competition.

The First Round sees the lower League clubs enter the fray with a good number of non League outfits making it through often for the very first time. The Third Round excites because that’s when the Premiership and Championship sides come into the competition. For the good number of former League clubs who now grace non league football, the FA Cup provides the opportunity to bring back the old times. A quick scan of the BBC Sport website shows no less than ten clubs in this category with six of those facing League opposition today.


Relatively recently relegated Luton Town, Grimsby Town, Cambridge United and Wrexham all feature today, but what about Bradford PA, promoted to the old First Division in season 1913/14 and in the following season finishing above Villa, Liverpool, Newcastle, Man U. Chelsea and Spurs; Park Avenue, hoping for League opposition no doubt, drew AFC Totton away from home. All due respect to Totton, but perhaps the old times will return to Bradford in the next Round. So, too, for Cambridge and Wrexham who face one another and Gateshead, who travel to local rivals Blyth Spartans.

How about this for real optimism on the Bradford PA Web site: “On Wednesday night, Avenue produced a sterling display to hold off Chester FC by overcoming the second placed side 2-1, thanks to a last minute screamer from Adnan Ahmed. For many Bradford fans, they saw that game as an indicator to whereabouts they will finish in the league, and the home side delivered on the pitch.” The latest news from Bradford goes on; ” At the same time, Avenue still have three games in hand over the teams that are above them in the division, and with the way the team are playing under John Deacey, the other teams will be fearful.” Sounds good, Round Two on the cards for the other Bradford club, then, but this is the FA Cup and anything can happen.


Old times today for Grimsby Town, who made it through to the Second Round way back in season 1888/99 only to fall to the `Invinvibles’from Preston; The Mariners , founder members of the Second Division in 1892, play at Port Vale today.


I just wonder how many Grimsby supporters were at the game in 1888/99. More than will be travelling to Vale Park today, for sure. This on the Grimsby web: “Tickets for next Saturday’s FA Cup first round tie at Port Vale are now on sale from the ticket office. The club have been sent 300 tickets. Town fans will be housed in the Phones4U Stand where around 4500 supporters can be seated.” Is it me, or is there something not quite right here? There must be pay on the day, surely, so get on the buses you Mariners and get behind your team. You never know, Arsenal await!

Then there is Luton Town, up against near neighbours Northampton. Finalists in season 1958/59, only to lose out to ten men Nottingham Forest, the Bedfordshire club enjoyed a successful run in Season 1993/94 which took them past Newcastle and West Ham before falling to beaten finalists Chelsea in the semis at Wembley.  The Luton site is full of it, with a new matchday programme being a highlight. New features as well as old favourites, fabulous new home strip, news from the boardroom and manager’s office, photographic archives, low down on games played ‘on this day’, packed youth and community sections. Looks and sounds like a League club to me. The Old Times cannot return quickly enough for The Hatters, it seems. This season? we shall see.

I have always had a soft spot for Newport County ever since Harold Jarman went there in 1973 to see out his more than notable League career. With the club gripped by the FA Cup and the live screening on ESPN , which will earn them at least E67,500, Newport manager Justin Edinburgh admitted that the FA Cup buzz was hard to put to one side ahead of the Blue Square Premier Division clash with Ebbsfleet Town last Saturday. With only one loss in five fixtures going into the game, the former Tottenham Hotspur left back was keen to keep the feelgood factor at the club.

 A good FA Cup run can often trigger a rise in League fortunes, no matter where you are in the pyramid. I am mindful that another former Rovers legend, Vaughan Jones, also played for the South Wales club. County fell out of the Fourth Division, for financial reasons, at the end of season 1979/80 having finished in a very creditable third place; promotion to League One by today’s standards.


Good luck to them today as the old times return to Newport.


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