Understanding Football: Lesson 6 - The Cups

In between a lot of the league games, in every country in the world, there is a cup competition. The cup is a single elimination style tournament that randomly draws together teams in the country from all different types of levels and tiers to play against each other. The competition started in the 1871-1872 season, before the formation of the Football League in England and the FA Cup is the oldest trophy in football, 2nd oldest trophy still competed for in the world (next to the America's Cup). We will use the FA Cup as an example for this lesson. The FA starts in August, drawing amateur teams from the 10th tier in English football. The next rounds then add in additional levels. After the qualifying rounds are finished, the first professional tiers in England (tiers 3 & 4), Leagues 1 & 2, enter the competition. They play the opening 2 proper rounds before the top two tiers join the competition in Round 3. After that the competition keeps going until 2 teams are left and winner emerges among them. Now, unlike the league, Cup ties randomly select the home team. If a match ends a draw, a replay is then played at the opposing team's ground and if still tied, then extra time & penalties are played. This is true until the final which is usually held at a neutral location. They are played mid week and there are some historic giant-killings in the cup, this year including Warrington Town's win over Exeter.

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