The County Cup competitions of Britain are made up of anachronisms as layered as puff pastry and yet they persist with varying degrees of success throughout the country. Only supported by die hard fans of the clubs involved here in Berkshire we look over the border enviously at the likes of Oxfordshire and Hampshire with a Senior competition that embraces all football in the county rather than a select few which gives our own competition a permanent feeling of deja vu.
A few seasons ago at one tie a friend extemporised about extending the concept further by invoking the spirit of European Competitions past by suggesting the introduction of a County Cup Winners' Cup. The idea soon gained some traction on social media so armed with a copy of Russell Grant's Real Counties of Britain, I obtained a full list of 2015 winners from the non league matters forum, and using the National Village Cricket Cup as a template devised the 2015/16 draw.
The Village Cup divides the country into four on a regional basis. Obviously with separate FAs Scotland and Wales would have their own competitions with all the winners coming together to contest a Home Nations County Cup Winners Cup before taking on the top French Departement Cup winner.
So here live from Lancaster Gate is the draw:
Preliminary Round (North)
1. North Yorkshire - Middlesbrough v East Yorkshire - Bridlington
2. Cumberland - Carlisle United v Westmorland - Keswick
Preliminary Round (Midlands)
3. Derbyshire - Matlock Town v Leicestershire & Rutland - Leicester City
4. Nottinghamshire - Basford United v Lincolnshire - Grimsby Town
5. Northamptonshire - Peterborough Northern Star v Huntingdonshire - Godmanchester Rovers
Preliminary Round (South East)
6. Buckinghamshire - Aylesbury United v Berkshire - Maidenhead United
7. Bedfordshire - Barton Rovers v Hertfordshire - Hemel Hempstead Town
8. Essex - Concord Rangers v Suffolk - Whitton United
9. Cambridgeshire - Cambridge City v Norfolk - Wroxham
10. Cheshire - Macclesfield Town v West Yorkshire - Bradford Park Avenue
11. Winners 1 v South Yorkshire - Frickley Athletic
12. Winners 2 v Lancashire - Chorley
13. Northumberland - Blyth Spartans v Durham - Shildon
14. Winners 4 v Winners 3
15. Herefordshire - Ledbury Town v Shropshire - Shrewsbury Town
16. Warwickshire - Birmingham City v Winners 5
17. Worcestershire - Kidderminster Harriers v Staffordshire - Stafford Rangers
18. Winners 6 v Winners 7
19. Winners 8 v Winners 9
20. Surrey - Metropolitan Police v Middlesex - Harrow Borough
21. Sussex - Whitehawk v Kent - Charlton Athletic
22. Hampshire - Gosport Borough v Wiltshire - Highworth Town
23. Devon - Plymouth Argyle v Cornwall - St. Austell
24. Dorset - Weymouth v Somerset - Taunton Town
25. Gloucestershire - Cirencester United v Oxfordshire - North Leigh
As you can see Berks and Bucks are already ahead of the game here by playing off already as do Leicestershire and Rutland (I couldn't work out the best team in each county for an extra preliminary round). All ties would take place on a Saturday, taking priority over league fixtures, kick off 3 pm. Highlights would be broadcast on the relevant regional BBC station.
The competition would proceed from these regional quarter-finals with regional semi-finals and a final, the winners of which would contest the national semi-finals (Midlands v North, South East v South West) to set up a north(ish) v south final. Can I suggest the county ground Letchworth Garden City as a suitably neutral venue for the final? See you there in May.