For more than 150 years, the prestigious FA Cup tournament has provided fans with a rich history of unforgettable footballing legends and awe-inspiring memories, marking it as the oldest football competition in the world.
Circa 1863, ‘Football’, in its infancy, was thought to be a blend of handling and dribbling, where players could grab the ball at will and ‘hacking’, kicking an opponent's leg, was just a part of it all, a rule not entirely ruled out at the time, believe it or not, but alas, would eventually be scratched from the rulebooks for good.
Thus, in 1863, England's football governing body, aptly termed, The Football Association was founded, after the late great Ebenezer Morley also known as the ‘father of The Association’ proposed that the beautiful game of football should have an established set of rules in the same way that cricket at the time had adopted for themselves, in order to properly regulate the game.
Fast forward 8 years, ‘The Football Association Challenge Cup’ aka ‘The Cup’ was announced in July of 1871 with the vision of creating an annual club knockout tournament. Entries from just 15 clubs out of 50 were accepted by The FA, namely, Barnes, Civil Service, Crystal Palace, Clapham Rovers, Hitchin, Maidenhead, Marlow, Queen’s Park (Glasgow), Donington Grammar School (Spalding), Hampstead Heathens, Harrow Chequers, Reigate Priory, Royal Engineers, Upton Park and Wanderers. The main reasons contributing to the exodus was due to concerns that the tournament would become a petri dish for unhealthy rivalries and bitterness.
A further 3 teams withdrew leaving just 12 to battle it out with the first round of games taking place on November 11th 1872. A total of 13 matches subsequently ensued and eventually concluded at the Kennington Oval with a meager attendance of around 2 000 spectators, when Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0, winning the first ever official FA final and their first official FA Cup title.
Many teams have since joined the tournament ranks, with the 1879-1880 season introducing several well-known clubs the modern-day football fan would surely recognize, namely Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the history, legendary clubs and remarkable facts that make the FA Cup the beloved event for both fans and punters, that it is today.
A Brief History
The FA Cup was born in 1871, making it older than any other national football tournament. Its inaugural edition officially featured just 13 teams, but quickly grew in popularity over the years. From the earliest days, it became a symbol of football's enduring spirit and professionalism. Clubs from all levels of football, from amateur teams to Premier League giants, come together to try their chance at glory.
The Venue for The Final
The FA Cup final has an indelible link to Wembley Stadium. This tradition dates back to 1923, when the FA Cup final was played at Wembley for the first time, a purpose built stadium, designed, in part, to accommodate the growing appetite for fans attending The FA Cup final. Prior to Wembley's reign, Crystal Palace hosted the final from 1895 to 1914. Even before that, the Kennington Oval was the setting, except for one exceptional final at Lillie Bridge in 1873. The history of FA Cup venues is rich and diverse, each stadium adding its unique chapter to football's grandest spectacle. Ever since, Wembley and The FA Cup Final went hand in hand, each adding to the other’s lustre.
One of the most compelling aspects of the FA Cup is how it has provided a platform for lesser-known clubs to strut their stuff. However, it has also been dominated by legendary teams delivering epic performances. Here are some of the most successful clubs in FA Cup history:
Arsenal: The Gunners hold the record for the most FA Cup wins, with 14 titles to their name. Their storied history includes famous victories and legendary players.
Man United: With 12 FA Cup triumphs, including their 1999 treble-winning season, Manchester United is a true giant of English football.
Liverpool: The Reds have lifted the FA Cup on seven occasions, solidifying their place as one of England's footballing powerhouses.
Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs have tasted FA Cup success eight times, with their most recent victory in 1991.
Chelsea: The Blues have been a dominant force in recent years, securing their ninth FA Cup in 2018.
The FA Cup is replete with remarkable stories and statistics. Here are a few to pique your interest:
The Magic of the Third Round: The third round of the FA Cup is famous for its giant-killings, as lower-league clubs often knock out Premier League giants. This unpredictable nature keeps fans and bettors on the edge of their seats.
Lowest-ranked Winners: In 1972, Hereford United, an English Southern League club, defeated top-tier Newcastle United in a replay, etching their name in FA Cup history.
Giant Trophies: The FA Cup trophy is one of the oldest in football, dating back to 1911. It stands at 61.5 cm and weighs a whopping 6.3 kg, marking it as one of the heaviest trophies in football.
Rovers’ Hat-Trick: Blackburn Rovers made club history by becoming the second club to win the FA Cup in three consecutive seasons (1884 - 1886). Wanderers were the first to achieve this feat, accomplishing it six years prior; however, the team has since disbanded.
Finney's Fastest Goal: Sir Tom Finney, an English football legend, scored the fastest goal in FA Cup history. He found the net just 10.4 seconds into a match in 1947.
The 1895 FA Cup trophy replica: Made after the original trophy was stolen from Aston Villa in 1871 and never seen again. This trophy survived until 1910, when it was replaced by the trophy that we all know today.
Betting on the FA Cup
For our soccer betting enthusiasts, the FA Cup offers a plethora of exciting opportunities and enticing odds. Due to its unpredictable nature and the potential for giant-killing upsets, the tournament can be a goldmine for astute bettors. Here are some popular betting markets:
Match Result/ 3-Way: This is the 3-way market also known as a match result market - Simply place your bet on a team to either win or draw the match. However, in the FA Cup, underdogs often throw the proverbial “spanner” in the works for the tournament favourites, providing lucrative odds and constant thrills.
Both Teams to Score: Place your bet on this market if you think both teams will score during the match. Given the tournament's reputation for dramatic matches, this market is always in demand. *Regular time only.
First Goalscorer: Picking the player who will open the scoring can be a thrilling bet, especially if you back an underdog to take the lead. *Regular time only.
First Team To Score: Place your bet on a team you think will score first in the match. *Regular time only.
Correct Score: Predicting the final scoreline offers high odds, especially in the FA Cup, where surprises are common and competition is fierce. *Regular time only.
The FA Cup is more than just a football tournament; it's a celebration of the sport's rich history, its reputation for pushing professionalism, its unpredictable nature and the incredible moments that have unfolded on its hallowed turf.
For sports betting enthusiasts, it provides endless opportunities to bet on soccer, as well as epic encounters and inspiring underdog journeys. As the tournament continues to captivate fans and produce amazing soccer betting opportunities for punters alike, the FA Cup's legend lives on!