Someone asked me the other day why Argyle did not take part in the F.A. Charity Shield in 1913.
A curious question, but it wasn’t long before I realised it was a very good one. The F.A. Charity Shield, or as we now know it, the Community Shield, was first contested in 1908 between the winners of the Football League First Division and the Southern League. Argyle had won the Southern League in the 1912-13 season, but were not involved in the Charity Shield that year – hence the question. Incidentally, the Shield was won in the previous year by Blackburn Rovers (FL winners), who played Queens Park Rangers (SL winners) with the proceeds donated to the Titanic Disaster Fund.
The F.A. Charity Shield followed on in 1908 from the Sheriff of London Charity Shield, also known as the Dewar Shield, which was awarded to the winners of a one-off match each year (1898 – 1907) between a professional and an amateur side. In early April 1913, the F.A. Council decided to discard their FL v. SL format and instead bring back the old professional v. amateur encounter. This decision was taken just a few weeks before Argyle won the Southern League for its first and only time. The Charity Shield game that year was played in October at New Cross (Millwall) and, unsurprisingly, the professionals won 7-2.
After 1913 the Shield was awarded to the winners of a variety of contests until the early 1930s, when it settled to be the trophy for the Football League Champions against the FA Cup Winners.
So back in 1913, we were simply unlucky not to have had a shot at a trophy that we’ve never got anywhere near since.