50 years of the Barlow Salmons Shield

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Barlow Salmons Shield, a football competition for schools in the Don and Dearne area.

It’s named after two footballers from Mexborough, Frank Barlow and Geoff Salmons, who had benefited from the representative team of the Don & Dearne Schools FA and wanted to give something back.  

1957 Swinton Bridge team (Frank has the ball, Geoff seated 2nd right) – Frank and Geoff with the shield

A school year apart, they played together at Swinton Bridge and Mexborough Grammar. They’d also travel together on the bus for evening training sessions at Sheffield United, where they both signed professional schoolboy contracts in the same summer of 1965.

Frank spent most of his footballing career at Sheffield United, before transferring to Chesterfield. A knee injury at age 31 led to early retirement from playing. He moved into coaching and was assistant or caretaker manager at clubs like Scunthorpe and Notts Forest until retiring in 2013 from his first club, Sheffield United.

Geoff went on to play for Stoke and Leicester before joining his old pal at Chesterfield, by which time Frank was on the coaching team. After four seasons with the Spirites, Geoff finished his 15-year career with non-league side Gainsborough Trinity.

However, they didn’t forget their Dearne Valley roots. They donated the funds for a new shield at the start of the 1973/74 season after the Don & Dearne had folded for a year. The Barlow Salmons Shield replaced the former Clarke Shield, a knockout competition for teams eliminated from the Totty Cup in early rounds.

The first Barlow Salmons Shield was won by Swinton Queen Street in a 2-1 win over Mexborough Doncaster Road.

In 2005, it changed as cluster qualifying was introduced, with the Barlow Salmons becoming a competition for losing Totty Cup semi-finalists, a bronze medal of sorts. Last year, it reverted back to its original format, where a Bolton derby saw it was won by Lacewood who beat Carrfield 1-0.

Fifty years on from the first Barlow Salmons final, this year’s match will see a Wath derby as Wath C of E take on Wath Victoria on Thursday 14th March. Wath C of E have previously won the Barlow Salmons Shield twice, in 2012 and 2017, while Wath Victoria’s only win came in 2022.

It is hoped that some of the players from 1974 will be there for the 50th anniversary final, along with one or both of Frank and Geoff.

In their foreword for the Totty Cup 100th anniversary book, Frank and Geoff said: “We both look back with immense pride to have come from an area with such rich footballing traditions, where the Barlow Salmons Shield is still an important part of the schools’ season more than 50 years after we donated the trophy.”

Find out more about the Barlow Salmons Shield here.