The Football Association (FA) Challenge Cup or the FA Cup, as it is known popularly, is the most prestigious and oldest domestic knock out tournament in world football.
The format of the tournament has changed a bit since its was first contested during the year 1872. Every year, several teams from many leagues across England and Wales fight for the FA Cup. The only requirement for participation in the tournament is that the clubs need to be registered with the Association, playing in a well known league and having access to a stadium for home games. Teams are randomly paired for every round, and drawn games are replayed. Results of replay matches are ensured with penalty shootouts and extra-time.
August is the month when the preliminary rounds for the teams in the lower leagues are drawn. Teams in English football’s higher flights automatically qualify for the next stages of the tournament, & mainly in the 3rd round are most often drawn against the lower-league-clubs. These encounters result in making the Cup odds a good collection for punters. Official competition’s rounds culminate in 2 semi-finals played at neutral-grounds to be followed by the popular FA Cup Final at Wembley at the end of May. Besides the coveted trophy & prize money, the victors get automatic entry to in next season’s Europa League.
Few who’ve been watching the stars of today competing in the Cup are familiar with its humble beginnings. During the 1872, merely 2000 spectators had watched the defeat of Royal Engineers. The Wanderers had defeated them by 1-0 at the Oval. In the new century, the Cup became the much talked about one amongst people. Tens of thousands of football fans flocked to watch their football heroes do battle at Crystal Palace, Old Trafford and Stanford Bridge. By the 1950s, crowds of over 100,000 routinely attended the FA Cup Final at the Wembley Empire Stadium.
As English football’s top flight is becoming more competitive year after year, teams such as Aston Villa and Arsenal are sure to do their best in trying to win this season’s trophy.