The History of Sports Trophies

Awards are presented to people to recognise their great achievements and set an example to others to show what a winner looks like. Whether they’re lifted above a sports person’s head at the end of a tournament, given to children in schools for attendance, or presented at black-tie ceremonies for performers, trophies are given by a variety of organisations to people of all ages.

Trophies date back thousands of years, although in the last century awards have become more and more popular. This could be due to the material world we live in today because of the dazzling trophies and medals we enjoy receiving. It could also be because we as humans are fascinated by symbols of winning and desire to be recognised for achievements.

Below is a timeline of some of the most well-known sports trophies including when and where they began.

Sports Trophy History

Panathenaic Amphorae - 5BC - 2nd Century


The oldest and most prestigious trophies in the ancient times were awarded at the great festival of Athens, the Panathenaea. They named the trophy 'Panathenaic amphorae' and was crafted to look like the large clay urns containing oil made from the sacred groves of Athena. The urns were awarded for sports such as chariot-racing, rowing and prettiness.

Carlisle Bells - 1599


The Carlisle Bells are given to the winners of the Carlisle Bell Horse Race and are the oldest prizes for horse racing in Britain. The first horse race took place in 1599 and is still run today. The bells are the only remaining part of what was a trophy.

Kyp Cup - 1699


Little is known about what was awarded during the Middle Ages, but for sporting events in the late 1600s cups were awarded again. The Kyp Cup was a silver chalice with two handles and were presented to winners of horse racing events in New England. This is what a trophy originally looked like, but over time, silver plates and bowls became recognised as trophies in other sporting events.

Scorton Silver Arrow - 1673


This was the first trophy awarded at an archery tournament which was the first Ancient Silver Arrow Competition in 1673. The trophy was a silver arrow and was provided by Henry Calverley who also won the trophy. The trophy can be won by being the first archer to hit the inner area of the target from 100 yards away. Today, a replica arrow is awarded in its place as the real Siler Arrow currently resides in The Royal Armories in Leeds.

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Cup - 1774


The Royal Musselburgh Golf Club is based in East Lothian, Scotland and first presented a cup to the winner of the golf tournament in 1774. The Cup dates back to 1774 which is known because of the engraved winner's name on the trophy. It was presented by Thomas McMillan who became Captain of the golf club by winning the trophy in 1774.

The Grand National - 1839


The Grand National, once known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, began in the early 1800's where the first race took place at a racecourse in Liverpool, England. The first winner was Lottery in 1839 and had to jump a wall, two hurdles and cross a stretch of land. Today, the grand national trophy changes every year and it is usually silver and gilded in gold with engravings on the base of the trophy.

America’s Cup - 1851


The America's cup is the oldest active trophy in sailing and was first presented in 1851. The cup is an ornate sterling silver bottomless ewer crafted in 1848. This trophy was given the name 'Auld Mug' in 1851 named after the winners of the first race who were a syndicate of businessmen who sailed the schooner America for the World's Fair in England. The cup was crafted in 1848 from high quality sterling silver.

The FA Cup - 1871


The FA Cup claims to be the world's oldest association football trophy and the first competition was in 1871. This competition is open to all professional and non-leauge English clubs and the current FA Cup trophy is the fourth trophy to be used and was crafted in 1992.

Claret Jug - 1872


Formally known as the Golf Champion Trophy, the Claret Jug was first presented in 1872 at the Open Championship. However, it wasn't the first trophy to be presented at the Open as in 1860 the winner would be presented with the Challenge Belt. The winner of the first Claret Jug trophy was Tom Morris Junior in 1872.

Wimbledon - 1877


Wimbledon have presented many trophies throughout the years and today, there are still multiple trophies given to the Wimbledon Championship winners. The first Wimbledon trophy was the Field Cup which was used until 1883 and the Challenge Cup was used from 1884-1886.

Calcutta Cup - 1879


Crafted in India, the Calcutta Cup was owned by the Calcutta Football (Rugby) Club in 1873. The club closed in 1878 and in memory of the club, the members melted the 270 silver rupees in their bank and crafted it into a trophy. This was then presented to the Rugby Football Union. Today, the Calcutta Cup is presented to the winner of the Six Nations Championship.

Ashes Urn - 1882


The Ashes Urn is a small urn (10.5cm high) containing the ashes of a burnt cricket bail. The trophy was awarded as a personal gift to Ivo Bligh who was the captain of the England cricket team after a friendly match during the 1882-83 tour in Australia. The urn was then given to the Marylebone Cricket Club after Bligh's death who put it on display at the Lord's cricket ground in London.

Stanley Cup - 1892


The Stanley Cup is North America's oldest professional sports trophy and was named after and donated by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley. The Stanley Cup was presented to the winners of the challenge games in its early years and the National Hockey Association became the owners of the Stanley Cup when they formed in 1910.

Rugby League Challenge Cup - 1897


The Cup was designed in 1897 by Fattorini & Sons, a silversmith in Bradford. It sits on a black base and the main part of the trophy is crafted from solid silver. In 2007, it was reported the cup was worth £16,000, not including its historian value. The original trophy is not used today due to its fragility and is now kept in the RFL's headquarters at Red Hall. The winner's of the cup must follow a code of practice and when the cup is not in a secure cabinet, it must be protected by a person.

24 Hours of Le Mans - 1928


This competition is the oldest active sports car race in the world and has been held every year since 1923 in France. The first trophy was the Rudge-Whitworth triennial cup and was awarded to the winner of the car which could go the furthest distance over three 24-hour races. The current trophy was first awarded in 1993 and created by Jean-Pierre Moreau, founder of the Drivers' Parade.

Jules Rimet - 1930


The Jules Rimet trophy was awarded to the winner of the FIFA World Cup from the first game in 1930 to 1974. It was originally named 'Victory', but was renamed in 1946 to honour Jules Rimet, the first FIFA President who passed a vote to initiate the World Cup. Uruguay were also the first winners of the cup. In 1974, the Jules Rimet trophy was replaced by the FIFA World Cup trophy which is still presented today and is made of 18 carat gold and was crafted in Italy.

Walter A. Brown Trophy - 1949



This trophy was awarded to the team who won the National Basketball Association from 1949 to 1977. It was then replaced by a new trophy in 1984 named the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after the former NBA commissioner. Unlike the old trophy, the Larry O'Brien Trophy was given to the winning team for them to keep and a new one would be made for each NBA final.

North East Trophies are proud to provide awards and trophies for a future generation of achievers and work hard to bring our clients trophy dreams to life.