Keeping it in the family
0:00am Fri Jan 04, 2008
The football family Cobb. Pictured left to right are Glenn Cobb, Billy Cobb, Alan Cobb and Steve Cobb, all past winners of the Mumby Shield, with the trophy, whose past winners include Willie Hall. - 231107MW1-16
The Mumby Shield, whose past winners include Newark’s own footballing legend Willie Hall, had its centenary last year.
The inter-schools competition was resurrected by Grove PE teacher Dave Smith on his arrival at the school in 1971, and for the next 25 years he organised the tournament that became a labour of love.
When his teaching duties widened, the trophy went into mothballs, but when he realised that the centenary year had arrived, he set out on a one-man mission to find out where it had got to.
“Eventually it turned up at the back of a cupboard at the Magnus School of all places,” he said.
He decided that a more fitting final resting place would be at Millgate Museum, and when the story broke in the Newark Advertiser, it caused widespread interest in the footballing community.
One family with more vested interest than most was the Cobb family from Farndon who had provided a winning team member in four of the finals down the years, three of them as winning captain.
Glenn Cobb (45) was the winning captain of the Grove team in 1978, and he said: “We beat Sconce 1-0 in the final and I scored the winning goal, and was delighted to maintain the family tradition in the tournament.”
His brother Steve (42) was the last Cobb family member to feature in a winning team, again with the Grove in 1980, but was the only one not to be pictured with the shield as Julian “Butch” Munton was the captain that year. While our meeting took place at Millgate Museum, he was pictured with the trophy to complete the family album.
Their father Alan (71) was the winning captain in 1951 in the first year that Sconce Hills School was built.
“I think it’s unique to have four people from the same family to be in winning teams, and it’s going to remain that way now that the competition no longer exists,” said Alan.
His brother Billy Cobb (67) was the winning captain for Newark Technical College in 1956 and he went to play professional football for 18 years, scoring the first ever European goal for Nottingham Forest, which is always considered to be a tricky quiz question.
“Ironically it was the Nottingham Forest manager Billy Walker who presented the Mumby Shield that year, and two years later I signed for the club,” he said. “I started there as an amateur after the club won the FA Cup Final, and the following year I was signed full-time.
“It was a dream come true because I never thought that I was good enough to play for a team like that, but I was there for four years and then played for Plymouth Argyle, Brentford, Lincoln City and Boston United.
“I was a bit of a utility man, and in the space of five weeks at Forest I played in every position across the forward line.
“I played in every position apart from in goal and at centre-half [unlike the other three Mumby Shield-winning Cobbs who were centre-halves].
“I was just a 100% grafter but I enjoyed every minute of my 18 years in the professional game.”
The quiz question featuring Billy Cobb comes from the Inter-City Fairs Cup in 1961 when Forest played Valencia, a superb team who went on to win it that season.
“Everyone thinks about the Cloughie era when associating Forest with Europe, but we got invited into the Fairs Cup that year because of our good disciplinary record,” said Billy.
“We lost 2-0 at their place and then 5-1 at home but I scored our goal, and that’s my claim to fame
“But Alan could have been a pro just as well as me — it’s just how your luck goes. I was playing for Ransome and Marles and there were always a lot of scouts around.”
Was Steve, the baby of the quartet, aware of the family legacy that he was having to live up to when he ran out for the 1980 Mumby Shield Final?
“I had absolutely no idea about this until I got an e-mail three weeks ago,” he said.
“All I know is that the Grove had a very good team that year and we actually won the county title — we literally won every- thing that we entered that year.
“But it’s nice that you’re the last one of a family quartet to be part of something historical that is not going to be repeated in the future.”
Talking of history, with Dave Smith’s involvement in a quarter of the Mumby Shield’s 100 years, what does the Cobb family’s achievement signify?
“This is obviously a very special footballing family and, sitting here listening to them, the one thing that shines through as well is their modesty about what they have achieved at various levels of football,” he said.
“But the Mumby Shield means a lot to me, and I enjoyed running the tournament for 25 years and it gave me a lot of pleasure and a lot of great memories.
“I was well aware of the legacy that I was taking up from the Tid Pratt era — the man who ran schools football in the Newark area for a long, long time — and Newark had a schoolboys team in his days and it meant an awful lot to people to play in the team.
“I ran with the Mumby Shield for 25 years but inevitably time moves on and I stepped down. Someone else ran it for another year before the whole thing just fell through.
“It’s not been played for for 100 years, it’s been a bit stop-start and there’s been two wars in there as well, but it still means an awful lot to an awful lot of people.
“I would like to think that it might get resurrected again one day, and hopefully this article might be the thing to trigger it among the modern PE teachers today. There are plenty of schools in the area to get it going again, and the great old shield shouldn’t just be a museum piece.”
Rather like when Pickles the dog found the World Cup that had been stolen in 1966, Smith set out to find what had happened to the Mumby Shield.
“I always wondered where it had got to because it was an important part of local footballing history and I always thought I must try and find it one day,” he said.
“When it got round to 2007 and its centenary I thought I’d make a really big effort and it became a personal mission.
“I wrote to all my old PE teaching mates, and they were all there in the same jobs, just growing old together.
“I asked around all over and eventually Phil Marshall at Magnus said that it was in a cupboard in the PE staffroom there, and happily we got it out and we then got the publicity in the Advertiser and there was a huge response.”
Enough of history. One of the Cobb family also has a big part to play in the future of football, as Glenn Cobb is the chairman of the New Newark Youth League, providing the chance for nearly 1,500 youngsters to play the sport.
“I’d like to think that the Mumby Shield can live to fight again another day because football is bouncing back in the town,” he said.
“The kids want to play football again. In the late 80s and early 90s all these fancy gadgets came out, with computer games and the like, and kids didn’t really want to play football.
“But with the resurrection of Newark youth football, there is now a huge amount of youngsters playing active football in the area. There are some very, very good players and they all want to play football.
“If the schools can find some more people with the sort of dedication that Dave Smith showed over the years when he gave gave his heart and soul to giving sport to the youngsters of Newark, then one day soon the Mumby Shield can be up and running again and we can be looking forward to the next 100 years of competing for the old prize.
“It meant a lot to us and I would like to think that future generations could share and enjoy the pleasure that this competition has given to me and my family.”
From the past to the future, it’s good to know that local football has not lost its importance in the lives of Newark people.