Updated: Nov 18, 2022
This marathon FA Cup ride spanned seven matches, no Frome Town side has played more in a single season in the world’s greatest knockout competition, and it began at Badgers Hill in front of the TV cameras in the middle of August…
Extra Preliminary Round….SHEPTON MALLET (H)
An ill-conceived entity called ITV Digital was created to rival Sky Sports, but it died soon after birth, leaving subscribers out of pocket (yes ITV, you still owe me about thirty quid) but during its brief existence, highlights of this A361 derby could be seen on the box.
One man eager to make an early impression on the tele was Robins striker Toby Colbourne who, having been set-up by Joe Gomes, netted after just THIRTEEN seconds.
A division lower, underdogs Shepton clawed their way back and levelled in the 38th minute only for Mark Salter to restore the lead instantly.
An anxious second half for the majority of the 169 present was finally settled right at the death with Colbourne’s overhead kick clinching the tie 3-1.
Preliminary Round….CINDERFORD TOWN (A)
A fortnight later and it was Frome’s turn to play the role of David in a tough looking fixture at Southern League Cinderford and their fears were realised in the opening exchanges with Richard Fey making save after save to keep them afloat.
The early storm weathered, they gradually got a foothold in the contest and went ahead just before half time when Aaron Salter’s long throw caused chaos in the box. Leaving Alex Lapham to turn in the loose ball.
Cinderford were a big, physical side but The Robins were resilient and when required, man of the match Fey came to the rescue to preserve the clean sheet and a fully deserved 1-0 triumph.
First Qualifying Round….BIDEFORD (H)
Old rivals Bideford were next and clearly up for the fight as they deservedly lead 1-0 at the break before Frome roused themselves and were level by the hour mark courtesy of a Jon Crowley header and they had the skipper to thank for a vital late interception which ensured a North Devon replay.
After Bide led through an early penalty under The Sports Ground’s imposing floodlights, this turned out to be an open end to end contest which Frome seemed destined to lose until the 86th minute when Gomes hit a long range screamer into the top corner to force extra time.
With their tails up, there was only going to be one outcome as Salter, twice brought down in the box, got up to fire home a brace of penalties to seal a thrilling 3-1 win and it was back to the same venue on the Saturday, the clubs’ third meeting in a week, as Frome came out on top again, 4-0 in the league.
Second Qualifying Round…POOLE TOWN (A)
Having avoided the big guns in the draw, this was, nonetheless, going to be a tricky tie at the School Lane ground of the Wessex League leaders who were on the crest of a wave of twelve straight wins.
An impressive following from Somerset boosted the crowd to 441 and the away contingent were in raptures when Salter headed home from a Lapham corner early doors as Frome looked comfortable for long periods in soaking up Poole pressure.
They looked to have clinched it seven minutes from the end when Simeon Allison’s stooping header doubled the lead, but Poole pulled one back in stoppage time to set up a frantic finale where Salter had the final say, finishing off a lightning break with a far post header,
3-1 Frome and they were in the Third Round hat for first time in twenty-four years.
Third Qualifying Round…TEAM BATH (H)
The much-maligned students were flying high, top of National League South, three levels above Frome yet the seemingly impossible almost happened.
Badgers Hill was bouncing with 504 inside and delirium broke out when Salter struck after just three minutes as The Robins were outstanding and when he despatched a 40th minute penalty, the 2-0 interval lead was no more than they deserved.
Sadly, this was the proverbial game of two halves and the university side were a different outfit after the break, playing the football they were capable of, pinning Frome, who resisted valiantly, in their own half for long periods.
As fitness levels were beginning to tell, Team Bath finally broke through on 74 minutes from an intense goalmouth scramble before home hearts were broken five minutes from time when Mike Perrott, who would become a Robin in the future, drilled home to make it 2-2 and snatch a replay.
Frome’s chance of further cup glory had surely gone but their faithful followers were not deterred, easily making up half of the 438 who were present at Twerton Park three days later.
It proved to be game too far and after an evenly contested opening half hour, the tenants broke the deadlock and proceeded to pick off the plucky Robins with three further second half strikes for a resounding 4-0 final score.
Under the management of Andy Crabtree and his assistant Derek Graham, this Frome squad was full of character as they dusted themselves down and went on to complete a memorable double that season of Somerset Premier Cup and promotion to the Southern League.
Ex Prelim Shepton Mallet (H) W 3-1
Prelim Cinderford (A) W 1-0
1st Qual Bideford (H) D 1-1 Replay (A) W 3-1 aet
2nd Qual Poole (A) W 3-1
3rd Qual Team Bath (H) D 2-2 Replay (A) L 0-4 [Thanks to Colin Carpenter for the match reports to enable this article to be written]
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