It’s with great regret that I have decided to cancel my FA Cup Quest for the forthcoming season. The Extra Preliminary Round begins this weekend, but having studied my calendar, there are at least four matches to which I definitely cannot attend, so I’ve come to the conclusion that there would be little point starting my Quest this weekend, knowing that it will be punctuated with gaps.
I planned to start with Heanor Town, who play host to Leicester-based side Aylestone Park on Friday. Even this game clashed with a Bluetones gig in Derby, so I contemplated diverting to Kimberley Miners’ Welfare, who are competing in the competition for the first time in their history, and are based just over the Notts border.
However, I know that I will then be forced to miss the next round (The Preliminary Round) due to a planned weekend away in Norfolk, plus the round after that (First Round Qualifying) due to a weekend in Liverpool, meaning two rounds on the trot would be missed, and the 5th Round weekend due to my son’s 5th birthday.
That’s three games definitely out of the equation. Add in a planned gig on the date of the First Round Proper, meaning I have to potentially miss that game too, and there are just too many conflicts already to formulate a proper run this season.
It would be shame to partake in a partial, fragmented run after the perfect journey to the Final from the Extra Preliminary Round last year, in which I didn’t miss a single game.
When I’ve attempted this Quest in previous seasons I’ve encountered conflicts along the way for one reason or another, but to have so many holes in my Quest from the off makes it seem pointless in starting it at all.
So, although it will pain me to see the draws being made, and this Saturday afternoon will be spent checking Twitter to see how Kimberley got on, a painful decision to take a year off has been made.
However, not all is lost. I have decided that I shall instead apply the same Quest process to the FA Trophy. Although it means I will stay with non-league clubs, I will still get a day out at Wembley in May.
I was hoping I could follow both the Trophy and the Vase, but there becomes a point at which the ties are played on the same date. And since cloning is still a way off, following both competitions is impossible. So I have chosen the Trophy, which is for teams who compete at levels 1-4 on the National League system. Luckily, I’m a big fan of non-league football, and although the Trophy is nowhere near as prestigious as the FA Cup itself, it’s a compromise, and at least I still have a target to aim for.
I’ve not yet decided where to start, but once again it will be with a local side. Belper Town, a short drive from my house, will be favoUrites, but I’ll decide nearer to October 7. And that’s another thing. The Trophy doesn’t begin until mid-Autumn!
Trophy Round Dates
Preliminary Round Saturday 7 October 2017
First Round Qualifying Saturday 28 October 2017
Second Round Qualifying Saturday 11 November 2017
Third Round Qualifying Saturday 25 November 2017
First Round Saturday 16 December 2017
Second Round Saturday 13 January 2018
Third Round Saturday 3 February 2018
Fourth Round Saturday 24 February 2018
Semi-Final first leg Saturday 17 March 2018
Semi-Final second leg Saturday 24 March 2018
The Final Sunday 20 May 2018