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On this week’s main listening report we take a look at the FA Cup: the format, its history and the giant killing. There is a worksheet with this report and you can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support appears at the foot of the report.

The FA Cup

The oldest football competition in the world is the English FA Cup, the Football Association Cup, which first started in 1872. The format of the tournament is very simple – it is a knock-out competition which means that the winner of each tie, or game, passes through to the next round while the loser is knocked-out and does not play again until the following season: it is a winner-takes-all format. To add to the excitement there is no form of seeding, which means that games are decided by an open draw and that one team can be drawn to play against any other side in the tournament.

In England the competition is open to all clubs affiliated, or belonging to, the FA, which means there are a total of 14 rounds that have to be played and the first of these takes place at the beginning of the season in August. The professional clubs from the top four divisions do not have to play in these rounds with the teams from the top two divisions (The Premier League and the Championship) joining the Third Round in January when 64 teams remain in the tournament. Often at this stage of the competition a few non-league sides are still in the cup – these are teams from outside the Football League – and they attract a lot of attention as they might be drawn against a higher-ranked side and cause an upset or surprise by beating this team: this kind of victory is known as giant killing. Some of the most famous acts of giant killing have included Fourth Division Wrexham defeating the League Champions Arsenal in 1992 and non-league side Sutton beating top-flight team Coventry in 1989. In recent times however the top sides have fared better and it is unusual to see a team from outside the Premier League in the final at Wembley Stadium. The final usually takes place in May and is a big media event in England – the traditional end-of-season game.

In England the most successful team in FA Cup history is Manchester United – they have won the cup on eleven occasions, while the second most successful club is Arsenal with ten wins. A total of 42 teams have won the trophy though some of those clubs are now no longer in existence, including Wanderers who were the first winners of the trophy. Other countries have their own version of the FA Cup – the Emperor’s Cup in Japan and the Copa del Rey in Spain but the most famous of all of these is still the FA Cup.


format: The way that the competition is organised

tie: A game, a match

seeding: This prevents teams from meeting each other in the competition at an early stage

can be drawn to play: The games are chosen randomly the team names are taken (drawn) out of a bag

affiliated: Belonging to, forming part of

non-league sides: Teams from outside the top four professional divisions in England

top-flight : The top division (now the Premiership)

have fared better: Have done better

no longer in existence: The teams have disappeared

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2011-12Episode 124