FOOTBALL

FA CUP: What’s the furthest Gloucestershire’s sides have been?

For Cheltenham Town, it’s not too distant a memory, as they reached the fifth round in the 2001-02 season, losing 1-0 to West Brom on their remarkable run.

In arguably their greatest season of all-time, Cheltenham finished with 78 points in the Third Division (now League 2) and were promoted through the play-offs, led by Steve Cotterill.

Cheltenham dispatched Kettering Town 6-1 in the first round before 2-0, 2-1 and 2-1 wins over Hinckley Town, Oldham and Burnley respectively.

At the time they were knocked out, Cheltenham Town were the lowest-ranked team in the competition and if they progressed against the Baggies, then the quarter-finals would’ve been played between seven Premier League teams, and one Division Three side (Cheltenham).

That year, Arsenal won the FA Cup against Chelsea, with wonder-goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg. A 19-year old Jermain Defoe took home the golden boot with four goals, despite West Ham only playing in two rounds.

 

Meanwhile for Forest Green, they entered the competition very recently considering they were founded in 1889, as they first entered the FA Cup in the 1977-78 season, led by Peter Goring in his 11-year venture with the club.

Their best performance to date was in successive seasons, where the Rovers reached the third round in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

In the 2008-09 season, Forest Green beat Bath and Rochdale in the first and second round, before succumbing to Derby in a 4-3 thriller in Nailsworth, with an 87th minute Steve Davies penalties put the Rams through.

Forest Green shouldn’t be downhearted about that game however, as Derby were three leagues above them, and went out to Manchester United in the quarter-final.

The season after, Forest Green beat Mansfield 3-2 over two legs and Bath City 2-1, but were beaten by Notts County who – at the time – topped League 2 (division above) and started with Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks.

With such successes in successive seasons, it’s hard to imagine Forest Green recording such a feat again, but they’re in better shape now than they ever have been, so it’d be hard to write them off.

Finally, Gloucester City have to venture back to a different millennium, as their furthest adventure in the FA Cup was before the formation of the Premier League, reaching the 2nd round in the 1989-90 season.

Starting in the 1st qualifying round against Mangotsfield, starting their victorious run against Barry Town, Worcester and Folkestone to reach the first ‘proper’ round of the FA Cup, where they beat Dorchester Town 1-0.

Following this, they faced Cardiff, who were three tiers above Gloucester. The Tigers took the Bluebirds to a second leg, as they drew 2-2 at Ninian Park before losing 1-0 at home three days later.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible for Gloucester for recreate this truly memorable run this season, as they were knocked out at home by Bromley 1-0 on Saturday, however can always hope next season.

With the draw taking place at 7PM this evening, Cheltenham Town and Forest Green fans will attentively be watching, hoping in the back of their mind that Britain’s greatest cup competition will (cheese) roll back into Gloucestershire.

Elliot Lee

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