20 surprising facts about the FA Cup and Wembley Stadium

Back to Lifestyle
Wembley stadium at night

How many league teams have never played in an FA Cup final? And 19 more surprising facts about the history of the Cup and Wembley stadium.


1. This year’s FA Cup final on 27 May is between Arsenal and Chelsea. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger holds the record for most FA Cup wins – six – jointly with Aston Villa coach George Ramsay, who won the Cup six times between 1887 and 1920.

2. The player who has won the FA Cup the most times is Ashley Cole, who won it three times with Arsenal and four times with Chelsea.

3. The 1933 FA Cup final was the first in which players wore numbered shirts: Everton wore numbers 1-11, Manchester City wore numbers 12-22.

4. The first qualifying round for the 2016/17 FA Cup was played on 6 August 2016. There were six preliminary/qualifying rounds before the first round proper, with a total of 736 teams starting out in the competition.

5. The smallest crowd in the FA Cup this season was the 34 (yes, that’s thirty-four) people who watched Dunkirk (of the East Midlands Counties League) beat Leicester Nirvana 2-1 in the first preliminary round last August.

6. For the first time in history, two non-league clubs – Sutton United and Lincoln City - reached the last 16 of this year’s FA Cup. Lincoln also became the first non-league team in 103 years to reach the quarter finals (before losing 5-0 to Arsenal).

7. The original Wembley Stadium, opened in 1923, took exactly 300 days to build. Between the start of the demolition of the old stadium (in 2002) and the opening of the new Wembley Stadium (in 2007) took four and a half years.

8. Placed end to end, the rows of seating at Wembley would stretch 54 kilometres.

9. The 1938 FA Cup final between Preston and Huddersfield was the first to be televised.

10. The player who played most at the original Wembley Stadium was Tony Adams, who appeared there 59 times, for Arsenal and England.

11. The attendance at the first game at the original Wembley stadium, the 1923 FA Cup Final, has been estimated as in excess of 240,000 (its official capacity was 127,000).

12. Until 1997 (when Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea won), no overseas manager had won the FA Cup. Since then, only one English manager has won it – Harry Redknapp, who took Portsmouth to victory in 2008.

13. Only one stadium in Europe is bigger than Wembley: Barcelona’s Camp Nou, which holds 99,000 spectators to Wembley’s 90,000.

14. The first concert at Wembley featured Yes and Status Quo: the stadium was the end of a giant sponsored walk in aid of Oxfam in July 1969, with walkers coming into the stadium to enjoy an all-star bill.

15. The artist who has played the most nights at Wembley is Michael Jackson, who played there 15 times (between 1988 and 1997), selling a total of over 1.1 million tickets. In 1988, he staged five consecutive sell-out nights there, also a record.

16. The first artist to play at the new Wembley was the late George Michael in 2007.

17. Each seat in the new Wembley stadium has more leg-room than the seats in the Royal Box of the old stadium.

18. Wanderers reached the first FA Cup final in 1872 despite a nil-nil draw in their semi-final with the Glasgow club Queen’s Park at Kennington Oval: the Scottish team could not afford to come back to London for a second time for the replay.

19. Wembley has 2618 toilets – more than any other venue in the world.

20. Of the 92 league teams in England, 42 have never played in an FA Cup final. Manchester United and Arsenal have appeared in 19 each.