125th anniversary of the Montagu football Cup.

There is always an amazing football program at Easter and to choose one is like picking sweets in a sweet shop. This year I chose to travel to Mexborough Athletic’s ground to see the Mexborough Montagu Hospital Charity Cup Final. The significance of this was that it was the 125th Anniversary of this cup which is believed to be the oldest football competition still played at its original venue. Affectionally known locally as the “Mont” it has been played on Easter Monday with an 11.00 a.m. kick off.

This competition was first played in 1897 and was one of the first Hospital Cups. Prior to our beloved NHS local hospitals were dependent on local benefactors and fund raising. Charity football matches were a popular way of raising funds and Mexborough were one of the first, supporting the Montigu Hospital that served the Dearne Valley with its mining and industrial workers high incidence of accidents and disease. The money that is raised these days is donated to the Montagu Hospitals Comfort Fund.

The first Hospital Cup was the East Lancashire Hospital Cup of 1883 and examples of others are the West Ham, the Ipswich and the Isle of Mann Hospital Cups. The “Mont” was open to teams within a seven mile radius and the most successful clubs have been three who have won the trophy seven times, Swinton, Wombwell Main and Mexborough Main Street.

Before the game a reception was held for previous players and one of the finalists was 94 year old Albert Burrows. All of this could not have happened without the dedication of Chairperson Linda Carlton and Secretary Steve Poole of Mexborough Athletic Football Club founded in 2002. They keep the sports ground going and in the magnificent condition it is today. There are two football pitches, a cricket square and pavilion along with clubhouse facilities. The football pitch has concrete banking on three sides interrupted by a small covered seated area and the fourth side is open to the cricket ground.

The whole atmosphere was family, all ages, sexes, children in prams, dogs on leads, children kicking balls into the goals at the half times. Hats off to our hosts of whom Linda Carlton walked around the crowd encouraging fans to have photos with the 125 year old cup and hold as if they had won it. 1700 turned up to help the charity and see an anticipated final between two well matched local teams of which I perceived Scawthorpe to be the favourites.

The sky was light grey with fluffy clouds scurrying by, interspersed with sunshine. A little cooler than Easter Sunday due mainly to a good breeze that swept down the pitch which sloped side to side and gently end to end and was covered by a lush green carpet of grass.

Dog Daisy United 3 Scawthorpe Athletic 4 after extra time.

The game was off to a pulsating start with Dog Daisy United opening the score within five minutes when Josh Moore rose to head a corner into the back on the net at the near post. Three minutes later Dog Daisy’s Jake Ford was put through and he coolly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper to double the lead. Surely it was de ja vu when three minutes later the same tactic and the same player did it again to make it 3 nil to Dog Daisy United. The game was over, and the crowd were wandering how many they were going to score in total. Dog Daisy continued with confidence and should have added to their tally but on 34 minutes the ball was flicked on from a long ball to Scawthorpe’s Lee Tilley who pegged one back.

Scawthorpe’s goal gave them more confidence and it was them that ended the half pushing forward.

Dog Daisy had the advantage of kicking down hill in the second half but there was no quick goals for them in the second period, in fact Scawthorpe continued to make the running especially down the left side. With 8 minutes gone the Dog Daisy goalkeeper made a reaction save to his left to deny a goal but 4minutes later he had no chance as Adam Watson met the ball from a corner with his head to bring the deficit down to 1. At 23 minutes it should have been level when Scawthorpe missed to the right but their captain, Gary Mundy, met a freekick from the left with his head and planted the ball in the net. Three all, what a come back and who could grab another before full time.

Dog Daisy’s legs seemed to tire, their two goal hero was replaced because of a hamstring injury and two others went down with cramp. More Dog Daisy substitutes were made to try to inject some momentum but full time soon crept up and extra time was upon us.

Dog Daisy did show some more attacking threat but the continuing momentum of Scawthorpe led to a winner that looked impossible when they were 3 goals down after 12 minutes. The goal came when a ball was flicked through to the advancing Sam Corner who didn’t hesitate to bury it in the bottom right hand corner. The game didn’t produce any more chances so it was Scawthorpe Athletic who won this amazing game and their names on the cup on its 125th Anniversary.

What a fantastic family football event that not only raised money for the local hospital but gave fun and a community time out on a Bank Holiday.

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