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Can Carlton Town FC make history in the FA Cup 2nd round qualifying?

Carlton Town have the chance to make history on three fronts on Saturday (16) when they travel to Rushall Olympic in the FA Cup 2nd round qualifying.

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Victory would mean Carlton equalled their best ever FA Cup performance by reaching the 3rd round qualifying. It would also be the first time that the Millers have won four FA Cup ties in the same season, given that they started this campaign in the Extra-Preliminary round. And, if they were to achieve the unthinkable and come back from the West Midlands with a victory, it would be a first ever win against step 2 opposition.

Carlton Town were known as Sneinton throughout the 20th century and they first competed in the FA Cup in 1907-08, entering the competition over 20 seasons before ceasing to enter following the 1930-31 campaign. They began with a 4-0 Preliminary Round defeat against Grantham Avenue and that set the precedent for a fairly dismal run in what has become the world’s most famous cup competition.

Their first win came at the third attempt thanks to a 2-1 Preliminary round win against Hinckley Utd in 1909-10 before being knocked out in the 1st round qualifying by Eastwood Rangers. The followings season they won again, 5-2 against New Hucknall Colliery, before going out after two replays against Notts Jardines. It then took the Millers 10 seasons to win even a single game in the Cup, albeit that was a 4-1 success against Basford Utd in 1925-26 and so was perhaps worth waiting for.

Sneinton lost at the first time of asking in each of the following five campaigns before ceasing to enter after 1930-31.

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73 years later, and now called Carlton Town, it was Tommy Brookbanks at the helm as the Millers, newly promoted to the Northern Counties East League Division 1, re-entered the FA Cup and took up where Sneinton had left off with a 3-0 Extra-Preliminary round defeat against Shirebrook Town.

The following year however Carlton had their first proper run in the Cup, beating Congleton and Westfields before going out in the 2nd round qualifying to Moor Green. That was the furthest Carlton had gone in the competition and, after four further seasons with only one win, Brookbanks’s side equalled that achievement in 2009-10 by beating New Mills and Glapwell before defeat in a 2nd qualifying round replay against step 2 Nuneaton Town.

That was Brookbanks’s final season at the helm until he returned with Mark Harvey in 2019. Les McJannet took over and he too led the Millers to the 2nd round qualifying in each of his first two seasons before the runs were ended by Matlock Town and Hednesford Town respectively.

Carlton went one better in 2012-13 after wins against Oadby Town, Rainworth Miners Welfare and New Mills sent them into the 3rd round qualifying for the first time. Bradford (Park Avenue) ended the run that season with a 3-1 victory at Stoke Lane.

The following year Carlton repeated the feat with wins against Borrowash Victoria, Brigg Town and Matlock Town before Vauxhall Motors also won 3-1 at Stoke Lane in the 3rd round qualifying. But in each of those two seasons the Millers entered the competition in the Preliminary round, meaning the three wins the side have achieved so far this season have equalled the runs of those best-ever seasons in the FA Cup.

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Since 2013-2014 Carlton have not progressed beyond the 1st round qualifying until this year and have not won more than one game in any one season (excluding a covid-related walkover victory), again until this year. But after wins against Quorn, Maltby Main and Nuneaton Borough, Brookbanks and Harvey’s 2023-24 Carlton vintage have already equalled the achievements of Carlton sides going back 116 years. Saturday provides them with the chance to go one better, and make their own slice of Carlton Town history.

Go for it Millers!

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