Everything You Need To Know About the FA Cup – The World’s Oldest and 1st Cup Competition

By Staff
April 8, 2024

The FA Cup is the cup competition from which every other similar domestic (and international) tournament has derived.


    It’s place in history is assured as one of the founding competitions of football. It remains an important part of the football calendar every year.

    In this post, we are going to discover everything that you should know about the competition. Starting from its very beginnings, right through to the modern day.

    And we’ll finish things off with a look at some popular bets on the FA Cup, courtesy of markets offered by bet365 Sport.

    So, let’s begin with a look at how this forefather of all domestic cup competitions came into being.

    Founding of the FA Cup

    Bet on the FA Cup 2018

    The brainchild of Charles W. Alcock, the secretary of the newly formed FA, the FA Cup was first devised as a way to bring together its member teams from the north and south in one unified competition.

    Following on from the first international fixture between England and Scotland in 1870, Alcock proposed a national cup competition involving the FA Members. The first FA Challenge Cup took place in the 1871/1872 season.

    Only a dozen or so of the 50 member teams of the FA took park in the competition. The Wanderers won it, with Charles W. Alcock playing for the winning team.

    In its early days of the FA Cup, it was the top amateur teams such as The Wanderers, Old Etonians, Blackburn Olympic, Royal Engineers and Oxford University that dominated the competition.

    This changed with the legalisation of professionalism in football from 1885.

    With the professional game rapidly developing in the North in particular, the Football League was founded in 1888. However, the FA Cup remained the most prestigious tournament to win.

    As the game grew around the globe, the romance of the FA Cup attracted millions of fans, not just from England, but also from other countries with a burgeoning football scene. Football Associations in these locations soon set up their own equivalent competitions for their own domestic teams to compete in.

    In the many years that followed, international tournaments, like the Copa America, World Cup and European Championships were organised along similar lines. With the advent of mass air travel, club continental tournaments also followed such as the European Cup (now UEFA Champions League) and Copa Libertadores.

    However, every competition that is part of modern day football can trace its roots back to the 1871/1872 FA Cup.

    FA Cup – Key Events Timeline

    • 1863 – The Football Association is formed and produces the first set of the Laws of the Game for Association Football.
    • 1870 – The first international game is contested between England and Scotland.
    • 1871 – Charles W. Alcock, secretary of the FA, proposes a “Challenge Cup” which will be open for all FA members to compete in. His proposal is passed. The first FA Cup competition begins with around 12 teams competing in November 1871.
    • 1872 – The first FA Cup Final is contested between eventual winners Wanderers FC and Royal Engineers. Charles W. Alcock played for the Wanderers in that first final.
    • 1875 – The first FA Cup Final goes to a replay after Royal Engineers and Old Etonians draw their first game 1-1. In the replay, Royal Engineers win 2-0.
    • 1883 – Glasgow-based Queens Park become the first team from outside England to reach the FA Cup Final doing so in 1883/84 and 1884/84, but losing on both occasions to Blackburn Rovers.
    • 1885 – Professionalism is legalised in football.
    • 1888 – The Football League is founded.
    • 1895 – The venue for the FA Cup Final is moved to the Crystal Palace. However, the original FA Cup trophy was stolen from a shop window in Birmingham where it was being displayed. A replica of the trophy was made.
    • 1903 – Bury set the record score for an FA Cup Final victory, beating Derby County 6-0.
    • 1910 – The replica original FA Cup trophy was replaced with the iconic FA Cup Trophy design that remains in use to this day.
    • 1916 to 1919 – The FA Cup is not played from 1915/16, 1916/17, 1917/18 or 1918/19 due to the First World War.
    • 1923– The FA Cup Final is first played at Wembley, a stadium purpose built to host what was now the season’s showpiece final game. The first Wembley final saw an official attendance of 126,047, though many historians believe that the true number was well in excess of 200,000. The final is known as the White Horse Final, when George Scorey and his white mounted police horse Billy helped cleared the pitch of spectators so the game could be played.
    • 1927 – Cardiff become the first team to win the FA Cup from outside of England. This was also the first final to be broadcast live on national radio.
    • 1938 – The first FA Cup Final to be shown live on television was contested between Preston and Huddersfield.
    • 1940 to 1945 – The FA Cup is not played from 1939/40, 1940/41, 1941/42 or 1942/43, 1943/44 and 1944/45 due to the Second World War.
    • 1970 – The first Wembley FA Cup Final to be taken to a replay is played. Chelsea and Leeds drawing 2-2 at Wembley, with Chelsea winning the replay 2-1 at Old Trafford.
    • 1999 – FA Cup Final replays were dispensed with. Instead, the game would be decided on the day by penalties in the event of a draw after normal and then extra time.
    • 2000 – The last final to be played at the old Wembley Stadium is contested with Chelsea beating Aston Villa 1-0.
    • 2001 – The FA Cup Final is switched to the Millennium Stadium for six years as the FA redevelop Wembley.
    • 2005 – The first FA Cup Final to be decided by penalties sees Arsenal defeat Manchester United 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
    • 2007 – The first FA Cup Final is played at the new Wembley Stadium with Chelsea beating Manchester United 1-0.
    • 2008 – The FA switches both semi-finals of the competition to be played at Wembley Stadium, rather than selected club grounds around the country.
    • 2019 – Manchester City equal the biggest ever Final victory when they beat Watford 6-0 at the new Wembley Stadium.
    FA Cup

    Final Venues

    The Final has been contested at the following venues:

    • Kennington Oval – 1872, 1874 to 1892
    • Lillie Bridge – 1873
    • Fallowfield Stadium – 1893
    • Goodison Park – 1894
    • Crystal Palace – 1895 to 1914
    • Old Trafford – 1915
    • Stamford Bridge – 1920 to 1922
    • Wembley Stadium (Original) – 1923 to 2000
    • Millennium Stadium – 2001 to 2006
    • Wembley Stadium (New) – 2007 to present day

    Any Final Replays were contested at the following stadia: –

    • The Racecourse Ground – 1886
    • Burnden Park – 1901
    • Goodison Park – 1910
    • Old Trafford – 1911, 1970
    • Bramall Lane – 1912
    • Wembley Stadium (Original) – 1981, 1982, 1983, 1990, 1993

    Tournament Sponsors

    From 1871 to 1994, 2002 to 2006 and 2014-2015, the FA Cup was known simply under that name with no sponsor.

    However there have been five major sponsors of the cup competition in its history.

    • Littlewood – 1994 to 1998
    • AXA – 1998 to 2002
    • E.ON – 2006 to 2011
    • Budweiser – 2011 to 2014
    • Emirates – 2015 to 2024

    At the time of writing no further sponsor from 2024 onwards has been announced.

    The Modern FA Cup – Organisation & Schedule

    Each Way First Goalscorers

    The current tournament comprises of several different rounds and the full competition involves well over 700 teams every year.

    Teams from the top of the English Football Pyramid (Level 1) down to Level 10 are able to compete. The lower ranking teams from Level 8 plus those that enter from Levels 9 and 10 start in the Extra Preliminary Round of the competition.

    Each Round of the tournament up to the semi-finals sees a draw decide which teams face each other, with the team drawn first in a fixture playing at home.

    The full tournament is organised as follows, with approximate dates for each round shown in brackets.

    • Extra Preliminary Round – 208 fixtures (Early August)  – Lower ranked Level 8 teams plus qualifying Level 9 and Level 10 teams enter the tournament.
    • Preliminary Round – 136 fixtures (Mid-to-Late August) – Higher Ranked Level 8 teams enter the tournament.
    • First Qualifying Round – 112 fixtures (early September) – Level 7 teams enter the tournament.
    • Second Qualifying Round – 80 fixtures (mid-September) – Level 6 (National League North & South) Teams enter the competition
    • Third Qualifying Round – 40 fixtures (early October)
    • Fourth Qualifying Round – 32 fixtures (mid-October) – Level 5 (National League) teams enter the competition
    • First Round – 40 fixtures (early November) – Levels 3 and 4 (League One & Two) teams enter the competition.
    • Second Round – 20 fixtures (late November)
    • Third Round – 32 fixtures (early January) – Levels 1 and 2 (Premier League and Championship) Teams enter the tournament
    • Fourth Round – 16 fixtures (late January)
    • Fifth Round – 8 fixtures (late February/Early March)
    • Quarter Finals – 4 fixtures (mid-March)
    • Semi Finals – 2 fixtures (Mid-April) – Played at Wembley Stadium
    • Final – 1 fixture (late May/ early June) – Played at Wembley Stadium

    Records and Facts

    • Most FA Cup Wins – Arsenal – 14 (1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1979, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020)
    • Most FA Cup Final Appearances – Arsenal and Manchester United – 21 appearances.
    • Most FA Cup Final Appearances without Winning – 2 – Queens Park (1884, 1885), Birmingham City (1931, 1956), Crystal Palace (1990, 2016) and Watford (1984, 2019)
    • Most Goals Scored in an FA Cup Final – 7 – Blackburn Rovers 6-1 Sheffield Wednesday (1890), Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (1953)
    • Player With Most FA Cup Final Victories – Ashley Cole – 7 (3 for Arsenal, 4 for Chelsea)
    • Manager with Most FA Cup Final Victories – Arsene Wenger – 7 (all with Arsenal)
    • Most Goals scored in FA Cup Finals – 5 – Ian Rush (Liverpool), 2 in 1986, 2 in 1989 and 1 in 1992.
    • Youngest Player to play in an FA Cup Final – Curtis Weston (Millwall) – 17 years, 119 days.
    • Oldest Player to play in an FA Cup Final – Billy Hampson (Newcastle) – 41 years, 257 days.
    • Biggest Ever FA Cup Win – Preston 26-0 Hyde (October 1887)
    • Most Goals scored by a player in an FA Cup tie – 9, Ted MacDougall for Bournemouth v Margate in 1971.

    FA Cup Winners

    Each Way First Goalscorer

    The following teams are the most successful in the history of the FA Cup.

    • Arsenal – 14 wins,
    • Man Utd – 12 wins
    • Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs – 8 wins
    • Manchester City, Aston Villa – 7 wins
    • Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers – 6 wins
    • Everton, WBA, Wanderers – 5 Wins
    • Wolves, Bolton, Sheffield United – 4 wins
    • Sheffield Wednesday, Wesy Ham – 3 wins
    • Preston North End, Old Etonians, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Bury – 2 wins
    • Huddersfield Town, Leicester City, Oxford University, Royal Engineers, Derby County, Leeds United, Southampton, Burnley Cardiff City, Blackpool, Clapham Rovers, Notts County, Barnsley, Charlton Athletic, Old Carthusians, Blackburn Olympic, Bradford City, Ipswich Town, Coventry City, Wimbledon (now MK Dons), Wigan Athletic – 1 win
    • Losing Finalists and have never won the FA Cup – Queens Park, Birmingham City, Crystal Palace, Watford, Bristol City, Luton Town, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Brighton, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Stoke City, Hull City.
    Bet365 Sports

    The most popular bets on the FA Cup each year with bet365 include the following markets:

    • Outright Winner

    A very popular bet, especially around the time of the FA Cup Third Round in January, when the top two levels of the England Football Pyramid join the competition. It is simply a bet on who wins the tournament outright.

    Alongside the Outright Winner market, punters can also bet on teams to reach the final or back a team each way in the Outright Winner market, which will pay out as a place if the team reaches the final but loses the game.

    The most ubiquitous form of betting in the FA Cup each year however is individual Match Betting. The following markets are hugely popular with football betting fans: –

    • Full Time Result
    • Over/Under 2.5 Goals
    • Both Teams to Score
    • Result/Both Teams to Score
    • To Qualify
    • Method of Victory
    • First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer
    • Each Way First Goalscorer
    • Asian Handicap Betting
    • HT/FT
    • Correct Score
    • Scorecast
    • Wincast
    • Anytime Scorecast
    • Bet Builder Bets

    In recent times, the prize money on offer in the Premier League and the Champions League may have taken some of the lustre off the FA Cup for clubs. However, it still remains the iconic knockout competition in the world for many fans of the beautiful game,

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