King was born in Surrey in 1835 and although he was apprenticed as a cooper he was hooked on cricket and soon found himself in demand as a batsman. Still following his trade, he moved to Cheshire where he played for Birkenhead Park, and returned to London where had a trial for Surrey. He was given his first professional engagement in Birmingham and then Fred Lillywhite offered him the chance of a job in Scotland.
He duly came to Edinburgh in 1862 as cricket professional at Merchiston Castle School and would remain in the city for the rest of his life. Although he coached at the school for 13 years, he really made his mark with his pioneering sports retail business. He opened his first shop in Bristo Street in 1868 and it did so well that he soon expanded to a Cricket and Football Warehouse at 54 Lothian Street, which included a billiard room as well as an extensive stock of playing equipment.
The same year he played his one first class match for Surrey, and although he scored 13 his great achievement was as wicket keeper, catching WG Grace.
Back in Edinburgh he was noted as a batsman, captained the Players of Scotland and played many years for Brunswick; in 1885, aged 49, he scored 115 not out for them against Craigmount. He umpired numerous matches and was the undoubted guru of Scottish cricket thanks to his shop and the Annual.
King was also an excellent businessman and clearly had an eye for an opportunity, keen to encourage other sports that might improve his turnover, notably football.
In 1887 he donated the first Scottish Junior Cup to the fledgling Scottish Junior FA, and the inaugural competition was won by Fairfield Athletic, who defeated Edinburgh Woodburn 3-1 in Govan. King presented the cup to the winners in the public bar next to the ground.
King's original cup went into retirement, although it made one more appearance before modern times, being put up by the Scottish Junior FA as the War Fund Cup in 1917-18 and won by Renfrew Juniors. Then it disappeared from view until 1985 when the Sunday Post were contacted by a Lanarkshire reader who had been given the cup by a relative. The trophy duly came up for auction at Christies in April 1987 and sold for £500 to a demolition company in Kilsyth. The company's general manager was quoted in the press a few days later saying that he had intended to display it in his offices, but realising the interest of the SJFA he would donate it back to its original owners.
Also in 1887, Percival King donated a cup to the Edinburgh FA who decided to use it 'with a view to keeping up interest among clubs after they had been defeated in the Shield competition'. It was named the King Cup and is still played for to this day by East of Scotland League clubs, probably one of the oldest sponsorship deals in world football!
Percival King deserves to be remembered as a sporting pioneer whose efforts enabled a generation of Scottish sportsmen to play the games they loved, and whose legacy lives on in the competitions he helped to establish.
Born 9 December 1835 in Stockwell, Surrey.
Died 29 October 1910 in Edinburgh.