Bristol Cricket Challenge Cup Competition
1885 – 1892
The fortunes of the County Club had waned in the early 1880s and in 1885 the Bristol Cricket Challenge Cup Competition was inaugurated at the instigation of James Arrowsmith and the cup was donated by him.
The purpose behind the competition was to provide an arena to bring local cricketers more into prominence with the hope that “an eligible recruit might be spotted for service in the shires.”
Arrowsmith was a prominent Bristol publisher; his company produced an annual list of Gloucestershire scores, and he was a member of the County Cricket Club committee. He was a good friend of W. G. Grace – he would publish Grace’s book Cricket in 1891 – so with someone of his stature showing an interest, things were set to roll and on the 11th April 1885 the first match in the competition took place with the Virginians defeating Westbury to progress into the second round. It was set to be a knock-out competition and for this first season thirteen clubs entered. In the final, a two-innings match played over two days at Bedminster in August, Bohemians defeated Schoolmasters by 9 wickets.
Over the next six years the number of teams entering the competition varied. The most was in 1887 when 18 teams took part but by 1890, with interest starting to fade, it was down to just ten. The suggestion was made to change to a league system rather than a knock-out. This, however, was rejected and the final season of competition was 1892 with entry restricted to the teams who had won the competition in previous years, with the winner keeping the cup in perpetuity.
That team was Bohemians, the first winners who, over the eight years had been the most successful team in the competition, winning the cup on four occasions. They were, in fact, the only team to have won it more than once.
List of Winners
1885 Bohemians defeated Schoolmasters
1886 St. George defeated Bohemians
1887 Old Sneyd Park defeated Knowle
1888 Westbury defeated St. George
1889 Bohemians defeated Y.M.C.A.
1890 Bohemians defeated Westbury
1891 Y.M.C.A. defeated Horfield
1892 Bohemians defeated Y.M.C.A
Winners Medal G.S. de Winton. Westbury 1888
Both the cup and the medal will be on display in the Museum once things are back to normal and the Museum open again