Clubs from the leagues immediately below the Football League had no realistic chance of playing in a Wembley Final before the FA Council decided to start an ‘FA Challenge Trophy’ competition in 1969. It was open to all non-Football League clubs registering professional players.
Macclesfield Town, then Northern Premier League champions, were the first Trophy winners and 28,000 saw them beat Telford United 2-0 at Wembley. Their second goal was scored by Brian Fidler, whose trademark was a goal celebration that involved running round most of the pitch.
As well as Wembley Stadium, five Finals have been staged at Villa Park and one at Upton Park. Scarborough, Telford United and Woking lead the way with three Trophy wins each. Another 10 clubs have won it twice – Altrincham, Barrow, Enfield, Grays Athletic, Kingstonian, Macclesfield Town, Stafford Rangers, Stevenage Borough, Wycombe Wanderers and York City.
- 2017: York City 3-2 Macclesfield Town
- 2016: FC Halifax Town 1-0 Grimsby
- 2015: North Ferriby Utd 3-3 Wrexham (5-4 on penalties)
- 2014: Cambridge 4-0 Gosport Borough
- 2013: Wrexham 1-1 Grimsby Town___ (4-1 on penalties)
Isthmian League Dagenham became the first of the old ‘amateur’ clubs to win The Trophy in 1980. In the following year Bishop’s Stortford’s winning team included goalkeeper Terry Moore, an Amateur Cup winner with the same club in 1974.
The late Ian Crawley scored the goal that won The Trophy for Telford United in 1989 - six years after netting the winner for VS Rugby against Halesowen Town in The FA Vase Final.
Martin O’Neill, a highly respected manager, was in charge at Wycombe Wanderers from 1990 to 1995. He took the National League club to two Trophy Finals and they won both.
Their 2-1 success against Kidderminster Harriers in 1991 attracted a crowd of 34,842 to the old Wembley - a then record attendance for a Trophy match. Steve Guppy, the Chairboys’ left-winger, was capped by England in 1999, starting in a 2-1 defeat of Belgium.