Sporting Memorabilia: A highly important gold winner's medal from the inaugural Football Association Challenge Cup final of 1872, by William Joseph Taylor of London, the obverse with a band of laurel, the reverse inscribed FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION CHALLENGE CUP, 1872, diameter 24mm. The Football Association Challenge Cup is the world's oldest competition in Association Football. The tournament was proposed by the influential sportsman and administrator Charles William Alcock (1842-1907), an old Harrovian who had joined the F.A. Committee in 1866 and was appointed Secretary of the Football Association in 1870, a position he held until 1895, before serving as Honorary Treasurer and Vice President. On 20th July 1871 Alcock tabled "that it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete". Alcock's landmark idea was based on his experience of inter-house 'sudden death' sporting competitions played at Harrow School. Fifteen teams entered the first competition in 1872, this being exactly half of all the clubs affiliated to the Football Association at the time. This included the Glasgow-based Scottish club Queens Park FC who, in view of the cost of travel, were given a bye until the semi-final. Alcock captained the Wanderers FC team, comprising mostly of former Old Harrovians and pupils from other public schools. Fittingly for Alcock, Wanderers progressed to the final that was played on 16th March 1872 at the Kennington Oval where Alcock also held a position as Secretary of Surrey C.C.C. Wanderers' opposition was the Royal Engineers. The game was played before a crowd estimated at 2,000 who each paid a shilling at the turnstiles. Wanderers won the toss and elected the Harleyford Road End, to play with the wind and the sun behind them. The game kicked off at 3:05pm with the Engineers starting as favourites but they were struck a blow after 10 minutes when Lieut. E.W. Creswell broke his collar-bone in a charge. Despite severe pain he refused to leave the field until the match was completed but the men from Chatham were effectively down to ten men. On fifteen minutes a goal by Wanderers' Morton Betts proved to be the decisive score. Wanderers remained on top for the rest of the game. Alcock had a goal disallowed on 20 minutes after the referee Mr A. Stair from Upton Park had spotted a handball by Wollaston. Wanderers also struck a post. The Royal Engineers created only two scoring opportunities in the match, with the Wanderers' defenders Lubbock and Thompson singled out in match reports for their "admirable and faultless kicking ... repulsing all of the attacks of the Engineers ... their work together was the great feature of the match." The Field magazine described the game as "the fastest and hardest match that has ever been seen at The Oval ... some of the best play on their [Wanderers] part, individually and collectively, that has ever been shown in an Association game. The F.A. Cup trophy, known as the 'Little Tin Idol', was presented by the President of the Football Association, Mr E.C. Morley, at the annual dinner of the Wanderers FC at the Pall Mall Restaurant, Charing Cross, on 11th April. The Committee of the Wanderers FC presented its triumphant players with an inscribed gold medal, the example offered here being the only known survival. In addition, the The Football Association gave each player in the winning team a memento in the fom of a silken badge described in the articles of the competition as being of "a trifling value". The identity of the Wanderers player awarded this medal has been lost over the passage of time. For the record, the Wanderers starting XI was R.C. Welch, E. Lubbock, A.C. Thompson, C.W. Alcock (Capt.), E.E. Bowen, A.G. Bonsor, M.P. Betts (goalscorer), W.P. Crake, T.C. Hooman, R.W.S. Vidal and C.H.R. Wollaston. The Football Association saw the first competition as a roaring success and thereby put into motion what has becoming the most enduring competition in football with a rich and romantic history, especially with the competition being open to the sport's goliaths and minnows alike. In season 2009-10 a record 762 eligible clubs competed in the competition played over 14 rounds from August to the Wembley showpiece final in May. Momentous events in the competition's long and colourful history are too numerous to mention here but would include Tottenham Hotspur's unique achievement of winning the Cup in 1901 as a non-League team; the famous 'White Horse' final of 1923 at the newly built Wembley Stadium; the sinister presence of the Graf Zeppelin flying low over the Stadium in 1930; the 'Matthews' final of 1953; whilst in more recent times moments etched in the memory would include Charlie George's supine goal celebration in 1971; Ricky George and Ronnie Radford's giant-killing goals for Hereford in 1972, Jim Montgomery's double-save and Bob Stokoe's jig in 1973; Ricky Villa's wonder-goal in 1981; Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang' overcoming the mighty Liverpool in 1988; and Chasetown's outstanding achievement of being the most lowly ranked football team (eighth tier of the English Football Pyramid) ever to reach the 3rd Round of the F.A. Cup in 2008. The Medal Maker The presentation was manufactured by William Joseph Taylor (1802-1885) a medallist, die-sinker and engraver who was born in Birmingham in 1802 and was the first to be apprenticed as a die-sinker to the Birmingham medallist Thomas Halliday in 1818. Taylor came to London in 1829 and set up his own business at 5 Porter Street, Soho. He is then recorded at 3 Litchfield Street and 33 Little Queen Street before settling in 1866 at 70 Red Lion Street in Holborn, where this medal was made in 1872. He was very entrepreneurial and even set up a workshop in Melbourne, Australia, in November 1852. Taylor's body or work is extensive and includes a number of prize medals. In the sporting arena this extends to medals commissioned by golf clubs, and for the Melbourne Rowing Regatta. W. J. Taylor died in March 1885 and the business was carried on by his sons Theophilus and Herbert but seems to have folded by 1908, when the presses, tools and machinery was sold off. Provenance: The present vendor's grandfather was the proprietor of a jewellery shop in the Seven Sisters Road in North London. In the 1950s the jeweller bought the medal as part of a consignment of scrap gold from house clearers. A keen football fan, he very fortunately recognised the importance of the medal which saved it from its intended destination of the melting pot. Grandfather's F.A. Cup winner's medal then became a proud and cherished family heirloom which eventually passed to his grandson, the present vendor.