Book Review: The Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019 by Barry Hoggarth

The 2019/20 football season in England, is one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry, but not for glorious goals, stunning saves or indeed fans in stadiums reduced to tears in triumph or in tragedy. It will always be one where, and as I write, no games have actually taken place in the Premier League or Championship in England to complete those competitions yet, the twists and turns of title wins, promotion and relegation was achieved either behind closed doors or by Points Per Game. In the non-league world for clubs in Step 3 to 7, the season never existed, with the results expunged from history. Whilst the FA harbours hopes of completing the FA Cup for this season, County Cups are unlikely to have that luxury, with many forever left with the competition uncompleted.

One such is the Cumberland Senior Cup, which can trace its history back to 1885/86 when Carlisle claimed the trophy after beating Workington. The 2019/20 version had reached the Semi-Final stage with Workington AFC due to host Workington Athletic and Penrith visiting Cleaton Moor Celtic. The scale of the current crisis is put in perspective when you consider that the Cumberland Senior Cup was played for throughout the duration of the Second World Cup, with the only break coming during the First World War with no competition in 1915/16, 1916/17 and 1917/18. 2019/20 now looks likely to be added to that list.

As with the book, The Wessie – A history of the West Riding Senior Football Association Cup, a look at the Cumberland FA’s competition by Barry Hoggarth in The Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019 is a real labour of love (as detailed in his interview with FBR), and one that provides a valuable record of a cup with a 134 year history to date.

Content wise, the book contains a full list of the winners and runners-up from the first final, with a timeline which provides brief details of the competition since its inception, up to the 2018/19 final. Thirty of the finals are then picked out with greater detail provided on them, featuring newspaper reports of the time, which are interesting in themselves for the language used to describe the game at that time. The book is then completed by some cameo pieces, including the tragic death of a player, John Fisher, following an incident at the 1886/87 final between Workington and Carlisle, a page dedicated to the various guises of the trophy down the years and a wonderful section of photographs of players, teams and medals from the history of the competition, many from the authors own collection.

Whilst the recording of the competition on a fact and figure basis are interesting in themselves, there are some other little gems that emerge within the books pages. There is for instance, the occasion from the 1951/52 competition when a young John Charles played for the 67th Training Regiment in the early rounds of the cup, whilst he was doing his national service. Interestingly, Charles, who was to go on to be a Welsh, Leeds United and Juventus legend also appeared in the West Riding Senior FA Cup, whilst with Leeds United. There are also mentions of other players who went onto great things, such as ex-England and Newcastle United star, Peter Beardsley, who played and scored in the 1979/80 final as Carlisle United overcame Penrith 3-2.

Football in the 21st Century has unfortunately come to be all about the Premier League, the Champions League, Sky TV, and the unhealthy amounts of money that swill in the confers of those that sit at the top table. Thankfully, we have books such as this offering by Barry Hoggarth to remind us all of the Victorian roots of the game and of a history of football that shows it existed long before the 1992/93 season and the monster that is Premier League.

(North Press Printers. December 2019. Paperback 144pp)

The book can be bought directly from the author priced at £15 including postage and packing, contact details are:

Mobile: 07791 956711


Twitter: @hoggy082

Facebook/messenger: Barry Hoggarth

Also available on eBay (search Cumberland Senior Cup) priced at £16.

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Interview with Barry Hoggarth, author of the Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019.

Ahead of the review of this book about the Cumberland Senior Cup, Football Book Reviews caught up with its writer, Barry Hoggarth to get the lowdown on his football background and a bit about the book itself.

Football Book Reviews (FBR): How did you first get interested in football and what was your first football memory?

Barry Hoggarth (BH): My first football memory is of my dad collecting the ESSO coins that you got when buying petrol back then. The collection was made up of the England squad that took part in the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. In terms of my first actual memory of a game that was the 1971 FA Cup final at the ‘old’ Wembley between Arsenal and Liverpool, when the London club won 2-1 in extra-time.

FBR: Do you support or watch a team regularly?

BH: It’s difficult to watch anyone regularly due to the geographic isolation, however, I do support Liverpool, as do my two lads. We try to get down when we can, but the reality is that with work commitments and ticket availability it’s difficult to get to see many games.

FBR: What was the inspiration for writing this book?

BH: I’m extremely interested in the history of West Cumberland and collect local postcards, pictures etc about the area and these have provided the basis for many of the pictures contained in the book. Another prompt came when someone at work gave me a list of all the winners of the various cups under the jurisdiction of the Cumberland FA (which turned out to be incorrect), but to my surprise my own village had three different winners of the Cumberland Cup. When I mentioned at work about writing a book on the history of the competition I basically got laughed at, however, here we are 10 years later with the book.

FBR: What was the most surprising or difficult aspect in compiling this book?

BH: I often visit the local archives in Whitehaven and the research started there and initially things were quite straightforward. However, as I got into the 1950s things began to dry up. The local weekly newspaper, the Whitehaven News started to stop reporting on the cup games if the teams in the west of the county had been eliminated, the balance of power had undoubtedly moved from the west to the north and east. I therefore had to make numerous visits to Carlisle (an 80 miles round trip) to finish the book. Unbelievably, the last season to be found was 1996/97.

FBR: From the book what is your favourite cup win and why?

BH: My favourite wins are undoubtedly the three triumphs for the Frizington teams in 1902, 1920 and 1926 given that is my home, but in terms of shock and surprise nothing beats the Bigrigg win over Carlisle United in 1915. It is without doubt a proper David v Goliath story, as Bigrigg is a village just north of Egremont with a tiny population, whilst Carlisle is a City with thousands of people and at the time Carlisle United, were playing in a particularly strong North Eastern League.

FBR: What do you think the future of grassroots football and Senior County Cup’s is?

BH: At grassroots level in Cumbria, teams are falling by the wayside left, right and centre. My own village has fantastic facilities, a superb pitch, its own clubhouse, but we don’t even have a team at junior or senior level, all this in a village with over 3,000 residents. The local Sunday League (Seniors) had three divisions when I played in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but it’s down to one now.

Kids football, especially in West Cumbria is huge, loads of teams, but when the kids get to 18 only the good ones continue and play senior football because there’s nowhere for them to play.

Despite the decline in grassroots football, the Cumberland Cup remains relatively strong, with entries around the 32 mark for a while now. However, as no doubt with Senior County Cups around the country, the senior clubs (up here, Carlisle United and Workington), generally use the competition to field reserves and academy youngsters. Nevertheless, the smaller clubs who enter love to get one over on the so called ‘big guns’.

FBR: How can people buy your book?

BH: The book can be bought directly from me priced at £15 including postage and packing, contact details are:

Mobile – 07791956711

Email –

Twitter – @hoggy082

Facebook / messenger – Barry Hoggarth

Also available on eBay (search Cumberland Senior Cup) priced at £16.