Thursday, 30 December 2010

Obscure Falkirk FC Matches - 9th Aug 1910

As anybody who reads this ought know by now, I delight in bringing to light all those things that [probably] should never be brought to light: herein, I bring you another in my [neverending [I warn you!]] list of obscure Falkirk FC matches. These matches ought naturally have been consigned to the dustbin of history: but that is exactly where the good historian looks, so here is another of Falkirk Football Club's pre-Season trial matches.

This time it comes from 1910 [when sadly Falkirk had a striped away top [though I still don't know the colours of the stripes]].

Nothing much unconventional about this match, except that it was played in only two periods of 35 minutes, I love these matches [Falkirk recently tried to re-introduce them but lack of turnout meant they have either stopped or only been played closed door!]]. The thing to understand is that with no pre-season friendlies this was the first place to see any closed season signings [[and triallists] and any up and coming reserves about which gossip...].
Anyway these are how the teams appear in the local press

Tuesday 9th August 1910, Trial Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk

Blues - Adams [Queen's Park]; Stewart [Falkirk Amateurs] & Leishman; Orrock, Morison & Johnston; Simpson & Gilmour, A.Logan, T.Logan [Arthurlie] & Brown.

Stripes - Stewart; Davidson [South Shields Adelaide] & Gibson [Morton]; McDonald, Anderson & McMillan; Main & Morton, English, Croall & Smith.

Scorers - Unknown

Attendance - c4000

Note - To dissavert any criticism by Spiders' historians: out of the twenty two players Adams of Queen's Park appeared because the match was also played in benefit of the Falkirk Nursing Association [raising c£16] not because he was looking for a transfer.


In a break from the norm, one of my friends & confidents, when it comes to teasing out the delicacies of local football in Falkirk/Stirlingshire one of my most important devil's advocates is now collating the hellish weave of local club football over on his new website. I think all should give attention to his slavish attention to detail.

There is a whole shit load there, and there is a shit load needing done [says the person who promised to research early Falkirk Amateurs; hands up [still on it]] it is [as all are] a work in progress, work, laziness and 'stuff' get in the way, but we're on it, I promise you.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Falkirk FC v English Opposition

For many reasons some I can't explain, others I can, Falkirk Football Club never a non-Scottish team for a relatively long time. Throughout the 1880s football between Scottish, English & Irish clubs was very regular, although little of it was "competitive" [I use the quotation marks advisedly, because although there were challenge matches between the winners of the Scottish & English Cup, how much these were ad hoc, and how organised is unknown]. Mostly the matches were between Glasgow & Edinburgh clubs and the successful Northern English clubs at the time [even though both local rivals East Stirlingshire & King's Park had played English much earlier].

Falkirk FC's first game was against a team by the name of London Casuals, clearly an amateur side. Falkirk had been scheduled to play them the previous season but the game was called off because of the weather. It was about time such a match took place.

Fakirk 7 London Casuals 3, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk Saturday 30th December 1891

Patrick; Sommerville & Drummond; Burt, Smith & 'Anderson'; J.McDonald & T.McDonald, Tennant, Brown & Barr.
London Casuals
Blaker; Pelly & Harrison; Barker, Tepham & Cox; Furber & Woodbridge, Nixen, Lebat & Timpkin.
Half-Time - 4-1
Scorers - ???? (2), Tennent (2) J.McDonald (2), OG : Furber, ???? (2)
Referee - Mitchell [ESFC]

London Casuals objected to Alex Stark playing as he had signed professional forms with Bolton Wanderers at the start of the season, being replaced with James 'Sodger' McDonald.
John Pray had to withdraw at a very late hour and was replaced by 'Anderson', who was John Gillespie of Queen's Park and formerly of Falkirk [and Comely Park].

This late entry into international contest didn't seem to prompt Falkirk into venturing much further as the club never played a club from outside the UK [and Ireland] until the 1950s tour of Israel & Malta [having turned down the chance to play AC Milan & West Ham in Milan in the 1920s!].

Over the next 50+ years Falkirk regularly played in friendlies, benefits & testimonials from all over the UK & Ireland, but it saddens that the club never ventured overseas like so many others, but it is too late now....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Falkirk FC & the Local Press

Oh how things change, ask any East Stirlingshire or Stenhousemuir fan over the treatment that their respective clubs are given in the modern Falkirk Herald and they will no doubt [rightly in my opinion] grumble about the paucity of coverage given in comparison to the greatest team in Stirlingshire [if not the World], ah well.

But I am here to say that the lovey-dovey relationship between Falkirk FC and the Falkirk Herald has not always been so, in fact in my opinion the Falkirk Herald always had a more East Stirlingshire bent in the 1890s in comparison to the Falkirk Mail which had more of the Falkirk leanings.

Below I reproduce letters between the Club Secretary of Falkirk FC & 'Scrutator' [the sports editor of the Falkirk Herald], both published in the Falkirk Herald in November 1889, at possibly the lowest point in the relationship, in my opinion Falkirk Football Club were being far too puerile in their complaints, but you can decide for yourselves.

Falkirk Herald - Edition Saturday 2nd November 1889

Gentlemen, I am authorised by my committee to draw your attention to the following clippings taken from your 'football nonsense' column Saturday last:-

"Overheard in the crowd on Saturday- "Fa'kirk would hae been better wi' Starkey half-dead than Sandy Gillespie livin'. Rough a bit, but a decided compliment to 'Buttons'"

And to inform you that such bye-names and jeering remarks anent our players and officials cannot be longer tolerated, and that unless these unseemly writings are stopped at once, other measures than simply writing you a letter will be adopted to attain that end.

This paragraph- "A Bainsford correspondent wants to know how many umpires Falkirk had on Saturday? He thinks Gillespie appeared to be one, as Bishop's hand went upthe moment Gillespie held his handkerchief aloft, and that was whenever he took the notion."

Allows for only one meaning being taken out of it, and that is that the Falkirk umpire was dishonest.

The paragraph objected to, and all others of a like nature, have nothing to do with a criticism on football matters, and are liable, and have been known to do injury to our players and officials in the pursuit of their daily occupation.

I have to state that unless your reporter sees fit to deal with our matches in a fairer spirit than he has done for the past three years, we will be under the painful necessity of debarring him from entering our grounds. We do not care what you say about our players regarding their play, and always using proper play, our players have feelings just like ordinary human beings, and our committee have decided that these shall not be tampered with by a newspaper correspondent or reporter whenever they think it.

Yours Truly for the Committee, Falkirk FC

Robert Bishop, Secy.

Some notes before the reply
Football back then had two Umpires [linesmen] and [only in big games] a referee [to seperate disagreements between the umpires], the umpires were provided by the two competing teams, thus Bishop, the Umpire mentioned above was also the the Falkirk FC club secretary, and author of the above letter. He went on to be a renowned referee in Scottish circles.
The match in question was a 5-2 away victory over East Stirlinshire in the Stirlingshire Cup coming hard on the heels of 6-1 home defeat against the same opposition in the Scottish Cup the week before.
For the uninitiated the Bainsford reference comes from the fact that originally East Stirlingshire hailed from that part of Falkirk, for us it is an easily decoded message in early publications about which team is being referenced.
Sandy, or Buttons refers to Alex Stark [I still really want to know how he got that nickname], Gillepie was John Gillespie, one of five Gillespie brothers to play for Falkirk [oh and he played for Scotland too, but since he was at QP at the time it doesn't count]

The reply

Falkirk Herald - Edition Saturday 9th November 1889

Sir, ... I would feel obliged if you would allow me publicly to ask to specify any inaccuracies he may find, either inaccuracies of omision or commision, in reports made by me in regard to anything relating to Falkirk Football Club. Mr Bishop throws plenty of mud in a general way. However he singles out two paragraphs in particular. Now, what do these paragraphs selected amount to? Simply this, that one contained the essence of a remark heard on the Falkirk football field, and the other a question asked by a correspondent. The objection to the first paragraph seems to be that I referred to Stark by the name of 'Buttons'. Now, if there had been anything objectionable in the nickname, or if I had been the first to use it in reference to Stark there would have been considerable force in an objection being taken to it: but, as a matter of fact, it is a term of endearment, so as to speak, used by the Falkirk members to their justly popular right winger. Not only so, but Stark's partner in the team, has addressed him on the field by that bye-name whwn asking him to pass the ball. I know, without Mr Bishop or any other person requiring to inform me, that football players have feelings, and it would be far from my purpose to hurt Stark's feelings, who has received a greater meed of praise in the column under my charge than any other player in the district.

As to the second paragraph spoken about, I surely do not require to inform "an old hand" in football news like Mr Bishop that it was his place to reply to the question of the correspondent. I am sure the paragraph was commenced in a way of which there was no chance of doubt.

As to his remarks about unfair reports, I would ask him to point out anything he may have seen that is untruthful, I don't believe in generalities; I believe in pointing to a fault. If there is one, I would thank Mr Bishop to point it out. When that is done, then I can answer the remainder of his letter. But, sir, I may be permitted to state, without being egotistical, that frequently I have observed the reports of Falkirk football matches copied into other prints, and that, too, with slight alterations in the phraseology,- I am, &c.,


No other correspondences between the parties were published again, they may have continued in private ... I still think Falkirk Football Club came out the worst, sounding churlish at best. But this doesn't placate those of ESFC & SFC leanings nowadays, all I am saying is that it was not always so nice.

Allow me for a bit of conspiracy, I always believed that 'scru' was a Shire fan, but i never thought he was particularly anti-Falkirk.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Falkirk FC Players - Stirlingshire

By christ on a pole it has been cold over the last week or so, this has severly limited my intent when it comes to looking up stuff to write for this here blog. When I have managed to make it out of my pit I did though look up Falkirk FC's place in the Stirlingshire FA's representative matches.

Back in the early days of football as an intermediary level between club and international football there also existed in Scotland representative county matches. Sadly it was never fully organised, and matches were organised on an ad hoc basis depending on free dates in the calander and other factors. On some occasions they were used by the selectors as part of the national selection process, but generally they were glorified friendlies, albeit with a bit more prestige for the players themselves. Through time these games died out, professional leagues etc, filled the fixture lists, and counties agreed to less and less matches as clubs refused to release their, then profesional players, they were finished by the end of the 1890s.

The matches were organised by the respective County Football Associations, which in turn were formed out of their senior clubs. Falkirk, of course, were [and still are] part of the Stirlingshire FA, in fact were founder members, and were represented in every Inter-County match Stirlingshire played. During the 1890s the Stirlingshire XIs were mainly turned out against clubs or combined Junior XIs in benefit & testimonial matches, and quite often had to be fleshed out with reserve players, these matches have been excluded.
Here follows the full list of Falkirk players involved in Stirlingshirs Matches against other Counties & FAs.

George Barr (1) v Fife (1889-90)
Robert Bishop (1) v Fife (1885-86)
Andrew Burt (1) v Forfarshire (1896-97)
John Drummond (4) v Linlithgowshire (1888-89) v Fife (1890-91) v Forfashire (1890-91) v Forfarshire (1891-92)
Robert Fearns (1) v Fife (1894-95)
Alex Ferguson (1) v Lanarkshire (1883-84)
David Fleming (1) v Fife (1886-87)
Walter Gibson (1) v Lanarkshire (1883-84)
Alex Gillespie (1) v Fife (1885-86)
Thomas Glegg (2) v Fife (1894-95) v Forfarshire (1895-96)
William Hamilton (1) v Forfarshire (1886-87)
Michael Harley (2) v Forfarshire (1886-87) v Fife (1887-88)
W??? Johnstone (1) v Linlithgowshire (1888-89)
James Liddell (3) v Linlithgowshire (1887-88) v Forfarshire (1888-89) v Fife (1889-90)
James Love (1) v Renfrewshire (1885-86)
John Mitchell (2) v Fife (1886-87) v Fife (1887-88)
James McDonald (3) v Fife (1885-86) v Forfarshire (1886-87) v Renfrewshire (1886-87)
Thomas McDonald (5) + v Fife (1887-88) v Linlithgowshire (1887-88) v Fife (1889-90) v Forfarshire (1889-90) v Fife (1890-91)
Thomas McFarlane (4) v Forfarshire (1892-93) v Fife (1892-93) v Fife (1893-94) v Forfarshire (1897-98)
Alex McGregor (3) v Forfarshire (1889-90) v Fife (1890-91) v Fife (1891-92)
???? McHugh (1) v Forfarshire (1893-94)
Hugh McKinnon (2) v Forfarshire (1893-94) v Forfarshire (1894-95)
Alex McLaughlan (1) v Forfarshire (1895-96)
John Pray (1) v Fife (1893-94)
David Ross (1) v Forfarshire (1893-94)
William Sinclair (1) v Fife (1887-88)
Thomas Sommerville (1) v Forfarshire (1891-92)
Alex Stark (13) @ v Forfarshire (1886-87) v Renfrewshire (1886-87) v Forfarshire (1887-88) v Linlithgowshire (1887-88) v Forfarshire (1888-89) v Linlithgowshire (1888-89) v Forfarshire (1889-90) v Fife (1890-91) v Forfarshire (1890-91) v Fife (1891-92) v Forfarshire (1891-92) v Forfarshire (1892-93) v Fife (1893-94)
James Tennant (1) v Forfarshire (1894-95)
Alex Turnbull (1) v Lanarkshire (1883-84)
David Walker (1) * v Forfarshire (1897-98)
William Watson (1) % v East of Scotland (1897-98)

@ In editions of the Falkirk Herald & Mail it was often said, contradictally, both Alex Stark and Alex Inches [East Stirlingshire] were the most represented players for Stirlingshire. I believe that the figures may be of total medals, including Stirlingshire Cup Medals, the point is moot. Both Alex Stark, Alex Inches & Lawrence McLachlan [also ESFC] were those constantly there & there abouts at the time.
+ Thomas McDonald often played under his mother's maiden name as Tommy Donnelly confusing matters.
* David was only playing with Falkirk FC 2nd XI at the time and was travelling with the Stirlingshire FA in a capacity as official when a player did not show up, meaning David had to play.
% This was the same player who later went on to play for Scotland, and is constantly referred to as W.Watson in other places, he was from Shotts and had previously played for Dykehead & East Stirlingshire.

I don't know what to make of this, obviously the players ought be proud of being chosen, however Stirlingshire never played the Glasgow FA, and only once played the EoS FA. The honours were spread around to keep both the 'big teams' & 'wee teams' in Stirlingshire happy. I say, though, take it as is, a reflection of local football which is no longer available.