The draws for the early rounds of the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase are now out, properly signalling that the start of the new season is imminent.
The FA Cup starts with the Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday, August 11th. There are TWO HUNDRED matches taking place, with every team dreaming of reaching the First Round of the competition, and with it national coverage and the windfalls that come along with it. Forget the third round, this is the round that defines what the competition represents. You only have to read Ashley Greb’s excellent book The Long Way to realise that. There’ll be a review of his book on the site soon.
Of course, with the first three rounds being drawn, there are way too many fixtures to list here. In addition to the 200 Extra Preliminary Round games, there are 166 matches in the Preliminary Round, and 116 in the First Qualifying Round. That’s a grand total of 482 games. Way too many to be listed here! For any of the teams in the Extra Preliminary Round to reach the First Round, they have to negotiate six ties. If a Premier League team manages the same feat, they lift the trophy.
Along with the Cup, the opening draws for the Trophy and the Vase have also been made. The Trophy gets underway on September 15th, while the Vase begins two weeks earlier on the 1st. The Trophy and the Vase are the real showpiece tournaments for non-league clubs, with a day out at Wembley the aim for all the clubs taking part. Last year’s Trophy winners York City got promoted to League Two, so won’t be around to defend their title. Last season’s Vase winners, Dunston UTS, will be hoping to emulate Whitley Bay’s exploits in recent seasons by retaining the Vase after their win in last season’s final.
All the information on the draws, including lists of all clubs participating and the prize funds for each competition, can be found on the FA website.
The draw has been made for the fifth round of the Carlsberg FA Vase, and the good news is that our current club, Herne Bay, are still in the competition. Their reward for a fine 2-1 victory in the northeast against Newcastle Benfield is a home tie with Larkhall Athletic. It was a tough match for Bay, played in very difficult conditions and on a tricky pitch, but they overcame their hosts to progress.
Tividale registered a fantastic 7-1 victory against Binfield in their fourth round match, and will now host Peterborough Northern Star in round five. Star had avoided an upset in the previous round, coming out on top against lower league opposition Norton United, eventually winning 2-1. There is one step six club left in the Vase though, and that is Oadby Town, who beat fellow step six team Ampthill Town 2-1. Oadby now have a very tough match away at Staveley Miners Welfare.
I had picked out Wisbech Town against Dunston UTS as potentially the tie of the fourth round, and the match ended 2-2, with a replay being played this Saturday, January 28th. Amazingly, that is the first draw for Wisbech since October 8th! There are three replays in total:
Dunston UTS v Wisbech Town
Three Bridges v Gresley
Runcorn Town v Billingham Synthonia
All these matches take place this Saturday, January 28th.
Whitley Bay, who have won the last three FA Vase tournaments, continued their assault on this year’s competition with a 5-0 mauling of South Park FC. Currently, Bay are unbeaten in a record 29 Vase matches, while striker Paul Chow has now scored in the last 13 rounds of the competition! He netted a hattrick against South Park, and has 33 goals in the competition for Whitley Bay, who have been drawn at home against West Auckland Town in the fifth round. Bay have now been dealt home ties in every round of this season’s competition.
The full draw is below, and is listed in the order the fixtures were drawn.
Tividale v Peterborough Northern Star
Shortwood United v Ashington
Staveley MW v Oadby Town
Billingham Synthonia or Runcorn Town v Bournemouth
Wisbech Town or Dunston UTS v Bethnal Green United
Whitley Bay v West Auckland Town
St Ives Town v Gresley or Three Bridges
Herne Bay v Larkhall Athletic
The fifth round takes place on Saturday, February 11th 2012.