The Scratch Handicap Trophy

The Scratch Handicap Trophy

The Scratch Handicap Trophy, which later became known as the Open Knockout and the Works Knockout Trophy has been competed for by local cricket teams since 1923. The trophy was introduced at a time when Barnsley Cricket Club were struggling for finances under the stewardship of Club Captain Alphonse Woods who informed the President of the Club, and Mayor of Barnsley, Cllr Edward Sheerien in 1924 that the annual losses for that year stood at £265 - equivalent to approximately £140,000 in todays money. New impetus was required in order to turn the club's finances around and the Scratch Handicap Trophy played a vital part in this. 

Despite being called the 'Scratch Handicap' trophy, the trophy was not related to golf as the name would suggest. In fact, it was actually awarded to the winner of a knockout cricket competition between local cricket clubs.  The name 'Scratch Handicap' was taken from a brand of port, which at the time was popular with Sportsmen and claimed to bring 'Vitality and Vigour' to those who drank it, the local stockists being Guests Grocers in the Arcade. Therefore the 'Scratch Handicap Trophy' can be seen as an early form of sponsorship - which was much needed due to the state of the Club's finances at the time it was introduced. 

The trophy was competed for every year (except 1937) from 1923-39 until sport had to cease due to the commencement of the Second World War. Following the war, it took 5 years for the Scratch Handicap Trophy to be re-started when it was won by Barrow Shopmen C.C  in 1950. The competition remained a key part of the local cricket scene, under various different names, until it was won for the last time in 2003 by the Roses C.C.

There have been numerous winners of the Scratch Handicap Trophy, from Barnsley British Co-op in 1923 through to Roses C.C who won the last ever competition some 80 years later. The most succesful teams during this period were Barrow Shipman C.C who won it 4 times over a 20 year period from 1931-51 along with Stainborough C.C who won the trophy four times in 5 years with their first victory coming in 1994, and their final success coming in 1998. Following this, the trophy has been won three times by both Wood Bros Glass Works C.C from 1930-34 and Cortonwood C.C between 1959 and 1973. In 1973 Cortonwood included the then capatin of Yorkshire CCC and England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott in their side. The tie attracted a gate of over 2500 people to Shaw Lane.

Interestingly, particularly during the early years of the trophy, many winners were cricket teams which represented local industries, including Barnsley Main Colliery C.C in 1925 and 27 and Monk Bretton Colliery C.C in 1926 which shows how mining dominated not only employment within the town but also sport. Other local industries are represented in the winners list including Barnsley Brewery Co C.C who won in 1924, Yorkshire Paper Mills C.C who won in 1929 and Wood Bros Glass Works who won in 1930, 33 and 34.

Ben Brannan

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