The original men’s FA Cup is no longer with us – and the same can be said of the first Women’s FA Cup trophy, though its fate may differ from its male counterpart.

The Women’s FA Cup began life as the Mitre Challenge Trophy in 1970, organised by the independent Women’s Football Association (WFA). Much like in the FA Cup’s formative years, Scottish teams were allowed to participate (along with Welsh sides). 

One of those teams from north of the border, Stewarton Thistle, had just won the inaugural Scottish Cup. They made it to the Mitre Challenge final at Crystal Palace one month later. Teenage sensation Rose Reilly was in their starting line-up, but they ultimately lost 4-1 in controversial circumstances to Southampton Women, who were fined for misrepresentation but allowed to keep the cup.

Southampton would go on to dominate the competition, winning the first three finals consecutively and lifting the trophy eight times in its first ten years. Pat Davies scored seven goals in finals for the Saints, while Hall of Fame inductee Sue Lopez had a hand in all eight victories.

Despite their crushing dominance, there were notable upsets. In 1974, Fodens Ladies overcame the odds with a 2-1 win at The Eyrie (the former home of Bedford Town). Three years later, Queen’s Park Rangers achieved the same feat, a first-half goal from Carrie Slaley proving enough to topple the South Coast giants at London’s Champion Hill.

In 1979, the original Mitre Challenge Trophy was replaced by a new version, donated by The FA to commemorate the competition’s tenth anniversary. The first trophy has since disappeared: despite various campaigns to locate the silverware, it is yet to be found.

In its stead, the museum is immensely proud to house its 1979 replacement in our Match Gallery trophy cabinet.