Those figures mark a substantial increase on the first-ever season of County Cup competition, 1883/4, when the Essex Senior Challenge Cup was established as the inaugural silverware on offer. The first match kicked off on 10th November 1883, a mere 406 days after the formation of the Association, and the eight competing teams were eventually whittled down to two before over 1,000 spectators watched Colchester defeat Braintree in the final at New Street in Chelmsford.
Now affiliated clubs have an ever-swelling number of competitions to participate in, with the seven open-age versions split between Saturday and Sunday football. Players from under 11s right the way up to veterans football are accommodated in addition to four separate female cups. The Essex County FA also provide assistance in the administration of the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup, an invitational competition set up to raise money for the Benevolent Fund. The upcoming campaign will see the 9v9 format initiated for the Under 11s and Under 12s Cups after being used for the first time in the Under 14 Girls Cup last term.
The various schools cups have a poignant beginning with the first of these, the Robert Cook Cup, starting in 1909/10. Cook, a former Essex County FA secretary and treasurer who presented the Association with its second cup, the Saturday Junior Cup, in 1892 and also implored them to accept numbered balls for draws twelve years later, passed away in 1908 and funds raised from a subscription list were used to purchase a trophy.
This was the first of eleven individual schools cups to be set up, with three of these catering for the burgeoning girls game. There are also three college competitions whilst the legacy of Robert Johnson, another key figure in the early years of the association owing to his role as president, chairman and treasurer, is reflected in the naming of the first of five District schools competitions.