The win­ner takes it all

Sport­ing silverware has of­ten seen tougher times than those who win the tro­phies. Anna Tyzack un­cov­ers hid­den tales be­hind our top prizes

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

BE it a jug, a vase or a minia­ture urn, be­hind ev­ery sport­ing bat­tle is a prize or tro­phy—and of­ten one with a story quite dif­fer­ent to that of the com­pe­ti­tion it­self. Take, for ex­am­ple, the Jules Rimet, pre­vi­ously awarded to the win­ner of the FIFA World Cup, which, in 1966, was stolen dur­ing a pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion in West­min­ster and dis­cov­ered a week later in a sub­ur­ban gar­den hedge in West Nor­wood by a dog named Pick­les.

‘They’re sym­bols of vic­tory, but they take on their own iden­ti­ties, mak­ing them even more sought af­ter,’ says Scott Gamble of Asprey, which has made tro­phies for the In­vestec Derby, Aviva Premier­ship Rugby and for the cham­pion jump jockey. The word tro­phy de­rives from the Greek

tropaios, mean­ing ‘for de­feat’ and, tra­di­tion­ally, they were a mark of vic­tory in bat­tle; sol­diers in An­cient Greece hung cap­tured arms and stan­dards on trees to re­sem­ble a war­rior. At the first Olympic Games, win­ners were pre­sented with lau­rel wreaths, but the An­cient Ro­mans handed out vases, shields and sil­ver cups at lo­cal games and, from the 17th cen­tury, chal­ices were handed out to win­ners of sport­ing events in the New World.

Com­pa­nies such as Map­pin & Webb, Asprey and Tif­fany & Co have de­part­ments ded­i­cated to tro­phies and it’s not un­usual for a spon­sor or sport­ing body to de­vote a six-fig­ure sum to silverware. ‘All of ours are hand­made at our work­shop in Bond Street—the [foot­ball] Premier League tro­phy takes 700 hours to cre­ate,’ ex­plains Mr Gamble.

It doesn’t al­ways fol­low, how­ever, that the blood­i­est sport­ing bat­tles of­fer the most lav­ish prizes. The leader of the Tour de France makes do with a yel­low jer­sey and English and Aus­tralian crick­eters fight over a tiny per­fume bot­tle.

In­deed, when Pick­les’s owner, Dave Cor­bett, took the Jules Rimet tro­phy to his lo­cal po­lice sta­tion, the desk sergeant couldn’t have been less im­pressed. ‘That doesn’t look very World Cuppy to me,’ he said, yet that same tro­phy, which was stolen again and never re­cov­ered, has been the sub­ject of sev­eral books and a doc­u­men­tary and scored Pick­les a brief ca­reer in tele­vi­sion.

The Cal­cutta Cup

For­mer stu­dents of Rugby School set up the Cal­cutta (Rugby) Foot­ball Club in 1873 and the club joined the Rugby Foot­ball Union (RFU) the fol­low­ing year. When the lo­cal Bri­tish Army reg­i­ment de­parted a few years later (and, per­haps more cru­cially, the bar ceased to be free), the club was dis­banded and the 270 sil­ver ru­pees re­main­ing in its bank ac­count were melted down, then crafted into a cup to be pre­sented to the RFU for ‘some last­ing good for the cause of Rugby Foot­ball’.

The tro­phy, which has an In­dian ele­phant on the lid and king co­bras as han­dles, has been the prize for the an­nual Eng­land-scot­land clash ever since, al­though the win­ners are no longer pre­sented with the orig­i­nal. Time and a shoe­ing down Princes Street in Ed­in­burgh by drunk play­ers in 1988 have left it frag­ile and it’s now only dis­played to the pub­lic at the Mu­seum of Rugby in Twick­en­ham when Eng­land hold the ti­tle.

The Ashes urn

‘The body will be cre­mated and the ashes taken to Aus­tralia’ was the mock obit­u­ary in re­mem­brance of English cricket that ap­peared in the Sport­ing Times in 1882, af­ter the na­tional side was was nar­rowly de­feated by Aus­tralia at the Ken­ning­ton Oval (the match was so tense, leg­end has it that one spec­ta­tor chewed through the han­dle of his um­brella). When the English team left for the re­turn tour later that year, cap­tain Ivo Bligh pledged to bring back ‘the Ashes of English cricket’ and led his team to a se­ries vic­tory.

The 4in ter­ra­cotta per­fume bot­tle, which is thought to con­tain the ashes of a bail, was a per­sonal gift to Bligh from the wife of Sir Wil­liam Clarke, pres­i­dent of the Mel­bourne Cricket Club. It has been the em­blem of Eng­land-aus­tralia Test cricket ever since and lives be­hind glass at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The win­ners now re­ceive the MCC Water­ford Crys­tal Tro­phy, a large glass replica, in­stead.

The FA Cup

No one knows what be­came of the orig­i­nal FA Cup tro­phy, the prize for the world’s old­est As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion. Known as the lit­tle tin idol, it was made by Messrs Martin, Hall & Co of Birm­ing­ham for the in­au­gu­ral sea­son (1871–2) and cost £20, but was stolen with­out trace in 1895 from a shop in As­ton, where it was on dis­play for fans to ad­mire. A £10 re­ward was of­fered for its safe re­turn, but it was never re­cov­ered and As­ton Villa was forced to pay a fine of £25.

In 1958, an el­derly for­mer crim­i­nal called Harry Burge claimed that he’d melted down the cup to make coins, al­though there is no ev­i­dence to back this up. The FA Cup tro­phy

(be­low) used be­tween 1911 and 1992, de­signed by Fat­torini and Sons and adorned with grapes and vines, was re­cently val­ued at more than £1 mil­lion on An­tiques Road­show. To­day, a replica is awarded to the win­ning club.

‘Tra­di­tion­ally, tro­phies were a mark of vic­tory in bat­tle’

The Claret Jug

Tom Kidd was the first win­ner of the Golf Cham­pion Tro­phy at Prest­wick Golf Club in 1873, a sil­ver claret jug made by Mackay Cun­ning­ham & Com­pany, Ed­in­burgh. It has been on per­ma­nent dis­play at the Royal & An­cient Club­house in St An­drews since 1928 and a replica is pre­sented to the win­ner of the Open Cham­pi­onship, one of the four golf ‘ma­jors’.

Fa­mously, the tro­phy was en­graved with the win­ner’s name be­fore they re­ceived it and there was much spec­u­la­tion as to when the en­graver was sure enough of the out­come to be­gin. Only once did he made a mis­take: in 1999, when Jean van de Velde in­fa­mously choked with a triple bo­gey on the 18th hole. Paul Lawrie sub­se­quently won the play­off and the en­graver had to scratch through van de Velde’s name. The win­ning golfer’s name is now only added af­ter his score­card is ver­i­fied by of­fi­cials.

As­cot Gold Cup

The win­ning owner of this Group 1 Flat race, the high­light of Ladies’ Day at Royal As­cot, is al­lowed to keep the tro­phy, mean­ing that Sue Mag­nier, owner of Yeats, the horse that won the race ev­ery year from 2006 to 2009, has been pre­sented with no fewer than four of them. Each year, a new tro­phy is de­signed by Gar­rard & Co, then ap­proved and pre­sented to the win­ner by The Queen. Un­less, of course, she wins the race her­self, which was the case in 2013, when The Duke of York stepped in to hand his mother the prize.

The race was first run in 1807 and, from 1844, was known as the Em­peror’s Plate, af­ter Nicholas I of Rus­sia of­fered a new tro­phy. The orig­i­nal name was re­stored nine years later, dur­ing the Crimean War.

Foot­ball Chal­lenge Cup

The world’s first foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion was played in Sh­effield in 1867, un­der Sh­effield Rules, and won by Hal­lam, which never re­ceived its tro­phy. Un­for­tu­nately, the cup, also known as the Youdan Cup as lo­cal the­atre owner Thomas Youdan spon­sored the com­pe­ti­tion, wasn’t ready in time and it was then lost—for 130 years. In 1997, it was un­cov­ered by a Scot­tish an­tiques col­lec­tor, who sold it to Hal­lam for £1,600— it was then as­sessed on An­tiques Road­show and given a valuation of at least £100,000. The com­pe­ti­tion has now re­turned as a grass­roots tour­na­ment in Sh­effield.

The RAC Tourist Tro­phy

Lewis Hamil­ton has of­ten be­moaned the low stan­dard of tro­phies in mo­tor rac­ing—some are plas­tic—but the Tourist Tro­phy is an ex­cep­tion. This el­e­gant sculp­ture of Her­mes is the old­est tro­phy in mo­tor­sport, hav­ing been pre­sented in 1905 at the world’s first en­durance race on a 50 mile-a-lap cir­cuit on the Isle of Man. The win­ner, John Napier, man­aged an av­er­age speed of 33mph for six hours in his Ar­rol-john­ston.

Nowa­days, the tro­phy is awarded to the win­ners of the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship Six Hours of Sil­ver­stone, which is the open­ing round of the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship. The last Bri­tish win­ner was An­thony Davidson for Toy­ota Rac­ing in 2014.

The Field Cup

The tro­phy pre­sented to the men’s sin­gles win­ner at the first Wim­ble­don Cham­pi­onship in 1877 cost 25 guineas and was given to the All Eng­land Cro­quet and Lawn Ten­nis Club by J. H. Walsh, editor of The Field. Six years later, it was re­tired when Wil­liam Ren­shaw, a three-times win­ner, was per­mit­ted un­der rules to take it home with him. In 1886, Ren­shaw, hav­ing won another three con­sec­u­tive com­pe­ti­tions, also kept the new Chal­lenge Cup.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the rules were then changed to en­sure the sec­ond re­place­ment Chal­lenge Cup, cost­ing 100 guineas, ‘would never be­come the prop­erty of the win­ner’. It’s still used to­day, adorned with a pineap­ple—a sym­bol of wealth and lux­ury—and in­scribed with ‘The All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club Sin­gle Handed Cham­pi­onship of the World’, al­though play­ers may now use both hands and there is no of­fi­cial cham­pi­onship of the world— nor was there ever.

The King Ge­orge V Gold Cup

There was an awk­ward mo­ment at the Royal In­ter­na­tional Horse Show prize-giv­ing last year, when Ire­land’s Billy Twomey dropped the solid-gold King Ge­orge V Gold Cup on the ground. The tro­phy, which was com­mis­sioned by the monarch from Gar­rard & Co when he be­came pa­tron of the show in 1911, is worth £250,000 and this wasn’t the first time the eques­trian world has feared for its safety.

When the Sec­ond World War broke out, it was on Ital­ian soil with the last win­ner, Conte Alessan­dro Bet­toni-caz­zago, who buried it in the grounds of his villa to keep it from harm. Thank­fully, it was re­turned to its owner, the Bri­tish Horse So­ci­ety, in mint con­di­tion on both oc­ca­sions.

To­day, it’s kept un­der lock and key in a vault in London and has its own se­cu­rity guard when brought out at the All Eng­land Jump­ing Course at Hick­stead, West Sus­sex, each sum­mer. The pres­ti­gious showjump­ing com­pe­ti­tion opened to fe­male rid­ers in 2008 and Beezie Mad­den be­came the first lady to lift it in 2014— she won it again in 2015.

Amer­ica’s Cup

‘The auld mug’ is yacht­ing’s most pres­ti­gious prize and the old­est tro­phy in in­ter­na­tional sport, but the sil­ver ewer isn’t par­tic­u­larly valu­able in it­self. Henry Wil­liam Paget, 1st Mar­quess of An­gle­sey, pur­chased it off the shelf at Gar­rard in 1851 for 100 sov­er­eigns as a tro­phy for the new £100 Cup around the Isle of Wight.

The com­pe­ti­tion was won by a schooner called Amer­ica, which had been sailed across the At­lantic by a syn­di­cate of busi­ness­men from the newly formed New York Yacht Club. They sub­se­quently do­nated the tro­phy to the club, which made it avail­able for in­ter­na­tional chal­lenge un­der the terms of the deed of gift.

For the next 132 years, the Amer­ica’s Cup re­mained in the USA, de­spite be­ing chal­lenged 24 times. It marked the long­est win­ning streak in the his­tory of sport, un­til, in 1983, Aus­tralia II be­came the first suc­cess­ful chal­lenger. Bri­tain hasn’t man­aged to re­cover the tro­phy in the 166 years since it left our shores—sir Ben Ainslie was hop­ing to re­v­erse this great sport­ing hurt in last month’s Louis Vuit­ton Amer­ica’s Cup, but New Zealand emerged vic­to­ri­ous.

Pride of a na­tion: Eng­land cap­tain An­drew Strauss raises the Ashes urn in 2009

Rugby skip­per Dy­lan Hart­ley and the Cal­cutta Cup, which Eng­land have held since 2009

Above: The Queen cel­e­brates Es­ti­mate’s Gold Cup vic­tory in 2013. Right: Padraig Har­ring­ton won back-to-back Open Cham­pi­onships

Tim Stock­dale and First Di­rect Cal­ico Bay were win­ners of the King Ge­orge V Gold Cup in 2010

Se­bastien Buemi, An­thony Davidson and Kazuki Naka­jima lift the RAC Tourist Trohy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.