What a finish for Totty Cup centenary

It was a magical moment for the Totty Cup’s 100th anniversary as the historic school football competition went back to its roots in more ways than one.

The centenary final was held in Goldthorpe, where the competition was started 100 years ago. But it also championed the very heart of grassroots football: community.

The Totty Cup final and its three subsidiary competitions were watched by 1,200 spectators over two rainy Thursdays in March where eight local primary schools took part. Crowds filled the sidelines of Dearne and District’s Welfare Ground in Goldthorpe.

Centenary finals pitch at Goldthorpe Welfare (c) Erica Hart

Amongst them were three descendants of Russell Totty who had travelled up from Surrey; Totty was the cinema owner who instigated the idea of a schools’ football competition and donated the trophy back in 1923.

As part of the centenary celebrations, two new trophies were commissioned, adding additional elements to the historic knockout competition. This means the Don and Dearne now has four trophies that schools can compete for.

Here’s a round-up of each competition.

Totty Cup

Swinton Queen 1-0 Goldthorpe Sacred Heart (replay)

By a pure coincidence, because of a 1-1 draw after two lots of extra time, the Totty Cup was won 100 years to the day since its first ever final.

There’s a long-standing rule of ‘no penalties’ so coaches from both teams had to decide whether to have a replay or share the trophy. But Swinton Queen coach, Martin Rouane, had had 30 years of hurt; he was part of the 1993 Swinton Queen team that had been forced to share the Barlow Salmons shield when that final ended in a draw.

“You’d always rather have an outright winner, and penalties are never easy on the kids, so we decided to play again. It added something extra to win the centenary final. We knew the winners would be remembered in the history books,” he said.

Celebrating Reuben Hollings’ winning goal (c) Julian Barker

The replay saw last year’s winners, Swinton Queen, secure back-to-back victories thanks to a single goal from Reuben Hollings after just 40 seconds. The result might not have gone their way for runners up Goldthorpe Sacred Heart, but they could still hold their heads high having been the first Goldthorpe team to reach the final this century.

The initial final was the first time Queen had conceded a goal all competition, having won all previous rounds 1-0. Martin says this is thanks to a solid defence and goalkeeper, as well as being a well-organised and disciplined team.

He stepped in to be the school’s football coach last year when his ten-year-old son Seth was picked for the squad. Martin, who’s the secretary of Swinton Athletic FC and started their junior side, Swinton Athletic Spartans in 2010, ran weekly training sessions at Queen Street school.

“I knew most of the squad as they play for Spartans and I didn’t want them to miss out on being part of the Totty Cup through school. It’s got deep roots in the Dearne and holds a lot of prestige in our towns and neighbourhoods. All families have got a story to tell relating to the Totty Cup, whether they played in it, their school did, their dads, grandads, uncles, brothers.”

Totty Cup winners 2023, Swinton Queen Street

Young Seth is the third generation in their family to play in Don & Dearne finals after Martin and his brother Alan won the Barlow Salmons Shield in the 1990s and Martin’s father-in-law David won its predecessor, the Clarke Shield, in 1959.

Swinton Queen were presented with the Totty Cup by 87-year-old Geoff Church who played in the 1947 final.

Geoff said: “It was lovely to be invited back to present the trophy and I really enjoyed it. It was great to see so many children still playing. And it also brought back memories of my time playing – I played my last ever match on that pitch in 1967.”

Geoff, who was born in Conisbrough, was the goalkeeper for his school Denaby Balby Street in the 1947 final when they lost to Darfield.

Geoff with his runners up medal, and with his 1947 school team (top row, 4th in)

After leaving school, Geoff played for Mexborough Tech Old boys then Wath Wanderers, who were a development team for Wolverhampton Wanderers. He impressed Wolves’ scouts at a trial match but he lost his eye in an accident two weeks later while working as an engineer at a boiler manufacturers. He was only 17, but he carried on playing for non-league clubs like Wombwell Main and Selby Town until he was 31.

“It was a sad, sad day but I made a smart move. It was my left eye that was injured, so I moved to an outside-left position. This meant I could still see all of the pitch as my blind side would always be facing the sidelines.”

Barlow Salmons Shield

Bolton Lacewood 1-0 Bolton Carrfield

It was a Bolton derby for the final of the Barlow Salmons Shield, played for by schools knocked out of the Totty Cup before the quarter final stages.

A single goal saw Lacewood take home the trophy over their neighbours Carrfield.

Celebrating the winning Lacewood goal (c) Dribbling Code

In the Lacewood team was ten-year-old Preston Middleton whose two older brothers, Jayden and Franklin, had previously won the Totty Cup for the same school in 2015 and 2019. But Preston is already talking about winning the Totty Cup next year so he can beat his two older brothers by having one Totty Cup and one Barlow Salmons Shield to his name.

His dad Alan Middleton reflects on why the Totty Cup is still so relevant 100 years on.

“When I was at school in the 1980s, the Totty Cup was like the FA Cup of school football. It was pure magic, but there were limited grassroots clubs around. It had a resurgence when my oldest son Jayden won it in 2015; it had been 30 years since their school last won it.

“Now it’s like the Champions League, and there are so many clubs for kids in the Don and Dearne area to carry on that love of football. Our school’s head of PE runs football training sessions after school and there will be 60 to 70 kids turn up now.”

Preston Middleton with the Barlow Salmons Shield, and with his Lacewood team

Preston and the Lacewood team were presented with their trophy by Frank Barlow, named after himself and Geoff Salmons.

Gordon Swann Cup

Rawmarsh Sandhill 1-0 Rawmarsh Thorogate

Another local derby, two Rawmarsh schools battled it out to be named the first recipient of this new competition. The Gordon Swann Cup is a bronze medal trophy played for by the two losing teams from the Totty Cup semi-finals.

It is named after ex-professional footballer Gordon Swann, 85, who was a Totty Cup official in the 1990s and 2000s.

Gordon Swann presenting the trophy to Sandhill

Gordon played part-time for Rotherham United and Barnsley in the 1950s and ‘60s alongside his job as an electrical engineer at Manvers Colliery. One of his career highlights was scoring for the Millers against Bill Shankly’s Liverpool.

After a period of playing and managing in non-league football, Gordon moved into refereeing in 1983 aged 46, working in the lower local leagues of the Sheffield and Hallamshire region.

“I always received a lot of respect from players and coaches who knew I’d been a professional player. If I’d have started earlier, I probably could have advanced up the leagues but I wouldn’t swap one year of playing for an extra year of reffing. I’ve done the full spectrum and had a long and varied career in football – and enjoyed 99.9 percent of it,” he says.

Gordon was asked to help with the Totty Cup and gave his time to officiating every year for free, alongside his colleague, the late Brian ‘Boe’ Hyde.

“If they told me I’d have to pay £5 to ref I’d have paid it. I’d retired from the coal board so I had plenty of time on my hands to do it. I always looked forward to the Totty Cup games and over the years I have seen the grandchildren of many players I played against or refereed for.

“I retired from refereeing in 2019 and I’ve really missed it. So it’s great to have this legacy in a new competition named after me.”

Kissing the Gordon Swann Cup (c) Julian Barker

Gordon presented his namesake trophy to Rawmarsh Sandhill who beat their neighbours Thorogate 1-0.

Brian Hyde Cup

Rawmarsh St Joseph’s 4-1 Kilnhurst St Thomas

The second of the new competitions for the 100th year is the Brian Hyde Cup, named after Brian ‘Boe’ Hyde who officiated the Totty Cup finals alongside Gordon. This new cup is played for by schools knocked out in the qualifying stages of the Totty Cup.

Rawmarsh St Joseph’s trounced over their competition with a 4-1 win, aided by their star striker Lucy Asher who scored twice in the final. Over the course of the heats, Lucy netted seven goals including a hat-trick in the quarter finals.

Lucy Asher celebrating her second goal in the Brian Hyde final (c) Dribbling Code

Lucy was one of two girls picked for her school’s team, and it’s clear to see why. Her performance across the competition helped her school win their first ever trophy at their first ever Don and Dearne final – a fitting end to 11-year-old Lucy’s time at primary school.

Her mum Katie said: “I knew about the Totty Cup before as my son played in it, but Lucy’s team have gone out and smashed it this year. She eats, sleeps and breathes football and loves scoring. She’s currently playing in the under 13s team at Sheffield Wednesday Ladies, an age group above where she should be.”

Lucy and the Rawmarsh St Josephs team with the Brian Hyde Cup (c) Julian Barker

Brian Hyde passed away a few years ago, so Lucy and her team were presented with the trophy by his wife Shirley and their son Paul.

Totty Cup Centenary Book

Want to know more about the Totty Cup? The competition’s organisers are launching a book at the end of this year to mark the 100th anniversary. The book is expected to be towards 180 pages and will cover the Barlow Salmons, Clarke Shield, Don & Dearne as well as celebrating the elite footballers from the area.

The cover price is expected to be between £15-£20. However, pre-orders made before 30th September will be at the reduced price of £10. The Totty Cup book will be available to pre-order from Pettits Shoes in Mexborough or Hollygrove in Goldthorpe, or online at tinyurl.com/tottycup