A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAUNCESTON CUP
The Launceston Cup was first competed for in the early 1900’s and newspaper archive can definitely trace the competition back to 1907 when an A.G.M is reported and the competition was won by the Boys of England Football club that year. The Boys of England F.C had taken over from Launceston Football Club(the town’s Senior team) after they had disbanded in 1906 due to the club’s ground being closed down by the C.C.F.A after the unruly behaviour of spectators during a match against Torpoint when a player named Ted Chambers had been sent off. Launceston F.C was reformed again in 1908. Launceston Reserves won the cup in the1913 by beating another Launceston based team when only clubs probably within five miles competed.
The Launceston & District Competition was reformed again after the First World War for the 1921-22 season and contained village sides from the surrounding area for teams of a Junior status. Some of the early teams competing included Coads Green, Egloskerry and Newport Villa, names that no longer exist in these footballing circles and Launceston Juniors won in 1922 and they were probably the reserve side of Launceston F.C. The Launceston & District League somewhat confusingly ran the Knockout Cup competition and a League Cup that was played for between the winners of the two Divisions in some seasons and in other seasons the teams in first and second places competed for the league cup.
The Launceston & District Cup Committee decided to open the competition to teams outside the league in 1924-25 and the cup was won by Tavistock Comrades (a team presumably consisting of soldiers who had returned from the First World War), and this prevented Stoke Climsland from winning the competition and totally dominating the winners list in the opening years as they reached the final in seven consecutive years. This was a boom time for local teams and crowds in excess of 1,000 were often in attendance at the final and the committee decided that due to greater popularity a new cup (presently played for) would be purchased so they donated £5/10s/0d towards the cost, the vice presidents including Canon Lewis contributed the remainder. The competition surprisingly was only entered by Newport Villa, Stoke Climsland and Tintagel that year (1928) and was competed for on a ‘round robin’ basis with Stoke becoming the first winners of the new cup. Kilkhampton first entered the Launceston K.O Cup in 1930-31 season because they were also participating in the Launceston & District League.
Chilsworthy a team from the Tamar valley became a dominant force in local football during the thirties appearing in the final five times in nine years and in 1932 they won the competition after a second replay and finally overcoming local side Launceston Rovers. Chilsworthy applied for expenses from the Cup Committee because the players had lost wages due to the fact that they had to travel to Launceston three times for the final and replays, as result a reasonable amount of compensation was negotiated by the Competition Secretary.
These were the years before the National Health Service and local authorities raised money for such services so it was not untypical for the competition committee to donate money for local charities and in 1934 these included £4 to the local ambulance, £3 to the infirmary, £2 to Launceston Nursing association and £1 to Launceston swimming bath that year. In 1935 St Dominick won the cup and repeated the achievement for two consecutive years in 1938 &’39. Gunnislake both entered the K.O competition for the first time in the 1938-39 season but lost to Launceston. The outbreak of the Second World War suspended competition for six years but upon resumption in 1947 a record crowd of 3000 attended the final between Stoke Climsland and St Ann’s Chapel which was won 4-2 by Stoke the gate receipts amounted to £103 admission being 9d (4p).
The 1951-52 season saw the competition re-opened up to teams outside the Launceston & District League provided they were Junior clubs within a 25 mile radius of Launceston. The cup was duly won by Lifton United; they were greeted at Polson Bridge on the River Tamar by a band and accompanied back to Lifton to loud acclaim. Unusually the winners received Pens that year and the runners up Propelling Pencils!
Pensilva created a little bit of Launceston Cup history by reaching the Final seven years on the trot from 1949 through to 1955 which equalled Stoke Climsland’s record in the 1920’s unfortunately for Pensilva they only won the competition once during that period in 1954 defeating their old adversaries Lifton who had beaten them twice before in the final.
The committee acknowledged the Munich air disaster in 1958 involving the tragic loss of several Manchester United players by donating £1/10s/0d to the Disaster Fund which eventually totalled around £52,000 because at the time United gave very little support to the bereaved families.
Blisland a strong Bodmin & District League side reached the final three years running in the years ’69-71, Pensilva were their opponents in 1971, but unfortunately records do not show if they completed a hat trick. During the 70’s Gunnislake had a side considered to be of Senior status by the C.C.F.A and it was often their reserve side that entered the Launceston K.O Cup hence they were not so successful in the competition, in fact and Gunnislake’s participation has been irregular. Gunnislake sole win before 2009 came in 1986 when they defeated Bude Towards the end of the century Dobwalls became one of the most successful sides winning the cup on four occasions in a period of nine years. The competition can rightly claim to be one of the oldest cup competitions in Cornwall, but has entries from Devon and generally has a good eclectic mix of teams from the local leagues entering.