WHAT is possibly the oldest football trophy in Ireland has been unveiled to the public after being held in trust for the past 100 years.
And maybe it should be the rallying call for a much-older – and more valuable – trophy that has been held by the West Australian Museum for over 50 years to also make a re-appearance.
The Lipton Cup – known in Ireland as the Peace Cup – was donated to Clones Town FC by Scottish-born tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton in 1913. And WA’s Charity Cup, which was first competed for in 1903, was donated by another Scotsman, William Leslie, a Perth-based engineer.
Born in Glasgow to Ulster parents, Sir Thomas created his famous tea brand in 1890 – but he was also a great sportsman, competing for yachting’s America’s Cup five times and his international football tournament for the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909 and 1911 in Turin was the forerunner to the World Cup, which began in 1930.
Italy, Germany and Switzerland sent their best sides to compete in the Turin event, but the English FA refused. Instead, Sir Thomas invited amateur team West Auckland FC to take part – and they won the event both times. The story is commemorated in the TV film “The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale” starring Denis Waterman.
A rare Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy medal fetched $12,000 when it went up for sale at a Newcastle auction in 2011. It was originally found at a car boot sale and is one of only four known to exist.
Top Picture: Alo Mohan and his son Matthew show off the Lipton Cup.
Bottom Picture: Frederick Burt (left middle row), one of the five footballing Burt brothers, and his Perth FC team-mates with the magnificent Charity Cup dominating a row of trophies in 1904.
On the 100th anniversary of their win, West Auckland sent a team to play Juventus in Turin in 2009. The Italian side included Alessandro Del Piero, who has just finished a two-year stint with Sydney FC in the A-League.
Meanwhile, the so-called Peace Cup was only ever played for once before the outbreak of the First World War.
The following years were fraught with turbulence and the cup was delivered into the care of a local solicitor on condition that it would be handed back when the time was right. Local legend said that it would not be played for again “until peace reigns on this island”.
Alo Mohan, the cup’s trustee, said that it holds a special significance in the border area.”After the First World War broke out there would have been a lot of tension in the area. There was no border here, but there would have been tensions between the communities and that is what gave it the name the Peace Cup,” he said.
WA”s Charity Cup was crafted by an English firm in 1901. It stands three feet tall and comprises over 10lbs of silver. Olympic were the first winners in 1903, while Perth FC, with many of the trail-blazing Burt brothers in their line-up, won the following season.
In his book, Paddocks to Pitches, WA football historian Richard Kreider describes the Charity Cup as “one of the most striking works of craftmanship ever sculpted out of silver.”
When WA football suffered a split in 1960, the Charity Cup was won by Swan Athletic the following season and was then donated to the WA Museum.
Perhaps one day it can be restored to its rightful position as a magnificent trophy to be competed for and treasured.
*The photo of Perth FC with the Charity Cup is reproduced in life size on the windows of Football West’s new offices in Lord Street in Perth.