A timeline of the History of Sports Trophies and Competitions
This sports timeline traces the first competitions held in major sports. You will be quite surprised just how old some sports competitions really are.
The Carlisle Bells date back to sometime in the 16th century and are believed to be the oldest sports trophy in the world. The bells are given to the winner of the The Carlisle Bell horse race in Carlisle, Cumbria, England. The first race took place in 1599 in the reign of Elizabeth 1 and the bells are the only remaining part of larger prize from the 17th century. The race is run at Carlisle Racecourse over a distance of 7 furlongs and 173 yards (1,566 metres).
Scorton Silver Arrow
The exact origins of the Scorton Silver Arrow are unknown but it was the first trophy awarded at the inaugural Antient Silver Arrow Competition in 1673. The real Silver Arrow is kept at The Royal Armories in Leeds and a replica Arrow is awarded in its place today. The trophy goes to the first archer to pierce the inner 3 in diameter of the target from 100 yards away.
Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Cup
The Old Club Cup from the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club dates back to around 1774 this is known because the winners on the trophy date back to that year. The club is based in East Lothian, Scotland. The trophy was first presented to the Musselburgh Club by its first winner Thomas McMillan, who went on to became the captain of the Musselburgh Golf Club.
University Boat Race
The 1st Boat Race took place at Henley-on-Thames on 10 June 1829. The race came about following a challenge laid down to the University of Oxford by University of Cambridge "to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation". Oxford university easily won the first edition of the race.
The Grand National
The history of the Grand National can be traced back to the early 1800's, when the first official races were organised at Aintree. In February 1839, Lottery became the first winner of the Grand Liverpool steeplechase, the race that would become known as the Grand National. The horses had to jump a stone wall, cross a stretch of ploughed land and finish over two hurdles.
Despite its name, the America’s Cup trophy did not originate in the United States. The trophy, which is affectionately called “Auld Mug”, was named after the winners of the first race in 1851, a syndicate of wealthy Americans on a yacht dubbed America. Initially the trophy was called the 100 Guinea Cup. America’s Cup was crafted in 1848 by Royal Jeweller Robert Garrard of London. It is made of high quality sterling silver.
The FA Cup
The FA Cup can claim to be the oldest association football trophy in the world. It is a knockout-format cup competition open to all professional, and many non-league, clubs in England (a record 763 teams competed in 2012). The inaugural FA Cup was held in 1871, and was won by Wanderers Football Club. Quiz question - What gets taken to every FA Cup final but never used?
The Claret Jug, which is formally called the Golf Champion Trophy, dates back to 1872. Although the Claret Jug has been presented to the winner of of each year’s Open Championship, the trophy is not the tournament’s original prize. The first Open took place in 1860 and the winner was presented with the Challenge Belt. The winner of the first Claret jug was Tom Morris Junior, although he only had his name inscribed on the trophy a year later for complicated reasons.
Today, there are several trophies given out to the winners of the Wimbledon Championships. The very first Wimbledon trophy dates back to the inaugural tournament in 1877. This first trophy was called the Field Cup and was used until 1883. The Field Cup was replaced by the Challenge Cup from 1884 – 1886. Both trophies became the property of William Renshaw after he won the Gentlemen’s Single title three times in succession twice. Spencer Gore, a 27-year-old rackets player from Wandsworth, became the first Wimbledon champion by defeating William Marshall, a 28-year-old real tennis player, in three straight sets in a final that lasted 48 minutes. The winner received 12 guineas in prize money and a silver challenge cup. All participants had to pay 1 guinea to enter!
The Calcutta Cup
Although the Calcutta Cup was created in India by Indian craftsman, the trophy belonged to British expatriates who had established the Calcutta Football (Rugby) Club in 1873. The following year the Calcutta Football Club officially joined the Rugby Football Union. The club only lasted for a few years and was disbanded in 1878. To commemorate the Calcutta Football Club, the members melted down the 270 silver rupees in their bank account and turned it into a trophy. The trophy was presented to the Rugby Football Union in 1878 and the following year the first Calcutta Cup tournament was played in Edinburgh, Scotland. Today, the Calcutta Cup is presented to the winner of the England versus Scotland rugby union match, which takes place during the annual Six Nations Championship. Scotland won the first ever Calcutta Cup 1-0 (12-5 in current scoring).
The Ashes Urn is a tiny terracotta urn that supposedly contains the ashes of a cricket bail. The trophy is now used in the Ashes Series of Test series cricket matches between England and Australia. The Ashes Urn is a playful representation of the two countries’ cricket rivalry. The idea of the Ashes Urn trophy was inspired by a mock obituary that the Sporting Times newspaper published after England lost to Australia on home soil for the first time in history. The obituary read, “In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket which died at the Oval on 20 August 1882. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” A few weeks later, the English team went to Australia to play a series of Test matches in 1882 – 1883. The team’s captain, the Honorable Ivo Bligh was presented with the Ashes Urn sometime during the tour.
Although the Stanley Cup may not be as old as some of the other trophies on the list, it is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. The Stanley Cup was donated by and named for Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the 14th Earl of Derby. Lord Stanley paid about 10 Guineas ($50.00 at that time) for the trophy, which he wanted to present to “the champion hockey team in the Dominion of Canada.” The Montreal Hockey Club defeated the Montreal Victorias, 3–2 to become the first winners. The Stanley Cup was awarded for the first time in 1893 to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. In its early years, the Stanley Cup was given to the winners of challenge games involving the top amateur teams in Canada. When the National Hockey Association, the precursor to the National Hockey League (NHL), was formed in 1910, they became the keepers of the Stanley Cup. Once the NHL was founded in 1917 only one non-NHL team won the Stanley Cup. Since 1926, only NHL teams are allowed to compete for the Stanley Cup.
River Plata Polo Championship
The Argentine Open Championship is the top draw for the sport’s best players and most knowledgeable fans. The tournament, first known as the River Plata Polo Championship, takes place between late November and early December. First held in 1893, the tournament is older than the tango. The first ever winners were Hurlingham, a club based in Buenos Aires and named after the Hurlingham Club in London.
Whilst not really a sport in itself, the modern Olympic games started in 1896. It definitely merits a place on this historical timeline of sport.
Rugby League Challenge Cup
The 1897 Challenge Cup was the inaugural staging of the Northern Rugby Football Union's Challenge Cup and involved 52 clubs from across England from the 1896-97 Northern Rugby Football Union season. The tournament was played over six rounds in March and April 1897, culminating in the final which was won by Batley.
Major League Baseball
The 1901 Major League Baseball season, involved the inaugural season of the American League. There were 8 franchises in the American league and 8 in the national League. The winners were: American League: Chicago White Stockings National League: Pittsburgh Pirates There was no World Series because of a AL-NL war over player contracts.
Le Tour de France
The 1903 Tour de France was the first cycling race set up and sponsored by the newspaper L'Auto, ancestor of the current daily, L'Équipe. It ran from 1 to 19 July in six stages over 2,428 km (1,509 mi), and was won by Maurice Garin
Volleyball YMCA National Championships
Whilst the sport of volleyabll had been invented 27 years before, in 1895. (It was originally called Mintonette) The first YMCA national championships were held in Brooklyn in 1922. 27 teams from 11 states were represented. Little is known about this competition or its winners!
Le Mans 24 hour
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans. The first winners were the Frenchmen André Lagache and René Léonard, they drove a Chenard & Walcker Sport 3-Litre and covered 2209.536 km. The furthest distance ever covered in 24 hours is 5410.71 km!
Football World Cup
The 1930 FIFA World Cup was the inaugural FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It was held in Uruguay. 7 out of the 13 team who participated were from South America, now with qualifying this will almost certainly will not happen again. Hosts Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in the final.
British Open Squash Championship
The 1930 Squash Rackets Open Championship of Great Britain was the first edition of the British Open Squash Championships inaugurated in 1930 so that both professionals and amateurs could play each other. The champion could be challenged by another player, normally either the professional or amateur champion for the right to earn the title of champion of Great Britain. The first designated champion was Charles Read.
The first ever Formula One World Champion was the Italian Giuseppe Farina who won it in 1950 driving for Alfa Romeo. However this wasn't the first Formula 1 race and that happened 4 years earlier during the 1946 Grand Prix season. The first ever race run to Formula One criteria, was the 1946 Turin Grand Prix.
The 1946–47 BAA season was the inaugural season of the Basketball Association of America. (Following its third, the 1948–49 season, the BAA and National Basketball League merged to create the National Basketball Association or NBA.) The league launched with 11 teams playing a 60-game schedule. The first ever winners were the Philadelphia Warriors who beat the Chicago Stags 4-1.
On January 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) beat quite comprehensively the American Football League (AFL)'s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. This was the first-ever AFL-NFL World Championship known as Super Bowl I, it was played at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. In terms of popularity it is difficult to imagine the Super Bowl as anything but big and successful but the first Super Bowl was played to plenty of empty seats and a waning TV audience.