The FA Cup Third Round, Mark Franks and Woking FC’s greatest days

Mark Franks playing for Woking against West Bromwich Albion. Photo via @cardinal_tales
Mark Franks playing for Woking against West Bromwich Albion. Photo via @cardinal_tales

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The FA Cup 3rd Round gets underway at the weekend, and while we don’t have any clubs in it – we can latch on to Woking FC and their incredible 1990/91 run.

At the time, Woking were an Isthmian Premier Division side (what would be the Ryman League Premier these days) while West Brom were struggling in in Division 2 of the Football League (now the Championship) and doomed to relegation into the third division just four months later.

Woking’s cup run, victory over the Baggies and subsequent fourth round defeat at Goodison Park to Everton went down in folklore and made players like Tim Buzaglo and manager Geoff Chapple into household names.

West Bromwich Albion vs Woking highlights:

An incredible rise

What you might not know is that just five seasons before, the Cards were beaten to promotion from Division 2 South of the Isthmian League by none other than Bracknell Town.

Lloyd Wye and Adie Cowler – according to the programme produced when the two sides met in November 1985 – were both present in the line up and subsequently played in the match at West Brom according to our friends at Get Surrey.

The game at Larges Lane was, according to the Woking programme notes ‘a very dull game. Bracknell scored two gifted goals withing the first half hour and after that the game was very forgettable.’ – it doesn’t mention the score.

Bracknell were promoted at the end of the season as runners-up on 81 points while the Cards finished third three points behind.

It’s probably a bit of a stretch to say that losing out on promotion to Bracknell spurred Woking on to FA Cup glory, but we’re going to join the dots anyway..

Woking went two better the following season, beginning their ascent up the leagues with the Two South Championship, they finished third the following season (Bracknell were 19th and relegated).

Woking against West Bromwich Albion in the 1990/91 FA Cup. Photo via @cardinal_tales
Woking against West Bromwich Albion in the 1990/91 FA Cup. Photo via @cardinal_tales

Laying the foundation for what was to come, the Cards were promoted to the Isthmian Premier at the end of the 1989/90 season.

Swapping players

From that 1991 cup run, supporters at Larges Lane were blessed with the talents of Mark Franks who moved across to Berkshire along with Bradley Pratt who made several appearances.

Mark Franks (left) leaves the Goodison Park pitch after Woking are beaten by Everton in the 1990/91 FA Cup. Photo via @cardinal_tales
Mark Franks (left) leaves the Goodison Park pitch after Woking are beaten by Everton in the 1990/91 FA Cup. Photo via @cardinal_tales

Franks was of course in FA Cup heaven again in 2000 when Bracknell made history themselves, reaching the First Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first and only time in the clubs 120 year history.

Mark Franks pictured in the Wokingham Times for Bracknell Town (blue) against Lincoln City.
Mark Franks pictured in the Wokingham Times for Bracknell Town (blue) against Lincoln City.

Woking’s complete 1990/91 FA Cup run (compiled via the brilliant fchd.info):

Fourth Qualifying Round – BATH CITY (H) 2-1
First Round Proper – KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS (H) 1-1
First Round Proper replay – KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS (A) 2-1
Second Round Proper – MERTHYR TYDFIL (H) 5-1
Third Round Proper – WEST BROMWICH ALBION (A) 4-2
Fourth Round Proper – EVERTON (H) 0-1 – played at Everton

All images courtesy of @cardinal_tales

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