(Almost) Forty Years Of The FA Trophy

If one competition brought the curtain down on the era of the distinction between the amateur and the professional within English football, it was the FA Trophy. Since the nineteenth century, the amateurs had been playing in their own competition, the FA Amateur Cup. Everyone, of course, took part in the FA Cup, and the Football League had been taking part on the League Cup since the early 1960s. There was, however, something of a vacuum – a whole group of clubs that didn’t have a realistic chance of playing before the twin towers. Those clubs were the professional and semi professional clubs of the Southern and Northern Premier Leagues. These were club that were unashamed in paying their players. They regularly showed up Football League clubs in the FA Cup, but the last non-league club to make an FA Cup final had been Tottenham Hotspur, who made FA Cup Final in 1901 and beat Sheffield United once there. They joined the Football League shortly afterwards. The FA Trophy was introduced for the 1969/70 season, for the clubs that didn’t have any other realistic chance of getting to Wembley. Although the competition was eagerly embraced by the clubs of the Southern and Northern Premier Leagues, it suffered in its early days by comparison with the FA Amateur Cup. The Amateur Cup had been around longer, and was still treated...

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