On The FA Cup Road Eith Leicester (But Not That One)

19/09/2016 13:05

This weekend saw the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, but how many teams from level 10 of the English game - the lowest applicable to enter the tournament - are still involved?

Appropriately, 10 of them made it through the pre-qualifiers to the quali-qualifiers. But I'm afraid none of them are still hanging around. The dreams are back in the box for another year.

Still, by getting to this stage they made £3,425 in prize money, which for some will be close to a year's gate receipts.

I suppose the prize for the level 10 side who got the furthest this year has to go to Leicester Road,
of the Midland League Division One, founded only in 2013 and known quite superbly by the nickname "The Knitters".

Like a growing number of clubs at this level, they are a phoenix club formed after the liquidation of the local team, in this case Hinckley United. This perhaps explains why a team in such a lowly division has a ground capacity of 4,329.

Remarkably, this was the first season they have ever played in the FA Cup, so to have got as far as they did will remain in club folklore for sometime. After drawing their first ever game in the tournament - 1-1 away to Retford United, Luke Kingsley-Smith with the honour of the first goal - they triumphed at their new home (Leicester Road Stadium - try harder boys) 4-2.

A preliminary road win against level nine's Harborough Town 3-1 set up the clash in Round One Qualifying, against Kirby Muxloe, who I always thought was a minor character in Pride and Prejudice.

They drew 0-0 at home, before Mr Muxloe proved just too cunning, winning 3-2 after extra time in the replay. Leicester Road were the only tier ten team to push an opponent that far in the First Qualifying Round however, so win the inaugural Matthew Smith prize for best team in the lowest tier in the FA Cup this year. The name needs work. Sponsorship offers welcomed.

It's a shame for Leicester Road, as they miss out on a glamour tie in this coming round, with Kirby's reward being to play at home to former league side Boston United.

There were other intriguing stories around the country in the first qualifying round. You may have seen the wild celebrations of Ashton Athletic after beating Mossley 7-2, as they too go on their best ever run and earn a £30 bonus - the latter probably being the reason why they were so cheerful, rather than any footballing cause.

You may also have heard of Spurs legend Micky Hazard's new charges, South Midlands Premier Division's Hadley, who had never in 134 years got past the prelims until this year. No matter what happened, their Saturday fixture against Kings Langley was historic.

It is also worth noting the continued quest to qualify of Hereford. Down in the Southern League after going out of business, but still at Edgar Street, 2,240 turned up to watch their 3-0 replay victory over Romulus in the last round. What a story it would be to see them again against league opposition.