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WA’s rich football history has a silver lining

SEVENTY YEARS AGO…How about this for a stunning array of magnificent silver trophies. Pictured is the line-up of awards that were about to be handed out at the Western Australian Soccer Football Association Presentation Night, held at the Leederville Town Hall in October 1950. It is thanks to WA’s leading football historian Richard Kreider for unearthing this wonderful pictorial record.

Pride of place went to the Charity Cup (which stands out as the biggest of the trophies). It was won that year by Spearwood Rovers, who beat South Perth 3-1 in the final with Alan Beale (who was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 1996) scoring a hat-trick.

The Charity Cup was akin to the FA Cup, being WA’s reward in a knockout competition that began in 1903 (Olympic were the first winners, 2-0 over Civil Service at the ground that eventually became Perth Oval) and ended in 1961 (Swan Valley being the last winners).

1904 Perth squad
The 1904 Perth team with their prizes

In 1904 Perth won the Cup, with George Burt (an ancestor of current Football Hall of Fame WA Patron Julian Burt) scoring twice in the 3-1 win over Ex-Students in front of 1,500 on the Esplanade. George Burt, amazingly, was on hand to present the Charity Cup for the last time in 1961 to Swan Valley captain Ron Roki.

It was originally thought that the Burt family (headed by the then WA Attorney General Septimus Burt and the principal founder of the organised game in 1896 with five of his sons playing soccer) had donated the handsome Charity Cup.

But Richard Kreider discovered that it was Scottish-born engineer William Leslie (a key figure in the development of Fremantle Harbour) who commissioned the manufacture of the trophy, which was crafted in 1901 by a company in Sheffield, England. It stands three feet tall and comprises ten and a half pounds of silver. It cost 100 guineas, a sizeable sum in 1901. A firm in London made the base.

At the time it was described as the most sought-after sporting prize in WA – and the envy of the rest of Australia. It is now held for safe-keeping by the WA Museum, which occasionally puts it on display.

The Burt family are believed to have gifted what was the second League Cup in 1902 after the initial League prize (won by Fremantle Wanderers in 1896) “disappeared” following the Wanderers removal from the competition after a disagreement with the governing body in 1902. Wanderers eventually handed it back a few years later and it became a challenge trophy, but for which competition is not known.

The Burt family’s League Cup was regularly competed for until 1960, after which the game went from amateur to semi-professional (under a new association) and many of the well-known trophies and shields simply vanished.

“I would love to know what happened to the League Cup,” said Richard Kreider. “I believe it is just as valuable as the Charity Cup and is the trophy to hunt down. But where it is no one seems to know.”

Feature image: The League Cup is the first trophy on the left. The others on display are: Reserves Shield, Challenge Cup (1st div), Presentation Cup, Caris Cup, Charity Cup, Challenge Cup (3rd div), Dimmitt Cup, Cronshaw Cup, Reid Shield, Association Cup. The premiers of the first, second and third divisions also won impressive Pennants.

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