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BBC Radio Lancashire's Wendy Howard hears from
Squires Gate secretary Barry Thorpe on the FA Cup
 real 14k

banner Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
The Cup's magic returns
The FA Cup
The treasured prize sought by 602 teams
The final of the Axa-sponsored FA Cup may still be many months away but the battle to be in it got underway when 34 of the 602 entrants did battle in the extra preliminary round.

The competition is normally contested by in the region of 550 teams, but with the figure having gone through the 600 barrier an extra round has been decreed this season.

The final is only 13 games away for those that go into action this weekend and certainly some of the 'magic of the cup' will be injected back into the competition this season.

While Manchester United return to the fold, at the other end of the footballing ladder North West Counties League side Blackpool-based Squires Gate make their first appearance in the competition.

Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo was celebrating last season
Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo was celebrating last season
The club which was formed in 1948, even has the advantage of a home draw on Saturday as they take on West Auckland Town.

World champions

West Auckland's claim to fame is that they represented Great Britain in the inaugural 'World Cup' competition in 1909 and won it.

Two years later they successfully defended their title beating a certain Juventus of Italy 6-1 in the final.

But this weekend it is not the Turin giants that stand in their way but the caterers, care-workers and builders of Squires Gate.

That's not to suggest that they will be a pushover.

They can also include among their number left midfielder Chris Chetwood, recently released from Blackpool, and a scorer last week on his club debut and former Preston North End striker Steve Longworth.

As Squires Gate Secretary Barry Thorpe explains it is the club's improved facilities that have permitted them to make their bow this year and it's a move that has caught the publics attention.

"We've put a new stand in with 100 seats," says Thorpe. "We normally attract crowds of between 80 and 150 but this Saturday we're probably looking at a figure of nearer 300."

The treasured trophy itself was on parade at the home of the Squires on Thursday night and while that might well be as close as their players will ever get to it, it's the hopes and dreams of clubs like these that make the FA Cup the greatest club competition in the world.

FA Cup sponsored by AXA Extra Preliminary Round,
Saturday 26 August 2000

Brigg Town v Willington
Eccleshill United v Sheffield
South Shields v Garforth Town
Tow Law Town v St Helens Town
Squires Gate v West Auckland Town
Guisborough Town v Chadderton
Armthorpe Welfare v Penrith
Pelsall Villa v Kidsgrove Athletic
Holbeach United v Halesowen Harriers
Royston Town v Newmarket Town
Haringey Borough v Concord Rangers
Raunds Town v Soham Town Rangers
Buckingham Town v Halstead Town
Lowestoft Town v Fakenham Town
Yate Town v Brislington
Melksham Town v Falmouth Town
Wimborne Town v Bridport

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FA CupFA Cup debut
Squiresgate FC's club secretary Barry Thorpe on their first FA Cup tie
See also:

27 Jan 00 |  FA Cup
FA Cup final rescheduled
10 Dec 99 |  FA Cup
A very peculiar FA Cup
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