The Luton Charity Cup
Luton Town played just seven competitive games between its formation in April 1885 and the Annual General Meeting in August 1889. The F.A. Cup was the sole competition the club entered. All the other games had been friendlies. If the club were to progress then more competitive games were needed to test the players and raise the profile of the club which would in turn attract better players.
It was decided to enter the Kettering Charity Cup for the 1889/90 season. This was a knockout tournament competed for by clubs within a certain radius of Kettering. Charity Cup competitions had become popular with clubs as they added extra competitive games to their diaries. Moreover, as the title implies, the proceeds of the competition, after expenses, would go to a charity. The gate money from the semi-finals and final tie would go to, in Kettering’s case, the Northampton Infirmary and the Kettering Dispensary. At this time people had to pay for their own medical care and a visit to hospital would be expensive for most people. It appears that, in practice, the hospital took what the patient could afford. The balance was made up from charitable donations gained from organised events and individuals. The local newspapers often published details of other donations from individuals such as the following from July 1890.
“The Luton Cottage Hospital report for the week ending 28th July 1890 showed that they “admitted 5, discharged 2, remaining 14, dead 1”. The hospital received charitable donations from the public and these are listed as follows: “Presents – Mrs Tydeman, pudding, flowers and eggs; Mrs. J.H. Brown, fruit; Horticultural Society, vegetables; Mrs Ward and Mrs Gurney, vegetables; Park-street Primitive Methodist Chapel, flowers; Friends, papers; Mrs Carruthers, papers; Mrs Venus, flowers; House Committee present – Messrs Smart, Ewen, Williams, Lye and Phillips”. The Medical Officer for the ensuing week was Mr Sworder.”
Luton Town reached the final of the Kettering Charity Cup in the first season, losing to a superb Grantham Rovers team (who won it three years running and kept the trophy) after a replay. The cup run really captured the imagination of the Luton public with over 500 travelling to Kettering for each of the final games on board specially chartered trains. The competition had a direct impact on the local press who were often hostile to football. At last they woke up to the fact that football helped to sell newspapers. The fact that football was helping raise substantial sums for charity (and the poor) also no doubt influenced the attitude of the newspapers. The Luton Reporter newspaper soon adopted a football gossip column. A supporter wasted no time in writing the following letter to the Luton Reporter which was published on the 3rd May 1890.
“Proposed Charity Football Cup.”
“Sir, I must ask you to excuse my again troubling you, but not hearing anything was being done towards getting up a “Cup” for Luton I thought perhaps another reminder would not be out of place. My idea is that now is the time to get the subscribers. Just at the close of a very enjoyable and successful season people have more sympathy, and will give more freely now than in three months’ time. I would suggest that the amount to be raised should not be less than £100 in subscriptions of 10s and 20s., and a committee be formed for the subscribers. Let it be thoroughly understood that only those that give will have any voice in the management and arrangement of this “Cup,” so as to prevent any packed meeting electing a committee to have control and perhaps not a man amongst them gave a shilling.
I am surprised that the committee of the Hospital have not taken any interest in this suggested “Charity Cup”, seeing they would be so largely invested. Perhaps they do not require the monetary assistance, or object to the means by which it is procured. Any way I don’t suppose the Children’s Home will have any of this feeling, and would suggest if not handing all the proceeds over to them, giving them a good part and securing the co-operation. To carry this to a successful issue a committee should be formed at once to see about raising the money and getting all in working order before the next football fixtures are arranged.
Before concluding, I should like to make one remark respecting the public meeting that will be called to elect the committee for next season’s football. I think, sir, it should either be a meeting of those persons that are subscribers, or if a public meeting only subscribers should be allowed to vote. One hears a lot of talk about these meetings being packed by friends or special players, who never take season tickets, and outvote those who are the support of the club. Of course this is unfair, and uncivil of the managers to allow it to exist when they have had it brought before their notice.
I am, sir, yours,
Momentum gathered the following week when the Luton Times supported the idea and the editorial of the 10th May Luton Reporter took up the campaign.
“A proposal to establish a Football Challenge Cup for the benefit of local charities, which a correspondent ventured to make through the medium of our columns, has been taken up by a number of gentlemen interested in the game, and we hope soon to be able to say that there is a prospect of the idea being carried out with the success it deserves. The suggestion is to offer a cup to be played for annually by clubs within a certain radius of Luton, the gate-money collected at the final matches, which would take place in the town, being devoted to the funds of the Cottage Hospital, the Children’s Home, or other public institutions. The idea, in short, is but to copy a system which is being practiced very successfully in some other parts of the country, and there is no reason to doubt that the result would be any less satisfactory here.”
The news column added more details.
“The proposed football charity cup. The letters which appeared in our columns during the last few weeks in the direction of forming a Charity Cup Association in aid of the Bute Hospital and Children’s Home was discussed at a meeting at the Town Hall last (Thursday) night in furtherance of the object. The Mayor (Alderman Alexander) occupied the chair, and there was a fair attendance of those interested in football, while the Cottage Hospital was represented by Dr. Sworder and Mr F.W. Back. The Mayor, in opening the meeting, wished the project success, and trusted that the necessary money would be raised. Mr G. Fryson said that owing to the success of the Luton team in their recent engagements in the Kettering Cup competition a number of inquiries were made in the town “Cannot we have a Football Charity Cup in Luton?” They had been informed that last year £50 was handed over by Kettering authorities to the charities, and it was anticipated that about £120 would be realised this year. It had been thought that what could be done at Kettering could be done at Luton and he would add that the two institutions which had been mentioned were very deserving of support. Mr H. Beecroft suggested that a committee should be formed to make the preliminary inquiries and to collect subscriptions. He though they would need quite £70 to provide a good cup and to cover the original expense. Mr F. Scott intimated that the value of the Kettering Cup was stated at £50, and one to represent that value could be obtained for about £35. Mr H. Beecroft proposed that there should be such a competition, and that the two charities should be the Cottage Hospital and the Children’s Home. Dr. Sworder seconded. Mr I. Smith (Secretary to the Town Football Club) proposed as an amendment that the profits should be divided equally between the two charities already named and the Friendly Societies Dispensary. Mr H. Wilkins seconded, but on the suggestion of Mr F. Beecroft both propositions were withdrawn and substituted by one to the effect that such a competition should take place. This was unanimously carried. A lengthy discussion followed, in the course of which it was intimated that the probable expense of starting the scheme would be upwards of £50. It was agreed that subscriptions of 2 Guineas and upwards should be collected, and a committee was formed to make the necessary preliminary arrangements”.
24th May 1890 Luton Reporter;
“The adjourned public meeting in connection with the proposal to establish a football Charity Cup competition, took place in the Town Hall on Friday night, and there was a good attendance of those interested in the movement, the Mayor (Alderman Alexander) again presiding. The secretary pro tem (Mr I. Smith secretary of the Town Club) presented a code of rules which had been adopted by the committee, and these were adopted without amendment, though there was a discussion on the proviso that only subscribers of 3s. should be allowed to vote on matters concerning the competition, it being thought that 2s 6d., should be the qualifying sum. Officers were elected as follows: Presidents, The Mayor; vice-presidents, Messrs A. Carruthers, and F. Beecroft: treasurer Mr G. Ordish; secretary Mr G. Fryson; committee, Messrs H. Beecroft, F. Hucklesby, A. Wilkinson, J. Squires, F.W. Hill, C. Dillingham, G. Squires, C. Plummer and A.F. Booth.”
The competition was born.
The Luton Reporter of 13th September 1890 gave an update on the Luton Charity Cup –
“the special committee of the Charity Football Cup Association met at the Cowper Arms coffee-tavern on Monday night under the presidency of Mr F. Beecroft in order to hold the draw for the first round of the competition. Amongst those present were representatives of the Luton Montrose and Maidenhead clubs. It was ascertained that there were 20 entries and the draw resulted as follows: Division 1, Luton Montrose v Luton Town; Bedford, Mountaineers and Luton Terriers, byes. Division 2, Kettering Hawks v Stantonbury; Rushden, Irthlingborough and Kettering Town, byes. Division 3, Banbury v Wolverton L and N.W. ; Maidenhead, Wolverton Town and Wallingford, byes. Division 4, Millwall Athletic v City Ramblers; Vulcans, 1st Scots Guards and Windsor Phoenix, byes. It was decided that the first-named clubs should have choice of grounds, and that the first round should be played on or before Saturday, October 25th.”
Luton Town 5 Luton Montrose 0 at the Bury Park field
Kettering Hawks 5 Stantonbury 2 at Kettering
Wolverton L and N.W. 7 Banbury 1 played at Wolverton
Millwall Athletic 1 City Ramblers 0
The draw for the second round of the Luton Charity Cup took place at the Cowper Arms Coffee Tavern on Thursday 23rd October;
“the names of the teams who were to have choice of grounds were drawn by ballot by the chairman, while Mr H. Beecroft drew the names of the opponents. The result of the ballot was as follows:-
1st Division: Luton Town v Luton Terriers; Mountaineers v Bedford.
2nd Division: Rushden v Kettering Hawks; Irthlingborough v Kettering Town.
3rd Division: Wolverton Town v Wallingford; Wolverton L. and N.W. v Maidenhead.
4th Division: Vulcans v Scots Guards; Millwall v Windsor Phoenix.
The first-named teams have the choice of grounds and the matches are to be played on or before December 27th”.
Luton Town 9 Luton Terriers 0
Bedford 3 Mountaineers 1
Rushden 5 Kettering Hawks 0
Irthlingborough 0 Kettering Town 10
Wallingford scratched to Wolverton Town
Maidenhead scratched to Wolverton L. &N.W.
1st Scots Guards 4 Vulcans 0
Millwall 1 Windsor Phoenix 7
Note – “One of the disappointments is that Millwall Athletic, who were regarded as having a capital chance of winning the trophy, have been eliminated. It seems that their match with Windsor Phoenix had been postponed from time to time owing to inclement weather, and they did not meet until Saturday last. On that day, the Millwall club had an engagement in the London Senior Cup, and they put a reserve eleven in the field against Windsor, the result being that they were beaten by seven goals to one.
From the Luton Reporter 28th February 1891
“The design of the medals to be presented to the players in the final for the Luton Cup have been shown to me, and it is very neat. The arms of the town are to appear on one side enamelled in their proper colours.” The Trophy itself was valued at £70. It was paid for by subscriptions from the public who were paid back over a number of years from the proceeds.
The result of the draw for the third round is as follows; Luton Town v Bedford; Windsor v Scots Guards; Wolverton L. and N.W. v Wolverton; Kettering v Rushden. The three first mentioned matches are to be played on February 28, and the last named on March 2.”
Luton Town 1 Bedford 6
Windsor Phoenix 1 1st Scots Guards 0
Wolverton L. and N.W. 2 Wolverton Town 0
Kettering 3 Rushden 0
The Luton Charity Cup was in its final stages with Wolverton L. and N.W. meeting Windsor Phoenix in the semi-final. The latter had just won the Berks. and Bucks Challenge Trophy for the third time by beating the 2nd Scots Guards in the final. The other semi-final was between Bedford and Kettering fixed for the 28th March.
Kettering 6 Bedford 1 – at Dallow Lane, Luton
Windsor Phoenix 2 Wolverton L & N.W. 0 – at Dallow Lane, Luton attendance 800
This set up the final on the 18th April. The Luton Reporter anticipated a record crowd with 1,500 expected from Kettering “as well as contingents from other parts of the district.” The presentation of the cup and medals would take place in the Town Hall. We get a few more details as the paper continues;
“The medals, which were on view in Messrs. Beecroft and Co’s window last week, are 22 in number. The centre bears the borough arms in enamel, and an inscription runs around the border. The design is very pretty, and the medals, which are of sterling silver, are well worth winning.”
Kettering 5 Windsor Phoenix 1 at Dallow Lane, Luton
Kettering: Goal, J. Whilley; backs, A. Wood and W. Draper; half-backs, H. Curtis, W. Robinson and J. Newman; forwards, A.B. Panter, centre (captain), H. Dixon, H. Ball, right; C Dixon and A. Bradley, left. Windsor: Goal, T. Husted; backs, A.W. Brown and H.C. Davenport (captain; half-backs, F. Casbourne, H. Hill and C. Thompson; forwards, H.H. Phillips, centre, F. Nichol and J.J. Earle, right, R. Hyslop and H.E. Lewis, left.
The referee was Mr C. Squires (London), and Messrs F. Pitkin and L. Smith (Luton) were umpires
Kettering played in blue and Windsor in white. Attendance 3,500 with 1,400 to 1,500 from Kettering.
From the Luton Reporter April 1891 talking about the impending presentation to Kettering, the first winners of the Luton Charity Cup.
“The cup and medals were presented immediately after the match in the Town Hall. There was a very large crowd outside the hall to listen to a performance by the Kettering Town Prize Band, while inside there was a large number of supporters of the winning team and others interested in the matter. Mr F. Beecroft presided, and those present on the platform, in addition to the members of the team, included Messrs. N. Newman, H.T. Favell, C. Henson, F. Barlow (Kettering), Alderman Alexander (ex-Mayor), Mr G. Sell (Deputy Town Clerk), Councillor Dillingham, Messrs H. Beecroft, G. Ordish, G. Fryson, F. Hucklesby, G.H. Small, S.W. Smith, T. Cain, J.G. Hurst, C. Plummer, F.W. Hill, T.N. Hughes, A. Wilkinson, F. Pitkin, I. Smith, W. Smith, J. Squires, G. Squires and C. Squires (referee). The teams were loudly applauded on taking their places. The cup stood on the edge of the platform, and it presented an attractive appearance. It is a handsome trophy, and well worth winning. It bears upon one side the name of the competition, and on the other a capitally executed illustration of a struggle on the football field. The borough arms appear on a shield, and upon a couple of blocks at the sides are representations of a lion and a greyhound, these denoting strength and fleetness. Over all appears the figure of Victory. The medals were arranged on the chairman’s table; they are of silver with the town arms in coloured enamel.”
The ex-mayor, Alderman Alexander included the following in his long speech before presenting the trophy to the Kettering captain.
“Allow me to congratulate all players who have taken part in the competition for this cup: all cannot be successful but the motto is “Try and try again.” Referring afterwards to the medals, the speaker said the motto which they bore was good – “We live and rise by our industry.” Might that motto inspire them all to do their duty (loud applause).”
The 9th May 1891 Luton Recorder gave the financial details of the Luton Charity Cup.
“The annual meeting of the subscribers to this cup was held in the council chamber on Wednesday night when the Mayor (Alderman Toyer) presided, and there was a fair attendance. The Secretary (Mr G. Fyson) presented the year’s balance sheet. This showed total receipts of £114 10s, and on the other side the principal items were :- Medals, £15; railway fares, £14 17s 4d; equal donations to the Cottage Hospital, Children’s Home and Friendly Institute £45. The amount handed to the Cup reserve fund was £13 10s 6d., and there was a small balance of 4s. Mr Fyson stated that the amounts of the subscriptions to the cup fund was £42 13s, and that the cost of the cup was £41 3s 6d. The balance-sheet was regarded as satisfactory, and was adopted on the motion of Mr S. Pride, seconded by Mr Evans.
The Luton Reporter of the 12th September 1891;
The Luton Charity Cup draw was given; “A meeting, under the auspices of the Charity Cup Association, took place at the committee room on Monday night, when the draw for the first round of the season’s competition was made. Those entrusted with the draw were Messrs. F. Pitkin (Luton Town F.C.) and G.H. Small (Town C.C.) while the Stanley and Montrose clubs ere also represented at the meeting. The result of the draw was as follows:-
1st Division: Newport Pagnell v Banbury Harriers, Wolverton L. and N.W. v Wolverton Town, Wellingborough v Rushden, Kettering Town v Finedon.
2nd Division: Biggleswade v Hitchin, Old St. Stephen’s v 1st Scots Guards, Tottenham Hotspur v 2nd Coldstream Guards, Edmonton Albion v Upton Park.
3rd Division: Luton Nondescripts v Montrose, Norton College v Luton Terriers, Luton Stanley v St. Matthews’s, Luton Town v Luton Bury Park.
4th Division: Leighton v Bedford, Millwall Athletic v City Ramblers, Windsor Phoenix v 2nd Scots Guards, Uxbridge v Chesham.
The first-mentioned clubs have choice of ground. The first round has been to be concluded on or before 7 November. It is understood that a month after the registration of members has been completed clubs will be at liberty to play. The hon. secretary (Mr. G. Worboys) intimates that those clubs which have not yet registered their players should do so as soon as possible. It should be added that in the case of the Montrose tie in the Charity Cup authorities attach the condition that it is subject to the removal of the suspension which has been inflicted by the central Association.”
Luton Town 6 Bury Park 0 at Dallow Lane
Millwall Athletic 8 City Ramblers 0
Wolverton L & N.W. 7 Wolverton Town 0
Tottenham Hotspur 3 2nd Coldstream Guards 3
2nd Scots Guard 4 Windsor Phoenix 1
1st Scots Guards 1 Old St. Stephen’s 0
Edmonton Albion 1 Upton Park 0
Newport Pagnell 3 Banbury Harriers 2 – protest lodged. 1st Replay 1 1. Harriers scratched
Rushden 4 Wellingborough Town 1
Kettering 1 Finedon 0
Chesham 2 Uxbridge 1
Hitchin 4 Biggleswade and District 0
Luton St. Matthews 7 Luton Stanley 1
Luton Terriers 8 Luton Norton College 3
Luton Montrose 19 Luton Nondescripts 0
Second round ties
Millwall 5 2nd Scots Guards 1 or 0 – at Millwall
Kettering 2 Rushden 0 at Rushden
1st Scots Guards 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0 at Burton Court
St. Matthew’s 0 Luton Terriers 4
Chesham walked over Bedford who scratched
Luton Town 5 Luton Montrose 0 played on the Bury Park field attendance 700
Wolverton L. & N.W. 6 v Newport Pagnell 0 at Wolverton Park. attendance 700
Hitchin 1 v Edmonton Albion 2 at Hitchin
Luton Reporter of 9th January 1892;
“The draw for the third round took place on Monday night and resulted as follows:- Millwall v Chesham: Edmonton Albion v 1st Scots Guards: Luton Town v Luton Terriers: Kettering v Wolverton (L. and N.W.). This is the final round for the divisions. The first-named have choice of grounds, and the matches must be played on or before February 6.”
Millwall Athletic 2 Chesham 1 attendance 500
Luton Town 3 Luton Terriers 0 played at Dallow Lane before “some hundreds.”
Edmonton Albion 2 1st Scot Guards 3 at Edmonton attendance 500
Kettering 5 Wolverton L. & N.W. 0
The semi finals were announced as follows;
“The Semi-Finals. – Millwall Athletic having, according to anticipation, disposed of Chesham in the Luton Cup contest, they are entitled to enter the semi-finals. The draw for the semi-finals has resulted as follows:- Millwall Athletic v Kettering on March 12; Luton Town v 1st Scots Guards on April 2, both games to be played at Luton – the kick off being fixed in each game at 3.30. Both games are likely to be severely contested.”
12th March 1892 Kettering 0 Millwall Athletic 1 attendance 3,000, including 1,000 from Kettering
2nd April 1892 – Luton Town 0 v 1st Scots Guards 4
Final – 16th April 1892
Millwall Athletic 2 1st Scots Guards 0 attendance 3,000 including several hundred supporters of the Dockers.
14th May 1892 Luton Reporter. Charity Committee Annual General Meeting.
“The balance sheet, which was presented by the honorary secretary (Mr G.R. Worboys) showed that the receipts had amounted to £157 18s 10d., including £12 for entries and £144 5s 10d. from “gates.” On the other side of the account the most important items were £14 8s., for railway fares, £14 15s 6d for printing and stationery and £15 for medals. It was shown that £26 4s. each had been sent to the Cottage Hospital, the Children’s Home, and the Friendly Societies’ Institute.”
The medal below was won by Millwall’s F. McCullough.
“The ties in the first round are to be played off on or before November 5, and the draw is as follows, the first-named club in each case having choice of ground :-
Division 1 – Wellingborough Town v Raunds Unity; Rushden, bye: Finedon (exempt). Division 2 – Chesham Generals v Newport Pagnell; Wolverton L. and N.W. v Banbury Harriers; Luton Town (exempt).
Division 3 – Windsor and Eton Victoria v Chesham; Cricklewood v 2nd Coldstream Guards; Millwall Athletic (exempt).”
Division 4 – Biggleswade v Hitchin; Luton Montrose, bye: 2nd Scots Guards (exempt).
Wellingborough Town 10 Raunds Unity 0
Chesham Generals 8 Newport Pagnell 0
Wolverton L. & N.W. 8 Banbury Harriers 0 at Wolverton
Windsor and Eton Victoria 2 Chesham 2 played at Windsor’s Balloon Meadow, Clewer
Replay at Chesham, Chesham 5 Windsor and Eton Victoria 1
Cricklewood 1 2nd Coldstream Guards 6 at Burton’s Court, Chelsea
Hitchin 3 Biggleswade 0
Luton Montrose 7 Hitchin 2 played at the Montrose ground, Bury Park
Chesham 6 2nd Coldstream Guards 5 at Chesham
Wellingborough Town 0 Rushden 9 at Rushden
Wolverton L & N.W. beat Chesham Generals
“The draw for the third round took place on Tuesday night, and resulted as follows; Finedon v Wolverton L.N.W. or Chesham Generals; Rushden v Luton Montrose; Luton Town v Chesham; 2nd Scots Guards v Millwall Athletic. First named have choice of ground. To be played on or before February 4th.”
Luton Town 4 Chesham 0 attendance between 1,000 and 2,000 at Dallow Lane
Rushden 6 Luton Montrose 0
Finedon 2 Wolverton L. & N.W 0 at Tower Field, Finedon.
2nd Scots Guards 7 Millwall Athletic 2
18th February 1893. From the Luton Reporter of 25th February 1893. Finedon met Rushden in the first semi-final of the Luton Charity Cup.
“When it was found that Henfrey (the English International) [for Finedon] and Bailey (the well-known Northants half-back) [for Rushden] were included in the teams the large company settled down to enjoy something worth seeing.” “Rushden wearing white and Finedon red and black.”
Rushden 2 Finedon 2
Replay Rushden 3 Finedon 1 attendance 4,000 including 1,000 from Northamptonshire.
11th March 1893
Luton Town 2 2nd Scots Guards 1
8th April 1892
Luton Town 1 Rushden 1 attendance 4,000
Luton Town: Goal, T. Read; backs, J. Wilson and W. George; half-backs, J.W. Julian, H. McKenzie and A.H. Taylor; forwards, H. Galbraith (centre), W. Brown and H. Whitby (right), W. Chesher and F. Allen (left).
Rushden: Goal, S. Allen; backs, E. Attley and W. Clarke; half-backs T. Minney, A. Bailey and C. Church; forwards, J.L. Stanley (centre), H. Groom and H. Lewis (right), C. Pendred and G.H. Claridge (left).
The referee was Mr E.H. Jackson (Clapton), and the linesmen Messrs H.H. Cox and J.W. Sharpe (St. Albans).
22nd April 1893
Luton Town 2 Rushden 3 attendance 3,000
Luton Town: Goal, T. Read; backs, J. Wilson and A. Hoy; half-backs, J.W. Julian (captain), W. George and A.H. Taylor; forwards, H. Galbraith (centre), W. Chesher and F. Allen (left wing), W. Brown and H. Whitby (right wing).
Rushden: Goal, S. Allen (Captain); backs, E. Attley and W. Clarke; half-backs, T. Minney, A. Bailey and C. Church; forwards, T. Litchfield (centre), H. Lewis, J.L. Stanley (right wing), C. Pendred and G.H. Claridge (left wing).
Referee Mr A. Rostron Bourke. The linesmen were Messrs H.H. Cox (St. Albans) and E.A. Barford (Luton).
The Annual General Meeting showed;
“The balance-sheet showed that the receipts had amounted to £347 19s. 11d., including match receipts of £339.16s. 11d. The expenditure was as follows:—Postage, £2 4s. 9d. ; telegrams, £1 1s. 10d. ; railway fares, £20 2s. 6d. ; printing and stationery, £11 6s. ; bill posting, £3 8s. ; advertisements, 16s. 6d. ; referees and linesmen, £4 5s. ; cup insurance, 2s. ; case for cup, £2 3s. ; footballs, £2 5s. 6d. ; medals, £13 15s. : shield for plinth, 10s. 2d. ; engraving name on shield, 2s. 6d. ; hire of police, £2 ; hire of ground, £27 10s. ; committee badges, 8s. ; hire of committee room, £1 ; ground man, £1 ; incidental expenses, £10 1s. 11d. ; Bute Hospital, £80 ; Children’s Home, £80 ; Medical Institute, £80 ; balance at bank, £3 17s. 3d. ; total, £347 19s. 11d.”
The Rushden team had a fantastic season. The photograph below shows them with the Northamptonshire Senior Cup, the Kettering Charity Cup and the Luton Charity Cup.
The competition was scaled back with only eight clubs allowed to enter.
“LUTON CHARITY CUP.—The draw for the first round in the Luton Charity Cup competition place on Tuesday evening, Mr. H. Beecroft presiding. The following was the result :—Rushden v. Hitchin, Wolverton v. Chesham, Luton Town v. Luton Montrose, 1st Scots Guards v. 2nd Coldstream Guards. The first round has to be played off on or before February 10th, 1894. The first-named clubs have the choice of grounds.”
Luton Town 6 Luton Montrose 1 attendance 1,000
Wolverton L. & N.W. 3 Chesham 0
1st Scots Guards 1 2nd Coldstream Guards 0.
Hitchin and Rushden should also have played, but the former scratched.
Luton Town 4 1st Scots Guards 0 attendance 4,000
Rushden 1 v Wolverton L & N.W. 2 attendance 4,000
Luton Town 4 v Wolverton L & N.W. 1 attendance 4,000 including 400 from Wolverton
Luton Town with the Luton Charity Cup in 1894, pictured below.
The medal below is the 1894 losers medal presented to Bailey of Rushden.
Entries – Luton Town, St. Albans, Wolverton L & N.W., Chesham, Rushden, Finedon, 1st Scots Guards and 1st Coldstream Guards. Luton Montrose and Bedford were rejected.
Wolverton 3 Luton Town 2 at Wolverton, attendance 1,200.
Rushden 5 Finedon 1 at Rushden
1st Scots Guards 9 1st Coldstream 0 at Windsor
St. Albans 2 Chesham 0, attendance 400.
Semi Finals, at Luton
March 16th – 1st Scots Guards 4 St. Albans 0
April 6th – Wolverton 0 Rushden 5, attendance 2,000
Final, at Luton
April 19th – Rushden 2 1st Scots Guards 1, attendance 2,000, 450 from Rushden
The Annual General Meeting thought that the early defeat of Luton Town caused the reduction in receipts.
Receipts – £146 9s 10d
Expenditure – £145 19s 2d
In hand 10s 1d
Luton Town 10 St. Albans 0, attendance 2,000
Chesham 0 1st Scots Guards 2 at Chesham
Kettering 11 2nd Coldstream Guards 0, at Kettering
Rushden v 3rd Grenadiers unknown score
Semi Finals, at Luton
Kettering 4 Rushden 1, attendance 2,000
Luton Town 6 1st Scots Guards 0
Final, at Luton
29th March – Luton Town 3 Kettering 0
The victorious 1896 Luton Town team and committee members with the Luton Charity Cup on the Dallow Lane ground.
The class of teams entered was considered mediocre.
Chesham 5 1st Scots Guards 2
Gordon Highlanders v 2nd Coldstream Guards unknown score
St. Albans scratched to Luton Town
Wolverton 4 2nd Grenadier Guards 1
Semi Final, at Luton
Chesham 3 Wolverton 2, attendance 50 at Dunstable Road ground
Luton Town 5 2nd Gordon Highlanders 2
Final, at Luton
Luton Town 9 Chesham 0, attendance 1,000.
The 1897 Annual General Meeting was a gloomy affair. There was no money to give to charity. A proposal was made to give clubs some of the gate money to encourage entries. Six invites were sent out to the best clubs in the south, three replied all rejecting. Other suggestions were made to try to revive the competition. Isaac Smith, the Luton Town secretary cut through it all and said that there was little interest in the competition and any efforts to revive it would prove fruitless. As usual, Isaac Smith was spot on. All at the meeting however, agreed that the competition had served its purpose magnificently considering the short period it had run. It had promoted football in Luton to another level by providing a real competition amongst clubs of similar strength – unlike the F.A. Cup which was dominated by powerful northern clubs. However, the public were not stupid and they recognised the diminished value of the trophy when the Southern League arrived. Entries to the competition suffered when the Southern League arrived – there was also the Midlands League from 1889 which turned some strong clubs away from the Luton Charity Cup. The number of Charity Cup competitions was also a factor – Wolverton, Wellingborough, Rushden and of course Kettering all ran competitions. County Cups also took priority for many clubs where there were often senior and junior competitions thus providing additional incentives for pot hunters. Club secretaries found the season turning into a nightmare when bad weather meant postponements or when a replay had to be arranged. Dark nights meant midweek afternoon matches had to be arranged, which not all players could make due to work commitments. All these factors meant the death of the Luton Charity Cup.
The Luton Times of the 9th September 1897, below summed it up.
The Luton Times of 10th December 1897 said;
“Mr George Squires, secretary of the Luton Charity Cup competition, convened a meeting on Monday night to amend rule 5 with a view to facilitate the winding up of the affair. But he sat in solitary state for some time without the muster of a single subscriber, and accordingly the process of decent sepulture has to be deferred. Perhaps a quorum may be obtained in the distant future.
The fact is, the Luton Cup has served its purpose and outgrown the presents days of all-conquering professionalism. the competition barely paid its way last season and, I believe, left nothing whatsoever for the charities. Clubs will not now play matches simply for charity’s sake and the hope of a few medals. The amateur could could enter such contests with a light heart, but the stern commercialisation of £ s d has invaded most clubs within reasonable range, e.g., Watford, St. Albans and Wolverton. And who will pay to see Luton play teams of Woodville’s class? especially when the Town club did not take £30 in their last Second League fixture here.
The rules at present say that the competition “shall consist of eight clubs.” The committee, with Mr Wall’s full approbation, wish to alter this to two clubs, and I hope they may do it. It is proposed to invite the Gordon Highlanders to meet Luton this season, and if the Town win the cup on this occasion it becomes their own property, and the competition, which has done so splendidly for local institutions, dies a respectable death.”
No further mention is made in the newspapers until mid December 1899 when it was hoped that Luton Reserves would play the Gordon Highlanders on Boxing Day so that Luton would in it for a third time in a row and keep the trophy. The game did not come off.
If Luton Town had won the trophy for the third time in succession then it would have become their property. A nice asset to have as the last valuation ten years ago put it at £80,000. A new Luton Charity Cup competition was formed in 1913 for junior clubs in the town. Luton Town held on to the trophy itself until 1905.
The Luton News of the 27th April 1905 revealed a new football competition;
The Luton Times of the 23rd June 1905 reported;
“The cup is presented by the directors of the Luton Town Club, and cannot be won outright.”
This begs the question of ownership of the trophy. The trophy was originally commissioned and paid for by subscribers of the Luton Charity Cup. The subscribers were repaid. The Luton Charity Cup organisation does not appear to have been wound up in a formal fashion. Luton Town did not win the trophy outright as there is no record of that third win in a row. In 1905 the trophy is “presented” to the Luton Trademen’s Football Cup competition.
The first winners of the Trademen’s Cup were the Grocers.
The Grocers beat the Hairdresser’s 3 0 in the final at Kenilworth Road. The Grocers team was Culham, Inns, Primett, Willison, Evans, French, Morris, Linger, Boston, Hewitt and Shane. Morris, Boston and Shane scored the goals. The trophy was presented to P. Boston by the Chief Constable, Mr Teale.
The competition was to raise money for charity – as reported by the Luton News in 1907;
As for the trophy itself, I next spotted the trophy in the 9th May 1922 Bedfordshire Pictorial, below. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo.
Tracing the trophy to 1922 was fine but what happened to it after that. My guess was that it had been melted down. However, the mystery was solved thanks to a Luton Town messageboard known for its full and frank discussions on every topic known to man and troll. Someone had enjoyed their experience in Luton Town’s new Trophy Room and posted a photo of the silverware cabinet. The photo showed a tantalising glimpse of a familiar sight. A quick search on the net produced a clearer photo and revealed that the Luton Charity Cup was in the cabinet in the Trophy Room at Kenilworth Road. It is now known as the Bedfordshire Premier Cup.
My thanks to Roger Wash and the club for providing access to the trophy. Who dropped the lid and bent Victory’s arm is not known. It has also lost its plinth but remains in remarkably good condition bearing in mind it was made in 1890.