The FA Cup, or Football Association Challenge Cup, is a knockout football competition that takes place annually in the UK. It is organised by the Football Association, which the cup is also named after and is the oldest association football competition in the world. At the same time as the FA Cup is held, the women’s football version, The FA Women’s Cup, is also held.
The FA Cup was first held in 1871, and entry is open to all teams who compete in the Premier League, Football League and steps 1 to 5 of the FA National League system – as well as selected teams from step 6 of the FA National League. This means that in 2014-2015 736 teams were eligible to play. It also means that clubs of all levels, from amateur village teams to those in the top flight of the premiership all have chance to win it, and it is famous for the fact that low flight teams have been known to knock out top clubs from the tournament in the early stages. However, the qualification rounds and a system of “byes” (the transfer of a competitor directly to the next round of a competition in the absence of an assigned opponent) means that the very smallest and very biggest teams hardly ever meet.
The FA Cup competition is a knockout competition with the pairings for each round drawn at random. The draw for each round is not made until after the scheduled dates for the previous round – except for the Preliminary and First Qualifying Rounds, which are drawn at the same time as the Extra Preliminary Round. The draw also confirms which team will play at home. Each tie is now played as a single leg – replacing the old system of replaying the game until there was a clear winner, which sometimes took up to 6 extra games! If the first match is drawn, there is now one replay allowed and if this is drawn it goes to extra time and then penalty shoot-outs. Replays are not held for the semi-final or finals.
The competition begins in August each year, with the lowest-ranked clubs (level 9) contesting the Extra Preliminary Round, followed by the Preliminary Round (level 8), and then the First Qualifying Round (level 7). In the Second Qualifying Round teams from the Conference, North and Conference South join, followed by the Conference Premier clubs joining in the Fourth Qualifying Rounds. The 32 winners from this round then progress to the First Round Proper where they are joined by the 48 clubs from League One and League Two. In the Third Round Proper, the teams from the Premier League and the Football League Championship finally enter at which point there should be 64 teams left in the competition. The Sixth Round Proper is the quarter-final stage at which point eight teams remain.
The rounds are played out in a set pattern, with the first round played in Mid-November, the Second in December, the Third in early January, the Fourth in late January, the Fifth in mid-February, the Sixth in March and the semi-finals in April. This year the FA Cup Semi Finals will be played on Saturday 18th April and Sunday 19th April with Reading playing Arsenal on Saturday and Aston Villa playing Liverpool on Sunday. Unfortunately for Manchester, both Manchester teams have been knocked out of the FA Cup already. Manchester City were knocked out by Middlesbrough on the 24th January, and Manchester United were knocked out in the sixth round by Arsenal on the 9th March.
However, you can still have a great day out at the FA Cup final, which will take place at Wembley on Saturday 30th May this year. At the end of the Final, the winning team will be presented with the FA Cup – which is presented to the winning team from the Royal Box where the players led by the Captain mount a staircase and process in front of the box before descending via a second staircase. Last year’s winners of the FA Cup were Arsenal, who won 3-2 against Hull City. Interestingly enough, a fortnight later Arsenal Ladies won the 2014 FA Ladies Cup against Everton Ladies, giving Arsenal a rare FA Cup double.
If you want to attend the FA Cup final this year, or indeed any other football game, why not give Manchester Minibus a shout? We love football and will guarantee that you will arrive at the game refreshed and relaxed and ready to watch your team win!
The Grand National 2015 – Minibus Hire to the Races
The three day Grand National festival, is one of the biggest events in the Horse Racing calendar, a day at the races should be penciled in everyones calendar this year! The National was first run at Aintree, Liverpool in 1839 and the first horse that won was very aptly named Lottery! The festival opens on Thursday 9th April which is “Grand Opening Day” and features live entertainment and music as well as horse racing of course! Day two is the exciting “Ladies Day” when ladies from the country over flock to show off their best outfits in a bid to be crowned “Most Stylish Racegoer”. Saturday 11th April sees the climax of the festival with the 168th Grand National Race taking place. Why not experience the drama and excitement for yourself, and hire Manchester Minibus to get you there and back?
The Grand National race is the highlight of the festival for most. It features around 40 horses racing around a four mile track which contains about 30 imposing fences. The fences themselves have names that are known the world over – who hasn’t heard of “Becher’s Brook”, “The Canal Turn”, “Valentine’s” or “the Chair”? The race day it tends to pull in crowds of around 70000 people, so there is a real buzz in the air, especially when the race is on. The prize money this year will top £1million again, with the winner most probably decided in the 465 yards between the last fence and the winning post. Whatever happens, the whole crowd will be on their feet roaring in despair or celebration!
The price of your ticket for the Grand National will not only depend on which day you attend, but where you stand/sit. Aintree has five main stands: The Princess Royal Stand, The County Stand, The Queen Mother Stand, The Earl of Derby Stand, and The Lord Sefton Stand – as well as the Tattersalls enclosure, the Steeplechase enclosure and the new Platinum Country Lounge. All of the stands have seating areas except the Country Stand, and the majority of them are covered. Aintree has recently introduced the Platinum Country Lounge, which overlooks not only the famous water jump but the winning post itself. The priciest option, but will definitely guarantee a great day out!
There is no official dress code for the Grand National as such, but they do like you to be smart. Sports clothing and fancy dress are definitely not allowed! If you are going to Ladies Day on the Thursday you should go all out to impress! Last year’s winner bagged herself an all-inclusive holiday to the Dominican Republic worth £10,000 and a £250 gift card for Liverpool One every month for a year! Not a bad result from a day at the Races!
If you are new to racing, there are a few things to remember to help you make the most of your day:
Cash – most bookmakers will only accept cash of £5 or more, although you can pay by debit or credit card at the Totes
Race card – essential item for the day including lots of tips and features. Why not buy yours beforehand so you can study it thoroughly?
Camera – but don’t forget to disable the flash so that you don’t upset the horses
Binoculars – bring your own or hire them on the day – perfect for keeping a close eye on how the horse you backed is doing through the race.
February is the month of love after all, and if you were lucky enough to bag yourself a fiancé on Valentine’s Day then you may be thinking about places to get married in Manchester. Manchester is such a cool and ecentric place to live, so why not choose a unique venue for your wedding, somewhere that reflects you and your partner’s personalities? And you don’t have to worry about getting your guest’s there – just talk to Manchester Minibus, and they can sort out transport from Ceremony to Reception for everybody!
The Deaf Institute
Any Mancunian worth their salt will know of The Deaf Institute. Manchester Deaf and Dumb Institute was opened in 1878 and contained a chapel, a large club and meeting room, a smoking room, a gym and offices – to cater for the 750 deaf and mute people living in Manchester & Salford at that time. After falling into rack and ruin over the years, it was refurbished and opened as a live music bar and café about six years ago. Keeping many of its original features, The Deaf Institute is well known for its amazingly stylish interior – think damask wallpaper, cuckoo clocks, velvet seats, chandeliers, and vintage modern furniture. The great thing about The Deaf Institutes is as it is a music venue already, it is kitted out with its bar, stage, sound equipment, glass balcony, theatre seating area and most importantly, a ginormous disco ball!! There are loads of scope for whatever kind of wedding you want – you can hire individual rooms or take over the whole place!
Manchester Art Gallery
Looking for something more cultural? Then treat your guests to a Manchester Minibus ride to the Manchester Art Gallery. The outside of the building is pure Victorian fantasy while the inside is light and modern. Imagine how amazing your photos will be, set against the galleries and artworks here? You can start by welcoming your guests with a cocktail in the glass atrium, then move them through to the stylish Gallery Restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, watch everyone shaking their tail feathers on the specially constructed dance floor in the stunning Entrance Hall!! This amazingly chic venue just keeps on surprising, with private tours of the various galleries for your guests too! Manchester Art Gallery is also a licenced Civil Ceremony venue, so you ca have both your wedding & reception here.
Museum of Science & Industry
Why not do something different and have your wedding and reception at the site of the World’s oldest surviving passenger railway station? Have your wedding ceremony in the amazing Station Master’s House, and then mingle with your guests on the train station platform before strolling along to the incredible power hall where you can enjoy your dinner amongst the world’s largest collection of steam engines and locomotives. This place will ensure your wedding is full of character!
Runway Visitors Park
Staying with the transport theme, why not get Manchester Minibus to transport your guests to the unusual surroundings of the Runway Visitors Park? Situated right next to Manchester Airport, this venue is home to the flagship of the Concorde fleet, which is licenced for civil ceremonies. Yes, you can get married on board Concorde! Housed in an amazing hall with views of the runway, your wedding here is sure to surprise and delight!
The Verve began life in Wigan in 1990, and comprised of lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bass guitarist Simon Jones, and drummer Peter Salisbury. They held their first gig at a mate’s birthday party in August of 1990, at the Honeysuckle Pub in Wigan. They then went on to be signed by Hut Records in 1991, and their first three singles all went to number one in the Indie Singles chart. They released their first album in 1993 at the same time as touring with the then relatively unknown Manchester band Oasis, and rapidly became known for their excessive rock star behaviour! Richard Ashcroft was hospitalised for dehydration after one particularly heavy drinking session, whilst the drummer was arrested in Kansas, USA for destroying his hotel room whilst under the influence of drugs! The next few years were turbulent for The Verve, with Ashcroft breaking the band up before re-forming them again in 1996 with a change in lead guitarist. In 1997 they recorded the album “Urban Hymns” from which the first single “Bittersweet Symphony” was a massive success, which unfortunately became marred by legal battles. The song was based on a 4-bar orchestral take from The Rolling Stones “The Last Take” which they were permitted to use, however once the song was released The Rolling Stones felt it relied to heavily on the vocal melody of their song as well, and in the end The Verve were forced to surrender the copyright and all royalties to Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. In August 1997 they released their first UK number one single “the Drugs Don’t Work” but it all sadly went downhill from there! Tours were downsized, support acts flopped out and there were rumours of big bust ups within the band. They split again in 1999 only to reform briefly in 2007 to split again in 2009.
The Doves was formed in Handforth, Cheshire in 1989 by twin brothers Jez & Andy Williams and their friend Jimi Goodwin. Having first played together at School at the age of 15, they met again in the Hacienda in 1989 and formed their band “Sub Sub” with a dance orientated feel – releasing their first single “Space Face in 1991” and their best known single “Ain’t No Love, Ain’t No Use” in 1993. On the twin’s birthday in February 1996, their Ancoats recording studio burnt down destroying everything, but rather than throw in the towel they reformed themselves as “Doves” and focused on a more alternative rock style of music. They released three EPS in 1999 all of which met with a great response, and then followed this up with their best-selling album “The Lost Broadcast” in 2001, a track from which, “Pounding”, was used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. They went from success to success, opening for U2 at Twickenham, and supporting Oasis and Coldplay in 2005. They released a “Best Of” album in 2010 before taking a break from recording. In July 2014, Jez & Andy Williams announced that they had formed a new band “Black Rivers” & they are currently on a UK tour.
A more recent band than some of the others on this list, The Courteeners were formed in Middleton in 2006 by Liam Fray, Michael Campbell, Daniel Moores and Mark Joseph Cuppello with the aim of being an indie punk band. Again, they all met at School, they formed after lead singer (& songwriter) Liam dropped out of his Business Studies degree to take a creative writing degree, and realised that music was where his forte lay. Their first gig was at the Manchester Roadhouse in October 2006, and they were soon taken to Manchester’s heart gathering a word-of-mouth following due to their extensive gigging schedule. They released their first single, “Cavorting” in August 2007 which didn’t make much noise in the charts, and this was followed by “Acrylic” in October 2007 which reached number 44. They released their debut album “St Jude” with a launch party at HMV on Market Street, Manchester in April 2008, the first single from which “Not Nineteen Forever” got to number 19 in the UK charts and was their highest placed single ever. The album “St Jude” also won “Guardian First British Album Award” in the prize’s inaugural year. The band have been steadily popular since then, releasing another two albums, completing more tours, and playing at various festivals. They have a fan in fellow Mancunian musician Morrissey, who is quoted as saying: “Every song is very strong and full of hooks and dynamics”. Bono has also called them “The Best Band of the last 10 years”
The Stone Roses
No list of the best Manchester bands can be complete without a mention of the incredible Stone Roses. They were one of the pioneering groups of the Madchester era in the 80’s and 90’s, starting out as “The Patrol” & “The Waterfront” before finally settling on “The Stone Roses” in 1984. One of their most famous songs “I Wanna Be Adored” was premiered on a love show on Piccadilly radio in 1985. The next few years were spent gigging, and touring, until 1989 when they released their first album “The Stone Roses” quickly followed by the single “She Bangs the Drums” which reached number one on the UK Independent Chart and gave them a top forty hit. 1989 was also the year where they won Band of the Year, Best New Band, Single of the Year (for “Fools Gold”) and Album of the Year at the NME awards – their best year yet! A tour of Europe in 1992 and 1993 unfortunately drew them away from the Manchester Scene which they were so much a part of, and their popularity began to wane. After releasing their second album in 1994, the band trundled on for a couple of years, before the group was dissolved in 1996. The individual band members then went on to have successful music careers with lead singer Ian Brown going solo, guitarist John Squire forming the band “The Seahorses”, and Mani joining Primal Scream as the bassist. The Stone Roses reformed in 2011, completing a sell-out tour of the UK, which was followed by the documentary “The Stone Roses: Made of Stone” following shortly after.
Actually formed in the West Midlands, but credited as being a Manchester band due to them relocation to lead singer Tim Burgess’s home in Nantwich Cheshire just before their debut single was released in 1990. The Charlatan’s sound was a distinctive mix of 1960 soul, R&B and garage rock and this is best heard on their career changing (and most famous single) “The Only One I Know” which was released in 1991. The band stayed in the public eye for the next few years, although subsequent singles failed to do well until 1994 when their self-titled fourth album topped the UK album chart and they had a top 20 chart success with single “Just When You’re Think’ Things Are Over”. Tragically, their keyboard player Rob Collins was killed in a car crash whilst they were recording their fifth album, but after a period of mourning the band decided to continue on in his memory and released the album in 1997. The Charlatans have released 8 albums since then and gone through a number of line-up changes. They were also touched by tragedy again in 2013 when drummer Jon Brookes succumbed to the brain cancer he had been fighting for so long. Having never reached the heights of “The Only One I Know” again, their 12th studio album is due to be released shortly.
As the leading Manchester Minibus Hire Company in the area we are more than happy yo take you on a tour of our fantastic city, whether it is to see a gig, go to a football match or just to see our great city then give us a call today on 0161 900 9535
We here at Manchester minibus love our city, it’s a hive of creativity and innovation – in the worlds of music, fashion, science, and so on. Music has always been really important in Manchester, it seems to flow though the Mancunian’s veins, and we have produced some of the most loved bands in the World. So sit back, relax and let Manchester Minibus take you through some of our favourites:
Often mistakenly believed to have originated in Liverpool, The Hollies began life as a duo in Salford – two school friends Allan Clarke & Graham Nash started to perform together in the 1950s. Starting as a guitar and vocal duo, they later joined up with local band The Fortunes and became a six piece band. In 1962, Clarke & Nash both quit the Fortones, to join “The Deltas” which then changed its name to “The Hollies” in December 1962 as a tribute to their idol Buddy Holly. Their life-changing moment came in January 1963, when at a gig at The Cavern Club in Liverpool they were spotted by an assistant producer at Parlophone who offered them an audition. They were successful in their audition, to the point that one of the songs they sang in their audition was released as their first single in 1963 and got to number 25 in the UK Singles Chart! The band continued to be successful releasing three albums and lots more hit singles, mostly cover versions, until August 1968 when Graham Nash quit the band to move to LA and write songs. After his move, he joined up with Stephen Stills & David Crosby to form one of the first ever Supergroups – Crosby, Stills & Nash. Nash was replaced in The Hollies by Terry Sylvester and continued to do well, scoring top 20 hits with their next few single releases. However, in 1971 in a surprise move, Allan Clarke departed the band after many clashes with their producer over material and he was replaced by singer Mikael Rickfors. The Rickfors led Hollies was not successful in the charts, and so there was a sigh of relief when Clarke re-joined the band in 1973 & Rickfors left swiftly. The Hollies continue to be successful to this day, still touring, and their music has appeared in several adverts. They have also been inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
A world away from the sound of The Hollies are New Order, an English rock band formed in Manchester in the summer of 1980 from the remaining members of Joy Division who were still in shock after the tragic suicide of their front man Ian Curtis. Their combination of electronic dance music and post punk influences made them one of the most influential bands on the Madchester scene of the 80s culminating in the bestselling 12 inch single of all time “Blue Monday” in 1983. New Order were known as the flagship band of Manchester based Factory Records, with founder Tony Wilson reportedly using his life savings to start them off. They carried on releasing albums and singles until 1993, where they took a break to fulfil their own side projects but reformed again in 1998 when they gigged for a couple of years before releasing a new single in 2001, and featuring in the biopic factory Records film “24 Hour Party People” in 2002. They released a new album “Waiting for the Sirens’ Call” in 2005, the same year that Joy Division/New Order won the NME “Godlike Genius” Award but sadly in 2009 New Order was dissolved when band members wanted more time to spend on their individual projects. New Order reunited again in 2011 and they continue to tour and are working on a new album.
Another band who are forever linked with the Madchester scene are The Happy Mondays, formed by Sean Ryder and his brother Paul in Salford in the 1980s they were discovered by Tony Wilson of Factory Records at a “Battle of the Bands” night at the Hacienda nightclub in 1985 – so the legend goes. Their first album, imaginatively titled “Squirrel and the G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Can’t Smile (White Out) debuted in 1987, followed by “Bummed” in 1990 and the platinum selling “Thrills, Pills & Bellyache” in 1990. This album put the Happy Mondays firmly on the map as an influential band, and spawned two of their greatest hits “Step On” and “Kinky Afro” both of which reached number 5 in the UK charts. They were a huge influence on the Manchester music scene at the time, and are famous for inspiring such bands as The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and Oasis. The Mondays disbanded in 1993, when Sean Ryder and Bez formed “Black Angel” but they would reform again in 1999 with some of the members of “Black Grape” joining them. They toured extensively for the next few years, but were dissolved once again in 2001 when Paul Ryder left. Again they reformed in 2004, without Paul, touring and playing at festivals until they were once again dissolved in 2010 as Sean wanted to concentrate on his solo career. In 2012 the Happy Mondays reformed again, with their original line-up, and they released a “Best-Of” album shortly after. They have continued to gig for the past few years, and are currently writing a new album! So, watch this space!
As touched on previously, Joy Division were marred by tragedy in 1980 when lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide on the eve of their first American tour. However, previous to this they had achieved great success in the short time they were making music. Formed by Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris in Salford in 1976 they were originally called “The Stiff Kittens” which was quickly changed to “Warsaw” before their first public gig. In early 1978 they renamed themselves “Joy Division” to avoid confusion with another Rock bank called the “Warsaw Pakt”. They released a couple of tracks in 1978 and this was followed by an appearance on “Granada Reports” which was hosted by Tony Wilson of Factory Records fame. Joy Division signed to Factory Records shortly after. On December 27th of the same year, after finishing a gig in London, lead singer Ian Curtis suffered his first epileptic fit which ended in him being taken to hospital. Despite his illness, the band continued to rise in success and in 1979 they began recording their first album “Unknown Pleasures” at Strawberry Studios in Stockport. They performed on “Granada Reports” again in 1979, and then went on to support the Buzzcocks on a 24 venue UK tour. Lack of sleep and long hours on a European tour in 1980 seem to have made Ian Curtis’s seizures uncontrollable, and they started to happen during shows which left him embarrassed and depressed. On 7th April he attempted suicide by taking a drug overdose. Fortunately, he survived, but several more gigs in April had to be cancelled due to his ill health. On 18th May 1980, on the morning of the day that Joy Division were meant to set off on an American Tour, Ian Curtis hung himself in his kitchen. His body was found by his estranged wife Debbie, and the music world went into mourning. The posthumously released single “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was released in June 1980 and achieved number 13 in the UK Singles chart. The remaining members of the band later formed “New Order”
Often referred to as the Marmite of the music world, The Smiths were formed in Manchester in 1982 by Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rouke and Mike Joyce. They chose the name “The Smiths” as a reaction against what they saw as the pretentious names of such bands as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Spandau Ballet. Their first single “Hand in Glove” was released in 1983, and this was followed by “This Charming Man” and “What Difference Does it Make” – all of which failed to set the charts alight. In February 1994, they released their first album “The Smiths” which made it to Number 2 in the album charts, despite claims that some of the songs were about paedophilia – a claim vehemently denied by the group. The album was followed by the release of non-album single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” in the same year, and this was the band’s first top ten hit. Early in 1995, The Smiths released their second album “Meat is Murder” which reached number one in the UK charts (their only album to do so) and was subsequently ranked as 295 in NMEs list of the top 500 albums of all time. Their third album “The Queen is Dead” was released in June 1986, and this was followed by a period of unrest which ended with Andy Rourke was fired from the band due to his drug use. The remaining members of the band released “Shelia takes a Bow” in 1987, which went on to become their second greatest hit, reaching number 2 in the charts. The Smiths disbanded in the summer of 1987 when Marr left the group. Since the demise of the Smiths, all of the members have continued to work in Music, with Morrissey perusing a solo career, Rouke becoming a radio DJ and Joyce recording with several other bands.
That’s all for now, keep your eye on Manchester Minibus blog though to see our last five picks of our favourite Manchester Bands!
If you want a Manchester Minibus tour to see some of Manchester great musical historical music venues where these legendary bands have played then please give us a call on 0161 900 9535