Burnley Football Club is proud to announce the acquisition of a very important item of club history dating back almost 135 years, a silver presentation goblet known as the Dr Dean Trophy.
It was originally presented to the club in 1883 as the winners of an amateur football knockout competition.
The goblet is solid silver, hallmarked 1877, and is engraved with full details of the competition as well as the names of all the Burnley players in the final.
The 1882-83 campaign, of course, was the first season that the club was in existence as an association football club.
This item therefore represents the very first “silverware” won by this great club, the first of many trophies to come to Turf Moor.
It also becomes the oldest artefact in the club’s collection.
The idea for the football competition was first mooted in January 1883 and it was the brainchild of Dr Thomas Dean, Burnley’s Medical Officer of Health. Although Dr Dean was a football follower he saw a football competition between amateur clubs in the Burnley area primarily as a fund-raiser for the town’s proposed new hospital. The idea was that spectators would voluntarily contribute to the fund whilst enjoying watching the football, which was rapidly growing in popularity during the early 1880’s.
The competition was a huge success, both for the ultimate winners, Burnley FC, and for the fund organisers, Dr Dean and his team. It didn’t do any harm to Burnley FC’s prospects that all their games, including the final, were played at Turf Moor.
However, it should be remembered that the club had only adopted Turf Moor as their home in February 1883, at the invitation of Burnley Cricket Club, and were still getting used to their new surroundings, following their re-location across town from their previous “home” at Calder Vale.
Dr Dean was determined to continue with what had been the successful idea of an amateur football competition, although assurances had been given that the winners of “Dr Dean’s Cup” would be able to keep it.
A new trophy had therefore to be decided upon and a prominent firm of Sheffield silversmiths were commissioned to create a prestigious trophy. Their masterpiece, hallmarked 'Sheffield 1883' was delivered to Burnley in March 1884 and this magnificent trophy is what we know today as the Burnley Hospital Cup. Burnley FC duly won the 1884 competition, again after a Turf Moor final, and were triumphant again on a number of occasions over the next few years.
It was in October 1886 that the monies raised by the competition were put to good use. The new Burnley Hospital was about to be opened and an invitation was issued by Burnley dignitaries for a member of the Royal Family to come along to perform the official opening ceremony.
Subsequently the town was delighted to welcome His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, grandson of Queen Victoria.
The Prince duly performed the opening ceremony at Burnley's new Victoria Hospital, proudly named in honour of Her Majesty the Queen. Then, as part of the programme of events that had been planned during the visit, the Royal party proceeded to Burnley’s ground at Turf Moor to enjoy a friendly match arranged especially for the occasion.
Bolton Wanderers provided the opposition for what was the first-ever visit by a member of the Royal Family to a first-class association football match at a senior ground. Permission had been given to Burnley FC to display the Royal coat of arms on that historic occasion and the arms were incorporated within the re-painting of the main grandstand.
For many years afterwards Burnley Football Club rejoiced in the nickname "The Royalites" and the club was still enjoying Royal patronage in 1914, when Burnley's FA Cup triumph against Liverpool was the first final to be attended by the reigning monarch.
The Burnley players were given permission to wear the Royal coat of arms on their shirts in honour of his Majesty King George V, and it was perhaps significant that no such royal recognition was apparent on the shirts of the Liverpool players.
Going back to the Hospital Cup, the tradition of playing the final at Turf Moor continued and the competition remained very popular for many years, generating huge amounts of money for hospital funds.
The format of the tournament changed over time, in 1898 mills and workshops teams were invited to enter, and the competition carried on, almost continuously until 1958. It restarted in 1987, but was competed for only briefly, until major hospital reorganisation dictated its demise.
Because of its considerable value the cup itself was kept in a bank vault for many years, later being transferred, on long term loan, to the Turf Moor trophy cabinet for safe keeping. There it remains, a magnificent symbol of a bygone era.
Now the illustrious Hospital Cup will be joined in the Turf Moor trophy cabinet by its predecessor, the historic Dr Dean Trophy, and they will now be displayed together to be appreciated and enjoyed by supporters and visitors.
Burnley FC Historian