FA Trophy: Wikis


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FA Trophy
Founded 1969
Region England
Number of teams 258
Current champions Stevenage Borough
Most successful club Scarborough, Woking, Telford United
(3 wins each)
Website FA Trophy
2009–10 FA Trophy

The Football Association Challenge Trophy, commonly known as the FA Trophy, is a knockout cup competition in English football, run by and named after The Football Association and competed for primarily by semi-professional teams. The competition was instigated in 1969 to cater for those non-league clubs which paid their players and were therefore not eligible to enter the FA Amateur Cup. Eligibility rules have changed over time, but as of 2008 the competition is open to clubs playing in Steps 1-4 of the National League System, equivalent to levels 5-8 of the overall English football league system. This covers the Football Conference, the Southern League, Isthmian League, and Northern Premier League. Clubs in levels 5 to 7 of the National League System play in the FA Vase instead.

The final of the competition was held at the original Wembley Stadium from the tournament's instigation until the stadium closed in 2000. Since the opening of the new Wembley Stadium in 2007, the final has once again been played at the national stadium. The record for the most FA Trophy wins is shared by Woking and two defunct clubs, Scarborough and Telford United, with three victories each.

The Trophy is currently held by Stevenage Borough, who beat York City 2–0 in the 2009 final.



Ebbsfleet United fans at the 2008 final

The competition was created by the Football Association in 1969 to afford semi-professional teams an opportunity to compete for the chance to play at Wembley Stadium. Fully amateur clubs took part in the long-standing FA Amateur Cup, but most of the leading non-league clubs made at least some form of payment to their players and were therefore ineligible to enter the Amateur Cup.[1] The first winners of the competition were Macclesfield Town of the Northern Premier League, who defeated Telford United of the Southern League in the final.[2] Northern Premier League clubs dominated the first decade of the competition, with Telford United the only Southern League team to break the northern clubs' hold on the competition.[3] In the early years of its existence the competition struggled to achieve the same level of prestige as the long-established Amateur Cup.[4]

In 1974 the FA abolished the distinction between official professional and amateur status and discontinued the Amateur Cup. The leading amateur teams joined the Trophy, which swelled to include over 300 clubs. This figure was gradually reduced until by 1991 only around 120 clubs took part.[4] Amendments to the eligibility rules, linked to the development of the National League System mean that now just over 250 teams take part. In 1978 the FA moved the final of the Trophy to the Saturday immediately following the FA Cup Final, so as to give it a longer build-up and avoid conflict with club's league programmes, which had previously reduced the competition's prestige.[5]

Martin O'Neill managed Wycombe Wanderers to two Trophy wins.

In 1979 the leading Southern and Northern Premier League teams formed the new Alliance Premier League,[6] and teams from this league dominated the Trophy during the 1980s, although in the 1980–81 season Bishop's Stortford of the comparatively lowly Isthmian League First Division entered at the preliminary round and won twelve matches to reach the final, where they defeated Sutton United.[7] Telford United's win in 1989 made them the second team to win the Trophy three times.[8] Between 1990 and 2000 three more teams claimed multiple wins. Former Northern Ireland international Martin O'Neill, in his first managerial role, led Wycombe Wanderers to two wins, and Geoff Chapple managed Kingstonian to victory twice and Woking three times, all within the space of seven years.[9][10] After Chapple's period of success, Mark Stimson became the first man to manage the Trophy-winning team in three successive seasons, when he led Grays Athletic to victory in 2005 and 2006 and repeated the feat with his new club Stevenage Borough in 2007.[11]


The competition is a knockout tournament with pairings drawn completely at random - there are no seeds, and a draw takes place after the majority of fixtures have been played in each round. However, the qualifying round draws are regionalised to reduce teams' travel costs. The draw also determines which team will play at home. If a match (other than the semi-final or final) is drawn, there is a replay, usually at the ground of the team which played away from home for the first game. Drawn replays are now settled with extra time and penalty shootouts, though in the past further replays were possible.

Originally the competition included as many qualifying rounds as were required to reduce the number of teams down to 32. In 1999 the format was amended to match that of the FA Cup, with six rounds prior to the semi-final stage, albeit without qualifying rounds. Teams from the Football Conference received byes through the early rounds, in a similar manner to the way in which the leading clubs receive byes in the FA Cup.[4] More recently the competition has been revised again and now features four qualifying rounds and four rounds proper before the semi-finals. Teams from Step 4 enter at the preliminary round stage, those from Step 3 at the first qualifying round, those from Step 2 at the third qualifying round, and those from Step 1 at the first round proper.[12]

The FA pays prize money to all teams which win at least one match in the Trophy competition. In the 2008–09 season the prize for the 51 preliminary round winners was £2,000, rising round-by-round to £50,000 for the winners of the final. The prize fund is cumulative, so a team that starts in the preliminary round and wins through several rounds would receive £2,000 for the preliminary round, £2,300 for the first qualifying round, £3,000 for the second qualifying round, and so on.[13] The competition is sponsored by Carlsberg and accordingly billed as the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Previously it was sponsored by Umbro and billed as the FA Umbro Trophy.[14][15]


Villa Park hosted the Trophy final from 2001 until 2005.

Matches in the FA Trophy are usually played at the home ground of one of the two teams. The team who plays at home is decided when the matches are drawn. There is no seeding system in place within rounds other than when teams enter the competition, therefore the home team is simply the first team drawn out for each fixture. Occasionally games may have to be moved to other grounds. In the event of a draw, the replay is played at the ground of the team who originally played away from home. In the days when multiple replays were possible, the second replay (and any further replays) were played at neutral grounds. The clubs involved could alternatively agree to toss for home advantage in the second replay.

The final was traditionally held at the old Wembley Stadium, but was moved to Villa Park during Wembley's redevelopment. The 2005-06 final was held at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground. The highest attendance registered in the competition is 53,262, set in 2007, when Kidderminster Harriers played Stevenage Borough in the first final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium.[1]


At the end of the final, the winning team is presented with a trophy, also known as the "FA Trophy", which they hold until the following year's final. Traditionally, at Wembley finals, the presentation is made at the Royal Box, with players, led by the captain, mounting a staircase to a gangway in front of the box and returning by a second staircase on the other side of the box. The trophy itself was presented to the FA in 1905 by Ernest Cochrane, a barrister, to be used in an international competition between England, the US and Canada to promote football in North America. This competition was never instigated.

FA Trophy winners and finalists

Scarborough (1973, 1976, 1977), Telford United (1971, 1983, 1989), and Woking (1994, 1995, 1997) share the record for the most victories (three) in the final. In 1985 Wealdstone became the first team to win the "Non-League Double" of FA Trophy and Football Conference championship (although in the pre-Conference era both Macclesfield Town and Stafford Rangers had done the double of Northern Premier League championship and FA Trophy in 1970 and 1972 respectively).

Media coverage

From 2004/05 season Sky Sports had a deal to show the final of the FA Trophy. This changed in 2007 when the FA agreed a new deal with Setanta Sports to provide coverage of FA Trophy matches with effect from the 2008–09 season.[16]


  1. ^ a b "The history of The FA Trophy". The Football Association. 5 June 2004. http://www.thefa.com/TheFACup/TheFATrophy/History/. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  2. ^ "F A Trophy Summary". The Football Club History Database. http://www.fchd.info/cups/fatrophysummary.htm. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  3. ^ Williams, Tony (1978). The FA Non-League Football Annual 1978–79. MacDonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. pp. 7. 
  4. ^ a b c RSSSF
  5. ^ Williams, Tony (1978). The FA Non-League Football Annual 1978–79. MacDonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. pp. 13–14. 
  6. ^ "Alliance Premier League 1979–80". The Football Club History Database. http://www.fchd.info/lghist/conf/conf1980.htm. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  7. ^ "Bishop's Stortford". The Football Club History Database. http://www.fchd.info/BISHOPST.HTM. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  8. ^ Barnes, Stuart (2008). Nationwide Football Annual 2008–2009. SportsBooks Ltd. pp. 155. ISBN 1-8998-0772-1. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Gabrielle (24 January 2001). "Chapple seeking Cup solace". BBC Sport (BBC). http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/k/kingstonian/1134156.stm. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  10. ^ "K's and Chapple part company". BBC Sport (BBC). 9 May 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/k/kingstonian/1321818.stm. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Gillingham name Mark Stimson as new manager". The Times (London: News International). 1 November 2007. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/football_league/article2787536.ece. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  12. ^ Tony Kempster's site
  13. ^ The FA
  14. ^ BBC
  15. ^ Daily Telegraph
  16. ^ The FA

External links



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