As the region’s oldest primary school football competition, the Totty Cup celebrates its centenary this year.
Over the last 100 years, thousands of schoolboys from across the Don and Dearne region have laced up their boost to play for the coveted schools’ trophy – or one of them, at least; there have been two replacements since the original went missing in 1977.
Goldthorpe cinema manager Russell Totty bequeathed the first cup in 1923. But little did he know the silverware he donated would go on to create a legacy worthy of the silver screen.
The cup was initially a knockout style competition for by 13- and 14-year-old schoolboys, but it is now played for by primary schools in Brampton, Darfield, Dearne, Kilnhurst, Mexborough, Rawmarsh, Swinton, and Wath.
A Wath derby saw Victoria trounce Park Road 2-0 in 1923 to become the inaugural winners, with goal scorer Albert Parkin going on to sign for Rotherham United aged 17.
Many other past Totty finalists have gone on to net goals in the football league, the most famous being George Robledo who went on to win the FA Cup with Newcastle United in 1952. His footballing talent was first spotted some 13 years earlier when he was a young lad at Brampton Ellis School, scoring ten goals collectively in both the 1939 and 1940 Totty Cup finals.
After the Second World War, two local football associations merged to become the Don & Dearne Schools FA. Their well-respected representative team became like an academy for clubs like Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers between the 1950s and ‘70s.
Only a handful of finals have been missed in its 100-year history, owing to nationwide issues like the war years, the 1986 teachers’ strike, and the Covid pandemic.
As time has passed, the cup has evolved to also incorporate other competitions to those teams who don’t make it through to the final. The Barlow-Salmons Shield was introduced in 1974 for schools knocked out in the quarter finals. Frank Barlow and Geoff Salmons were Don & Dearne SFA schoolboys who were spotted by Sheffield United.
For the centenary, two new trophies have been commissioned in honour of Totty Cup officials, Brian ‘Boe’ Hyde and Gordon Swann, who gave their time for free for many finals in the 1990s and 2000s.
Schools who didn’t make the Totty Cup knockout stages will compete for the Brian Hyde cup. Sandhill and Thorogate, the two semi-finalists that didn’t make the Totty Cup final, will compete in a new bronze medal play-off called the Gordon Swann Cup. Both trophies have been lovingly restored by local silversmith, Bob Lamb.
The centenary final will be played at 3.45pm on Thursday 23rd March at Goldthorpe Welfare, taking the cup back to its Goldthorpe roots for this momentous occasion. Reigning champions Swinton Queen will take on Goldthorpe Sacred Heart to take home to Totty Cup in its momentous year.
To mark the centenary, the Totty Cup’s long history is being collated into an A4 book by established football author, Steve Penny, helped by the research of Totty Cup volunteer, Chris Brook.
It will be published in December but those who pre-order copy before 30th September can get it for the reduced price of £10. They will also have their name printed in the book. There is also a commemorative pin badge priced £3. Both are available from Pettits Shoes in Mexborough. All proceeds will go to the Don & Dearne Schools Sports Association.