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Top Ten Sporting Trophies

December 6, 2009

Every great sporting competition should have a great trophy. The Olympics, for example, would be much improved if event winners had a gold, silver, or bronze trophy to show for their efforts rather than a paltry medal. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of top trophies for sporting stars to play for. The Videprinter picks the top 10.


10. The Challenge Cup

Rugby League’s showpiece event, the Challenge Cup, has a trophy to match. Made in 1897 by Fattorini & Sons, a Bradford manufacturer (more on them later), the current trophy is now a replica. The rugby league archivist Tony Collins notes that Fattorini’s were just told to come up with something prestigious.

Warrington Wolves lifted the Challenge Cup this year

That they certainly did. Ornate yet tasteful, the trophy currently resides in Warrington, as the Wolves defeated Huddersfield Giants at Wembley in August.

9. The Ashes

In 1882 Australia came to England and beat them at cricket. The Sporting Times posted a satirical obituary declaring that English cricket had died… “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

While on the return tour, England captain Ivo Bligh was given a small urn by some women in Melbourne, purportedly containing the ashes of some cricket equipment.

Small but important: The Ashes, being kissed by Andrew Strauss

Possibly the sporting trophy with the greatest history, it could be argued that it should not be on the list at all:  the trophy lifted by Andrew Strauss, Ricky Ponting, Michael Vaughan et al in the last few years is not actually the original trophy itself, but a mendacious replica. The original urn remains in the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum since Bligh’s wife gave it to the club after his death.

Nevertheless, the trophy wins with charm and association, if not with size or authenticity, and it is for these reasons that it takes its rightful place on the list of The Videprinter’s Top Ten Sporting Trophies.

8. Wimbledon Men’s Singles Trophy

Much better than the ladies’ rosewater dish, this is a proper sporting trophy. First presented in 1887, it has flowers engraved upon it and the pleasing inscription “The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World”. Without doubt the best competition in tennis, Wimbledon also boasts the best trophy. More modest than other trophies in the list, befitting a tournament and a location blessed with typical British decency and fair play. A classy trophy without any doubt.

Roger Federer lifts the Wimbledon Men's Trophy in 2003, shortly before being given a cow - BBC

As if raising the Gentlemen’s Singles trophy was not enough, Roger Federer was also given a cow by Swiss tennis officials when he won at the All England Club in 2003, which is an undoubted bonus.

7. The Ryder Cup

The sensibly-sized Ryder Cup trophy is awarded to the captain of Europe or America every two years. At 4lbs it is unlikely to cause a problem for the recipient, whether lifting the cup or drinking champagne out of it after a delightful final round on a Sunday.

Elegant: The Ryder Cup

It is elegant in its way: solid gold, 9 inches wide and 17 tall. Samuel Ryder, English merchant, commissioned Mappin and Webb to design it. It cost a reasonable £250 and was presented to the Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain in 1927. It has been lifted 37 times since: each time it looked fantastic.



6. The America’s Cup

First lifted in 1851, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy on this list and indeed the oldest active competition in international sport. It is probably the least-watched competition on the list, as sailing is not a particularly popular sport, but that is no reason to ignore the aesthetic magnificence of this supremely-designed piece of silverware.

The America's Cup. Check out that handle

From the crafted top to the solid base, this is a piece of work that is clearly well thought through. The handle itself is a thing of beauty, to the extent that people lift the trophy from just above the base to avoid obscuring the handiwork. Any yachtsman or woman would be privileged to get their hands on this trophy.

5. The European Cup

A competition with a glorious history, it also has an excellent prize. The weight seems to have been distributed evenly, which is thoughtful and practical for such a large trophy. Clubs did get to keep the trophy if they win the competition five times in total (or three years in a row), and the current trophy is the sixth – Liverpool have the fifth after their 2005 comeback against AC Milan. Franco-financed Real Madrid own the first one, after winning the first five competitions.

AC Milan have won the hefty European Cup 7 times

Now, however, UEFA keep the trophy at all times and a replica is awarded to every winner. A club that gets three straight wins or five in total gets a special mark of recognition, which can surely in no way compensate for having this beauty in the club museum.

4. The World Cup

After Brazil were given the original World Cup trophy in 1970, FIFA commissioned a new model for the 1974 competition. After 53 submissions, it was this superb creation that Franz Beckenbauer lifted in his home country. The trophy weighs just over 6kg, 5 of which are 18 carat sold gold, and depicts two humans holding up the earth. It is undoubtedly the most streamlined trophy on the list and wins points for artistic design.

Franz Beckenbauer was the first to lift the new World Cup in 1974

Silvio Gazzaniga, who was awarded the commission by FIFA, described the trophy: “The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world. From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory.” Simply magnificent.

3. The Jules Rimet Trophy

Originally called the Coupe du Monde, it was renamed in 1946 to honour the FIFA chairman who had passed the vote to start the competition 17 years earlier. Uruguay won the first one in Montevideo in 1930, and were allowed to keep a replica for their troubles.

Stolen by a toerag at a public exhibition at Westminster Central Hall before the 1966 World Cup, the Jules Rimet was found by a dog called Pickles. Brazil got to keep the trophy in 1970 after winning the tournament for the third time, but their security systems proved to be as lax as England’s when it was stolen again in 1983.

Bobby Moore captained England and captured the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966

Unfortunately Pickles was dead by this point so there was little hope of finding the trophy, though four men were convicted in absentia of the crime. It is believed the trophy was melted down – if true, a sad end to a glorious trophy. Brazil were rewarded for their inability to keep the trophy safe by being given a replica in 1984.

2. The Stanley Cup

How the winning team’s captain, after an 82-game regular season and potentially 28 gruelling playoff matches, has the energy left to lift this monstrously big trophy is anyone’s guess, but it is triumphantly held aloft on a yearly basis.

The cup has evolved since its creation by Lord Stanley of Preston to honour the best amateur ice hockey team in Canada; first awarded to Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893, it resembled a rose bowl.

Whopper: The Stanley Cup lifted by Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Crosby

Now given to the playoff winners in the National Hockey League, when raised earlier this year by Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (who, at 21, became the youngest captain to win it), it stood tall at 89.5cm and a whopping 15.5kg, or 34.5lb – the weight of around five average-sized new born babies.

A big competition deserves a big trophy; the Stanley Cup certainly fits the bill.

1. The FA Cup

For some, the FA Cup may not carry the prestige it once did, but every football fan is surely excited by the prospect of travelling to Wembley in May and seeing their team play in the final. The winning side gets to lift this wonderful trophy: delightfully symmetrical, it looks superb when lifted and the two handles are perfectly crafted to hold the coloured ribbons of the winning team.

Number One: The FA Cup

The current – and best – trophy is the fourth: the first was stolen from a shop in Birmingham 1895 and melted down to make counterfeit half-crowns; the second, a replica, lies in Preston’s Football Museum, donated by Birmingham City chairman David Gold who bought it at auction in 2005. (It was originally given to FA President Lord Kinnaird in 1910.) The third cup is more like the one we know and love today: made by a Bradford’s Fattorini & Sons, makers of rugby’s Challenge Cup, and first used in 1911, it is a larger version. It was deemed too fragile by 1992 and a replica was made – this, the fourth, is the trophy John Terry lifted earlier this year.

A truly great competition; a truly great trophy.

Ten top trophies there, no messing. But have we overlooked a classic piece of silverware? Let us know.

2 Comments leave one →
    • Ben Winstanley permalink
      December 7, 2009 5:05 pm

      When we do a bottom ten sporting trophies that will certainly be considered.

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