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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