FA Cup: Chris Waddle's son, World Cup winners & £15 kit bags

By Gary RoseBBC Sport
West Auckland sign
West Auckland Town, a team based in a village of the same name, claim to be the winners of first international tournament and, therefore, the World Cup

The FA Cup final might be one of football's most glamorous occasions, but what is the competition really like in its earliest stages?

From a team that lays claim to being the first World Cup winner to a side featuring Chris Waddle's son, the qualifying rounds are full of interesting stories.

The long journey to the FA Cup final begins on Friday, with 368 teams competing in the extra preliminary round.

BBC Sport takes a look at some of the more intriguing stories surrounding those qualifying games.

World Cup winners v Real Madrid conquerors

With a long history and a famous tradition, the FA Cup is widely regarded as the most prestigious domestic cup competition in the world.

West Auckland Town have reached the first round proper of the competition on three previous occasions, but supporters speak most fondly about their biggest claim to fame - being the first winners of the World Cup.

The team from the small County Durham village were invited to participate in the inaugural Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909. It was one of the first international tournaments in world football and, consequently, was considered by some as the first World Cup.

West Auckland Town won the tournament, and repeated that feat two years later, beating Juventus 6-1.

Nelson FC's ground and their players at Wembley
With their stadium nicknamed "Little Wembley" for having the same dimensions as the old Wembley pitch, the Nelson staff and players were invited to the national stadium before their qualifying game

"There was nothing about it in the English press at the time, but it was massive news in Italy and all over the newspapers," says the club's general manager Stuart Alderson.

"We got to keep the trophy and we had it on display until 1994, when it was stolen. We have a replica now, and people still come from all over the world to see it."

West Auckland begin their pursuit of FA Cup glory at Lancashire-based side Nelson, a team which also boasts a proud history, having been the first English side to beat Real Madrid in Spain.

A family affair and other FA Cup facts
Hanwell Town played Cockfosters at this stage of the competition last year with Ray Duffy as manager. His sons Tom Duffy, Oliver Duffy, Connor Duffy and Callum Duffy were in the teamThere were some big scorelines in the extra preliminary round last year, with Ashington beating Pontefract Collieries 9-0, Bristol Manor Farm getting the better of ldland Abbotonians 9-3 and Chichester City suffering an 8-1 defeat at home to Chessington & Hook United
Last season's extra preliminary round had 221 matches, 822 goals and 20,631 fans. The smallest gate was just 15, for Abingdon Town's game against Highmoor IbisBrislington (Western League), Hartley Wintney (Combined Counties) and Marske United (Northern League) progressed from the extra preliminary round to the the fourth round of qualifying last season - one game away from the first round proper

They were a league side during the 1920s, rising to the old Second Division - now the Championship - in 1923, beating the likes of Leeds and Manchester United.

In preparation for their first campaign at that level, they opted for a pre-season tour of Spain, where they beat Real Oviedo 2-1 and Real Madrid 4-2.

"Everybody is well aware of the team's history in Nelson," manager Mark Fell said. "The story of beating Real Madrid has been passed from generation to generation.

"This club has a rich history and it is our job to make this generation proud of their team."

Like father, like son

Jack Waddle and dad Chris
Jack Waddle and father Chris, right, both represented Worksop Town

When the teams are read out for Staveley Miners Welfare's tie against Worksop Town on Friday night, there could be a very familiar name among them.

Jack Waddle, the 20-year-old son of former England winger Chris, recently signed for Worksop, the side his father played for 15 years ago.

"Jack is very much following in his father's footsteps," Worksop secretary Paul Stacey said. "He missed our first two games through injury, however I believe he is in the squad for the FA Cup game."

Chris Waddle played in two FA Cup finals at Wembley - losing one with Spurs in 1987 and another with Sheffield Wednesday in 1993.

FC Romania and the former international

With a World Cup winner and the son of an England winger involved, there is already an international feel to the FA Cup, but that is heightened by the inclusion of FC Romania. It is not the country, of course, but a team named after it.

Formed by Romanian Ion Vintila and his friends eight years ago, Hertfordshire-based FC Romania have progressed a great deal since playing their first competitive fixture against a team called Beating Chastards.

FC Romania
FC Romania proudly boast on their website they are in this season's FA Cup - their target since forming in 2006

They shot up seven leagues in eight seasons, turned semi-professional this year and have even had a former international footballer on their books.

Claudiu Raducanu, capped twice by Romania, previously played for Espanyol in Spain and Romanian side Steaua Bucharest, for whom he scored against Southampton in the 2004-05 Uefa Cup.

He left in the summer but Vintila has not ruled out the possibility of him returning. The prospect of an FA Cup appearance may prove a tempting proposition.

"The FA Cup is the oldest competition in football, and it was always our goal to play in it," says Vintila. "We usually get around 80 to 100 people at games, but hopefully 500 will come down for this game."

FC Romania, making their FA Cup debut, play Haverhill Rovers in the extra preliminary round this weekend.

'I learned my trade on Championship Manager'

James Phillips
James Phillips dreamed of being a manager while playing Championship Manager on his computer

As a child, James Phillips used to dream of guiding a non-league side to FA Cup glory as he played Championship Manager on his computer. On Saturday, the 22-year-old Romsey Town boss will not only get to live out his dream, but he'll also be making history as the youngest manager in the competition's history.

"I was one of those sad people after school who was sat there for hours playing Championship Manager," Phillips told BBC Sport. "I always used to try to take a really small club up through the leagues. From a really young age that got my interest going. Now I'm doing it in real life."

What a load of...

Perhaps winning the award for the most unusual name, and statistic, is Billingham Synthonia - the only team in England named after an agricultural fertiliser.

Brian Clough
Brian Clough, league and European championship-winning manager with Nottingham Forest, began his playing career at Billingham Synthonia

The Synners most famous player is Brian Clough. The former Derby County and Nottingham Forest manager made four appearances for them, scoring three goals in the 1952-53 season before he went on national service.

On Saturday, the team named after fertiliser host Durham City. It could make for an interesting tie if they progress and are drawn against West Allotment Celtic in the preliminary round...

Winning incentive - £15 kit bag

Never mind dreaming of a Wembley final appearance, the players at one club have their eye on another prize for doing well in the FA Cup - £15 kit bags.

Sporting Khalsa host Pegasus Juniors and, if they win to progress to the preliminary round, a bag sporting the club's emblem is all theirs.

"That's the joys of the FA Cup at grassroots level," Sporting Khalsa manager Ian Rowe told the FA.external-link

"The pros are fortunate enough to get to the quarter finals, semi-final and final - we are just looking to win one game so I can splash the cash and buy the lads a £15 bag each."

The last team in the hat

Ellesmere Rangers have been involved in the FA Cup every year since 2008-09, but they got into this season's edition by the skin of their teeth.

The Shropshire-based team compete in the West Midlands League Premier Division - the 10th level of English football - and qualified under the FA's points per game system, which rewards those clubs who miss out on automatic qualification with a place in the competition based on their form across the previous season.

Ellesmere qualified in the final slot, effectively making them entry number 736 - the last team in the hat.

"We finished 11th last season so we didn't expect to get in this year," says club secretary John Edge. "It really is a big boost for the club because the prize money can help you through a whole season."

It's a long way to Wembley…

Fairford Town
The trophy begins its nine-month journey to Wembley on Saturday at Fairford Town

On 30 May, 2015, the FA Cup trophy will stand on a pedestal at a packed Wembley, but its journey begins in more humble surroundings.

The trophy will travel to Gloucestershire on Saturday, to the town of Fairford, whose team begin their FA Cup journey with a home tie against Knaphill.

"It is a huge day for the club," said committee member Chris Tanner. "Everyone at Fairford is looking forward to the game and to have the FA Cup coming to town is quite special.

"The FA Cup generates tremendous interest for clubs both in the professional game and non-league and Saturday will be no different.

"Perhaps some won't have realised the FA Cup starts in August."

From decoded messages to instant text alerts

The Football Association has quite a job on its hands to make sure all extra preliminary round results are accurate, and that teams do not field ineligible players.

In previous years, the home club would report results by voicemail message, which would then have to be decoded by the FA and Press Association before the result could be confirmed and later published. These days the system is set up to be more efficient.

The FA sends out an automated text message to each club 15 minutes after kick-off, which explains how the result needs to be reported by text simply by replying to the message. The result and attendance is then published automatically on receipt by The FA of the incoming text message.

The Road to Wembley
Extra preliminary184368
First qualifying116232
Second qualifying80160
Third qualifying4080
Fourth qualifying3264
First round4080
Second round2040
Third round3264
Fourth round1632
Fifth round816

In order to avoid clubs fielding ineligible players, both teams are required to complete an official team sheet, which is then inspected by a match official, prior to a tie taking place.


The above are just a few of the unique tales to come from this year's FA Cup, but we want to hear your FA Cup story.

Do you have an interesting tale to tell about your team's exploits and do you have any pictures that best sum up the magic of the cup? Tweet your stories and photos to #myfacupstoryexternal-link

Additional reporting by BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan.