Since its creation in 1969, the FA Trophy has given the opportunity for Non-League teams up and down the country to gain the experience of playing at Wembley and winning a trophy. The competition has seen a variety of winners, and in this article we will look at two of the lowest ranked teams to win the FA Trophy.
First, we begin with the lowest ranked side to ever win the competition in Burscough. The side from Lancashire currently ply their trade in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League and in the 2002/03 season managed to shock many English football fans and win the FA Trophy.
The final, a 2-1 victory over Tamworth at Villa Park, was the side’s twelfth game in the competition, with three of their fixtures going to a replay. The first round saw Burscough face off at home to Marine, where a 0-0 draw would take the tie to a replay. The Lancashire side would make the trip to Merseyside and prevail 3-1 after extra time, seeing them progress to the next round.
The second round saw the Linnets faced with a trip to West Yorkshire to take on Harrogate Town. Again, there would be nothing to separate the two sides, with a 2-2 draw forcing a replay. Once more, Burscough got the job done second time around, triumphing 3-2 at home.
The third round then saw Burscough tasked with what looked to be a tricky fixture on paper, with Ilkeston Town the opponents. It was however, easy as you like for the Green Army as they comfortably ran out 3-0 winners.
It would be another replay for Burscough in the fourth round, and after a 1-1 draw away to Alfreton, the side from Lancashire won the return game 2-0.
A home game in the fifth round followed and it was Wakefield & Emley who were on the end of a 5-0 drubbing from the Linnets.
The 6th round saw Burscough tasked with the toughest fixture possible as they faced holders and eventual Conference Champions Yeovil Town away at Huish Park. To the surprise of many, however, the Linnets ran out shock 2-0 winners and advanced to the semi-finals, where they would face Aylesbury United in a two-legged affair.
The first leg saw Burscough take the trip to Buckinghamshire and the game finished 1-1 with Gary Martindale cancelling out an Aylesbury opener. The second leg at Victoria Park was a tense affair but it was a 90th minute penalty from player-manager Shaun Teale that would win the game and tie for Burscough and send them through unexpectedly to the final.
Their opponents in the final would be Tamworth, a side that would go on to achieve promotion to the Conference after winning the Southern Football League. In the final, held at Villa Park, it would be a brace from Martindale that would be enough to get Burscough over the line and secure a shock trophy win as the lowest ranked side to ever win the competition.
Hornchurch are another low ranked side that have won the FA Trophy, much more recently than Burscough, with the seventh tier side triumphing in 2020/21.
The Urchins started the competition all the way in the third qualifying round, winning 3-1 away at Bowers & Pitsea to reach the first round proper. The first round saw a home fixture against Wingate & Finchley and it was a comfortable 4-1 victory for Hornchurch that saw them progress to the second round. Tonbridge Angels would be the next team to fall victim to Hornchurch as the Urchins won 1-0 away.
It was another away trip for Hornchurch in the third round as they faced Dulwich Hamlet and this time the seventh tier side won 2-1. The fourth round saw a scare for Hornchurch as they needed a penalty shootout to beat King’s Lynn Town following a 1-1 draw.
The fifth round saw an absolute classic as Hornchurch beat Maidstone 5-4 in a nine goal thriller to set up a quarter final clash with Darlington. The dream run continued as the Urchins won once again, winning 2-1 away at Darlington to reach the semi-finals. It was in that semi final that Hornchurch produced the biggest shock of their run as they triumphed against the odds on penalties against National League Notts County at MeadowLane. The Urchins came from behind three times to draw 3-3, with the equaliser coming inthe 91 st minute and went on to put on a penalty clinic, dispatching all five of their penalties to win 5-4 and reach the final at Wembley.
In the final, it would be National League North Hereford who would stand in the way of Hornchurch and glory. The game didn’t start how the Urchin’s wanted as they fell behind in the 13th minute. However, a late flurry of goals in the last 15 minutes of the game for Hornchurch turned the game on its head, and against all expectations the seventh tier side won the FA Trophy, after a 3-1 win at Wembley.
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