End of Preliminaries... start of Qualifiers

The preliminaries are over. This weekend it's the FA Cup First Qualifying Round, where teams from level 7 of the football pyramid join in.

(That's the level below the Conference North and South: see the earlier blog “Preliminary problems as giantkillings begin” for more details of how the football pyramid works).

BLOG, August 29: Preliminary problems as giantkillings begin

In the First Qualifying Round, sides from the Ryman's, Unibond and Zamaretto premier divisions will be dreaming of getting through the qualifiers to the First Round Proper and potential national attention.

(There are four qualifying rounds, but not every team has to play in all of them. We'll explain more about that in a future blog).

But first, they may have to deal with some minor-league minnows with their own ideas of glory.

The pick of the action from the Preliminary Rounds saw Enfield 1893 progress with a 7-0 thumping of Crawley Green, with seven different players finding the onion bag.

Dereham Town, whom we met earlier on The (Long) Road To Wembley, moved a round further on by beating Wroxham 3-0 to set up a very lucrative tie against local rivals Lowestoft Town of Ryman's Division One.

BLOG, August 24: Dereham Town dreams still alive and kicking

Of the 203 teams who progressed from the Extra Preliminary Round, fewer than half will be competing this weekend; only 86 of them won in the Preliminary Round.

Among the new participants to this round, table-topping Dartford (Ryman's Premier), Kendal Town (Unibond Premier) and Farnborough (Zamaretto Premier) will be hoping their league form continues in the world's oldest club competition.

But this Saturday, you won't be finding FFT.com's faithful FA Cup follower watching the Darts at Walton Casuals, Town hosting Guisborough or the Boro hosting Hastings. 

No, it's away to Aylesbury, where a couple of close friends have moved in the last couple of months.

And by close, I mean close - as in a five-minute walk to Aylesbury United's Buckingham Road ground.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find that the club were evicted in 2006 when their lease ran out.

United now play at Bell Close, home of Leighton Town. Oh well, a five-minute drive instead of a five-minute walk: I can cope with that.

Also known as the Ducks (due to the famous Aylesbury breed), they were formed in 1897.

They haven't had the best of starts in the Zamaretto Midlands First Division this season: four games have yielded no wins and a -8 goal difference.

With no ground and very charitable league form, things are looking bad for the team from Buckinghamshire.

But the FA Cup holds happy memories for United. Between 1985 and 1993 they were the non-league's best representatives, reaching the First Round Proper every season.

In 1995, they got as far as the Third Round Proper in 1995 before losing to Premier League outfit QPR; their "Duck Walk" celebration made them famous enough to appear on They Think It's All Over.

Their opponents this weekend are rather less glamorous than Gary Lineker, Rory McGrath and Nick Hancock.

Potters Bar Town didn't even join the FA Cup until the season after Aylesbury played QPR.

Indeed, they've only been called Potters Bar Town since 1991, 31 years after they came into being as Mount Grace Old Scholars when a PE master formed a team for his old boys.

Their greatest achievement was progressing to the Fourth Qualifying Round in 2006, losing 3-2 to Woking.

Now plying their trade in Ryman’s First Division North, they’ve reached this round after a 4-1 replay win against Level 10 outfit Cockfosters.

But this is the FA Cup, and it doesn't matter where you came from or how long your history. It's 11 vs 11 over 90 minutes, and you'll read all about it next week.


FourFourTwo.com: More to read...

BLOG: September 6: Dogs, daughters and dodgy telliesBLOG: August 29: Preliminary problems as giantkillings beginBLOG: August 24: Dereham dreams still aliveBLOG: August 14: The long road to Wembley starts here

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