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This weekend sees us reach the First Round Proper stage of the FA Cup. Over 40,000 people turned out to watch the Fourth Qualifying Round matches, and there will be plenty of stories waiting to be written over the next few days. For our part, we’ll be reporting on the matches between Rochdale and FC United of Manchester, Brighton & Hove Albion and Woking, and Southport and Sheffield Wednesday. For now, though, just to get you in the mood we’ve had a bit of a rummage around in the YouTube archives and found three terrific matches from the tournament’s past.
First up, from January 1992, comes the match between Wrexham and Arsenal. Wrexham had finished the previous season in bottom place in the Football League and had only avoided relegation thanks to the Football League’s decision to expand by one club and were struggling near the bottom of the table again, whilst Arsenal had won the Football League championship for the second time in three years. This match comes in three segments and even features the short-lived “revamped” Match Of The Day theme tune into the bargain. Commentary comes from a long-time idol of this site, the one and only Tony Gubba.
Next up, we’re going all the way back to 1978 and the Fifth Round of the FA Cup and a second match from The Racecourse Ground, this time between Wrexham and Blyth Spartans. This time, however, the boot was on the other foot. Wrexham were in the Second Division at the time, whilst Blyth Spartans were in the Northern League, although they had already beaten Chesterfield and Stoke City on the way to making, somewhat astonishingly, the last sixteen of the competition. This video is in two parts, and the commentary is by Barry Davies.
Last but not least, we’re skipping forward two years to 1980, and the Third Round match between Halifax Town and Manchester City. Halifax were in the Fourth Division and been required to apply for re-election back into the league at the end of the season in three of the previous four seasons. Manchester City were back under the control of Malcolm Allison and had been spending heavily on players, including £1.45m on Steve Daley from Wolverhampton Wanderers, but were struggling in the league. The match was played at a mud-splattered Shay, and the commentary is from a peculiarly young-sounding Martin Tyler.