After 137 years, it's official: Scottish Cup is world football's oldest trophy

It IS two feet high, made mostly from silver and is insured for almost £2 million. As of this week, the Scottish Cup trophy can now be officially described in another way. The Guinness Book of World Records has bestowed a new certificate on the cup, which has been competed for by Scottish teams since the 1873-74 season.

Referring to the trophy by its "Sunday name", the prestigious book has now recognised the 'Scottish Association Challenge Cup' as being the oldest trophy in association football. It has also been credited as the oldest national football trophy in the world.

The second category does seem slightly redundant in light of the first. The Scottish Football Association, the owners of the trophy, include this caveat on their official website: "Surviving trophies such as the Youdan Cup (1867) are from a different football code (Sheffield Rules) and cannot be placed within the context of the Association game," it is pointed out. However, the two world records do help further distinguish the Scottish Cup, as well as set it apart from the FA Cup. Although the English version of their national association's competition is older, the actual trophy used is the fourth version of the famous cup. The first was stolen following Aston Villa's win in 1895 before, according to legend, being melted down to make counterfeit coins.

No such problems for the Scottish Cup, which remains safely housed in a corner of the Scottish Football museum at Hampden Park. The original is still the one handed to the captain of each winning team, with Celtic's Scott Brown the most recent recipient. The trophy is, however, quickly exchanged for a replica version as soon as the winners have finished their lap of honour, a practice which only began in 2001. Until then, the holders could parade the original cup in their trophy cabinet and hope to avoid the calamity which befell Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who earlier this year dropped the Spanish Cup beneath the wheels of the open-topped bus transporting the victorious team through the Spanish capital. "It's taken a few bumps and bruises in its time," explained Sandy Tyrie, a curator at the museum. "At first they knocked us back," he added, with reference to the petition to get the trophy recognised by Guinness World Records. "But then they created a new section and got back in touch."

The first captain to get his hands on the trophy was JJ Thompson, when Queen's Park defeated Clydesdale in the first final. His winner's medal is also on show in the museum. Only Rangers and Celtic have won it more times than the amateur team, who lifted the trophy a further nine times. The competition's reputation has since soared, as has the trophy's value.

When Thompson accepted it, the trophy was worth the 56 and 13 shillings paid to George Edward & Sons, the Glasgow gold and silversmiths. A comparison is supplied by the fact it cost just one shilling to attend the first international match between Scotland and England two years earlier.

Former Celtic striker Bobby Lennox still cherishes the memory of his first Scottish Cup triumph. The man who went on to lift the European Cup remembers this earlier success as being one of his sweetest sporting achievements. Lennox did well when seeking to repeat the feat, winning it a further seven times with Celtic. Not surprisingly he has the best record of any player in Scottish Cup history and was at Hampden yesterday to salute the trophy he first lifted in 1965.

"The first was the best, when we beat Dunfermline," he recalled. "Jock Stein had just joined the club and we had a wee ropy spell in league games up until the final. There were thousands outside after the game. Then, ten years later, there were two men and dog when you won it. The only thing that disappoints me is that the Old Firm can't get an open-top bus parade."

Steven Pressley, too, has a unique connection with the Scottish Cup. He is the only player to have won it with three different clubs - Rangers in 1993, Hearts in 2006 and then Celtic in 2007. "I was actually very fortunate I won it at the age of 19," said Pressley yesterday. "I don't think you fully appreciate how big an achievement that is. I had to wait almost 15 years before I experienced it again and then I won it in back-to-back years."

The outstanding memory is when he skippered Hearts to only their second cup win in 50 years, against Gretna. "When you win it at a provincial clubs like Hearts, the sense of achievement is far greater," the Falkirk manager said. "I remember the celebrations were terrific. They went on for days. When we won it for Celtic it was almost a formality. You were expected to beat Dunfermline in the final."

With all due respect to Lennox and Pressley, they are less central to this story than the Scottish Cup itself. Perhaps the Oldest Trophy in Association Football will get its own cheer when hoisted into the air next May.

BIRTHDAY BASH

THE Scottish Football Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary at Hampden this weekend.

To mark the occasion, the admission fee is being reduced to 5p - the cost of a ticket to see the first Scotland v England match in 1872. All visitors will be given a replica of the original match ticket.

There will also be a chance to enter a 'hardest shot' competition, where the hardest hitters in different age groups will receive a prize.