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1884 - 1894 - Hartlepool Rovers and the Senior Cup early days

It is difficult for us today to imagine the effect the introduction of the Durham County Senior Competition in 1881 had on Rugby in the area.

Within a few short seasons of its introduction clubs had organised their teams more formally to ensure they won games and ideally the Cup. By 1885, Durham City, having defeated Boldon, Humbledon and North Durham, reached the Final against Sunderland Rovers. The game was played at the Friarage Field , here in Hartlepool, in front of a crowd of 9,000. The numbers swelled by train excursions from Sunderland, Shields, Newcastle, Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough to see City lift the Cup for the first time.

The Cup was not without its detractors and the Competition was withdrawn in 1886 but restored a year later when Rovers won for a second time (they had defeated North Durham in 1884) beating Humbledon in 1887.

The 1888 Final saw Durham City overcome Rovers on Ashbrooke before a crowd of 10,000 spectators, 1200 had arrived from Durham by a special train.  A Darlington newspaper of that era reported “that the news of the defeat of Rovers was received in Hartlepool with dismay, the blinds were drawn, many places wearing an air of mourning, whilst one enthusiastic supporter of Rovers an outfitter at West Hartlepool, edged the telegram announcing the feat with a deep border of black”!

Rovers soon revived and went on to play in a great number of Finals, this early period being particularly successful  featuring in eight of the Finals in the decade covered by this Gallery.  The Robert Wood collection contains a number of posters advertising games in the Competition which was always held in March, a simpler and very successful format that was tried in recent times with success.

Gallery images