Sunday, 11 February 2018

Charles Edward Napier

Last summer, when I was out and about in Grandsable Cemetery I found the stone of a man that was far more famed in Scotland when playing in the Green & White Hoops than in Falkirk's Navy Blue [never mind his time in England]. Such is the manner of Scottish Football.


I am talking about Charles Edward Napier, son of the former Falkirk FC Secretary Charles Edward Napier. Yes, he had Falkirk FC in his blood before he left Alva Albion Rovers for Celtic. Not saying a word against our brothers in Glasgow but Chic Napier was a Falkirk boy, and when European conflict sent him home he came to Falkirk.


Picture 'thefted' from the Celtikwiki: I hope they forgive me.

All in all Charles [as the local Falkirk Herald respectfully called him] played in more than a hundred matches and scored [from midfield] nearly 50 goals for Falkirk: these are figures that shame some of our best centre-forwards of recent years [written 2018]. There are those out there that might say his 'home club' was East Stirlingshire, but as the 'shire 'wound up for the war we were the local team.

We can say very little about Charles' time at Falkirk as, as anyone who has tried to research football during the War will know football reporting was limited from both sides, both from physical limitations on the amount of paper and from the Home Office limiting the facts that could be said.

But facts speak more than my words and these are the facts of Charles Napiers' time at Falkirk.

Charles Edward Napier

b 8th October 1910, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 5th September 1973, Laurieston, Stirlingshire

League Debut – Saturday October 28th 1939 v Cowdenbeath (H) Scottish League [N/E]
Positions – Inside-Left, Centre-Forward, Right-Half

Club Honours – Scottish League RU 1939/40, Scottish League [North/East] W 1939/40,

Southern League Matches/Goals [64/17]
North/East League Matches/Goals [23/21]
Southern League Cup Matches/Goals [6/1]
Dewar Shield Matches/Goals [5/-]
Emergency Cup Matches/Goals [4/2]
Other Matches/Goals [5/2]
North Eastern League Matches/Goals [2/-]
North Eastern League Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Hat-Tricks – 3 [North/East League [3]]

Known Career – Grangemouth Sacred Heart [School], Cowie Thistle [Juvenile], Alva Albion Rangers [Junior], Maryhill Hibernian [Loan from Celtic], Celtic [1928/29-1934/35], Derby County [1935/36-1937/38], Sheffield Wednesday [1938/39-1945/46], Falkirk [1939/40-1940/41, 1943/1944, 1945/46], Stenhousemuir [1946/47-1947/48]

Played for Scotland v England, Wartime International at St James' Park, Newcastle, 2nd December 1939
Son of Charles Napier [Falkirk FC Secretary 1898/99-1899/00]

Friday, 5 January 2018

Lost football Grounds of Falkirk - Randyford

Nobody knew where Randyford was, for a long time I believed Randyford was the same as Woodburn Park which was a Junior ground in the Modern Day Boag used by several minor teams in the 1890s.

But I have been convinced otherwise. The term Randyford means little in modern Falkirk parlance, but is mostly guided by Randyford Street in the Boag [which I might as well add runs parrallel with the Grangemouth Rd. But to understand Falkirk Football Club in 1878 we have to understand Falkirk in 1878.

The earliest I can reel it back without going too far is the map of Falkirk created for the Great Reform Act of 1832. There, on the Grangemouth Road is the Randyford Farm.


 The next record of Randyford is in Scotland's record Books.


In case you are not good at Copperplate, that says:

"A farmsteading one storey high. slated and in good repair Property of William Forbes Esq. Callendar Ho [House] Falkirk"

The farm had moved place by the 1890s to across the road.


But this doesn't prove where Falkirk FC played,

I mean I can't prove Falkirk FC played here.

Now there is no doubt that both Falkirk & East Stirlingshire played at Randyford [historical record], but this does not tell us where, then the actual ground was.

Then Drummond of the Shire sent me a copy of a letter sent in to the Falkirk Herald in 1948...


The letter resolves some issues, but also raises some, for example the dates are wrong. However, given that this letter was published some 65 years after the very facts we can give a bit of leeway on the odd year.

The most important fact is that a player then states what was there in 1948, "where the Ice Rink now was [sic]" This places Falkirk & East Stirlingshire Ground North of the Grangemouth and between the Burn and the farm track to Middlefield.

As to its alignment?


Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Curious Case of Johnny Dora

I wrote a blog post about John Dora a long time back, he was a Centre-Forward Falkirk signed from Arbroath who scored 2 goals in 3 games before breaking his leg and disappearing from the game.

The very little information about him was confusing, for example the Falkirk Herald said he was Italian, while the Arbroath Herald had stated he was born in Arbroath but his parents were from Italy.

Anyway, since his playing career was just under a century ago, this means that most of the usual sources [censuses etc] are still confidential, so I had sort of given up on finding more details without stumbling over it.

So I was a bit surprised when I was sent an e-mail the other day, written in Italian and titled "John Dora o Giovanni Dorà" it linked to an article on the history of Borgotaro Football.

In one of the chapters it tells the story of Borgotarese player Giovanni 'Johnny' Dorà being called up to play in the Italian Championship for Parma in 1925.

In the text of the article Johnny is described as "Tall, wiry, in his long stays in Scotland [he] had learned the game of foot-ball managing to graft into his Latin fantasy, the solidity and the concreteness of the British style." and that "Some time later, while in the newspapers there was talk of the interest of Bologna and Inter, Dorà returned to Scotland." [apologies for the translation].

So the Dorà that played for Borgotarese and Parma certainly had Scottish Connections but it is unclear where he was from, and even if this was the same person. but there is clearly something there.

Crucially in the article there was a picture of a Johnny wearing a Parma top.


The best picture I have of John Dora was from 1930 and there are certainly facial similarities, although this could just be a family likeness.


Last night I had a good dig about the internet looking for more info, and luckily Italian wikipedia had more, though it is interesting to note that the Italian Wiki is as flawed as the English one.

Giovanni Dorà it claims was born in Borgo Val di Taro [Borgotaro] on the 29th of May 1905, and that he was a defender, however on a website on the history of Serie A where line-ups are given, he is only ever listed in the Inside-Left or Centre-Forward positions [even though by this time Italian Football was under the influence of the Danubian School, it was not so radically different that a number 10 was playing in defence].

So there we are, in 1925 the Arbroath papers said that John Dora had joined Ardenlea from Parkhouse Half-Holiday, while the Italian papers are carrying reports of Giovanni Dorà joining Parma from Borgotarese: it was not unknown for Scottish-Italians to split their time between the two countries back then, it is well documented that Peter Cabrelli split his time between Scottish & Italian football. Until I find something definitive it will have to remain in the possibly category.

UPDATE

I had a wider root about in the newspapers for more information, and found an obituary in the Press &  Journal of 8 February 1971. Although it doesn't really clear things up, it backs up his birthplace as being Arbroath, but it claims that he ended his football career with Parma, rather than the other way around, of course he could have had two different spells at Parma!

I have now had confirmation from the family that the date of birth on the Italian Wikipedia page is correct, however the place of birth was incorrect, he was indeed born in Arbroath.


John Paul Dora

b 29th May 1905, Arbroath, Forfarshire
d February 1971, Arbroath, Angus

Known Career – Parkhead Half-Holiday, Arbroath Ardenlea [1925/26-1928/29], Borgotarese [1925/26], Parma [1925/26], Arbroath [1929/30], Falkirk [1929/30]

Parma Debut – Sunday October 25th 1925 v Reggiana (H) Campionato Italiano, Lega Nord, Girone B
Positions - Inside-Left, Centre-Forward
Campionato Italiano Matches/Goals [12/-]

Arbroath Debut – Saturday August 10th 1929 v Clydebank (H) Scottish League Division 2
Positions – Centre-Forward
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [21/15]
Scored a Hat-Trick on his Debut.

Falkirk Debut – Saturday January 18th 1930 v Buckie Thistle (A) Scottish Cup 1st Rd
Falkirk League Debut – Saturday January 25th 1930 v Morton (A) Scottish League Division 1
Positions – Centre-Forward
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [1/1]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [2/1]

NB - Thanks to Arbroath FC for putting this on their Facebook page, without which ...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Falkirk FC Graves - Patrick McKay

I cannot take credit for finding this grave other than coming across it when searching his name on the internet, in fact I do not believe I have ever been to Kilsyth Cemetery so someone else found it for me. However I do not believe the person who added it to 'find a grave' knew it was the grave of a former footballer.

Patrick McKay was a deadly Centre-Forward for Kilsyth Emmet, in time earning him a Scottish Junior cap v England in Birmingham, this was good enough to raise the interest of Celtic, and not long after his international appearance he was given an opportunity to play for the Bhoys in the Glasgow League. He scored both of the goals his debut, Celtic's 2-2 draw with Third Lanark at Cathkin Park. That brace probably earned him a contract, but earning a contract does not mean an automatic place in the first team.

So by October he was transferred to Bolton Wanderers, where it seems he rapidly dissapeared into the reserves: by the end of the 1898/99 season the Kirkintilloch Herald repord he had been re-instated as an amateur, and was playing again with the Emmet.

Over the next season and a bit I have found him playing with Clydebank, Falkirk and Aberdeen before finally signing full-time with Bo'ness.



Patrick McKay

b c1876 Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire
d 25th January 1916, Kilsyth, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday December 2nd 1899 v Clackmannan (H) Central Combination

Positions – Centre-Forward

Known Career, Kilsyth Emmet, Celtic, Bolton Wanderers, Clydebank, Falkirk, Aberdeen, Bo'ness

Falkirk Career

Scottish Cup Matches/Goals 1/-
Scottish Federation Matches/Goals 3/1
Falkirk District League Matches/Goals 2/2
Other Matches/Goals 4/-



Saturday, 2 September 2017

John MacIntosh

Falkirk player from way back then, seems to have been done a slight injustice by the Falkirk Herald, I have gone through the usual places, and it seems that the MacIntosh Family were only ever McIntosh in the Census. Anyway, John MacIntosh played for Falkirk for a remarkably long time, given the era. Which means either he was good enough a player to go to Glasgow/Edinburgh but remained because of his job in the real world, or that he was just good enough, but kept his head under the parapets.

I don't know, he seems to have done the usual thing, just at one club, he started as a sparkling Outside-Left, in the early 1880s, retiring as a classy Left-Half in the early 1890s. But due to his employment never having played the decades worth of matches we expect from modern professionals.


John MacIntosh

b 19th March 1865, Larbert, Stirlingshire
d 9th March 1925, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday September 27th 1884 v King's Park (A) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday October 4th 1884 v Grasshoppers (A) Scottish Cup 2nd Rd

Positions – Centre-Forward, Outside-Left, Inside-Left, Left-Half, Right-Half

Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup RU 1886/87, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1889/90

Scottish Cup Matches/Goals 7/4
Scottish Federation Matches/Goals 1/-
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals 7/5
Falkirk District Charity Cup Matches/Goals 4/-
Other Matches/Goals 35/9

Known Career – Falkirk [1883/84-1892/93], Comely Park [1885/86]

Falkirk FC Club Treasurer 1890/91
Falkirk FC Committee Member 1892/93

Played for Falkirk District XI v Partick Thistle, Benefit Match at Tannery Pk, Falkirk, 22nd May 1886
Played for Falkirk Swifts v Carron Athletic, Friendly at Inns Pk, Carron, 8th June 1887

Brother of Gilbert MacIntosh [Falkirk FC 2nd XI]


Friday, 25 August 2017

Lost Football Grounds of Falkirk District - Inns Park

The home ground of Carron FC [1884-1888] was Inns Park, neither of which names have remained with us through history. To be fair Carron were never a great club, I'm not sure most people would class them as a Senior Club since they never played in the Scottish Cup. But they did play with the 'big boys' in the Stirlingshire Cup & Falkirk District Cup, so I would err in their favour.

Inns Park though, was not just the ground of Carron FC though, the inter-office matches of the Carron Works were also played there, and for a while these were very popular. Which leads to the possibility that Carron FC, if not a works team, was heavily linked with the Iron works. It was a major employer in the town and a disproportionately large number of players came through the ranks of Carron FC to the bigger clubs than other clubs of a similar size.

I am not 100% sure that the earliest recorded matches in Carron were played at this ground, but there are not many other places in Carron where a game of football could easily have been played, so it is probable. The only thing that caused the local press to mention Inns Park was when Brockville Park & Merchiston Park were occuped by the First Team and Reserve matches, Inns Park often hosted the 3rd XI fixture.


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Lost Football Grounds of Falkirk District - Muirhead Park

Grangemouth Football Club, never world-beaters, nonetheless had one of most centrally located and easily accessable grounds in all of Stirlingshire. Their home for most of their history was Caledonian Park, in the centre of town and most importantly only yards away from Grangemouth Train Station. But for a couple of years before this they had played at just the other side of the Grange Burn at Muirhead Park.

Grangemouth FC started in January 1886 as most clubs did, playing on the local public park, but the Portonians had ambition, and in order to compete, SFA rules stated that clubs had to have their own enclosed ground. So the committee started to look for a potential site of their own. Just in time for the start of the 1886/87 season the Club announced that it had secured the lease of a field from Peter Muirhead Esq. of Grangemouth for £15 per annum. This ground, which came to be known as Muirhead Park, has been erased from the face of Grangemouth, making it very hard to locate exactly. It seems to have been placed between the South Shore Road and Grangemouth's "New Dock": The Falkirk Herald [14th Aug 1886] stated that "their new field ... is situated at the back of Muirhead's Buildings". The big problem being that Muirhead's Buildings also no longer exist.

I had always suspected that Muirhead Park was under the BP for some reason, not quite, but I was in the right direction. First I had to find some clue about it's whereabouts, it came in a notice in the Herald earlier that year that the Surveyor General of the Post Office in Edinburgh was to include "the Hospital, Muirhead's Buildings, Grangemouth Saw Mill, and Grangemouth Iron Works" in the Grangemouth postal delivery. Since I have looked at the 1897 OS map of Grangemouth several times, I knew there was a huge foundry just to the east of the town, and checking it again I noticed it was situated in between a hospital and a saw mill, with the buildings on Zetland Street, presumably Muirhead's Buildings.


Grangemouth Foundry, Saw Mills and the previous site of Muirhead Park 1897

This leaves me with a final problem, from the only locator I have, the ground was 'at the back of Muirhead's Buildings" which to me looks like the Hospital and Foundry, so I can only suppose it really meant at the back of the foundry, just to the north of 'Saw Mills' on the map. But without some other clues I will be tantalisingly close whilst never completely sure of the exact location, and of whether it was aligned North-South or East-West [or even on a diagonal!].


Current site of the Foundry, Saw Mills and Muirhead Park from NLS Maps [click to explore]

The ground was 'christened' with a friendly visit from Camelon on the 4th of September, a 3-3 draw, and was celebrated by the Zetland Brass Band playing the players on to the pitch, the Falkirk Herald's only reference to the ground itself being that it was too narrow.

However the biggest game at Muirhead Park was undoubtedly when Grangemouth somehow contrived to get the full Rangers side down to the Port for a friendly in March 1887, and although only 300 hardy souls turned up, and Grangemouth were beaten, though at 4-1 not hammered it still stands as an impressive coup for the club.


However, only one match that could in anyway be considered official for the purpose of records took place on the ground, when East Stirlingshire defeated Grangemouth 5-2 in the First round of the Scottish Cup Matches on the 3rd September 1887, strangely all four of Grangemouth's Stirlingshire Cup matches at the time were drawn away, and the Falkirk District Charity Cup matches were always played at neutral venues.

In June of 1888 Grangemouth FC were informed that the ground was needed 'for storing purposes' in future, and that they would have to find a new park.