There is something special about the FA Cup, something that sets it apart from the countless national cup competitions that can be found in our great game.

Whether it's the 151-year history that comes along with it, the thrilling finals it has produced in the past, or the fact that it so often pits footballing giants against non-league minnows and that the latter can sometimes be the ones to come out the other side.

The magic of the cup is undeniably real, and the proof of that is the countless fairytale runs that non-league sides have been on in the past.

With that in mind, Football FanCast has created a list of the ten best FA Cup runs by non-league sides.


Round Reached





Southern League


Tottenham Hotspur


Southern League



Third Round

Northern Premier League Division One North West



Fourth Round

National League


Sutton United

Fourth Round

National League


Hereford United

Fourth Round

Southern League


Crawley Town

Fifth Round

National League


Yeovil Town

Fifth Round

Southern League


Sutton United

Fifth Round

National League


Lincoln City

Quarter Final

National League


10 Southampton

1899/1900 - Finalists


Right, so we are kicking off our list with a team you might be surprised to see; after all, the last time we checked, Southampton weren't a non-league team.

Well, if we go way back to the 1899/00 season, they very much were as they competed in the Southern League, which encompasses the seventh and eighth tiers of English Football today.

Now, a team in their position would have had to go through the six preliminary rounds before reaching the first round proper. Still, as they had been crowned Southern League champions three years on the bounce, the Saints were given a bye to the first round - they did not join the Football League proper until 1920.

On their way to the final, they beat Everton, Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion, and Millwall before coming unstuck against First Division Bury in the showpiece event.

The final was watched by 68,945 fans and ended 4-0 to the Lancashire outfit. However, Southampton had still massively overachieved, and surely no non-league side would ever actually win the competition, right?

9 Tottenham Hotspur

1900/1901 - Winners


A year after Southampton fell to the might of First Division side Bury, non-league Tottenham Hotspur lifted the FA Cup after beating Sheffield United 3-1 in a replay.

Yes, current Premier League regulars Tottenham were once a non-league side and remain to this day the only one to have won the prestigious cup competition.

Like Southampton, Spurs were a member of the Southern League at the time and were also given a bye to enter the competition in the first round proper.

On their way to the final they beat Preston North End, Bury, Reading, and West Bromwich Albion.

Their achievement stands alone to this day, but we can't place them any higher on this list due to the bye into the first round and the closer quality between leagues at the time.

8 Marine

2020/21- Third Round


We're sticking with Spurs for a moment, tangentially anyway, as our next team to make it onto the list faced them in the third round of the cup just under three years ago.

Marine AFC currently play in the Northern Premier League, which is the seventh tier of English football, but when they made it to the third round of the FA Cup in the 2020/21 season, they were a part of the Northern Premier League Division One North West, the eighth tier.

The Merseyside club had to win five games just to make it to the first round proper, but when they did, they were rewarded with a tie against League Two side Colchester United, who they beat 5-3 on penalties.

The journey continued into the second round with a win over sixth-tier Havant & Waterlooville before they were drawn into the biggest game in the club's history: a third round clash with Premier League outfit Tottenham.

There were 161 league positions between the two sides - the most in the competition's history - and while Marine ultimately lost 5-0, they created genuine history thanks to their fairytale run.

7 Wrexham

2022/23 - Fourth Round


The most recent run on the list features America's new favourite football team, Wrexham AFC.

As if being taken over by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and winning promotion to the Football League wasn't enough, the Welsh side also enjoyed a miraculous run in the FA Cup last year.

The Red Dragons entered the competition in the fourth qualifying round and progressed to the first round proper with a 3-2 replay win over Blyth Spartans, which was broadcast to the USA on ESPN. Yes, really.

They beat fellow National League side Oldham Athletic before breezing past non-league Farnborough in the second round. In the third round, things finally got interesting for the Disney stars, as they were drawn against Championship high-flyers Coventry City, who they beat 4-3.

The fourth round brought more Championship opposition in the form of Sheffield United, who played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Racecourse before ending the Hollywood story in the replay, winning 3-1.

6 Sutton United

1988/89 - Fourth Round


We're going back to the 1980s now, back to when non-league Sutton United battled their way to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

At the time, the south London club were playing in the fifth tier of English football and, as such, were given a bye into the fourth qualifying round, where they beat Walton & Hersham 3-0 in a replay to secure their place in the first round proper.

From there, they dispatched Dagenham and Aylesbury United before being given the intimidating draw of First Division side Coventry City in the third round.

The Sky Blues had won the competition only 18 months prior, so to describe this match as a David vs Goliath affair wouldn't be far off.

However, with their confidence high from the first two rounds and raucous home support, the men in yellow put Coventry to the sword and emerged 2-1 victors, with a place secured in the fourth round.

Unfortunately, Norwich City blew the plucky part-timers away in the next game and won 8-0.

5 Hereford United

1971/72 - Fourth Round


We're going even further back for our next choice, as it was in the 1971/72 season that Hereford United managed to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup as a Southern League club.

They were given a bye to the fourth qualifying round, where they beat Cheltenham Town 3-0 to secure a first-round proper tie against King's Lynn, who took them to a replay, which Hereford eventually won 1-0.

They played and beat fourth-tier side Northampton Town 2-1 after taking them to two replays before they were given the impossible task of beating First Division side Newcastle United in the third round.

Well, it looked impossible, but Hereford managed to come away from the tie as 2-1 winners after holding the Toon to a 2-2 draw at St James' Park. Their fourth-round opponents were another First Division side, West Ham United.

Hereford were the home team for the tie, and as they had with every other opponent thus far, they forced their opposition into a replay.

Unfortunately, they couldn't quite manage another giant-killing, but the Irons only managed three goals at Upton Park, and as a sign of respect, the team and fans clapped Hereford off the pitch due to their Herculean efforts.

4 Crawley Town

2010/11 - Fifth Round


This might be an unpopular entry; after all, FourFourTwo named them the 21st most hated side in British football, but Crawley Town's 2010/11 FA Cup campaign is still something to be applauded.

The team were playing in the National League at the time, and following their fourth-round qualifying win over Newport County, they prepared to take on non-league Guiseley, who they dispatched 5-0.

Their second-round opponents, Swindon Town, put up more of a fight and a replay was required to progress, whereas Derby County fell to a 2-1 defeat at the first time of asking.

Devonshire side Torquay United greeted Crawley in the fourth round, but the national league side once again breezed past their opponents with a 1-0 win.

However, the fifth round brought Manchester United to the party, which proved to be one step too many for the non-league side.

That said, Crawley put up a good fight, only losing 1-0 at Old Trafford, and they even had the chance to level the score in the dying moments of the game, but Richard Brodie's header thundered off the bar.

3 Yeovil Town

1948/1949 - Fifth Round


We're going back to the 1940s for this one and down to Somerset's finest - we think- Yeovil Town.

At the time, the Glovers were playing in the Southern League and had fought their way through the qualifying rounds and early rounds proper to reach the fourth round, where they would come up against their biggest test: First Division Sunderland.

At the time, the Black Cats were one of the best teams in the country and were colloquially known as the 'Bank of England Club' for their lavish spending on players. In contrast, Yeovil were a team of part-timers, school teachers and electricians.

It was a total mismatch in every way, and yet, with their home fans behind them, the men in green and white emerged victorious, with a place in the fifth round - just one game away from the quarter-finals.

However, let's just say their fifth-round game against Manchester United didn't exactly go to plan, as they ended up losing 8-0.

2 Sutton United

2016/17 - Fifth Round


Our pick for the second-best non-league FA Cup run sees Sutton United make their second appearance on this list as they managed to make it to the fifth round in the 2016/17 season.

At the time, the Us were in the National League after winning promotion from the National League South the season before, and after beating Forest Green Rovers 2-1 in the fourth qualifying round, they were drawn against non-league Dartford in the first round proper - who they beat 6-3.

The second round brought with it a 2-1 win over Cheltenham Town, followed by a 3-1 replay victory over AFC Wimbledon, which itself was followed by an impressive 1-0 win over Championship side Leeds United.

By now, Sutton were attracting plenty of media attention, which only increased after they were given a home tie against Arsenal in the fifth round.

Unfortunately, this is where their fairytale would end; despite putting up a good fight against the Gunners, they would come away from the game 2–0 losers.

However, the game will always be remembered for the trouble that goalkeeper Wayne Shaw got in for eating a pie in the dugout.

1 Lincoln City

2016/17 - Quarter Finals


Here we are then, our pick for the most extraordinary non-league FA Cup run of them all: Lincoln City's 2016/17 campaign.

The Imps were the surprise package for the FA Cup in the 2016/17 season, as despite plying their trade in the National League, they managed to reach the competition's quarter-finals.

They picked up some big scalps along the way, including Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and even Premier League outfit Burnley.

They eventually lost 5-0 to Arsenal in the quarter-finals, but they became the first non-league side to reach that stage of the FA Cup in 103 years, which is a genuinely remarkable achievement.

And there we have it, our list of the best FA Cup runs by non-league clubs, will we have to add another by the end of this season?