04 September 2012

The Rangers Loving Cup

By Gary Havlin | Contributor

The Loving Cup sits proudly in the magnificent Trophy Room at Ibrox. An unusual item, you might think, to sit in a sacred place where mementos of the triumphs and friendships of one the worlds foremost clubs adorn the walls and cabinets. 

However, The Loving Cup is testament to the stature of Rangers, as far as back 1937, and a symbol of the willingness of Rangers to come to the aid of a member of the 'football family' as they had done so many times before.

One of only 30 cast from a special mould, The Loving Cup was commissioned by the then Stoke City chairman Sir Francis Joseph to commemorate the coronation of King George VI (who would visit Ibrox in 1938 to open the Empire Games). Of the 30 cast, 22 were given to English League clubs that finished the 1936/37 season in the top flight (of which Stoke were one), two were given to the clubs who gained promotion that year and one to the English FA. The SFA is thought to have received their Loving Cup from the English FA on the occasion of the Britain v Rest of Europe match at Hampden Park.

The story of how The Loving Cup came into the possession of Rangers is part of their history, and the 'cup' still plays a part in the clubs continuing traditions.

On the 2nd July 1937 a tragic incident occurred at the Holditch Colliery, near Stoke. Thirty miners were killed and eight were injured due to a fire and subsequent explosions. To raise funds for the dependents of the victims of the disaster, Stoke City requested to play the champions of Scotland, the famous Glasgow Rangers. The manager of the time, legendary Bill Struth, accepted the invitation immediately.

The 19th October 1937 saw Rangers travel to the Victoria Ground to play Stoke City as 30,000 fans took in a 0-0 draw. The Rangers team that day was Dawson, Gray, McDonald, McKillop, Simpson, Main, Venters, Smith, Kinnear, Fiddes, Little and £2,000 was raised for the relief fund.

After the match, as a token of appreciation, Stoke City chairman Sir Francis Joseph gifted Rangers his personal Loving Cup. His one request being that the vessel should be used in perpetuity to toast the health of the reigning monarch prior to the Club's first home match of every New Year.

So it is, to this day, in the Blue Room in Ibrox, before the first home game of each New Year, the Toast to the health of the reigning Monarch is celebrated by the Rangers' board members and the board members of the visiting team.

It is thought that there are only six Loving Cups left in circulation, five belonging to football clubs: Chelsea's cup is in their museum, plus Stoke City, Grimsby Town, Everton and Rangers still have theirs. Out of the five clubs, Rangers, Stoke City, Everton and Grimsby Town still to this day toast the health of the reigning Monarch before the first home game of the new year.

God Save the Queen

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