As the Stafford Cup kicks off today after a gap of 30 years, here’s a brief look at the tournament’s origins and the notable teams which took part.
The tournament and the rolling silver trophy which goes with it was introduced as an all-India tournament by the Staffordshire Regiment which was part of the Prince of Wales’ Division. The first edition of the tournament was won by Wiltshire Regiment who repeated the task the following year.
The first Indian team to win the cup were Bangalore Muslims FC in 1941 who were also the first Indian club to win the Rovers Cup (second oldest football tournament in India after Durand Cup) in 1937.
Apart from Bangalore Muslims, some of the notable winners from Karnataka/Bangalore were Mysore Rovers (1943), HAL (1952), Binny Mills (1954), Bangalore Blues (1956), LRDE (1957), Mysore State Police (1958, 1961), MEG & C (1966), CIL (1967, 1971) and ITI Sports Club who won the last edition in 1993.
Across India, Dempo SC, Orkay Mills (Mumbai), Mohammedan SC and East Bengal FC have all won the tournament.
At the height of the Iran-Iran conflict, a few Iraqi clubs also competed in the tournament with the Iraqi Youth Club winning it in 1980, Iraq Air Force in 1982, Students Club in 1984 and the Iraqi Olympics Team in 1990. The Iraqi Olympics team took the rolling trophy home in 1990 promising to return it, but it was believed to have been lost/destroyed in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Attempts by KSFA to retrace and bring back the trophy have proved futile and they are in the process of commissioning a new trophy.
While the current edition of the tournament will be played out at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Ashoknagar, the previous editions were held at the now cricket-only M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, the multi-purpose Sree Kanteerava Stadium and the Vyalikaval Ground.
Today, February 23, 2023, Gokulam Kerala FC will take on Roots FC at 1:30 PM while Dempo SC go up against MEG & C at 4:00 PM. The tournament will be streamed live on Fancode website/app. For fixtures/results and standings: https://theawayend.co/stafford-challenge-cup/