Disappearing Football: The Cup Replay

Whilst basking in the post-match euphoria of Oldham’s comeback against Everton U-21’s last Tuesday (honestly, we’ll take any sort of success at the moment), it struck me that the rules in the Checkatrade trophy regarding penalty shootouts instead of replays might be a ploy to roll out the idea at this level before introducing it elsewhere.

I’m not against tweaking some rules to improve the game but I really don’t want to see the early stages of the FA Cup treated the same way. With the first round almost upon us, I’m sure that the fans of Haringey Borough, Metropolitan Police and Hampton and Richmond will be more than happy if they manage to take their league opponents to a replay.

Of course, many of the Non-League teams who have qualified for the first round are well-established sides with a decent support base and football league ambitions. However, there will always be the clubs from the Northern Premier League and Isthmian League, who are hell-bent on becoming first-round party poopers.

It would be cruel to take away the chance for these supporters to don their knitted scarves and hats, whilst fashioning a model of the FA Cup out of cardboard and tinfoil before boarding coaches to a replay.

Of course, nobody wants a return to the days of endless replays, the most famous of which was the five replays it took Alvechurch to beat Oxford City in 1971.

Settling a game on penalties is frustrating and an empty victory. However, I might well have changed my mind if Oldham falls at the first hurdle!

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