This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
The FA Cup sits comfortably among Britain's greatest sporting institutions. With a history stretching back to 1871, it is the oldest football competition in the world and still possesses huge cachet for players and supporters alike.
This weekend will see the Cup at what many supporters feel to be its best, with the third round fixtures being played. Set against grey January skies, this is the juncture at which Premier League clubs are introduced to the competition, giving lower- and non-league sides the opportunity to pull off a giant-killing. It is an opportunity to make history: the greatest David vs. Goliath victories go down in football folklore, with the added bonus of a vital cash injection for the triumphant club.
But, while seemingly in its early stages, the road to Wembley began some time ago. Two rounds have already been played, and even these do not represent the true beginning of the story. In fact, the FA Cup journey begins as early as August, when the country's smallest clubs play their preliminary fixtures. In total, there are six qualifying rounds before clubs even reach the first round proper.
London-based documentary photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are charting this journey by capturing scenes that unfold around the competition, from its humble beginnings through to the final in May. Here, their photos from the preliminary rounds show the Cup at its embryonic stages, where sometimes just a handful of fans cluster to watch amateur players compete in the iconic knockout tournament.