About the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy
A history of the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy
It is a little known fact that many years before the Jules Rimmet Trophy and Uruguay 1930 there was an earlier attempt to establish a Football World Cup. Sir Thomas Lipton, millionaire, philanthropist and enthusiastic sportsman was awarded the Grand Order of the Crown of Italy. He responded by presenting a trophy for world competition between the countries playing the rapidly developing game of football. The competition was held in Turin, Italy with teams from the host country, Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain taking part.
The story of the trophy is an interesting piece of football history. It is with great pride that the people of County Durham recall that it was a West Auckland Football Club who represented Great Britain in the inaugural "WORLD CUP" competition during Easter of 1909, and they won it.
The original invitation was offered to the English Football Association, who were asked to nominate a team, but they declined. Sir Thomas insisted that Great Britain was represented. As to how West Auckland, an amateur colliery team from County Durham were chosen is open to speculation but the following is probably most credible.
An employee of Sir Thomas happened to have been a referee in the Northern League and it is therefore thought likely that he was instrumental in finding a substitute team from that league i.e. West Auckland Town.
The team which was predominantly made up of coal miners, struggled to raise the money necessary to make the trip to Italy, and some even pawned their possessions in order to do so. Their determination paid off and displaying typical northern grit they beat Stuttgart of Germany 2-0 on the way to beating F.C. Winterhour, of Switzerland 2-0 in the final at the Turin stadium on April 12 1909. So the first World Cup had been won by a team of relatively unknown amateurs, who had to finance the excursion themselves, without conceding a goal.
Italy was again the venue and as reigning champions, West Auckland were invited back to defend their trophy. They beat Red Star of Switzerland 2-0 on the way to the final, where they beat Juventus of Italy 6-1 on April 17, 1911.
As Sir Thomas Lipton had stipulated that a team winning the trophy in consecutive tournaments would be entitled to keep it, West Auckland F.C. had their name etched in the annals of soccer history as the first outright winners of the "FOOTBALL WORLD CUP".
On this occasion, the celebrations on returning were short lived. Because of the financial problems the tour had caused, the club was in debt and had to find £40 quickly. As their only asset was the trophy, an arrangement was made with Mrs. Lancaster, the Landlady of the "Wheatsheaf Hotel" which served as headquarters for the club. The arrangement involved a loan of £40 by Mrs. Lancaster to the club, with the trophy as security which she could retain until the money was repaid. It remained in her possession for almost 50 years when, in 1960, Officials of the club managed to track down Mrs. Lancaster, who was alive and living in Liverpool. She obviously had all her faculties as she drove a hard bargain before handing over the trophy in return for £100. Upon it's return the trophy was put on display in the "Eden Arms" public house, which was the home of Club Secretary, Mr. Syd Douthwaite. It remained on show, and it was only when the Jules Rimmet Trophy was stolen in 1966 that Mr. Douthwaite began to lock it away.
In 1981, Tyne Tees Television made a film of the story. They entitled it "A Captain's Tale" which starred actor Dennis Waterman as Bob Jones, the Club Captain and Tim Healy as "Dirty Hoggy". It was filmed on location in the north east of England and in Italy.
In January 1994 the trophy, which was being held in West Auckland Workingmen's Club was stolen. Despite the best efforts of the police, and the offer of a substantial reward, the trophy has not been recovered. Fortunately the loss was covered by Cornhill Insurance and the manufacture of a replica trophy was possible. To this end Mr. John Harrison of Finlays Jewellers was contacted. He knew of a Sheffield Silversmith, Mr. Jack Spencer, who has now completed the task of producing a superb replica, working only from photographs and videos. This replica trophy has been kindly sponsored by Unilever, holders of the Liptons name and is again kept in the Workingmen's Club in a specially constructed cabinet sponsored by Mr. Bill Moody of Rushlift Mechanical Handling Ltd.
It is with great pride and a sincere thanks to the above Sponsors that the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy is once again in the proud ownership of West Auckland Football Club.Tweet