Phil Annets – @Facupfactile on Twitter – assesses just how a big deal Chi City’s progression to round two is...
For the first time since a national non-league division was introduced ahead of the 1979-80 season, there will be two clubs from level eight of the English football pyramid in the FA Cup second round.
Essex club Maldon and Tiptree, of Isthmian Division One North, and Chichester City, of the Isthmian South East, have both fought their way through six ties to be part of the last 84 clubs standing.
City have come through seven rounds, having started with a 3-1 win over Erith in the extra preliminary round way back on August 10, but were beneficiaries of a ‘bye’ in the first round following the disqualification of Bury.
There have only been five level eight clubs to make it to the second round in the 40 years since the National League was established.
Harrogate Railway Athletic of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division did it in 2002-03, Chasetown in 07-08, Redbridge in 11-12, Warrington Town in 14-15 and Northwich Victoria in 15-16.
Both Chi and Maldon will be looking to become the first level eight side in the FA Cup third round since Staffordshire team Chasetown achieved it in 07-08, when they lost 3-1 to Cardiff City. Chasetown are the only level eight club to make it to the third round since the Alliance Premier League (now National League) was created in 1979.
The definition of what is a level-eight division in the pyramid has changed over the 40 years since the national non-league division was established.
Over time the level the top divisions in non-league occupy in the football pyramid has diminished. This change in level classification and the lack of a formally recognised pyramid prior to 1979 means it is nigh on impossible to say whether or not equivalent level eight clubs have appeared in the FA Cup third round.
They did not do so prior to the 1925-26 season when the structure of the competition was changed to reflect its current format – the third round prior to then would be regarded as the fifth round now. But there has been a few clubs who have reached the third round since 1925-26 who might be regarded as equivalent to modern day level-eight.
But history beckons for both Maldon and for Chi City. A third round appearance for either club would be monumental, but if both achieved it, that would be a record. And City could become the first club since Southall 84 years ago to go from the extra preliminary round to the third.