FA Cup

Royal Mail celebrated the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest and most prestigious domestic football competition, with a special issue on March 8.

A set of six counter-sheet stamps are based on historical photographs highlighting some of the elements that make the annual contest special, while a miniature sheet of four stamps features a selection of FA Cup artefacts from the National Football Museum. 

The Football Association inaugurated the famous competition in the 1871–72 season, when just 12 teams took part. In modern times, more than 700 are involved, playing against opponents drawn at random on a simple knock-out basis before the last two remaining teams contest the final at Wembley Stadium.

By its nature, it is a competition in which part-timers can be drawn to play in the finest stadia, or the world’s best players obliged to turn up and perform on dodgy pitches.

Few sporting events have produced as many moments of raw emotion, with the possibility of a ‘giant-killing’ always present, especially when the top clubs join the surviving minnows at the third-round stage.

The issue was designed by The Chase and printed in litho by International Security Printers (Cartor). 

The white border framing three sides of the counter-sheet stamps allude to goalposts, while the miniature sheet’s border lists the result of all the FA Cup finals.

1st class LIFTING THE CUP

Arsenal players Charlie George and Frank McLintock parade the trophy around Wembley Stadium after the 90th FA Cup Final on May 8, 1971. Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1.

1st class WEMBLEY STADIUM

A huge, excited crowd spills onto the the pitch at the 48th FA Cup Final, the first to be held at Wembley, on April 28, 1923. Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United 2-0.

£1.70 A BIG DAY OUT

West Bromwich Albion supporters cheer their team on during the 87th FA Cup Final, on May 18, 1968. West Brom beat Everton 1-0.

£1.70 CLASSIC FINALS

Keith Houchen equalises for Coventry City with a diving header in the 106th FA Cup Final on May 16, 1987. Coventry beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2.

£2.55 CUP UPSETS

Lincoln City become the first team from outside the Football League in 103 years to reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup on February 18, 2017, as they beat Burnley 1-0 in the fifth round.

£2.55 ROYAL PATRONAGE

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth present the trophy to Sunderland captain Raich Carter after the 62nd FA Cup Final on May 1, 1937. Sunderland beat Preston North End 3-1.

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class SUPPORTERS’ MEMORABILIA

Rosettes taken to the 1966 final by an Everton fan and to the 1954 and 1964 finals by a Preston North End fan, a ticket stub from the 1959 final between Nottingham Forest and Luton Town, and a hand-painted rattle wielded by a Colchester United fan at a fourth-round match in 1959.

1st class WINNERS’ MEDAL & TROPHY

The winners’ medal awarded to Jimmy Speirs, the captain of Bradford City and scorer of the winning goal, in 1911, and a replica of the FA Cup trophy which was used from 1896-1910, before today’s design was introduced the following year.

£1.70 OFFICIAL MATCH-DAY ITEMS

A shirt worn by a Manchester City player in the 1969 final, the leather football used in the 1903 final between Bury and Derby County, and a gold-wire and silk badge awarded to  stewards at the same match.

£1.70 CUP FINAL SOUVENIRS

A porcelain replica of the trophy, made to commemorate Cardiff City’s victory in the 1927 final, a souvenir gramophone record from the 1932 final between Newcastle United and Arsenal, and a pennant celebrating Leeds United’s victory in the 1972 final.

ADDITIONAL PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by sports journalist Richard Rae, follows the 150-year evolution of the FA Cup with anecdotes, images and stats.

Stamp cards and first day covers are available, as is a press sheet of 12 unguillotined miniature sheets.

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £10.20

Miniature sheet   £5.10

Press sheet   £67.30

Presentation pack   £16.20

Stamp cards   £4.95

First day cover (stamps)   £12.90

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.80

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   5/5

It’s a major anniversary of a competition which has history, stature, excitement and allure

QUALITY OF DESIGN   3/5

The whole set relies on photography, but the images are well chosen and evocative

WOW FACTOR   4/5

Millions of football fans will stop and take a closer look if they see these stamps on their mail

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