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FA Cup


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The Football Association Challenge Cup, established by England's Football Association (FA), and first contested in season 1871–2. It was conceived as a competition open to ‘all clubs belonging to the Association’, and based upon a knock-out principle. Harrow-educated C. W. Alcock (1842–1907), secretary of the FA, would have played in House Matches at Harrow based on knock-out contests, and establishing the eventual winner as ‘Cock House’. In July 1871 Alcock and six fellow upper-class football enthusiasts and organizers met in London at the offices of the Sportsman newspaper and adapted the public school model to an adult and national scale. This created the first formal, inclusive, knock-out Cup competition, a format unaltered since, and inspiring countless imitations: ‘The whole joy of the Cup is that it is the most democratic of contests. The giants cannot stand aloof in their own class’ (Geoffrey Green, ‘A priceless inspiration’, in Association Football, edited with A. H. Fabian, 1960).

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