Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lost Football Grounds of Falkirk District - Victoria Pk Camelon

The Second Home of Camelon [in their first Season there is mention of them playing on 'the Policies of Camelon House'] was that of Victoria Park. Known as Victoria Park because, frankly, the times demanded it, there were very few features that described it in the reports, other than it was 'in a hollow'.

The ground [as far as I can tell] was in use for about twenty years, from the early 1880s until the early 1900s, when it was built over by a foundry, one which famously made Mills grenades during WWI.

The ground as a football ground was, seemingly, ever-problematic, costing as village side like Camelon more than they could reasonably bring in in gates per season. It was only that Victoria Park was easily the third most important grounds of Falkirk District, easily recognised by the fact that it hosted most of the neutral matches between East Stirlingshire and Falkirk, that it continued so long: two local Cup Finals [Falkirk District Charity Cup & Falkirk Cottage Hospitals Infirmary Shield] that kept it going so long.

The ground though, by all reports was quite impressive, laid in a 'natural amphitheatre' between Glasgow Road to the South and the Railway line to the North, and with an incline from the Stirling Road to the East, it's beauty was often commented upon, the simple fact was that Camelon could not support a team to support the ground. Later Junior clubs returning to, Camelon House & Carmuirs Park.

In the 1897 map, the ground is at the very west of old Camelon.



This is the current google map of the area.



Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Lost Football Grounds of Falkirk District - Tannery Park

The original home of Falkirk Amateurs, so called - because it was right next to a tannery. This ground is one of the easier grounds to find even though it is not on any of the OS maps. But it was described in Jimmy Henderson's Obituary as being on the policies of Comely Park House and that the East Burn ran down one side of it.

This places the ground in between the Callander Walls and Kemper Avenue [the East Burn is now piped under Kemper Avenue] ie, the car park across from the Claddan.

This is almost certainly the same ground as Comely Park had used previously, even the Ams called it Comely Park occasionally, but also adverts for Comely Park matches stated "entrance via Burnhead Lane"



The ground was also used by various junior clubs.

Five-a-Side Tournaments

Back in the day, back when leagues were small and top class fixtures were thin on the ground, the notion of the pre-season friendly did not exist. It was not until the turn of the Century that football clubs began their season with a match against a Junior Club followed with some inter club practice matches: Falkirk for example would play Falkirk Juniors then a match of Attackers v Defenders, then a 1st XI v 2nd XI match.

Before this the clubs relied upon 5-a-side tournaments to get their players into shape. Normally these would be held in the 2-3 weeks coming up to August [the official start of the season]. In Stirlingshire [where I know most], these would be held all over the place and by many different organisations: in Kilsyth & Slamannan; Stirling & Grangemouth; Falkirk & Dunipace; by East Stirlingshire Bicycle Club & Falkirk Football Club; by Airth Brass Band & Redding Colliers; by Lennoxtown Alum Works & Grangemouth Docks.

They all attracted fives from all levels of football [the senior clubs generally entered two teams], from serious teams to a smattering of made up teams who just wanted 'a go'.

So I picked up a folder of football results [in this case 1894/95] and the first 5-a-side I came across was the Stenhousemuir FC of 1894, the Falkirk Herald had only the barest of details, but the Falkirk Mail carried this report -

Only two ties were drawn for the first round, but none were played, as Clackmannan & Dunblane failed to turn up, and the second round was then proceeded with.

Heather Rangers v Albion Rovers - This turned out to be one of the best ties of the day. The Rangers made a pluck stand, but in the second half the Rovers secured a point, and the "Heather" lost, after hard lines, by 1 point to 0.
Dunipace v Gairdoch came next. Gairdoch put out a strong team, Wilson (Stenhousemuir) and Rae (Falkirk) being in the team. Gairdoch opened well, and scored off Smith. Although the "Gairs" had many other chances the score remained unaltered. Gairdoch 1 Dunipace 0.
Stenhousemuir No.1 v Roamers - The Roamers were a scratch lot, and included Stoddart (ES) and Clarkson (Stenhousemuir). The "Warriors" had no difficulty in disposing of this lot, winning by 2 goals 1 point to 0.
East Stirlingshire No.1 v Abercorn - Abercorn had some splendid opportunities in the first half, but they failed to take advantage of them. On the restart Alexander made away up the field and finished with a lovely goal, followed by a point before time from the same player.
Windsor v Stenhousemuir No.2 - The Muir's second lot were Gillespie (Denny), Duff (Alloa), Thomson, McInnes, and Marshall (King's Park). After a drawn game Stenhousemuir got into the third round by 1 goal 1 point to 0.
Carron Rangers, St Mirren and ES No.2 walked over, Clackmannan No.2, Grangemouth and Corithians failing to turn up.

Third Round

East Stirlingshire No.2 v Gairdoch - E.S. opened well, and Brock put in some splendid work, but failed to score, and the game ended in a draw. Other two drawn games were played, but in the fourth game Smith secured a point, but Brock, with a long shot scored a goal, E.S. winning by 1 goal to 1 point.
Stenhousemuir No.1 v Carron Thistle - Stenhousemuir took matters easily, and won by three goals to 0. Cochrane and Duncan (Gairdoch) played well for the Thistle.
East Stirlingshire No.1 v Albion Rovers - Kennedy was called upon to save from the very start, and the Rovers managed to score 2 goals to their opponents 1.
Stenhousemuir No.2 v St Mirren - St Mirren had this tie easily, winning by 2 goals to 1 point.

Semi-Final

St Mirren v Albion Rovers - Albion Rovers opened well. They played better every tie, and made strenouos  efforts to get into the final, but after a drawn game of one each the Rovers appeared fagged, St Mirren running out winners in the re-play by 3 goals to 1.
East Stirlingshire No2 v Stenhousemuir No.1 - This tie was very shortly begun when Scott put E.S. on the lead by scoring a goal. Stenhousemuir returned and scored. The referee awarded a goal, but E.S. maintained that it was only a point. After a long dispute it was ultimately decided to re-start the game. Not long after the re-start Brown shot. The referee awarded a point, but E.S. again claimed that it went past the side. The referee stuck to his decision, and E.S. left the field.

Final

St Mirren v Stenhousemuir No.1 - The Saints pressed at the outset, but Reid relieved, and ran the ball well up the field, but his parting shot went over the goal. Another run by Reid resulted in Brown scoring. Scott saved splendidly, and half-time resulted with the "Muir" leading by 1-0. Keeping up the pressure in the second half the home lot had numerous chances, but nothing was gained. The Saints pressed towards the finish but the score remained unaltered. Result - Stenhousemuir No.1 1 goal ; St Mirren 0."

Interestingly both The Falkirk Herald & The Falkirk Mail printed Carron Rangers then Carron Thistle in their articles, I can not be sure which is the correct name.

For all those out there who claim that things are not like they used to be I would just like to quote the following from the Falkirk Mail's Athletic Gossip -

"There have been some complaints regarding the foul language that was heard around the ropes. I heard it on all sides, and as did also some of the committee, who, if they had done the right thing, would have shown the offenders to the outside of the field."

Well what can I say, people swore at the  football then, as they do now, people complained then as they do now, get over it!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Shortest Falkirk FC players before WWII

Since I had the info and done the research to find out for my previous post on the tallest Pre-WWII Falkirk FC players, it stands to reason that it would be as simple to look for the shortest players too. And so it was, like last week, this list really does not signify much, people were shorter back then on average, and I only have the heights of roughly a quarter of the players from the time.

Height    Name               pos Career
5' 5"     George McNicol     IR  1898/99
5' 5"     James Conlin       OL  1899/00-1900/01
5' 5½"    Patsy Gallacher    IR  1926/27-1931/32
5' 6"     Robert Orrock      LH  1908/09-1916/17
5' 6"     Daniel Paterson    OL  1924/25-1928/29
5' 6"     William Cox        OR  1927/28-1928/29
5' 6"     Thomas Robertson   OR  1936/67
5' 6½"    Alex Heeps         IR  1925/26-1928/29
5' 6½"    James McNeill      CF  1926/27-1927/28

Again I have included those players whose heights were within an inch of the above players, the simple fact is I do not trust anything measured in that weird imperial stuff, nor do I trust those doing the measuring to be too rigorous in their methods. For Example, the Falkirk Herald reported that the 20 yo Alex Carruthers was 5' 8" in 1935, but the same paper in 1939 recorded that he was now 5' 9"!

5' 7"     James Croal        IR  1910/11-1918/19
5' 7"     John McNaught      OR  1911/12-1915/16
5' 7"     Robert McDougall   OL  1915/16-1920/21
5' 7"     William Agnew      IR  1919/20-1920/21
5' 7"     John Hunter        IR  1920/21-1927/28
5' 7"     Robert Kennedy     CF  1926/27-1927/28
5' 7"     Thomas Gilroy      LB  1927/28-1929/30
5' 7"     Richard Duffy      IL  1936/37-1945/46
5' 7"     Ian McLachlan      IR  1938/39
5' 7½"    Michael Gibbons    IR  1910/11-1918/19
5' 7½"    John Rattray       CF  1910/11-1912/13
5' 7½"    William Millar     RH  1913/14
5' 7½"    Alex Thomson       CF  1913/14-1915/16
5' 7½"    Thomas Scott       RB  1917/18-1928/29
5' 7½"    Thomas Batchelor   RH  1932/33-1936/37
5' 7½"    Hugh Hamill        CH  1929/30-1936/37
5' 7½"    Robert Nisbet      RB  1932/33-1938/39
5' 7½"    Peter Cabrelli     IL  1934/35-1935/36
5' 7½"    David Cowan        IL  1934/35-1936/37
5' 7½"    George Anderson    OR  1936/37-1942/43


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tallest Falkirk FC Players before WWII

This is another little arbitrary and completely meaningless list of former Falkirk FC players that I have put together. It is completely meaningless on two levels, the first is that we all know that there is no corollary between height & skill in football, the second is that I have probably come across the heights of under a hundred Falkirk FC players in this time.
It is undeniable that footballers have, on average, grown as the population has in the years following the recovery from World War II, but that does not mean there were not people [and players] who were of above average height even in the 19th Century. As a result of this, some of these players probably only got a match because they were tall and had stood out [metaphorically] in juvenile football. 
Height  Name               Position 
6' 3"   Thomas Bellingham  CF  1885/86-1887/88
6' 2½"  Duncan Elliot      GK  1897/98
6' ½"   James Strathie     RB  1933/34-1934/35
6'      George Brewster    OR  1918/19
6'      William Brown      RH  1937/38-1941/42
6'      Robert Wilson      GK  1938/39-1940/41
5' 11"  William Raisbeck   LH  1905/06-1906/07
5' 11"  Stephen MacDonald  RH  1909/10-1916/17
5' 11"  John Robertson     LH  1913/14
5' 11"  Joseph Whitton     GK  1927/28
5' 11"  James McNair       IL  1933/34-1935/36
5' 11"  Kenneth Dawson     OL  1934/35-1950/51
5' 11"  Gilbert McKie      GK  1936/37-1942/43
5' 11"  Alex Allan         IR  1937/38-1938/39
I have included the heights of the following players who were measured within an inch of the above, for the simple fact that I do not completely trust the accuracy of imperial measurements, and it is never clear whether they rounded up or down throughout the 50+ years I have researched.
5' 10½"  John Morrison     CH  1906/07-1915/16
5' 10½"  Thomas Logan      CF  1910/11-1912/13
5' 10"   Joseph McQue      CH  1898/99
5' 10"   Alex Stewart      GK  1908/09-1916/17 *
5' 10"   Frank Reilly      LH  1912/13/1919/20
5' 10"   Thomas Ferguson   GK  1918/19-1931/32
5' 10"   Daniel Thomson    CF  1921/22-1922/23
5' 10"   Patrick Docherty  LH  1934/35-1935/36
5' 10"   Edwin Young       OL  1938/39
5' 10"   William Miller    IL  1938/39-1941/42
5' 10"   Alex Stewart      CF  1938/39-1942/43 *
5' 10"   Henry Pinkerton   LH  1938/39-1945/46
* The two Alex Stewarts were Father & Son.

NB - It says on his wikipedia page that Jock Drummond was 5' 10" but has no supporting evidence, so I have left it out.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Bonnybridge Grasshoppers sometime before 1898

I have recieved an e-mail from one of the decendents of William Roy who played for Grasshoppers in the 1890s, and said descendent believes he is in this picture of the Bonnybridge Grasshoppers.


NB- I have seen a lot of pictures of Falkirk District Clubs in my time, and have never seen this, and the tops are definitely Grasshoppers.

Grasshoppers were almost ever present in the Senior Football Scene from their birth in 1875 until they folded about 1900, but they could really only recruit locally, and the expansion of League Football in the 1890s to 1900s really spelt the death knell of the 19th Century Village Clubs.

If you know more than I of this photo, please get in touch.

+John Meffen @John_Meffen

Redding Pit Disaster Fund Tournament 1923/24

Way back in 1923 the No. 23 pit of the Redding Colliery flooded due to the insuffient safety planning by the Colliery management, the concerns of the actual miners seemingly not being conveyed to those in control. After rescue attempts the bodies of forty men were recovered from the pit, who are commemorated at Redding Cross.


The disaster obviously cast a shadow upon Falkirk District [then the local economy was based around heavy industry], that this affected almost everyone in the area almost goes without saying, and without adequate social security it fell upon the community [never the employers] to come to the aid of the afflicted.

Polemic over!

Back in the 1920s 'football' was a far greater part of the community than it is now [not a criticism, just an observation], so the local clubs played their part in the fundraising, and while I am not saying that they were at the forefront of the benefit fund, they were certainly there. The main thrust of the local clubs' efforts came in the form of a one off tournament under the auspices of the Stirlingshire FA, it was in effect an extra Stirlingshire Cup, but with proceeds going to the benefit fund.

Like the previous extra Stirlingshire Competition in 1902 it was treated in a sort of "take it or leave it" fashion, so with teams scratching not all of the fixtures were fulfilled. This time it was the Semi-Finals which suffered from lack of matches.

First Round
 
Oct 10th   King's Park          0     Falkirk              1
Oct 17th   Alloa Athletic       1     Clackmannan          1 *
Oct 24th   East Stirlingshire   4     Stenhousemuir        1

* I have looked but not found a replay for this match, so ...
 
Semi-Finals

 -         Alloa Athletic       scr   Falkirk              WO
 -         Falkirk Amateurs     scr   East Stirlingshire   WO
 
Final 
 
Nov 7th    Falkirk              1     East Stirlingshire   0

In addition to the competition Falkirk FC also played a match against a Scottish League XI at Brockville Park

Falkirk 0 Scottish League XI 1 at Brockville Park, 23rd October 1923

Falkirk
T.Ferguson; T.Scott & James Hunter; T.Glancy, T.Townsley & R.Dougal; R.Bryce & John Hunter, S.Puddefoot, J.Gourlay & W.Moore.

Scottish League XI
White [Hearts]; McNair [Celtic] & McQueen [Airdrie]; Steele [Hamilton Ac], Gillespie [QP] & McMullan [Partick Th]; Archibald [Rangers] & Rankin [Motherwell], Gallacher [Airdrieonians], Gallacher [Celtic] & Lawson [Rangers].

Scorer - Gallacher [Airdrieonians]

Note- I just made up the name of the competition [I always go descriptive] I have never found a proper title for it.