In today’s big-money football industry, the focus is typically on star players and managers. We saw the 2016-17 FA Cup, the game’s oldest cup competition, as an opportunity to reverse the camera and capture fan culture from grassroots up to the top teams, taking you on a footballing rite of passage. Unusually, the oldest footballing competition in the world is open to all clubs from the top 10 tiers of the English football league system. 

Starting at London Tigers v Sun Sports in the Extra Preliminary Round and following each winner to the next stage, we travelled a combined total of more than 3,000 miles over 10 months, taking in 13 rounds, 16 games (including two replays) and 47 goals. The smallest crowd we witnessed was 36, the largest 89,472. Que Sera Sera provides an anthropological look into football obsession, from grass roots to glory, in the country that brought football to the world. The series questions whether England’s pre-eminent domestic cup competition still retains its magic in the light of competition from top-flight football and the European cup competitions. 

London Tigers 1-1 Sun Sports, Avenue Park Stadium (60)

Sun Sports 2-0 London Tigers, Sun Sports Social Club (36)

Sun Sports 2-0 Northwood Town, Sun Sports Social Club (74)

Sun Sports 0-2 Hayes & Yeading, Sun Sports Social Club (155)

Hayes & Yeading 0-2 Worthing, Farm Park (175)

St Albans City 6-0 Worthing, Clarence Park (678)

Egham Town 0-1 St Albans City, the Runnymede Stadium (327)

St Albans City 3-5 Carlisle United, Clarence Park (3,473)

Carlisle United 0-2 Rochdale, Brunton Park (4,426)

Barrow 0-2 Rochdale, Halker Street (4,517)

Rochdale 0-4 Huddersfield Town, Spotland Stadium (7,431)

Huddersfield Town 0-0 Manchester City, Kirklees Stadium (24,129)

Manchester City 5-1 Huddersfield Town, Etihad Stadium (42,425)

Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester City, Riverside Stadium (32,228)

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City, Wembley Stadium (85,725)

Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal, Wembley Stadium (89,472)


The opening FA Cup round is played in early August. London Tigers play Sun Sports at the Avenue Park Stadium, alongside the A40 motorway.


The Sun Sports squad warm up on a patch of grass next to the social club, before the game with Hayes and Yeading United. 


A dozen supporters remain to see the dying minutes of the Sun Sports and London Tigers extra preliminary round replay.


Sun Sports fans gather for their preliminary round tie against Northwood Town.


Three Northwood Town fans watching the action in the preliminary round, with a place in the first qualifying round at stake.


Seating designated for the away club officials at Farm Park, Hayes.


St Albans City battle against Worthing in the third qualifying round match.


The Egham Town club bar.


Clarence Park turnstile before the first round proper between St Albans City and Carlisle.


A Carlisle supporter in the half-time cafe queue at Clarence Park.


St Albans City fans celebrate following a late second-half goal to make it 3-3 against Carlisle.


Barrow fans at the Ray Wilkie Popular Side Stand, Holker Street.


The mother and daughter team who run the ‘Golden Gamble’ competition at Spotland in-house pub at Rochdale.


Rochdale fans outside Spotland following defeat to Huddersfield Town.


The view from the Revell Ward Stand at the John Smith's Stadium. The Huddersfield Town and Manchester City players walk on to the pitch in the all Premier League fifth round tie.


A lone Huddersfield fan in the Kilner Bank Stand lets the Manchester City faithful know exactly what he thinks about their chants.


A Middlesbrough ball boy is distracted by the teams walking out onto the pitch in the quarter-final match against Manchester City.


Young Manchester City fans join in a chant of ‘Blue Moon’ as their coach pulls into the car park at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.


Manchester City fans in a moment of ecstasy, after their team opens the scoring in the Wembley semi-final.


In extra time Arsenal fans watch in anticipation, following a late comeback.


On the Metropolitan Line, a Chelsea fan makes his way to the final.


Arsenal fans on the Jubilee Line making their way home after their team’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Wembley.


The Gunners pub in Islington goes crazy when Arsenal score the winning goal in the FA Cup Final.