Debenhams Cup

The Debenhams Cup was one of several short-lived football competitions introduced in the 1970s and 1980s, along with the Watney Cup, Texaco Cup, Anglo-Scottish Cup, the Screen Sport Super Cup and Simod Cup. It lasted for just two seasons (1976-77 and 1977-78) and was competed for between the two sides from outside the top two divisions of the Football League to have progressed furthest in the FA Cup. If teams had made the same stage of the competition, a system was in place (beginning with replay eliminations being superior to going out at the first attempt) to determine which two would play in the Debenhams Cup - one of the first sponsored competitions in English football.

Chester Grab the Glory

The first season (1976-77) saw Football League Division Three sides Port Vale and Chester meet. They had both reached the fifth round before losing to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively.

The games were played at the end of the campaign, shortly after a league meeting between the sides at Vale Park, which was to host the first leg. Goals from Neil Griffiths and Ken Beamish gave Vale a 2-0 victory that left them as firm favourites to win the trophy. But on a memorable night at Sealand Road, Stuart Mason, David Burns, Neil Griffiths (own goal) and Ian Howat found the net for Chester to give them a 4-1 victory on then night and a 4-3 success on aggregate. It was their first national trophy.

Blyth Gain Revenge

The story of the 1977-78 was Blyth Spartans' incredible run in the FA Cup, as they reached the fifth round and came within seconds of knocking out Wrexham, who then beat the non-leaguers in a replay. The clubs were paired together again in the final of the Debenhams Cup over two legs in May, with Blyth this time claiming the glory.

With Third Division champions Wrexham having players away on international duty, Blyth took advantage and claimed a 2-1 win in North Wales thanks to goals from Terry Johnson and Dave Varty. The latter scored again in the return game as Blyth hung on to draw 1-1 and win 3-2 on aggregate and become the second name on the trophy. They were to be the last.

What Happened Next?

The reasons why the competition did not continue are not clear. In February 2001, Chester met Blyth in the FA Trophy and the match programme contained an article by the club historians of the two teams. The article said the whereabouts of the Debenhams Cup trophy are not known by either club, Debenhams or the FA.

There has not been a similar competition since, although the Football League Trophy has given lower division teams the chance to win a national cup competition.


Year Winners Score Runners up Notes
1977 Chester 4-3 (agg) Port Vale 0-2 Vale Park; 4-1 Sealand Road.
1978 Blyth Spartans 3-2 (agg) Wrexham 2-1 Racecourse Ground; 1-1 Croft Park.

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