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 ...

 -         Alloa Athletic       scr   Falkirk              WO
 -         Falkirk Amateurs     scr   East Stirlingshire   WO
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

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.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Warriors - Established 1884?

Well, I have read the books, articles, match reports of Stenhousemuir in ye olde days of yore. Young kids playing on the Tryst; several successful junior sides merging to form the senior club, first at Goschen Park, then later at their spiritual home of Ochilview Pk. Well it says so on their badge!

Well, it would seem those who mill about Govan were not the first to think that a club going out of business because they were so in debt that they could no longer function, who decided that the best route would be to ignore their past debts but keep their 'football history'.

Because guess what I came across whilst trying to find out about a Falkirk FC player guesting with another club on a free Saturday? That Stenhousemuir had already pulled this trick in 1919.

From the Falkirk Herald - Saturday 3rd May 1919

You can read for yourself, the profligate use of 'old club' & 'new club' but when it cuts to the chase it comes down to the last sentence "After a long and animated discussion, the meeting decided to start on an entirely new footing."

So there we have it, Stenhousemuir FC formed 1919 [at the very earliest], still a community club, just do not believe the history pages of their website, their books, or any article post 1919.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Falkirk District Works Cup 1898

There have been many football competitions in Scotland from the international to the ultra-local, the best overall coverage of these competitions is on the Scottish Football Historical Archive. Research into these cups is ongoing, and in many places patchy is about the best compliment that can be paid. This is not to cast aspersions upon the many researchers and local historians beavering away at the coalface of Scottish Football History, the fact is that most of the games were simply not reported, and even when they were they were not reported adequately.

Which brings me to the latest obscure competition that I have been looking into, the rather clumsily titled Falkirk & District Junior Works Cup [I think]. Like I said coverage was patchy, it was reported that a Falkirk Works Junior Association had been formed in order to have a competition between the major companies in the district. The Falkirk Herald reported that the new FA was to be affiliated to the Falkirk & District Junior FA and the Competition would be played to their rules.

This brings up many unanswerable questions: since the Falkirk Junior FA was affiliated to the Stirlingshire Junior FA and therefore in turn also affliated to the Scottish Junior FA, were the players not cup tied by the tail-end of the season, or were they given an exemption, or did the teams only use players not already with the Junior Clubs of the District?

Like I said, this is completely unaswerable from this remove, since there were no reports as such, most of the games were only mentioned in passing in the Junior part of the 'Football Intelligence' columns [read 'Gossip columns'] of the local papers. I am not even completely sure that I have been able to find the complete competition since none of the draws were reported, however the matches that I have found do not bring up any glaring problems to what I believe the basic structure of the Cup was, though there is the possibility that some of the games here may have been replays of previous unreported matches.

First Round

Apr 12    Falkirk Foundry             3      Larbert Foundry             3
Apr 19    Abbots Foundry              5      Springfield Foundry         0
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

There is clearly something missing from this round, most probably a replay for the Falkirk Foundry v Larbert Foundry match, however it is also possible that Larbert Foundry withdrew or were thrown out for an infringement, either way only Falkirk Foundry made it through to the next round.
I presume that Carron Foundry & Castlelaurie Foundry were given byes, however there is the possibility that they played [and won] matches against two [as yet] unknown opponents.


May 11    Carron Foundry              5      Abbots Foundry              6
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]
May 16    Falkirk Foundry             0      Castlelaurie Foundry        0

May 23    Falkirk Foundry             3      Castlelaurie Foundry        4
     Replay, Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

Slight clarification needed here, the first two of these matches were referred to as Second Round matches, it was only in the replay that the papers stated Semi-Final, but it seems most likely that was just poor word choice.


Jun 6     Abbots Foundry              3      Castlelaurie Foundry        2
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

One last thing to touch upon, of the six matches I can trace, four were reported to have taken place at Merchiston Park, for the other two there was no mention of the ground, I think it was quite likely that all the matches were played at Merchiston Park, the fact that none of the known matches took place on the same date gives this some traction, but I doubt if that will ever become clear, or will ever be relevant.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Falkirk FC Team Pic Date Unknown

I have very little to go on with this picture

I can tell you that the chap three in from the left IS a young Jock Drummond, and that Falkirk FC are displaying Two Cups. This can only mean that this photo was taken during the era of Jock Drummond - [1886/87-1892/93] and that Falkirk only held two cups in that period between the end of 1889/90 and the end of 1890/91, so it must have been about then.

Update - I have received an e-mail from Andrew over at Better Meddle who has a much better version of this 1889/90 picture, not only is it clearer .... it has the names attached.

Back Row - James McDonald, John McIntosh, Robert Rae, James Liddell, Alex Kennedy, Gilbert McIntosh, Robert Bishop.
Middle Row - Alex McGregor, Thomas McDonald, John Gillespie, John Drummond, George Barr, David Ross.
Front Row - Alex Stark, Daniel Day.

One of the great things, is that not only does it help me identify more players, but all fifteen pictured here played for Falkirk FC at some point [though I have to say Gilbert only played for the 2nd XI].

Thanks Andrew.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

So close yet so far

When I research Falkirk players, sometimes the things I find are tantalisingly close to getting some facts. However, names are one thing, the ancestry [and even the government websites, all hide behind paywalls], we have already paid for our records to be stored, and made public.

I found this statement on a website about Central Scottish mining accidents

"13 December 1933

Miner Electrocuted In Fife Pit - Francis Kane (19), residing at 170 Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, met with his death by electrocution while employed in the Lochgelly splint seam of the Lady Veronica pit, Blairhall Colliery, Fife, yesterday forenoon. His body was found lying near some electrical machinery, and efforts to restore respiration by the colliery ambulance staff, using the oxygen apparatus were unavailing. Kane was a prominent member of the Blairhall Junior Football Club. His services recently had been inquired after by several senior clubs. His father, Edward Kane, is an old Cowdenbeath and Falkirk player." [Scotsman 14 December 1933]

I need to go look at better sources to see if this was also the home of Ed Kane ... but may have to wait until 2031 for the censuses to catch up.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

When is a Bairn a Bairn?

Now I have always been a bit of a purist when it comes to 'Bairns' [that is people from Falkirk for the rest of the World] but I was surprised to be outdone by the correspondent of the Falkirk Mail in 1893 about this.

Falkirk Mail Feb 18th 1893

"It may interest some of our readers to know that of the eleven players who compose the Falkirk team, eight of them are "bairns". The other three belong to the shire - McGregor hailing from Slamannan, Lees from California and Smith from Carronshore. It is a long while since so many "bairns" figured in the Falkirk first eleven. and the fact is worth noticing."
I am not the first "bairn" who was parochial in his outlook, and glad that I am not as parochial as he was!

I personally would never include Slamannan or California as Falkirk, but Carronshore is a grey area, but now I know now that historical precedent says they are not!