It's a Game of 12 Halves

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Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION Before football penalty shoot-outs, what was the record of replays to settle a cup tie? THE record to settle an FA Cup tie was in 1971 between Alvechurch of the Midland Combination and Oxford City of the Isthmian League. They met six times in 17 days.

Alvechurch player Graham Allner said: 'We didn't know the Oxford players at the start but we were on first-name terms at the end. We were turning up as if longlost mates.

'It was like going to work every day -- the same teams, the same players, the same result.' The six games needed five different grounds. All but the first and last went to extra time, making a total of 11 playing hours. Captains John Hunt of Alvechurch and John Woodley of Oxford tossed the coin ten times, including at the start of extra time. Only nine goals were scored in the 660 minutes.

The sides met at Alvechurch for the first game on November 6, 1971. Four goals were shared then two in the replay at Oxford 48 hours later.

The second replay at Birmingham City, in front of 3,600, was a 1-1 draw, with some players suffering from cramp and exhaustion. The third, at the Manor Ground, home of Oxford United, was a goal-less draw and drew a jocular comment that the FA Cup Final may have to be put back. …