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Did these railwaymen play in the first J.W. Hunt Cup?

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

  • Is this the GWR team that competed in the first J.W. Hunt Cup in 1926?

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THE J.W. Hunt Cup is a pedigree football competition in the Black Country, named after John W. Hunt, founder of the Chillington Tool Co. Ltd., who died in December 1925, aged 82.

The cup in his honour was donated in May 1925 and this year the competition is celebrating its 88th consecutive season.

It was on Thursday, 16th September, 1926 that the inaugural meeting was held at the Molineux Hotel, Wolverhampton, where it was unanimously agreed that all the proceeds would be donated to the local Blind Institute, now the Beacon Centre for the Blind, a close relationship that still exists to this day. To date the J.W. Hunt Cup competition has donated over £283,000 to the Centre.

At that first meeting it was agreed the competition should be called "The Wolverhampton and District J.W. Hunt Cup" and consist of such clubs as the executive committee approved, within a 30 mile radius of Queen Square in Wolverhampton. It was to be run for the sole benefit of the Blind Institute.

The teams accepted to form the first competition were St Patrick's, The Harrows, Tarmac, Bradmore St Phillips, Short Heath, Haywards, Upper Ettingshall, LMS Railway, Shifnal, Vaughans, AJS, Fox of Shipley, Sunbeamland, Butler Sports, GWR I and II, Bradley Prims, Wolverhampton Gas, Bridgnorth, Chillington, Cannon Iron, Union Works, Lilleshall and Blakenhall St Lukes.

Wilf Ellis is the current vice-chair of the competition and recently drew our attention to an intriguing football team photograph that he would like Bugle readers to help him with.

Wilf told us, "Can readers in Bugleland throw any light on this football team? It might be the GWR team that took part in the very first J.W. Hunt Cup competition in 1926, but we are not sure.

"The photograph was definitely taken after the First World War, but what year?" Admittedly, it is a long time ago, but there is a possibility that someone might have a record of the teams who played for the Great Western Railway. The GWR team never figured in any of the finals, so perhaps their participation in the competition was short-lived.

The current holders of the J.W. Hunt Cup are Black Country Rangers who beat Wolverhampton Casuals in May this year at Molineux Stadium, the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, in what was described as a thrilling 4-3 victory.

The very first winners of the cup were Short Heath, who beat Cannon Iron by 2-0, a game also played at Molineux in front of around 1,000 spectators, each of whom paid a 2d admission charge.

The prestige of the J.W. Hunt Cup was such that in 1928 the referee who presided over the FA Cup Final at Wembley also took charge of the J.W. Hunt Cup in the same season. His name was Tom Bryant and on the 21st April he led the teams of Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town onto the hallowed Wembley turf in front of 102,041 spectators and made a note of four goals during the game, 3-1 in favour of Blackburn.

Just one week later at Molineux , he led Tarmac and Lane Head United out to contest the J.W. Hunt Cup and recorded the same score in his notebook, 3-1 in favour of Tarmac.

Throughout the Second World War the J.W. Hunt Cup carried on as normal and the successful teams included Yale & Town, Albion Works, Butler Sports, Ogley Hay, and two of three wins in a row for Oxley FC

The most interesting final held during the war was the one between Albion Works and RAF Cosford in 1940/41.

Military bases within 30 miles of Queens Square in Wolverhampton may not have been many, but with most of the eligible players for the J.W. Hunt Cup in the services themselves, a new influx of players at Cosford gave them an advantage. Nevertheless, they still didn't manage to beat the Albion.

A second photograph Wilf brought in is of Bradmore St Philips in 1924. They are another team of unsung heroes who never achieved the glory of reaching a final in the J.W. Hunt Cup, but were one of the first teams to take part in the competition.

Can you answer the questions raised in this article? Contact jworkman@black countrybugle.co.uk

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