I have for some while been irritated by the FA Trophy exemption system. Reading in the Dulwich programme yesterday, I see that no fewer than 12 Ryman Premier clubs are meeting each other next week in none other than the 1st Qualifying round. Barely before the competition has started, six clubs from only the third tier of the competition are bound to be eliminated.
Is it not time for the FA Trophy and FA Vase to be amalgamated? The FA Trophy seems to be nothing much more than a super cup for those Conference clubs inclined to be interested. At least the FA Cup usually gives Ryman clubs the chance to play teams outside their own division.
Congratulations to East Thurrock incidentally. It just goes to show that even a mid-table Ryman Premier team can annihilate a Conference club.
Re: FA Trophy
I don't know that I have such a problem with the exemption system, it is what it is and probably forever shall be.
I have no idea how the draws work, however I find it very difficult to believe that a straight draw would lead us to play a fellow Ryman Premier side in 9 of the past 10 seasons including this. (The exception was playing Lowestoft Town at home in 2009/10).
Bury, Cray, Leiston, Canvey Island, Margate, AFC Wimbledon, Harrow Borough, Fisher Athletic, Ramsgate
I enjoy waiting for the FA Cup draw. I hate waiting for the FA Trophy draw because we inevitably have to schlep our way around the M25 to play a side in our own division. There's little attraction to be had in that as a fan to be quite honest.
For the record, assuming we stay in the Ryman Premier next season, I fully expect to be drawn away to Witham Town at the first hurdle of the Trophy.
Even more unbalanced
Lowestoft and Ramsgate were the only two home draws. Based on the 64 teams in the southern half of the 1st qualifying round draw, the odds of getting one of 21/23 teams was always roughly one in three, so it is almost one in six to be drawn away to a team from the same division in any season. In five straight seasons this statistic is freakish.
By the way, in the season Gary Mac returned we started at home to a team from Ryman One South, AFC Wimbledon (who had 13 former Hendon people on the pitch and bench), before away games at Taunton and Slough.
Improbability... & the Mason/Feenyin in the Blazer
As with the FA Cup draw, the geographical basis of the draw for the FA Trophy can vary.
For this round, it's normally conducted on a "four hat" basis.
That's how it was done this year.
Four sections: North, Midlands, Southeast, Southwest.
The Southeast section always has the most clubs - even if the FA splits things further and has an East hat as well.
Of the 144 balls in the hats for this draw, 64 were in the Southeast hat.
All surviving Ryman League clubs were in that hat - including Bognor, who often go in the Southwest hat, Guernsey, which is in France, and Dereham, which is in darkest Norfolk, well past Narruch, and even less civilised than the aforementioned Gallic Socialist Republic.
There were 40 non-Ryman Premier balls in the Southeast hat. So Hendon had a 63.5% chance of not drawing a fellow Ryman Premier team... and a 36.5% chance of coming out against a Ryman Premier team.
As Mr. B. says, it's simply freakish.
In days of yore, Scottish football fans, who are ever so slightly prone to conspiracy theories, had to endure two decades of mathematical improbability when it came to cup semi-final draws.
At the end of February 1970, Rangers & Celtic came out of the hat against each other in the quarter-final draw for the Scottish Cup - a tournament memorably won by the Sheep, who beat Rangers in a final played in front of 108,000 at Hampden.
Over the next two decades, Rangers and Celtic went into the hat for semi-final draws on 18 occasions. (SFA Cup 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1989; League Cup in seasons ending 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990.)
On only one of those 18 occasions were they drawn against each other. That was in the 1978/79 League Cup - a tournament memorably won by Rangers, who beat Alex Ferguson's Sheep, in front of 54,000, in a Hampden final notable for a suspiciously "Mason in the Black" refereeing display: Derek Johnstone "doing" Steve Archibald early doors, Doug Rougvie being sent off for exacting retribution and Rangers nicking a late winner. Many Sheep date their considerable hatred of Rangers to this game.
At no other time during this 20-year period were Rangers & Celtic drawn against each other at any knock-out stage of a domestic cup - though they were twice in the same section when the League Cup was played in groups in early August.
Probability evens itself out, though.
The Auld Firm came out of the hat together in the last-16 of the 1990 SFA Cup, in the QFs in 1991 and in the semis in 1992.
So, Hendon can look forward to an FA Trophy trip to somewhere quaint in about 2025.
Re: Improbability... & the Mason/Feenyin in the Blazer
Have a look at Scottish Cup draws since 2000, we've (Rangers of course) been to Parkhead loads of times, only being drawn at home against them in 2011 (2-2, lost the replay at Parkhead - first home Scottish Cup draw v Celtic since the 1950s/60s) and in the League Cup in 2005 (IIRC, extra time win with Shota Arveladze scoring)
Wouldn't mind the constant draws against Ryman sides if we got somewhere decent to go - but it's always somewhere bloody awkward (Sudbury, Leiston, Canvey) or just a shithole (Canvey again)
half are local-ish
Of the eight Ryman League Premier Division away draws in the last 10 years, only four have been within London (TfL Zones 1–5), Cray, AFC Wimbledon, Fisher Athletic and Harrow Borough; two have been to the seaside, Margate and Canvey Island; and the other two have been to Suffolk, Leiston and now Bury Town. The two home draws, first game up, have both been against seaside opponents, Ramsgate and Lowestoft.