It is one of football’s oldest – and loveliest – trophies.
Tall, graceful, classical, topped by an angel with spreading wings – it’s a typically Victorian piece of silverware.
It was first presented in 1883, to Bootle, before fierce rivals Everton claimed it for the first of 45 occasions the following year.
Liverpool Football Club actually came into being nine years after the cup was cast, but have still managed to win it on 40 occasions.
Another Liverpool nearly had its name inscribed on it this year – after a spectacular final totally in keeping with the history and standing of the competition.
Skelmersdale United and AFC Liverpool shared nine goals, with United coming away with the trophy after a thrilling 5-4 victory.
AFC Liverpool were formed in 2008 by a sizeable group of disaffected Liverpool FC fans fed up at the rising price of Premier League football.
If they had triumphed, the new Reds would have been following the lead of the original Reds, 123 years previously.
Because while most history books record the first Merseyside derby as being the First Division clash staged at Goodison Park on October 13, 1894, won 3-0 by Everton, it wasn’t.
That was the first league derby.
The very first fixture between these two historic rivals came in the Liverpool Senior Cup – appropriately in the final – on April 22 1893.
And just like in subsequent years it ended in controversy with a referee being blamed for robbing the Blues!
Given the sensitivities which lingered from the acrimonious split which created Liverpool Football Club just 12 months previously, the clash generated huge interest locally.
Staged at Bootle FC’s Hawthorne Road ground, more than 10,000 were present.
Liverpool triumphed 1-0 – and predictably the match was hugely controversial.
The Liverpool Mercury reported: “The final stage of the local cup competition was reached on Saturday when Everton and Liverpool, who had not hitherto met, played for possession of the trophy for the next twelve months.
“Great interest was centred in the event, notwithstanding threats that only second teams would be placed in the field. Better counsels at the last hour prevailed, and though Everton were dependant on a mixed eleven, the side were strong as will be seen from the following:- Everton, Williams, goal, Chadwick (a), and Collins, backs, Boyle, Holt, and Coyle half-backs, Gordon, Murray, Harley, McMillan, and Elliott, forwards. Liverpool:- McOwen, goal, Hannah, and McLean, backs, McCartney, Mcque and Mcbride,, half-backs, McVean, Wylie, Miller, Mcqueen (m)., and McQueen (hm), forwards.”
Tom Wyllie scored the only goal of the game.
But in the final minutes of the match Everton had a corner awarded, and as the ball came into the penalty area, Everton players urged referee Arthur to award a penalty, claiming that a Liverpool defender had fisted the ball away.
Mr Arthur didn’t see it that way, though he did consult his linesman.
He awarded a drop-ball… and as soon as this had been taken, the final whistle went amid general uproar.
Everton wasted no time in protesting against the result, and complained about ‘the general incompetence of the referee’. Because of this Liverpool were not presented with the trophy after the match.
Instead the Liverpool Football Association convened a meeting at the Neptune Hotel for the following Monday to discuss the matter. Everton’s appeal was dismissed, and the next day – after Liverpool’s match against Preston at Anfield – the Liverpool Senior Cup was presented by Liverpool FA president Mr A.B. Hull.
There were no such recriminations last weekend as Skelmersdale became the latest winners of one of the most beautiful trophies around.
A classic match did justice to a classic competition.
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