From Surrey Street to Wembley: The Magic of the 2014-15 F.A. Challenge Cup

East of the M60‘s preview of the world’s greatest cup competition from a Greater Mancunian perspective

This year’s World Cup has brought about some dramatic performances, the expected disappointment of England and some blistering weather. Many of us may have been enthralled by Costa Rica, or half expect Argentina to lift the trophy this year.

Even so, the greatest international competitions pale into insignificance compared with the F.A. Challenge Cup. The oldest, the greatest, the most revered cup competition on the cosmos. Need we say more: a competition where the smallest of sides could progress beyond the qualifying rounds and gain national fame.

In Greater Manchester, and the parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire immediately east of the M60 motorway, our clubs are well represented with some tasty ties in the Extra Preliminary Round.

F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary Round (Saturday 16 August 2014):

  • Cammell Laird 1904 v West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC;
  • Nostell Miners’ Welfare v Stockport Sports;
  • 1874 Northwich v Maine Road;
  • Glossop North End v AFC Blackpool;
  • St. Helen’s Town v Atherton Collieries;
  • Rochdale Town v Runcorn Linnets;
  • Barton Town Old Boys v Abbey Hey;
  • AFC Emley v Ashton Athletic;
  • Wigan Robin Park v Maltby Main.

In the extra preliminary round, there are ten clubs from the Greater Manchester area, three of which drawn at home. Travelling the farthest will be Abbey Hey, who are drawn to Barton Town Old Boys. The Swans are a young club, dating from 1995, based in Barton-upon-Humber. They were formed after merging with Barton Town and Barton Old Boys and play in the Northern Counties East League.

A slight Liverpool v Manchester derby awaits West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC, who travel to Cammell Laird. Owing to financial problems, they resigned from the Northern Premier League First Division North and reformed as Cammell Laird 1904. Taking a short trip to Winsford is Maine Road, who face 1874 Northwich. With Winsford United also being drawn at home (to Athersley Recreation), this tie may be subject to rearrangement.

Only a few days after Stalybridge Celtic’s first home match against AFC Fylde [in the Conference North], another Fylde side could be passing Mottram Road en route to Surrey Street. This time, Glossop North End‘s opponents, AFC Blackpool. Continuing the AFC trend, Ashton Athletic travel from Ashton-in-Makerfield to AFC Emley’s Welfare Ground. Wigan Robin Park also play a former colliery side: this time a home tie versus Maltby Main.

Atherton Collieries make the short trip to St. Helen’s Town, whom at present are based at Brocstedes Park, Ashton Athletic’s home. Stockport Sports have an away tie against Nostell Miners’ Welfare.

Greater Manchester’s second home tie of the extra preliminary round is Rochdale Town’s fixture. Runcorn Linnets make a fairly short journey to Castleton Sports Centre.

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F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary Round: Getting to Greater Manchester’s and Derbyshire’s home games:

Glossop North End v AFC Blackpool:

  • Train: every half hour from Manchester Piccadilly to Glossop then 10 minutes walk along Surrey Street;
  • Bus: every 20 minutes from Ashton-under-Lyne via 236/237 services or once hourly from Hyde on 341 service via Broadbottom. Alight at stop nearest to The Globe public house then turn right and walk up Glossop Brook Road.

Rochdale Town v Runcorn Linnets:

  • Train: every half hour from Manchester Victoria or Rochdale, then 10 minutes walk along Heywood Road;
  • Bus: First Greater Manchester’s 17 service offers frequent journeys from Manchester, Rochdale and Middleton. Alight at Post Office stop, then walk along Manchester Road till you see Heywood Road. From there, turn left.

Wigan Robin Park v Maltby Main:

  • Train: frequent services from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan North Western stations. Walk along Wallgate, then Miry Lane till you see a sign for Pagefield Industrial Estate. Just before there, turn left, and straight ahead you should see a footbridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The bridge should lead to Stadium Way, then another bridge over the River Douglas. The Robin Park Arena is immediately left of the DW Stadium;
  • Bus: any bus from Wigan into Robin Park ASDA, such as the 622. It is also just as easy to board any bus bound for Wigan Robin Park, DW Stadium or Kitt Green from the bus stands outside Wigan North Western railway station.

St. Helen’s Town v Atherton Collieries:

  • Train: every half hour from Wigan North Western to Bryn then walk along Wigan Road, left onto Downall Green and left onto Brocstedes Park;
  • Bus: every 12 minutes on the 600, 601 and 610 routes up to Rose Hill. Then walk along Eddleston Street, Dryden Avenue, right onto Downall Green then left onto Brocstedes Park.

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F.A. Cup Preliminary Round (Saturday 30 August 2014):

  • New Mills v AFC Liverpool or Squires Gate;
  • Cammell Laird 1904 or West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC v Brighouse Town;
  • Burscough v Mossley;
  • Nostell Miners’ Welfare or Stockport Sports v Ossett Town;
  • 1874 Northwich or Maine Road v Prescot Cables;
  • Parkgate or Congleton Town v Salford City;
  • Radcliffe Borough v St. Helen’s Town v Atherton Collieries;
  • DroylsdenRochdale Town or Runcorn Linnets;
  • Warrington Town v Barton Town Old Boys or Abbey Hey;
  • AFC Emley v Ashton Athletic;
  • Wigan Robin Park or Maltby Main v Glossop North End v AFC Blackpool.

Here’s where the real excitement begins! The part of the F.A. Cup where the Northern Premier League First Division North and First Division South teams come in. As with the previous round, few home ties involving Greater Manchester clubs, with only Radcliffe Borough, Droylsden and New Mills being at home.

Wigan Robin Park could be Greater Manchester’s fourth home tie in this round if they beat Maltby Main. The victors of this fixture will face either Glossop North End or AFC Blackpool. Maine Road could have the Combined Authority’s fifth home tie in this round if they beat 1874 Northwich at the Barton Stadium. Coming to Brantingham Road or Barton Stadium could be Prescot Cables.

Salford City begin their F.A. Cup campaign with an away tie to Parkgate or Congleton Town. New Mills start their F.A. Cup campaign with a home tie against either AFC Liverpool or Squires Gate. Mossley face a tricky away trip to Victoria Park where they will face Burscough. This season will also see Droylsden begin their campaign in the preliminary round for the first time in well over twenty years. Making the journey to the Butchers Arms will either be Rochdale Town or Runcorn Linnets.

Radcliffe Borough begin their F.A. Cup campaign against the victors of St. Helen’s Town versus Atherton Collieries: one of two definite all-Lancashire ties within Greater Manchester’s travel-to-work area at this stage. Warrington Town versus Abbey Hey could be a third if they beat the Swans at the Euronics Stadium on the 16 August.

The victors of Cammell Laird 1904 versus West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC will have a home tie against Brighouse Town. They have come up in leaps and bounds in the last decade, having joined the Northern Counties East League in 2008.

F.A. Cup Preliminary Round: Getting to Greater Manchester’s and Derbyshire’s home games:

New Mills v AFC Liverpool or Squires Gate:

  • Rail: New Mills Central is your best option then a five minute walk uphill into the town centre. From there, you could continue to Church Lane on foot or, if you’re unable to hoof it up to the ground, by…
  • Bus: High Peak’s 61 (Glossop – Buxton) and Stagecoach Manchester’s (Stockport – Hayfield) services stop outside the ground. Both are hourly. Alight at stop opposite Marsh Lane

Radcliffe Borough v St. Helen’s Town or Atherton Collieries:

  • Bus: First Greater Manchester’s 98 service offers a frequent link to the ground from Bury, Whitefield and Manchester city centre. Alight at Pilkington Road stop; ground two minutes walk from stop.

Droylsden v Rochdale Town or Runcorn Linnets:

  • Bus: spoilt for choice – literally! Choose from the 216 or 231 Stagecoach Manchester services from Ashton-under-Lyne or Manchester city centre. Also the 217 from the same two points (operated by S&S Travel Services), the 408 from Shaw, Oldham, Stalybridge and Dukinfield (First Greater Manchester) and the 168/169 buses from Ashton, Longsight, Gorton and Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Southern Cemetery. From Ashton-under-Lyne, Stockport, Reddish and Gorton, the 7 is half hourly.
  • Tram: frequent Metrolink services from Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester city centre, MediaCityUK and Eccles.

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Still to come:

  • East of the M60‘s preview of the First Qualifying Round of the F.A. Cup, results from the Extra Preliminary and Preliminary Rounds;
  • From Moor Lane to Wembley: East of the M60‘s preview of the F.A. Trophy ties affecting Greater Manchester sides;
  • From Alder Street to Wembley: East of the M60’s F.A. Vase preview;
  • Plus, our round-up of the important fixtures affecting Greater Manchester’s non-league sides.

S.V., 07 July 2014.

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