The draw for the First Round of the FA Cup took place today and, after the shenanigans of last year’s competition, there has been a considerable amount of interest in this year’s draw. It is, for some clubs, the culmination of many weeks’ hard work. The preliminary rounds started in August, and six rounds have already played in this year’s competition. This year’s First Round draw was notable for two different reasons. Firstly, there were six previous winners of the competition in the draw – Wimbledon, Bury, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Notts County and Bradford City.
In addition to this, a number of the more notable non-league FA Cup names from years gone by were present and correct as well. Blyth Spartans, who made the Fifth Round in 1978, are there, as are AFC Telford United (subject to a replay after their match at Northwich Victoria was abandoned in very peculiar circumstances yesterday), who made the Fifth Round in 1985. in addition to these two, Wimbledon made the Fourth Round in 1975 (as well as winning it in 1988), Havant & Waterlooville, of course, got to the Fourth Round last year, Woking (who replay against Ebbsfleet on Tuesday night) made the Fourth Round in 1992, and Harlow Town made the Fourth Round in 1980. For those of us with long memories, it’s a star-studded draw.
The new television deal means that there will be three televised matches over the course of the weekend – two on Setanta and one on ITV. For many of the clubs in the draw, significant amounts of money could be on offer – £75,000 will be paid to each of the three clubs that are selected for live televised matches. Havant & Waterlooville, last year’s surprise team, are the first non-league team out of the hat. They have an attractive home draw against League Two promotion contenders Brentford. Next up are Sutton United, who have fallen on barren times of late. They’re at home too, against Notts County. As ever, the draw throws up more questions than it answers. AFC Wimbledon, in the First Round for the first time since they re-formed, have an intriguing home match against Wycombe Wanderers. Wycombe are still unbeaten in League Two but, after a brief stutter, Wimbledon have come into excellent form and may be capable of causing a surprise.
It’s a mixed bag for the rest of the former giant-killers. Should they get past their replay opponents, Telford have a home match against Southend United, but Woking would have a very difficult trip north to play Crewe Alexandra. Blyth Spartans have a home draw against League Two promotion candidates Shrewsbury Town, and Harlow Town are almost the last team out of the draw, at home against Macclesfield Town. Of the rest of the non-league sides in the draw, Kettering Town have a home match against Lincoln City which may send a chill up the spines of Lincoln supporters, considering that Kettering, having been promoted from the Blue Square North at the end of last season, have had an outstanding start to this season and are currently top of the Blue Square Premier. Finally, some commiserations have to go to the supporters of Barrow AFC, of the Blue Square Premier. Having won away at Tamworth in the Fourth Qualifying Round, their reward is… a 700 mile round journey to the south coast, to play fellow BSP club Eastbourne Borough.
The full draw can be seen here. You can see highlights from the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, including AFC Wimbledon’s 1-0 win at Maidstone United and Havant & Waterlooville’s 3-0 away win against BSP club Crawley Town, here.