Darlington FC statement: FA Cup replays

By Ray Simpson

Darlington FC statement: FA Cup replays

Why Quakers are unhappy with the FA proposal

Darlington FC would like to express its dissatisfaction with the decision of the FA to scrap replays in the FA Cup competition proper.

From our own special experience in 2019 when we drew at Walsall in the first round and then enjoyed televised coverage of the replay at Blackwell Meadows, we are more than aware of the special magic of the FA Cup and the much-needed revenue that it brings.

We are therefore disappointed that there is no chance of that experience being repeated under the FA’s proposal. Our first aim against Walsall that day was to earn a home replay, not only for the possible television coverage and the special magic, but also because our superb supporters and our club, had earned it ever since we became fan-owned in 2012.

Every non-league club wants to have a special moment, and ours was when Joe Wheatley scored a last minute equaliser to earn a replay at the Bescot Stadium. We enjoyed widespread coverage in the media – our manager Alun Armstrong was a special guest on Match of the Day as well as a video of the fans' celebrations – both after the game at Walsall and in the build up to the replay. There would have been no such euphoria if Joe’s equaliser had been followed ten minutes later by a penalty shootout which we might have lost.

When we were in the old Football League Fourth Division, we pulled off a major surprise in 1958 when we drew 3-3 with First Division Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then won 4-1 at Feethams on a day when schools and places of work closed early so then as many people as possible could squeeze into the ground and watch a giantkilling.

We would therefore urge the FA and the Premier League to reconsider their decision. We appreciate that the Premier League clubs suffer fixture congestion and want to reduce matches – but non league clubs need the revenue that replays bring and their supporters yearn to immerse themselves in its magic.

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