1898 Sheriff of London Charity Shield (lost footage of football match; 1898)
The 1898 Sheriff of London Charity Shield marked the first instance of the Sheriff of London Charity Shield match, the spiritual predecessor of the FA Community Shield. Originally occurring on 19th March 1898 in front of over 20,000 at the Crystal Palace, it featured Corinthian and Sheffield United playing to a goalless draw. A rematch on 4th April ended 1-1, resulting in the teams sharing the title after Sheffield refused to play for extra time. The 19th March encounter was recorded by pioneer British filmmaker Birt Acres.
The Sheriff of London Charity Shield owed it origins to Sir Thomas Dewar. Dewar was the-then current Sheriff of London, having been elected in 1897. He proposed that an annual one-off game be held which would pit the best-performing professional and amateur teams against one another. Back then, there was seemingly only a marginal difference between the professional teams governed by the Football Association, and the amateur opposition. The match would also fulfil a charitable purpose, as all proceeds generated from the game would be redirected to good causes. Furthering his support of the concept, Dewar commissioned the construction of a shield trophy, which became famous for its gigantic size, being six feet in height. The games certainly proved successful in obtaining revenue for charity, with Annals of the Corinthian Football Club stating £2,700 was raised overall by 1906.
For the inaugural edition, the professional sides were represented by Sheffield United, with the club having topped the 1897-1898 Football League First Division. Meanwhile, Corinthian was considered the best amateur club in the United Kingdom, and, with the exception of the 1899 edition, would always represent the amateur teams. Corinthian participating in this match actually violated Rule 7 within the organisation, as it enforced that "the club shall not compete for any challenge cup or prizes of any description whatever." By slightly altering Rule 7, an exception was made for this match. The team would be without L.V. Lodge and G.S. Wilson, both due to injuries.
Meanwhile, pioneer British filmmaker Birt Acres was primarily focused on running the Northern Photographic Works, and marketing the new 17.5mm film camera the Birtac. However, he still recorded a few actuality films in 1898, subjects of which also included football. In the first match held on 19th March 1898, Acres captured 75 feet of footage. In the recording, one scene showed Corinthian goalkeeper W. Campbell saving a "hot shot". This prompted Acres to proudly declare that the film was "the finest football subject ever seen" when he promoted the work in April that year under the title The Sheriff's Cup Football Match / Sheffield United V. Corinthians, 1898. Acres was ultimately not present for the rematch, but would later record the 1898 FA Cup Final. His recording naturally marked the first time the Sheriff of London Charity Shield was filmed, with the last event being held in 1907. It is the spiritual predecessor of the FA's now-long running FA Community Shield.
The inaugural encounter occurred on 19th March, with more than 20,000 reportedly being present at London's Crystal Palace. With play occurring on a wet pitch, both teams were praised for their defensive might, although some tackles were declared as overly rough by referee E.E. Stuart. The second half was declared more eventful than the first, with Corinthian's Gilbert Oswald Smith and Cuthbert James Burnup cited as the main contributors for the team's attacks. Alas, they were mostly outmatched by Sheffield's defence, and with the Blades' forwards also no closer to breaking the deadlock, the match ended 0-0. While the FA had introduced extra-time in 1897, back then it was not a universally accepted rule and was not seemingly implemented for the first Sheriff of London Charity Shield game. Instead, a rematch was ordered for 4th April.
The rematch featured around 8,000 at the Crystal Palace, with Stuart remaining as referee. While both sides were again strong defensively, Sheffield would take the lead when Corinthian's Charles Burgess Fry was unable to intercept a Cunningham pass to John Almond, allowing the latter to score. In the second half, Corinthian were awarded a free kick when Robert Topham was brought down. The Blades proved overly-eager to block the resulting kick, prompting Stuart to order a re-kick. This allowed Wilfrid Foster to equalise. Both teams failed to capitalise on later opportunities, although Corinthian were deemed to have played better overall. The game therefore ended 1-1, this time prompting calls for extra time to be played. However, Sheffield refused, reportedly because they were unhappy with some of Stuart's calls. Thus, both teams shared the title for six months each.
Alas, little from Acres' exploits in 1898 has been documented, with a catalogue of his promoted works having since become lost. However, it is known that virtually none of his confirmed 1898 works, including of the 1898 Sheriff of London Charity Shield, have survived the years. Thus, a film summary is currently the only publicly viewable remnant of the production.
- 1898 FA Cup Final (lost footage of football match; 1898)
- 1907 Sheriff of London Charity Shield (lost footage of football match; 1907)
- 1952 FA Charity Shield (lost footage of football match; 1952)
- Bryant & May Matches (lost "first commercial ever made"; 1896)
- The Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race (lost footage of rowing race; 1895)
- Royal Visit of the Cardiff Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition (lost footage of British Royal Family members; 1896)
- Wedding of Princess Maud and Prince Carl (partially found footage of royal wedding; 1896)
- Yarmouth Fishing Boats Leaving Harbour (partially found early British actuality films; 1896-1897)
- Beyond the Last Man providing a history of the Sheriff of London Charity Shield. Retrieved 1st May '23
- Annals of the Corinthian Football Club summarising the Sheriff of London Charity Shield's origins. Retrieved 1st May '23
- The History of the English Football League summarising the annual event and noting the inaugural edition was shared because Sheffield refused to play extra-time. Retrieved 1st May '23
- Gottfried Fuchs summarising the tournament's history and providing a list of results. Retrieved 1st May '23
- Scotch Whisky page on Dewar. Retrieved 1st May '23
- The FA summarising the history of the FA Community Shield and noting it "evolved" from the Sheriff of London Charity Shield. Retrieved 1st May '23
- Annals of the Corinthian Football Club detailing the two matches. Retrieved 1st May '23
- English Football Stats detailing the 1897-1898 Football League First Division. Retrieved 1st May '23
- The Beginnings of the Cinema in England summarising Acres' work in 1898, and noting the film of the match is among his missing works. Retrieved 1st May '23
- British Film Institute page on Acres. Retrieved 1st May '23
- British Film Institute listing Acres' films. Retrieved 1st May '23
- The Beginnings of The Cinema in England summarising Acres' 1898 films, and providing a small description of the Sheriff of London Charity Shield match. Retrieved 1st May '23
- Football Stadiums detailing the history of extra-time. Retrieved 1st May '23