1924 Senior Amateur medal front

Remembering 100 years between cup finals

Hanham Athletic supporter David Fear recently found a century-old piece of County Cup memorabilia.

Ahead of our Senior Amateur Cup final next Tuesday, we were pleased to hear from Hanham Athletic supporter David Fear, who recently discovered a century-old keepsake from the 1924 edition of the cup. David kindly shared his story with the GFA.

The other day I was clearing out drawers at home, when I came across some medals handed down to me by my late father, Frederick Fear (1913 – 1987).

Two of the medals related to Hanham Athletic FC. One was to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the club, dated 1936 and inscribed with the name of J. Fear. James was the elder brother of my dad and hence my uncle. The other was a gold and enamel Gloucestershire Senior Amateur Cup Winners medal dated for the 1923/24 season. There was no name inscribed on the medal but this was almost certainly awarded to my uncle Jim who I knew played for Hanham Athletic in the inter-war period. James pre-deceased my dad so as next eldest brother, my dad inherited the medals. Dad also played for the team but his role at the club was more on the ground staff and he used to tell me that he marked out the pitch. 

In fact, all four of the family’s male siblings were involved with Hanham in some capacity. Dad would also reminisce how during one of the few games he played he scored a wonder goal ‘on the volley’ from the edge of the penalty area direct from a corner kick and became the talk of all the pubs in Hanham that night. Many of the team at the time would have done an arduous shift on the day of the game down the nearby Hanham coal pit ahead of playing. Hence the nickname of ‘The Miners’ which continues to be used today and is echoed in the black and white kit. The pit closed in 1926. They would use The Swan pub, still on Church Road today, as a changing room, because it backed on to the football pitch.

I used to support Hanham Athletic avidly in the 1960’s and ‘70’s and remember being stood on the touchline with my dad and brother for most games. Dad would tell us of the many great matches which had taken place on Vicarage Road playing fields, known then as the ‘Swan Ground’, but there are two that stick in my mind. One was when Hanham Athletic were drawn to play away to Merthyr Tydfil in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup in the 1947/48 season. According to my dad it was a ‘grand day out’ to the Penydarren Park ground. Merthyr were a very good side at the time and had beaten both Bath City and Bristol Rovers in the previous season’s FA Cup before going out to Reading in the 2nd Round proper. Unfortunately, Hanham Athletic were to lose the game 9-0 at Merthyr, but in front of one of the biggest ever crowds to watch them – said to be around 8,000. Secondly, the following season (1948/49) they went one round further, their best performance to date reaching 2nd Qualifying Round in the FA Cup, this time losing out 5-2 at home to Street. It was said that the local crowd was 10 deep surrounding the Swan Ground pitch for that match. So, it was rather nice a couple of years ago when on a walk around the same Vicarage Road playing fields, I got chatting to Hanham stalwart, Bob Sperring. Bob invited me up to the clubhouse to show me some photographic memorabilia and he told me he had been chairman of the club for many, many years and was also the groundsman and just about everything else Hanham Athletic. He was very interested in my family association with the club.

Anyway, back to the medals I found. It suddenly dawned on me that this year was the 100th anniversary of when my uncle Jim would have been presented with his GFA Senior Amateur Cup winners medal – what a brilliant coincidence! I thought to myself, I must make a point of going to a home match at Vicarage Road before the end of the season to show now outgoing chairman, Bob Sperring, and anyone else who might be interested. I did a bit of research and sure enough Hanham were at home the following Saturday...and I had a clear day from watching Bristol Rovers because it was the international break. Intrigued how ‘The Miners’ might be doing, I did a bit more research and to my amazement and great joy found that they have reached the final of the GFA Senior Amateur Cup this very season (2023/24), exactly a century after my uncle Jim had won his medal in the same competition.

I was now determined to let Bob Sperring see the medal. Of course, Bob was delighted and it was lovely to have a chat with him and his family and the other supporters about the significance of my find. Bob’s son took some photographs with a view to possibly making a feature in a future HAFC programme. Not to leave it there I decided to make a trip to the GFA headquarters at Almondsbury where I met up with Chief Executive, David Neale and Deputy-Chair, Sue Henson-Green, for a chat and to show them the medals. I asked if I might take it upon myself to write these few notes about my family involvement with Hanham Athletic, especially given the finding of the medals and the anniversary.

I will hopefully be attending the final at Oaklands Stadium against Brockworth Albion FC on the evening of Tuesday 23 April 2024 and if anyone is interested I will have the medals on hand in the clubhouse to show supporters from all sides at half time and after the game. Good luck to both teams who are ‘up for the cup’ and let’s hope for a great game. It will certainly be a game to remember for me.

David J. Fear
(Hanham Athletic supporter)

The 2023/24 Senior Amateur Countywide Cup final will take place on Tuesday, 23rd April 2024 at Oaklands Park. Tickets are available on the gate as Hanham Athletic face Brockworth Albion.

The GFA would like to thank David for sharing his discovery and for taking the time to write this article for us.


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