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.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Falkirk Amateurs FC Graves : Peter Auchinachie



Falkirk Herald - Wednesday May 4th 1910

Another chap who was better known locally for his place in the upper echelons of civic society than for his youthful exploits on the football field, was Peter Auchinachie, for many a year Rector of Grangemouth High School and a Justice of the Peace to boot. Although born in Banff, Peter's family moved first to the Glen Village then to Falkirk when he was but a lad, and it was at Falkirk High School that his twin loves of education and football were kindled.

But in 1893 his services were to be temporarily lost to local clubs as he went up to Glasgow University to undertake his masters [I believe it was in economics but I am not sure]. At the same time he qualified 4th in his class at the CoS Training College [the institution that became Jordanhill College]. In a later commemoration of him it was stated that he played for the University's football club during his time but I have found no evidence of this from the time.

The first time I have found him relating to football is from Falkirk Amateur's first ever match a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Camelon's 2nd XI right at the tail-end of the 1896/97 season. And although I have never found anything to tie down the formation of Falkirk Ams it is not too far to surmise that most, if not all, of the players in that match were among the founders of the club.

Although he was a stalwart of Falkirk Amateurs for it's first two full seasons, his appointment as Assistant Headmaster of Grangemouth High effectively ended his playing days. During this time he managed to play the one match for Falkirk FC [he played in the last Central Combination match of the 1897/98 season as Thomas Turnbull had made it clear that he was leaving for East Stirlingshire as soon as possible], yet his association with the town's professional club was not over, as Peter served on the committee between 1901 and 1904, as well as temporarily holding the post of treasurer in 1903 when Harry McNaught emigrated to the USA.

After this point though the only references to him are to do with his educational career, Falkirk FC in 1905 became a PLC, and there was no need for a committee, and certainly not a committee made up of gentlemanly amateurs with a love of the game, and his attentention seem to have shifted toward the Grangemouth Burns Club.


The Scotsman - Saturday January 16th 1937



Peter's Grave in Grandsable Cemetery

Peter Auchinachie

b 16th April, 1874, Banff, Banffshire
d 15th January 1937, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday April 3 1897 Falkirk Amateurs v Camelon 2nd XI (A) Friendly
Competitive Debut - Sat September 11 1897 Falkirk Amateurs v East Stirlingshire (A) Scottish Qualifying Cup 1st Rd

Positions – Right-Back, Right-Half

Known Career – Falkirk High School, Whitefield Swifts, Dalbeattie Star, Glasgow University, Falkirk Amateurs [1896/97-1898/99], Falkirk [1897/98]

Known Career

Glasgow University

Unknown

Falkirk Amateurs

Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Falkirk & District League Matches/Goals [5/-]
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals [2/-]
Stirlingshire Consolation Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Falkirk Hospitals Shield Matches/Goals [2/-]
Other Matches/Goals [9/-]

Nota Bene - Falkirk Amateurs suffered from a lack of indepth reporting in its very early years so this only represents matches with team line-ups, he probably played in a good number more.

Falkirk

Central Combination Matches/Goals [1/-]

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Falkirk FC Graves - Archie Jack

Signed from prominent Grangemouth junior club Forth Rangers, Archibald Jack was a promising Outside-Left who Falkirk signed at the beginning of the 1913/14 season, but who seemed to have made a good enough impression in his first two reserve matches to be given a shot in a relatively minor match for the first team.

Kilsyth Chronicle - 29th Aug 1913

Jack made his full Falkirk debut against Hearts in the Semi-Final [2nd Rd] of the Dunedin Cup [the Dunedin Cup if you didn't know was a Cup for Edinburgh clubs, plus for some reason never explained Falkirk & Raith Rovers], and Falkirk got a pasting, but luckily for the club with nine minutes to play, the referee stopped the game because of bad light [Falkirk won the 'replay'].

The Scotsman [London Hearts]

Apart from a couple of appearances in early season benefit matches Archie remained solidly in the 'A' side for the next couple of weeks, making his League debut at Pittodrie in a scoreless draw, Archie apparently missing an open goal.....

But, this was not the reason he made so few appearances for the club, it was mainly because Falkirk stuck with Robert Terris at Outside-Left [a move vindicated by the fact that Liverpool signed Terris in February] and already had a replacement for Terris in William Lennie of Aberdeen.

So Archie played out the season in the reserves, winning the Stirlingshire Consolation Cup [Final held over from 1912/13], and being a Runner-Up in the Stirlingshire Cup, making only occasional first team appearances when Terris or Lennie were indisposed, before moving on to Armadale at the end of the season.

After a season and a bit with Armadale he moved on to Leith Athletic until he was called up for the war effort.

It was while he was at Aldershot that he seems to have played occasionally with Tottenham [and indeed it seems preferred playing football to messing about with that army business.

Pall Mall Gazette - April 2nd 1918

I cannot find much information about his time at Spurs [English Football Historians do not seem to pay much heed to their wartime football for some reason], nor have I found any documentation from his time in the army: after Spurs he moved on to South Shields for a time before seemingly drifting off the footballing map.

It was only because I recognised his name whilst checking through Grandsable Cemetery that I was able to confirm that it was him from the papers.


Falkirk Herald - Saturday 3rd December 1938

ARCHIBALD JACK

b 15th August 1889, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
d 26th November 1938, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire

Debut – Monday August 25th 1913 Falkirk v Heart of Midlothian (A) Dunedin Cup 1st Rd [Abandoned]
League Debut – Saturday September 13th 1913 Falkirk v Aberdeen (H) Scottish League Division 1

Known Career – Forth Rangers, Falkirk [1913/14], Armadale [1914/15-1915/16], Leith Athletic [1915/16-1917/18], Tottenham Hotspur [1917/18-1918/19], South Shields [1919/20].

Falkirk

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [8/1]
North-Eastern Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals [3/-]
Stirlingshire Consolation Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [4/-]

Armadale

Unknown

Leith Athletic

Unknown

Tottenham Hotspur

London Combination Matches/Goals [19/7]

South Shields

English League Division 2 Matches/Goals [7/1]

Monday, 31 July 2017

Grandsable Cemetery

Having finally got my bike back into working order, I decided to get out again and look for more gravestones of footballers from the district. Since I have almost exhausted Camelon this time I decided to turn my attention to Grandsable Cemetery.


Although nominally the Cemetery for Grangemouth, Grandsable is not really in any particular place, and the villages of Polmont, Westquarter, Redding & Laurieston are probably closer to it than Grangemouth. But as "The Port" is the largest town in the area it is generally seen as being the Grangemouth Cemetery.

The cemetery has a weird layout, it was built on a undulating slope [which doesn't seem the wisest place to place large stone blocks, but they never do ask me about these things], and seems to have been designed radiating out from a central area, but has been cramped in by both roads and natural limitations, making the graves at the outer parts of the cemetery in quite irregular formations.


From the earliest days of football in the district, players were sought from Grangemouth and the Lower Braes [especially when Grangemouth was a staunchly Rugby town] so there ought to be a fair few in there, over and above the couple I know about from their obits. So there will be a couple more Falkirk FC graves posts soon.

Known players commemorated in Grandsable Cemetery:

Peter Auchinachie
[Falkirk Amateurs, Falkirk]

Archibald Jack
[Falkirk, Armadale, Leith Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur, South Shields]

George Mason
[Falkirk, Dundee United, Stranraer, Montrose, Alloa Athletic, East Stirlingshire, St Johnstone]

Charles Napier
[Celtic, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Falkirk, Stenhousemuir]

William Orrock
[East Stirlingshire]

John Ramsay
[Falkirk]

Clyde Skene
[Falkirk Amateurs, Stenhousemuir, Queen's Park, Falkirk, Dundee, Dunfermline Athletic, Montrose]

Saturday, 1 July 2017

George Thallon


Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday June 19th 1894

This is the closest thing to an obituary I have found for the former King's Park & Falkirk FC centre-forward George Thallon. His inclusion in the papers [it was also in the Scotsman] leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I won't even go there, although I'm pretty sure there is a report I'd like to read somewhere in the archives of the Glasgow Police.

Born in Stirling to a Railway family, George was however brought up in Leith, and soon after school became a clerk with the North British Railway Company. It was through this employment, as Goods Clerk, that he moved first to Stirling Station, then to Falkirk Grahamston Station. In 1889 it was reported that the NBR had moved him back to Edinburgh.

During his time in Falkirk not only did he play football, but was active with the two main cross-country clubs, Clydesdale Harriers and Falkirk Heavy Weather Club, even playing football for both against senior opposition.

Which brings me back to his end, I mean he was missing for more than a month, then dead, says neither suicide nor homicide, more like misadventure.




The only picture I have of him, from an 1885/86 King's Park team photo.

George Thallon

b 23rd January 1863, Stirling, Stirlingshire
d 17th June 1894, Glasgow

Known Debut - Saturday September 5th 1885 King's Park v Partick Thistle (H) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday September 12th 1885 King's Park v Campsie Avondale (H) Scottish Cup 1st Rd

Falkirk Debut – Saturday April 16th 1887 v Alloa Athletic (H) Friendly
Falkirk Competitive Debut – Saturday May 4th 1887 v East Stirlingshire (A) Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final

Positions – Centre-Forward [occ Goalkeeper]

Known King's Park Career
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals 2/1
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals 5/5
Other Matches/Goals 7/1

Known Norton Park Career
Other Matches/Goals 1/-

Known Falkirk Career
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals 2/1
Falkirk District Charity Cup Matches/Goals 2/1
Other Matches/Goals 11/7

Known East Stirlingshire Career
2nd XI matches only.

Known Career
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals 4/2
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals 5/5
Falkirk District Charity Cup Matches/Goals 2/1
Other Matches/Goals 21/8

Known Career – King's Park [1885/86], Norton Park [1886/87], Falkirk [1886/87-1888/89], East Stirlingshire [1888/89]

Played for Falkirk Heavy Weather v Kilsyth Wanderers XI, Friendly at Garrell Garden Pk, Kilsyth, 12th May 1888
Played for Clydesdale Harriers [Falkirk] v Falkirk FC, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 5th January 1889

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Football and Drunkenness

As I have previously noted, James 'Midgy' Tennant liked a drink, so much so it often got in the way of his football career. I just found this article about his 'exploits' being reported as far away as Angus.



Montrose, Arbroath & Brechin Review - November 27th 1896

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

1900 - East Stirlingshire's Summer of Cricket

During the football off-season of 1900, just on the brink of their entry into the Scottish League, East Stirlingshire decided to convert their ground, Merchiston Park, into a cricket ground for the summer. Eh?

Now, all of us who know, know East Stirlingshire were formed out of a cricket team, but like most professional club had long forsaken the summer game in favour the people's game. What is fascinating to me is the shockingly low scoring [by both teams], and since I seriously doubt it was due to the bowlers being at the top level, it must be down to playing the matches on a converted football ground which had just been through a long season. It was not until the last match for which there is a scorecard that any of the sides made a total of more than 50 [and then only just]. The matches were all one innings games, but it seems that if there was enough time, they would bat again.

All the matches were against members of the Falkirk & District Cricket League, and I can't help wondering if East Stirlingshire were shadowing the league with ideas of entering a side in future, however with their joining the ranks of the Scottish League, this was never going to work out.


25th? June East Stirlingshire v Falkirk Central at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford?

No Scorecard found

"Last week they had a defeat from Falkirk Central."


Mon 25th June East Stirlingshire v Thornbank at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
G.McGregor b Haig                 23
R.Clark b Haig                     0
J.Shirra c McVey b Haig            5
W.Wright b McVey                   0
P.Stewart c Walker b McVey         4
W.Allan b McVey                    2
J.C.Johnstone b McVey              0
J.Williamson b Haig                0
J.Graham b McVey                   1
D.Alexander not out                0
A.Scott b Haig                     0
  Extras                           3
Total                             38

Bowling
McVey   ?-?-17-5
Haig    ?-?-21-5

Thornbank
A.Walker c Clark b Wright          8
G.Allan c Scott b Allan            4
E.McPhie c & b Wright             12
D.Mullholland c Shirra b Wright    0
W.McVey b Wright                   0
T.Haig b McGregor                  5
R.Bell b Wright                    0
J.Stewart b McGregor               0
J.Bellingham c McGregor b Wright   3
J.McVey b Wright                   0
J.Forrester not out                2
  Extras                           4
Total                             38

Bowling
Wright   ?-?-13-7
McGregor ?-?-11-2
Allan    ?-?-7-1

Match Tied


Thu 12th July East Stirlingshire v Invergrange at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
G.McGregor b Aitken               13
R.Wilson b Whittock                7
P.Stewart b Flannigan              2
W.Wright b Aitken                  5
W.Allan b Aitken                   2
James Mitchell b Aitken            0
J.C.Johnstone b Aitken             0
R.Clark b Aitken                   0
J.Graham c Milne b Whittock        2
J.Williamson not out               0
J.Mitchell b Whittock              0
  Extras                           3
Total                             34

Bowling
Aitken     ?-?-?-6
Whittock   ?-?-?-3
Flannigan  ?-?-?-1

Invergrange
J.Flannigan b Wright               8
R.Whittock b McGregor              1
D.Millan b McGregor                2
W.Smith hit wkt b Wright           0
Hill Aitken c Wilson b Wright      2
R.McColl c Clark b McGregor        0
N.Whitehead b McGregor             0
J.S.Knowles b Wright               0
D.Rigg b Wright                    1
J.Scarborough c Clark b McGregor   1
J.Smith not out                    0
  Extra                            1
Total                             16

Bowling
Wright    ?-?-?-5
McGregor  ?-?-?-5
 
East Stirlingshire won by 18 runs.

Notes

The match ended early so ES went in for a second innings, they had reached 82-8 before rain stopped play.
Hill Aitken was Falkirk FC's reglar left-back, and had guested a number of times for East Stirlingshire.


Tue 17th July East Stirlingshire v Invergrange
 
Invergrange
J.Flannigan c & b McGregor         2
T.Learmonth lbw b Wright           2
D.Millan lbw b Wright             24
R.Whyttock b McGregor              2
H.Aitken run out                   5
W.Smith b McGregor                 3
R.McColl b Wright                  0
J.Smith b Wright                   0
J.Robertson b McGregor             1
J.Bow b McGregor                   2
G.Currie not out                   0
  Extras                           1
Total                             43

Bowling
McGregor  ?-?-?-4
Wright    ?-?-?-5

East Stirlingshire
R.Wilson b Learmonth               1
W.Allan c Millan b Learmonth       3
G.McGregor b Learmonth             0
W.Wright c Millan b Aitken         1
J.Mitchell run out                 2
P.Stewart c & b Learmonth          3
R.Clark b Aitken                   1
W.Roberts c Millan b Aitken        1
J.C.Johnston b Aitken              0
J.Williamson not out               0
J.Graham c & b Aitken              1
  Extras                           2
Total                             15

Bowling
Learmonth  ?-?-?-4
Aitken     ?-?-?-5

Notes
"E.S. went in for a second innings, when they were all dismissed for 21, Invergrange thus winning by an innings and seven runs."


Wed 18th July East Stirlingshire v Caledonia at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford?

No scorecard found.

"on Wednesday Caledonia only defeated them by 1 run, the scores being 18 and 19. In a second innings East Stirlingshire put on a good score."


Tue 24th July East Stirlingshire v Caledonia at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
N.Whitehead b Allan               18
W.Roberts b Lyon                   0
J.Hastings c Roper b Rigg          0
P.Stewart b Bain                   8
J.Dale b Allan                     1
J.Mitchell b Allan                 7
J.Williamson not out              10
W.Wright b Allan                   0
R.Clark b J.Mallice                1
J.Campbell b J.Mallice             2
H.Lyon b J.Mallice                 1
  Extras                           3
Total                             51

Bowling
Allan       ?-?-?-4
Lyon        ?-?-?-1
Rigg        ?-?-?-1
Bain        ?-?-?-1
J.Mallice   ?-?-?-3

Caledonia
J.Bain b Whitehead                 0
A.Mallice b Whitehead              3
W.Allan b Wright                  21
D.Rigg b Wright                    0
J.Mallice b Whitehead              3
A.Lyon b Wright                    9
W.Alexander b Whitehead            0
R.Kerr b Wright                    0
S.Roper b Wright                   0
J.Wilkie b Whitehead               1
A.Scott not out                    0
  Extras                           2
Total                             39

Bowling
Whitehead   ?-?-?-5
Wright      ?-?-?-5

Note This seems to have been played between two 'scratch' elevens, the Caledonia XI playing several guests including Willie Allan of ESFC; Sammy Roper of Falkirk FC & Thornbank CC, A.Lyon of Thornbank CC and Rigg of Invergrange CC, while East stirlingshire had the assistance of Whitehead of Falkirk Central CC.

East Stirlingshire were scheduled to play Falkirk Central on Tue 31st July to close their summer of cricket, but I have yet to find any reports of the match taking place.