The inaugural FA Cup took place in 1871, and was played between 14 English teams and 1 Scottish team, Queen's Park. The teams that played in this competition are now mostly defunct or have become small amateur sides. The first "modern" team to win the Cup was Blackburn Rovers, who beat Scottish team Queen's Park in the finals 2-1 in the 1884 FA Cup. Blackburn Rovers would go on to win two more FA Cups in the two following years. In 1887, by which time the Scottish Football Association banned all Scottish clubs from entering the competition, Aston Villa won the FA Cup. In 1889, Preston North End won the FA Cup and the inaugural Football League, becoming the first team to win the English double.
The FA Cup was held every year, and teams such as West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Newcastle United all won the competition up until it was suspended during the First World War.
The tournament was relaunched in 1920, and in 1922, the FA Cup finals were played in the original Wembley Stadium. The first Wembley final was played between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United in front of a massive audience of 126,000 people. Wanderers won the match 2-0 to win their first ever FA Cup.
In 1927, Cardiff City won the FA Cup finals against Arsenal, to become the first ever Welsh champions of the tournament. Arsenal, Sunderland and Portsmouth would go on to win their first FA Cups in 1930, 1937, and 1939. The tournament was suspended once again during the Second World War, but it recommenced in 1946 when Derby County won their first FA Cup. In the following year, Charlton Athletic became first time winners of the highly sought English cup after they beat Burnley in the finals. Newcastle won three more FA Cups in the 50s, and Arsenal, Manchester City, and Aston Villa also increased their tallies. West Ham won their first FA Cup in 1964, having previously made the finals in 1923 and losing to Bolton Wanderers. The following year, Liverpool won their first FA Cup title and in 1970, Chelsea became first time champions. In 1971, Arsenal won the double, becoming the fourth team ever to do so after Preston North End in 1889, Aston Villa in 1897, and Tottenham Hotspur in 1961.
Liverpool were the next team to achieve the double, when they beat their local rivals Everton in the FA Cup in 1986 and won the league in the same year. The 90s saw three doubles and one treble. Manchester United beat Chelsea in the 1994 FA Cup final and also won the league in the same year. They replicated their success in 1996, when they won the league and beat Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup finals. Arsenal then won the double in 1998 and in 1999, Manchester United made history when they won the treble (league title, FA Cup and Champions League). The next team to win the double was Chelsea, when they won the league and won the FA Cup in 2010. In 2019, Manchester City made history as they won the first domestic treble (league title, FA Cup, League Cup).
All clubs in the top four flights of English league football automatically receive places in the FA Cup. The teams from the lower divisions have to play in the qualifying competition. In the opening round, the clubs from level 9 and level 10 of the English league structure are paired and face each other. The winners then advance to the preliminary round, where they face the clubs from level 8. After the 160 matches in the preliminary round are played, the winners of the round advance to the first round, where 116 matches are played between them and the entrants from the level 7 clubs. The winners of that round then proceed to the second round where they are joined by the teams from level 6. These teams are paired again and play in the third round, and the winners of that advance to the fourth round, where the level 5 clubs are introduced.
Once the qualifying competition is over, the 40 teams that qualified have to face the level 3 and 4 clubs in the first round, and then are paired again for the second round. The teams from the two top flights of English football only enter in the third round, which starts in January. From there, the 64 teams play each other until there are only two remaining teams, and then go on to Wembley to play in the finals.
The final of 1923 was the first in the original Wembley Stadium, and it was a memorable event as King George V attended to award the trophy to the winning team. The FA wanted to make sure that the new stadium was filled, but had doubts about whether they could bring in enough supporters. They took on a major advertising campaign to entice fans to come and in the end, the stadium became so full that fans were even queuing on the field. The police were on hand to sort out the seating arrangements, but the defining image of the event was when a white horse parted the crowds. A mounted policeman riding a stallion called Billie was so visually striking against the crowds that they made way and eventually the police were able to control the crowds.
The 1956 final between Manchester City and Birmingham City was a great match, but it went down in history for one of the most awful injuries. The Manchester City goalkeeper broke his neck in the 73rd minute after a collision with one of the Birmingham forwards, but the goalkeeper was not substituted. In those days, teams were not allowed substitutes, and Bert Trautmann was forced to stay on. The keeper carried on playing, and though he could not straighten his head, he was unaware he had sustained the awful injury. It was only after the game when he was seen by a doctor when they realised he had broken his neck.
With match result bets, punters have to predict how an FA Cup fixture will end. Bets will be offered for the home team to win, the away team to win, or for the match to finish in a tie at the end of regular time.
Handicaps can be given to a team and these will either lengthen the odds on that team or shorten them, depending on whether it is a positive or negative handicap. The handicap is applied to the team’s score at the end of the match and if that team is then the winner, any punter to have backed them will win their bet.
Total goals are bets on how many goals will be scored in a single game. Punters will have to pick a betting line and then bet on whether there will be over or under that number of goals.
There are many different types of game props, but these can be categorised into those that relate to how a match will finish and to those on events that may happen in a game. Examples of match-based props are correct score, first half/second half result, a team to win by a set margin, and more. Which team will score the opening goal, will there be a penalty, a certain player to score, and more, are all bets that relate to specific events within a game.
Punters can make their wagers during a game with live bets. The bets listed above will all be offered with live odds that constantly adjust to reflect the events in the match. There may also be bets on what will happen next in a match, such as which team will score the next goal, which team will have more corners in the current half, will a certain player score in the half, and so on.