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The Brunton Shield


The Brunton Shield is an annual quiz match between the Sunderland Quiz League and the combined quiz teams of Edinburgh. The match was conceived by Sunderland’s Dave Taylor and Edinburgh’s Brian Pendreigh and named in honour of Brian's late uncle Jim Brunton, a regular team mate and sometime opponent on some of Scotland’s top quizzes. We are always privileged to welcome Jim’s daughters Janet and Mary to present the trophy.


Both regulars on the Grand Prix circuit Brian and Dave went on to cement their friendship by appearing with Sunderland League Secretary Chris Brewis as The Wordsmiths on TV's Only Connect. The Sunderland League had for many years played a challenge match against the York CIU League, recognised as the world’s oldest by the Guinness Book of Records. York had never been beaten in their various challenge matches against Goole and the professors of York University but the 20 matches between the two cities were evenly matched with Sunderland holding a narrow advantage before the series ended in 2016.


The first match between Edinburgh and Sunderland -- who by now included players from Newcastle so were named Tyne and Wear -- took place in September 2011 at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh with a two-part format, which has remained the same ever since. The first half of the quiz is conducted in traditional pub quiz style with written answers and no individual questions. At the end of this section the top North East  team plays the top Edinburgh team in a face-to-face final with individual questions and conferring. Because the Sunderland League has roughly consisted of the same seven teams for around 20 years (even if the venues change a bit) and our players all know each other we have always chosen our teams at random. As there is no formal league in Edinburgh players have tended to play at various pub quizzes around the city and have stuck with their own settled teams.


The first three matches were all played at the Grange but in 2014 some Edinburgh teams ventured as far as Newcastle where a match was played at the city’s oldest pub, The Old George. After a return to Edinburgh in 2015 Sunderland hosted a match for the first time, the venue being The Ship Isis pub.


So far the English teams have always come out on top though this is a slight misnomer. In 2013 the winning team consisted of Scots Chris Brewis and his elder brother Francis, who was both born and lived in Edinburgh, along with Geordie Keith Marshall, who proved to be the only person representing the right country as none of the losing “Scottish” team in the final were Scots. As the Sunderland Quiz League is the only general knowledge league in North East England, it has also attracted players from Teesside as well as Tyneside making the Tyne and Wear title slightly inaccurate. The Edinburgh team’s catchment area has also expanded to include players from the west, south and north of Scotland as well.


And the English teams have certainly not had it all their own way. In 2015 Tyne and Wear trailed all the way through but gained a bonus on the final question to secure a narrow win and keep their winning run going.


The 2017 Brunton Shield proved to be another exciting match with the North East coming from behind again to pip the Scottish team 26-25 in the final.