Advent of The Counties

(foreword BY JIM SANDFORD, PRO MILK CUP COMMITTEE)

After the Milk Cup of 1991, which was won by Manchester United, captained by David Beckham, the Organizing Committee in its debriefing addressed a situation, which had been present since day one of the tournament viz Northern Ireland participating teams came from a limited area of Northern Ireland (a line drawn from Londonderry to Belfast provided the teams).

It was decided to set up a Milk Cup Committee in each of the six Counties and enlist the support of local people to field a team in the 1992 Milk Cup.

The inaugural meeting held in County Down was in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel in Ballynahinch and at that meeting the plans outlined by the Organizing Committee were enthusiastically welcomed by those present. A further meeting organized by Sam Robinson resulted in a Co. Down Committee being set up under the chairmanship of Hugh Bonner.

The first goal was to have a team participate in the Premier Section of the 1992 Milk Cup and despite initial misgivings by the Organizing Committee, which felt it would be a success if they were able to have four County teams take part, by the time July arrived all six Counties were represented at the tournament.

The County experiment at Premier level had been a success and after a further six Tournaments, it was decided to go County at the Junior age group as well.

Despite this added responsibility, the County Committees have continued to produce two teams each year since then and what was seen as another gamble by the Organizing Committee in 1991 has turned out to be a resounding success thanks to the dedicated enthusiasm and professional approach of local people in each of the six County Milk Cup Committees.