By Tony Attwood
You have to hand it to the FA. If there is a way of cocking it up, they cock it up. Take the Youth Cup. If, for example, you were writing a little article about the Cup, its history, its organization and so forth, you might turn to the FA’s site on the topic.
And what do you find there? A few generalised articles and some links to what might be more interesting stuff – that don’t work. The history of the cup is glossed over and there’s really not too much to see.
So, without much help from the FA, here is a little bit about the FA Youth Cup and Arsenal’s role within it.
Players between the age of 15 and 18 on 31 August of the season in which they playing can take part. The fact that they have played for their own club’s first team is neither here nor there.
Over 400 clubs enter most years, and the competition is structured like the FA Cup, with a Preliminary Round, three or four qualifying rounds, and then the competition proper. The top clubs are excused until the later rounds to avoid too many matches in which the youngsters from a small town club get slaughtered by a professional outfit.
The competition started in 1952/3 not just as a way to stimulate youth football, but to expand the grip of the FA on teams – the clubs had to be members of the FA in order to enter (and prior to that many junior sides were not so registered). The trophy they used was an old one that had been found by the Football League during the second world war and was never used for any particular competition – so they sold it to the FA.
On 28 November 1962 Arsenal scored their biggest win in the competition: Arsenal 12 Ford United 0. Ford United were an earlier incarnation of the club now known as Redbridge FC from the London Borough of the same name. The name change happened in July 2004.
Ford United played in the Aetolian League which they won twice, but by 1995 the club was in serious financial difficulty, until Sky Sports was signed up as a sponsor thus rescuing the club. I rather like that – not a high profile deal, but something vital in the world of grass roots football.
But back to Arsenal. The highest crowd recorded at an FA Youth Cup match was 38,187 for the first leg of the Arsenal against Manchester United semi-final at the Emirates Stadium on 14 March 2007. Arsenal won 1–0.
Here is a list of our appearances in the final…
All totals are the combined home and away results.
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December
- Untold Arsenal