The Language of the FA Cup

On this week’s main listening report we look at some of the language related to the FA Cup. Learners and teachers of English can imrove their listening skills with the transcript (below), while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report. If you have any suggestions, contact us at

Language of the FA Cup

There are some football fans who feel that the oldest knock-out competition in the world, the English FA Cup, has lost some of its glory with bigger sides not taking it as seriously as they used to. True, the tournament does not have the same value as the Champions League or even the ‘bread and butter‘ of the league but there is no doubting that the romance of the FA Cup still exists.

The fact that there are no seeds in the FA Cup and the pairings for each round are drawn out of a hat means that any side could be pitted against any other side, including an amateur, non-league club, facing the champions of Europe. The head-to-head, one-off nature of the competition means that these smaller clubs or teams from lower down the league can, for one day at least, enjoy the chance to put one over their more illustrious counterparts. These smaller teams have a chance to become giant killers; to recreate their own David and Goliath story. For many of these minnows, the chance to play at a bigger stadium or to host one of the bigger clubs is a ‘dream come true’ as the plucky outsiders attempt to get through to the next round. Of course, the bigger clubs do not tend to relish these games as they have everything to lose and work hard to attempt to spare their blushes and avoid a shock exit.

The big teams from the top two divisions appear in January in the 3rd Round when a total of 64 teams battle it out to try and make it into the 4th Round draw. Then the 5th Round, followed by the quarter-final and semi-finals before the final which is always played at Wembley, the home of English football. Teams hope for a good cup campaign or cup run though they may have to play a replay if they draw the first game. Previously there were as many replays as necessary in order to try and separate the two sides but now the Football Association have ordered that cup ties will only have one replay and if that finishes in a draw then a penalty shoot-out will be used. All very exciting stuff indeed. Excitement that ensures that the romance of the cup still continues.


bread and butter: The main source of income, the league is regarded as being more important than the Cup.

romance of the FA Cup: Many people enjoy this competition, it is a traditional time in the football calendar

seeds: Stronger sides are often seeded so as to prevent them playing each other until the final

are drawn out of a hat: Each round’s matches are decided by taking club names out of a hat (to be drawn like a lottery number)

head-to-head: Face to face

non-league club: A team that does not play in the top four professional leagues in England

to put one over: To win, to beat unexpectedly

illustrious : Famous, powerful

giant killers: When a smaller team beats a bigger team

David and Goliath: Story from the Bible in which David defeated the giant Goliath

battle it out: Face each other

cup run: A strong cup run is when a team plays more than one or two matches in the cup and has a chance of possibly winning it

cup ties: Matches, cup games
Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at

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2012-13Episode 303