History of the Challenge Shield

The Challenge Shield, commencing 1901

The Challenge Shield, commencing 1901
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After the success of its inaugural year in 1900, that had only schools competing for the Fred Barlow Medals, the Association expanded the competition in its second year to include clubs to compete in 3 grades of competition. The senior competition being for over 16 year olds was known as the C grade competition.

At the conclusion of the second season the Association was not content to award the C Grade winners just medals – the Nobbs Medals. On the night on Saturday 28 September 1901, the Association held its First Annual Dinner at the Granville School of Arts. With much cheer, pride and ceremony, the Association unveiled the Challenge Shield and awarded Clyde Engineering FC the honour of making history being the first team to win the Challenge Shield and to have their name perpetually engraved on it. It is believed to have been crafted in Sheffield England specifically for the GDSFA.

We are very fortunate that the night was reported in detail in the local newspaper the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate on Saturday 5 October 1901. It read as follows;

A Football Dinner.

A Boom in the Association Game.

A Handsome ChalIenge Shield.

Good Street Granville facing north at the start of the 20th century. School of Arts on the left

Good Street Granville facing north at the start of the 20th century. School of Arts on the left
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The Granville Football Association held its first annual dinner in the School of Arts on Saturday night. Upwards of 60 gentlemen all associated with the game were present, including old identities as well as some of the younger learners of the game who have taken part in the contests of the past season. Among the gentlemen present were: Mr. J. Nobbs, M.P., patron, in the chair; Mr. J. R. Neilson (president), Mr. Fred. Barlow (chairman of committee), Mr. W. Leydecker, secretary; Mr. Tom Harrison, president of the Sydney Association; Mr. W. Baillie (an old Granville and intercolonial captain), Mr. W. Picken, Mr. J. Weir, Mayor McAdam, Alderman Wilkins and Kay, Capt. E. J. Love, Mr. Akhurst, Mr. J. Robilliard.

Mrs. Ralph Richardson placed an excellent table before the company. The toast list was brief, interposed with songs and recitations. ‘ The King ‘ was proposed by the chairman, Capt. E. J. Love proposed ‘ Parliament,’ and Mr. Nobbs responded. Mr. A. Lennox proposed ”Municipal Institutions,’ and Mayor McAdam responded: as did also Alderman Kay (Granville) and Meakin (Prospect and Sherwood).

Mr. J. R. Neilson proposed the toast of the evening, ‘Association Football,’ coupled with the name of Mr. Tom Harrison, chairman of the Sydney Association, who, he said, had done much to popularise the game in the city.

Mr. Tom Harrison, on behalf of the New South Wales Association, thanked the company for the kindly way they had honored the toast, and said it was with no small degree of pleasure that himself and follow-committeemen had watched the progress of the new Association in Granville. He hoped greater success would attend Granville’s efforts. Everybody in Sydney said the Granville Association had taken the right course in introducing the game into the schools.

At this stage, the chairman called upon Mr. W. Leydecker to exhibit a shield – a very handsome piece of work. In the centre was the imitation of a football field, showing the players, goal-posts, lines, etc; this was enclosed in a gold floral border, the whole set on polished oak. Across the top was a pretty scroll, and around the centre-piece were 11 silver shields, plate for engraving the winning club’s name.

The Challenge Shield centre piece

The Challenge Shield centre piece
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Mr. Nobbs said the matter had been kept quiet for a day or two, but several gentlemen had promised and given subscriptions towards the purchase of the shield, which, with certain gold medals to be offered, would make a valuable trophy to fight for. He had been requested to ask all present to subscribe towards the purchase of the shield, and present it to the Association for competition.

Mr. Barlow further explained how he came to have the shield offered to the Association. Two or, three gentlemen of Granville were willing, he said, to purchase the shield, and give it as an advertisement, but the committee of the Association did not like the idea, and thought that sufficient could be raised from amongst the old footballers and the new, which would give a greater impetus to the game in the district. (Hear, hear). Mr. Barlow then detailed the progress made by the Association in Granville, and took occasion to refer to The Cumberland Argus of that day, which had given some excellent pictures of the many teams in the competition and a concise history of the game. The Association had under its control last season 22 teams, which calculated at 15 men each, made a total of 300 playing members. (Loud applause). He felt this was a grand beginning, and they hoped for something better next year. He explained that the shield would never become the property of any team, the honor would be in having their name inscribed on the plate; but the members of the winning team would be presented with a gold medal each, which alone would be worth competing for.

A subscription was taken up in the room and the result was announced late – £10 15s having been subscribed. This announcement was received with prolonged cheers, and it was announced also that the Clyde Engineering Works ‘Club’s team would be the first inscribed on the shield.

Later on, Mr. Lennox moved that the shield as subscribed for, be presented to the Association’s president – Mr. J. R. Neilson – on behalf of the subscribers, to be competed for under the auspices of the Granville Association. This was carried with cheers.

The last toast was that of ‘The Press’ proposed by Mr. Barlow, who expressed on behalf of the Association its great indebtedness to The Cumberland Argus for the splendid reports of the games and the copious notes published week by week, which had done a great deal to popularize the association game. And he coupled with the toast the name of The Argus representative present. There was one good point about The Argus – (laughter) – and that was the proprietors consistently encouraged all kinds of manly sport. (Cheers.)

A vote of thanks to the chairman concluded a most enjoyable evening. Songs and recitations were contributed by Messrs. Ern. Johnstone, Alderman Kay, R. Vines, Captain Love, W. Picken, D. Gordon, F. Willesford, Jas. Creely, G. J. Graham and F. Sowter.

Today the Challenge Shield is Australia’s oldest continuously played for soccer football silverware, and possibly the southern hemisphere…and we are proud it is still in Granville!

Clyde Engineering FC were the first winners of the Challenge Shield in 1901

Clyde Engineering FC were the first winners of the Challenge Shield in 1901
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Granville Shamrocks won the Challenge Shield in 1910. This is believed to be the earliest known photograph of a winning team with the Challenge Shield.

Granville Shamrocks won the Challenge Shield in 1910. This is believed to be the earliest known photograph of a winning team with the Challenge Shield.
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Holroyd United FC won the Challenge Shield in 1914

Holroyd United FC won the Challenge Shield in 1914
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