I have written a lot about the FA Cup, because I think it’s a wonderful competition and what the game is all about. So now that the First Round draw for the 2018-19 FA Cup is out, I thought I would use it as an example of why I love the Cup.
First and foremost, it’s about the principle of fairness. There is no bracket, no seeding, no advantage for anybody beyond what’s baked into the system, which is that money rules at some point.
But long before the big clubs get involved, there is a vast competition based on merit (win and move on) and chance (opponent and location are literally drawn by lot). The winners in each round also get paid, which way down the scale can mean a lot.
Even when the big clubs do come in — that happens the first weekend of January — they don’t get any more advantages. Liverpool gets drawn to play at Shrewsbury Town? Right, off they go the 18-time league champions to Shrewsbury.
2018-19 FA Cup: The First Round
This year’s FA Cup, #138, will eventually involve 736 teams. We are now at the point where, for the First Round, all 48 clubs from League One and League Two join with 32 winners from the qualifying rounds. (Leagues One and Two are levels three and four of the English Football Pyramid, and here’s a guide to all the leagues and cups of English soccer.)
The big news of the round is that Metropolitan Police FC have made it to the First Round and drawn a home game!
Yes, Metropolitan as in London, as in London Police. The club, now in the seventh-tier Southern League Premier Division South, started for police only but had to change when the Commissioner stopped giving time off to play games. They are still supported by the police, though, and in the last qualifying round they beat Havant and Waterloovile of the fifth-tier National League, 1-0.
Their reward? A home game in the First Round against Newport County from League Two!
Other notable games include Wimbledon of League One having to visit Haringey Borough, who play in the seventh tier in a 2,500-seat stadium in Tottenham, North London. Also Doncaster of League One having to visit Chorley, currently leading the National League North at tier six.