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Column: Is It Time For A Trophy Re-Jig?

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It`s been 15 years since a club outside the National League reached the FA Trophy Final when Burscough caused a big upset by beating Tamworth.

Since then the Wembley day out has been mostly played out by clubs at the top end of the Pyramid, although North Ferriby United, who were members of the National League North and Gosport Borough (National League South) interrupted their dominance in 2014 and 2015.

It`s been a similar story with the FA Cup, with the final being played out by top Premier League sides in the main.

So, is it time to have a re-jig in both – for the Trophy, make the National League clubs come in at an earlier stage and have Premier League sides enter the FA Cup at the First Round Proper stage?

I am sure we would have far more upsets in the Trophy if National League sides were to come in earlier and it would also add a lot more interest to lower league clubs who, at present, have to battle through three preliminary rounds against teams from their own level until the Third Qualifying Round stage when National League North and South teams enter the competition.

Currently, National League sides enter the Trophy at the First Round stage by when there are only 64 teams left of which 24 are from the top of the non-League Pyramid.

A look at last season`s competition saw only Solihull Moors (against Matlock Town), Dagenham & Redbridge (against Worthing) and Eastleigh (Worthing) bow out to non-National League opposition.

Surely it would add more interest to clubs in the Bostik and Evo-Stik Leagues if they were to draw a Tranmere Rovers, Hartlepool United or a Leyton Orient in an earlier round and it would certainly boost crowds in the competition which are normally disappointing early on.

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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