What is the FA Youth Cup? Aside from the obvious answer of ‘a tournament for youth football teams between the ages of 15 and 18’ – equivalent to the teams taking part in the Allied Counties Youth League.
It’s a tournament that in the last decade has brought a relative amount of success to Bracknell Town Football Club, with some great cup runs, and last season saw visit to the final qualifying round.
A bit of history..
The tournament was first played in 1952 after several years of a County Association Youth Championship but was then opened up to all member clubs of the Football Association.
According to Wikipedia, the trophy was purchased during the Second World War but remained unused until Football League secretary Fred Howarth found the cup in a cupboard and handed it over to the FA.
Manchester United are the tournaments most successful club, winning the trophy 10 times. The first winners of the tournament were Manchester United in 1953 with a young Duncan Edwards in the side.
Who’s won the trophy in the 00s?
There have been three winners of the trophy in the last five years: Chelsea (2010, 2012, 2014), Manchester United (2011) and Norwich City (2013).
During the 2013/14 season, Reading were minutes away from forcing extra time in the semi-final second leg when Fulham’s Moussa Dembele scored a 90th minute winner.
How many rounds are there?
Last season 456 teams entered the FA Youth Cup. The 2015/16 tournament features four qualifying rounds including a preliminary round.
There are then five rounds, a quarter final and two legged semi-finals and final.
The final is played at the home grounds of the competing teams. Last season this was Manchester City’s Academy Stadium and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge – Chelsea won the final 5-2 on aggregate.
And Bracknell Town?
Bracknell Town have had a successful period in the tournament in recent years, reaching the first round proper under Steve Jenner in 2010 where they faced a Torquay United academy side at Plainmoor (video at the top of the page).
The game finished 4-0 to Torquay, but Bracknell acquitted themselves well against higher level opposition.
Jamie Lawlor, a member of last seasons first team played in the game at Plainmoor.
Bracknell had previously reached the first round proper in 2007 under Andy Keen when they were narrowly beaten 2-1 at Aldershot Town.
Robins squad that day featured a number of players currently signed at Larges Lane: Grace (now Ascot United), Hayward, Kennedy, Wright, Watson, Rakowski, Jones, Nugent, Harvey, Spencer, Brint Subs: Pilgrim (for Jones, h/t), Nicholas (not used), Miller (for Nugent, 80 mins), Hudspith (not used), Hardy (not used).
Bracknell also reached the final qualifying round in 2011 but were beaten by Kingstonian.
Bracknell’s 2014/15 FA Youth Cup run saw a thrilling victory over Thatcham Town, and a 2-0 win at Camberley Town before defeat in the final qualifying round to Wimborne Town.
In this season’s tournament, Paul Howe’s young side face Fleet Spurs in the First Qualifying Round after beating Milton United 2-1 courtesy of a Connor Thorndike brace.