Blyth Spirit

Even though the FA Cup has regained some of its sheen over the last couple of years, the new financial realism of the modern game tends to take its toll on any pretensions of “the romance of the cup”. There is a tendency to look at everything through the eyes of an accountant these days – how much will we get if we get through? What is today’s result worth to us? It wasn’t however, always like this. It’s the FA Cup First Round Proper this weekend, so we’ll be running stories from the history of the competition on here all week, starting with Blyth Spartans’ extraordinary run to the Fifth Round of the competition in 1978. When the draw for the First Round Proper of the FA Cup was made last Monday, you may have heard a faint gasp coming from the general direction of Shropshire. For younger Shrewsbury town supporters, the name of the team that Shrewsbury drew, Blyth Spartans, probably doesn’t mean very much but, for supporters over the age of thirty-five or so, a certain unease in their parts at the task ahead could probably be forgiven. In the late 1970s, Blyth Spartans were the FA Cup giant killers – the team who came within a hair’s breadth of becoming the only non-league club in living memory to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. Spartans,...

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