Saturday 5th May is ‘Upton Day’ in Guernsey, with a high profile double-header at The Track.
The day starts with Guernsey Rovers seeking to end St Pauls recent dominance of Channel Islands football and be Guernsey’s first Upton Trophy winners since North claimed the trophy in 2012. Since that victory, St Pauls have claimed the trophy for four consecutive years and Guernsey Rovers will be looking for a reversal of what is a repeat of the 2017 Upton Trophy match.
Jez Robin’s Rovers team will enter the match with confidence after retaining the FNB Priaulx League with a hard fought victory over St Martins last weekend, and will be hoping to capture the Upton Trophy for the first time in the club’s history in front of representatives from the recently re-formed Upton Park FC, the club which originally donated the famous trophy over 100 years ago.
The Upton Trophy is recognised as being the most prestigious competition for Channel Island clubs and dates back to when Upton Park FC first visited the island back in 1897.
Upton Park – Guernsey Tour History
On 23 September 1897, a letter appeared in the Guernsey Star from Mr JH Jones, the secretary and goalkeeper of a famous London based football club, Upton Park FC. The letter gave details of an imminent tour where Upton Park would play two games on the island, and two more on Jersey in the coming week. Jones listed the squad of players who would represent Upton Park on that first tour. It was a mix of county standard amateur footballers from various clubs who were travelling to play games initially in the West Country and then onto the Islands. On Guernsey, the opponents were Northerners FC and the Wiltshere Regiment.
On the tour, the club brought along the Grays Charity Cup trophy, of which they were the proud holders. It was displayed in a local shop window to attract crowds. A local notary wrongly suggested the club would play Northerners for the trophy, which would have caused Upton Park some embarrassment had they lost. A 12-0 scoreline however meant the trophy safely returned to the mainland! The first tour was so successful, it was repeated yearly until 1908, growing in significance as the game developed on the islands. Each year, a strong combination of players mostly drawn from London, Middlesex, Essex and Dorset under the leadership of JH Jones would do battle in the West Country, the Channel Islands and France.
A large handsome trophy was brought over to commemorate the tenth tour in 1906. Unlike the first tour, this trophy was left behind - a gift to the Guernsey Football Association. It was decided to contest the trophy each season thereafter between the champion civilian clubs of Guernsey and Jersey. The trophy rapidly became the most coveted prize in Channel Island club football and is known today as the Upton Park Trophy.
Over the twelve tours known to have taken place each September, the Upton Park club were represented by many well-known amateur footballers. Perhaps the most famous was Stanley Briggs, who had played in the Football League for Woolwich Arsenal and the Southern League for Tottenham Hotspur. Another of Briggs’ Spurs’ teammates, Ernie Payne also featured on the tours of 1898 and 1899.
From 1899 Upton Park expanded the tour to play against St Servan at St. Malo. This also became an annual fixture. Football history was made by Upton Park on the tour of 1900 when they went on to Paris to play in a game that has since been recognised as the first competitive match in Olympic football history. Chosen to represent Great Britain, Upton Park defeated their French hosts, USFSA by 4-0.
Twelve tours took place in all with fixtures competed in places such as Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Guernsey, Alderney, Jersey and France. It was a fantastic feat for an amateur club to undertake such a journey each September in those times. Travel included trains from London, steamers from Weymouth and ferries between the islands and France. The club favoured the Crown Hotel when in Guernsey, where a smoking concert was often held after the final game to celebrate. The historic tour of 1900, for example, took 17 days to complete.
The tours helped to develop football on the Channel Islands. Although Upton Park were rarely defeated, the strength of the Island sides improved greatly over time. Some local players actually went to the mainland to play for Upton Park in latter years. Featuring on a regular basis was Denis Renouf of Jersey Wanderers. Also from Jersey was P le Sueur, and from the Guernsey Northerners club, F Stranger.
The following eleven Upton Park players represented Great Britain at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games:
James Harry Jones. Goalkeeper and club Secretary. Played in all 12 tours.
Claude Percival Buckenham. Full Back. Essex County,Leyton, Woodford and Chelmsford amongst others. Professional cricketer for Essex and England. (3 tours).
William Sullivan Gosling. Full Back. UPFC 1900. London, Chelmsford, Casuals FC and Old Etonians (1 tour).
Alfred Ernest Chalk. Half Back. UPFC 1893-1902. Essex, Ilford, Barking Rovers, Barking Woodville (5 tours).
Tom Eustace Burridge. Centre Half. UPFC 1899-1905. (4 tours).
William Francis Patterson Quash. Half Back. UPFC 1894-1901. Barking Woodville, Barking Rovers (2 tours).
Richard Rennie Turner. Right Wing. UPFC 1899-1906. Crouch End Vampires (1 tour).
Walter John (“Jack”) Zealley. Inside Right. UPFC 1899-1908. Dorset, Bridport (7 tours).
John Nicholas (“Nich”). Centre Forward. UPFC 1900-1903. Slough and RCVS (1 tour).
Frederick George Spackman. Inside Left. UPFC 1897-1908. Fulham, Wandsworth & Queens Park Rangers (7 tours).
Henry North Haslam. Outside left. UPFC 1900-1903. (Captain).Worksop Town, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, West Norwood, Barnet and Oxford City. (4 tours).
After playing in Paris on 20 September 1900, the same eleven played together again at Jersey Wanderers (26/9/1900) and for the final time, against a combined Guernsey Island XI to close the tour (27/9/1900).
Other prominent players who featured on one or more tours to the Channel Islands with Upton Park FC:
Stanley Briggs. Half back. Played in the Football League for Woolwich Arsenal, and also featured for Tottenham Hotspur, Millwall and Clapton.
Ernie Payne. Forward who played over 30 games for Tottenham Hotspur.
CD Regan. Captain of Essex. Played for Clapton and made one appearance for Tottenham Hotspur.
Sid Miles. Dorchester FC and Dorset County.
John T Horniblow, Weymouth and Dorset County.
GR Paignton. Clapton and London.
VJ Finney. Shepherds Bush FC and London.
EF Finney. Shepherds Bush FC and London.
George F Mitchell. Sittingbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Clapton.
RM King. Horsham and Sussex.
Harry Spackman. Fulham, Wandsworth & Queens Park Rangers
GH Culling. Barking Woodville, Ilford and Essex.
Guernsey v Upton Park FC
Following on from the Upton Trophy match, Chris Tardif’s Muratti squad will have a final warm-up match against the visiting Upton Park FC. This match is a repeat of the match played at Footes Lane at the end of last season, which was brought about after Upton Park FC re-formed and resulted in the visiting team claiming a 1-0 win over what was Steve Sharman’s team at the time, as they prepared for the 2017 Island Games in Gotland.
Tardif has selected a strong squad, although it is absent of Rovers players who will be playing in the Upton Trophy match. Tardif has included himself in the squad and will rely on his assistants, Kevin Gilligan and John Nobes, to oversee matters from the sideline. The full squad is:
Alex Le Prevost
Tom De La Mare
The two matches at The Track kick-off as follows:
Upton Trophy – Guernsey Rovers v St Pauls @ 1.00pm
Guernsey FA v Upton Park FC @ 5.00pm