The Burnham & District Charity Competition, established in 1921 and first won by Ramblers the following spring, toasted its 101st year with finals in each of its three divisions.
Division One, with entry invitations open to senior clubs and those in the higher reaches of the grassroots game including the Essex Olympian League, saw the reserve side of hosts Burnham Ramblers defeated by Beacon Hill Rovers. Rovers’ reward for their 1-0 success was to lift the impressive century old winners’ shield.
The Division Two Cup, open to other men’s adult sides in mid-Essex, saw Beacon Hill triumph again as their reserves defeated Baddow Athletic. The Division Three Cup is open to veterans sides and Beacon Hill provided a finalist once more, but had to settle for being runners-up to Old Chelmsfordians. Each of the finals were held on successive evenings and all were staged at Leslie Field.
Prior to the opening Division One final, Essex FA Chief Executive Brendan Walshe presented a commemorative certificate to long-standing secretary Brian King and chair Kevin Fowler to mark the competition’s centenary.
Brian has been involved since and 1984 and while he feels it’s time to pass the baton over, hopes he can do so knowing the competition, which raises money for Essex Air Ambulance, can continue to thrive: “I feel I’ve done my time and our chair Kevin and treasurer Sheila Potton have been involved for over 30 years, too” reflected Brian, who is exploring the best way forward for his beloved charity cups: “We have had some discussions with Burnham Ramblers and they’re really keen to ensure the competition continues. We’ll have some meetings over the summer and hopefully I can assist any new parties take over the running of the competition.”
Initially, the invitational competition was open to teams within the Burnham and Dengie area, but as the number of teams in the vicinity has fluctuated, Brian has opened-up the competition to sides a little further afield: “Unfortunately the area has lost a few clubs over the years, which really is a shame, so we’ve invited teams in from areas such as Chelmsford and Billericay and it’s pretty much a competition for teams in mid-Essex.”
The primary purpose of the competition, of course, is to raise money for charity and Brian is extremely proud of what it’s achieved: “When I first oversaw the competition, clubs would choose their own charities, but we found that meant only a small sum was going to each so it didn’t really seem to work. About five years ago we decided everything will go to the same charity and we chose Essex Air Ambulance and are delighted that in that time we’ve raised in excess of £16,000 for something we believe is a really great cause.
“Clubs pay £25 per team to enter and we aim for eight entries into each division. Burnham Ramblers are excellent to us in not charging us for pitch hire or the cost of floodlights for the finals and all the money taken through gate receipts goes to the Air Ambulance. We’ve received a few letters of thanks from them, so we know they are really grateful” said Brian.