THE Commander Ethelston Charity Cup is one of the most prestigious amateur football trophies in the country – and this year the small band of officials who maintain the competition will celebrate its centenary, writes Alec Doyle.

Originally presented to the now defunct Whitchurch District League, the cup survives as a stand-alone competition, drawing teams from Cheshire and Shropshire.

Last season the cup was lifted by Whitchurch Alport, 99 years after Whitchurch Working Men’s Hall lifted it for the first time.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the cup, which raises funds for charity, organisers are hosting a dinner at Whitchurch Civic Centre on May 9 featuring former Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan and one-time Scotland international Willie Miller.

Current members of Commander Ethelston’s family will also be attending from all over the world.

Cup secretary Paul Downey said: “It is hard work keeping the cup alive without the affiliated league but we are determined to make sure such a historic competition survives.

“It is invitational now and there are always a lot of teams clamouring to take part. Everyone in the area wants an Ethelston Cup medal.

“The more teams there are the more complicated it is to organise, but the more money we raise for local charities as teams are charged to enter.”

The cup was created in memory of Commander Alfred Peel Ethelston by his brother Edmund, who lived at their family home in Hinton Hall, Whitchurch, during the 1908-1909 season.

It marked the 10th anniversary of the naval commander’s death as part of the naval brigade serving with the HMS Powerful, who engaged the enemy at the battle of Graspian during the Second Boer War in South Africa in 1899.

Commander Ethelston was an accomplished cricketer and a good footballer, playing for the United Services team during his service.

After his death the Navy installed memorials to the commander at Portsmouth, Chatham, Plymouth and Dartmouth but in his home town of Whitchurch a more fitting and lasting tribute to a keen sportsman was offered in the form of the cup.

His campaign medals are set into the base and the cup is now so valuable it must be stored in a vault and only brought out when it is to be presented to the winner at Yockings Park, home of Whitchurch Alport.

Originally the funds raised by the competition went to Whitchurch Cottage Hospital and since then many local charities have benefited down the years.

Tickets to the Commander Ethelston Charity Cup centenary celebration are £25 and anyone who has played in or won the cup is encouraged to go along. For further details, contact Paul Downey on 01948 663303.