Swaffham museum receives mysterious loan from Arsenal

PUBLISHED: 13:43 30 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:57 30 May 2014

Casey Ward with the Arsenal Shield at Swaffham Museum. Picture: Ian Burt

Casey Ward with the Arsenal Shield at Swaffham Museum. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

While Arsenal fans are celebrating their first piece of silverware in nine years, a mid Norfolk museum has welcomed an intriguing trophy which has been returned to its home county from the Emirates stadium.

Swaffham Museum has just received on loan from Arsenal Football Club the Mid Norfolk Villages football shield, listing winners from across the area in 1905 and 1906 and then in the 1920s.

The shield was found tucked away in a corner when the Gunners moved from Highbury to the Emirates stadium. The club’s museum curator cleaned and polished it and, knowing a bit about Norfolk, decided it should go home for a visit.

It is not known how the trophy, which had been won by teams including North Elmham, Rougham and Shouldham, had ended up with Arsenal - but it is believed top goalscorer Alfred Kirchen, who played for the Gunners between 1935 and 1943 and helped the club win the league in 1938, took the shield with him when he left his home club Shouldham FC.

Now, the museum is appealing for more information about the artefact.

Sue Gattuso, Swaffham museum manager, said: “This was an exciting surprise but we are intrigued.

“Why would Alf take the shield down to Arsenal? How many clubs took part in the Mid Norfolk Football competition? Why did it apparently fold in the late 1920s? What happened after 1906? Who donated the shield? So many questions!”

She added: “There must be families who remember. There may be photographs and newsclippings.”

Shouldham FC, for whom Kirchen played before he moved to Norwich City, won the shield in the 1920s. Other winners include North Elmham in 1905/06, Rougham in 1922/23 and Raynham in 1927/28. There is a large, unexplained gap in dates between 1906 and 1921.

The shield will shortly be on public display for the duration of the loan.

Swaffham museum is open from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 4pm, and Saturdays, 10am to 1pm.

The museum and Arsenal FC are keen to finding out more about the shield.

If you have any information, contact the museum on 01760 721230 or email,uk.

Are you helping to unearth a piece of Norfolk’s heritage? Email

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