Memories of the Sevenoaks Charity Cup

Easter time traditionally heralds the Final of the Sevenoaks Charity Cup Competition and this year was no exception, at the Culverden Stadium.

On Good Friday, enthusiastic crowds enjoying the warm sunshine watched West Kingsdown play Hawkenbury with the home side scoring via Alfie-Jay Turner soon after the half-time break, which was ultimately enough to win the Charity Cup.

West Kingsdown manager, Billy Reynolds (pictured second from left) told Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing after the cup win: “We are a new side that was formed in 2020 to bring an adults side to the village. This was our first cup final of two this season and it was a tough game which was very enjoyable. I would just like to add that we appreciate all the support that followed us on Good Friday to the final – it didn’t go unnoticed.”

In the Junior tie prior to that game, Ide Hill 3rd beat Cuxton 1991 Reserves 2-1.

We caught up with Derek Hodge, Life President of the Sevenoaks & District Football League, to talk about his memories of the Charity Cups: “As a young lad I have happy memories of walking from my home in St Botolphs Avenue along with my father to watch the Senior Sevenoaks Charity Cup final at Knole Paddock. The year was 1948 when I set off with a pair of my father’s old leather football boots around my neck, suspended by laces. In addition an old St. Johns United FC shirt draped over my body. My father played for St. Johns after he was demobbed from the Army at the end of World War II.

“The finalists were Crockham Hill and Borough Green, the latter who were in the early stages of being a force in Kent Football circles. An estimated crowd of 3,500 turned out for the final with Borough Green winning 2-0.
I had great difficulty in watching the match because of the depth of the crowd standing on the touch line and my juvenile size at the age of 10. The magnitude of the crowd has always been considered the largest for a charity football match. The gate receipts were reported to be £154.

“For those readers who do not know the history of the Sevenoaks Charity Cups, the famous Senior Cup was founded in 1894. The first victorious team was Shoreham United whose opponents were Holmesdale Reserves. The magnificent silver trophy was procured from Messrs Spinks, well known London Silversmiths at a cost of 75 Guineas. The name of Shoreham United was engraved on a small silver acorn plaque which was then affixed to an ebony base. The tradition has lasted over the years to the present day.

“A Junior Sevenoaks Charity Cup basically for Reserve teams was founded in 1923 with St Johns United Reserves defeating Sevenoaks Reserves 2-0 in the inaugural match.

“The objective of the Competition was two-fold. Firstly, to improve the game of football in the Sevenoaks District and secondly to aid the funds of local charitable Institutions. This policy has continued over the years and again to the present time.

“Interestingly in 1937, a ceremony took place at The Cottage Hospital now known as Sevenoaks Hospital, to commemorate £1,700 having been raised for charities of which £1,000 had been given to the hospital.
A plaque carrying the words ‘Sevenoaks Charity Cup Competition – Footballers Bed – Dedicated January 10th 1937’ was unveiled over a bed which was subsequently used by players injured in football matches.
Donations have continued over the years from gate receipts raised at the Final ties.

“Many organisations have benefitted including Sevenoaks Almshouses, Kent Air Ambulance, League of Friends of Sevenoaks Hospital, CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), Kent FA Benevolent, Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, HF Trust, Hospice in the Weald, Cancer Research and Bradbourne Riding for the Disabled.

“The morale here is that the Sevenoaks Charity Cup Competition should not be disregarded, for it has done so much for local football and most of all its charity work for 128 years.”