Monday, 14 February 2011

Stirlingshire Cup - 1883/84

As I have said before I sometimes stray outside of the history of Falkirk FC to go into local football, I think this, though, might cover both [since it was Falkirk's first honour]. The Stirlingshire Cup, though often derided today, was only the second competition the teams of Falkirk & district had the opportunity to enter [if we exclude the 2nd XI Cup], so at the time it was taken very seriously. At points during the late 1880s and early 1890s there were reaching on thirty teams entering the first round. Of course back then the only other competitive fixtures were the Scottish Cup and the Falkirk & District Charity Cup until the minor leages were instituted in 1892 or so, but all the same it was taken seriously.

Formed on Christmas Day of 1883, the Stirlingshire FA immediately announced the aim to institute a cup for the teams of Stirlingshire. The initial seven teams - Campsie, Dunipace, East Stirlingshire, Falkirk, King's Park, Stenhousemuir [a different club from the current incarnation] and Tayavalla invited the other clubs in the county to join the fledgling organisation. Another seven teams signed up [Comely Park, Grasshoppers, Ochil Rangers, Milngavie, Strathblane, Grahamston, Vale of Bannock] and in early January the FA announced the first round of the new competition.

I shan't go through the games match by match, mainly because good match reports were sparse in those days, but shall just give a summary. Luckily Ochil Rangers and Milngavie played out two draws in the first round [back then it was the norm for both teams to go through to the next round in such circumstances], this meant there were a round eight teams in the second Round. Dunipace elected to abandon the game at half-time due to the weather [when winning 2-0] only to be roundly thrashed by king's Park 13-0 when the game was finally played. A similar tale was played out between Vale of Bannock and Campsie, except Campsie won by [only!] 5-0. Comely Park's 9-1 drubbing by East Stirlingshire was a surprise to no one, Laurence McLachlan [ESFC] was one of the greatest forwards outside of the big city teams at the time].

Little is of particular note from the second and third rounds, the favourites went through, which brought to the fore the first proper East Stirlingshire-Falkirk derby. East Stirlingshire if they had not quite caught up with Falkirk in the four years since their formation had certainly been pressing ahead at a far quicker rate than Falkirk had. In 1884 East Stirlingshire were a team that were going places. But in the end Falkirk still had the edge, it took a replay, but Falkirk were proclaimed the champions of Stirlingshire in the end. It took the club a good few years to win the cup back, but that is a good way to show how much other clubs [especially the 'shire] were on our tails.

The Cup expanded the next year, and of course the competition exists to this day, but of course it is not the same thing as it is not taken as seriously. Possibly this stems back as far as 1908 and Falkirk [*shame*] entering their Falkirk A team instead of the first team, but of course it does not help that nowadays only four senior clubs still exist in Stirlingshire [East Stirlingshire, Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and Stirling Albion] [note Stirling University are a Senior team in Stirlingshire but are members of the East of Scotland FA], the amalgamations with the Clackmannanshire FA, the Linlithgowshire FA [now East Lothian] and the Dunbartonshire FA have added, eventually, a total of two teams. I say scrap the amalgamations and invite the amateur & junior teams of Stirlingshire making it a true and broad Stirlingshire Cup again [but how do we define Stirlingshire when it no longer exists as a political entity anymore?].

Anyway enough of my rambling, here's the details of the first Stirlingshire Cup

1st Round

19th Jan Ochil Rangers 2-2 Milngavie
26th Jan King’s Park 0-2 Dunipace [Match abandoned at half-time]
26th Jan Vale of Bannock 2-1 Campsie [Match abandoned after 75 minutes]
2nd Feb Falkirk 1-0 Grasshoppers
9th Feb Comely Park 1-9 East Stirlingshire
9th Feb King’s Park 13-0 Dunipace
9th Feb Strathblane 1-0 Grahamston
9th Feb Tayavalla 5-2 Stenhousemuir
9th Feb Vale of Bannock 0-5 Campsie

1st Round Replay

26th Jan Milngavie 0-0 Ochil Rangers [Both teams went through]

2nd Round

23rd Feb Campsie 4-1 King’s Park
23rd Feb Milngavie 0-5 Falkirk
23rd Feb Ochil Rangers 2-4 Strathblane
23rd Feb Tayavalla 1-7 East Stirlingshire


8th Mar Falkirk 2-1 Campsie
8th Mar Strathblane 1-2 East Stirlingshire

Final [Lock 16 Ground [Tayavalla FC]]

29th Mar Falkirk 1-1 East Stirlingshire

Final Replay [Lock 16 Ground [Tayavalla FC]]

5th Apr Falkirk 3-1 East Stirlingshire

Clubs and their respective locations [needless to say the boundaries of Stirlingshire have changed greatly in the last 125 odd years, so some of these teams don't seem very Stirlingshire any more]

Club - Locality
Campsie - Lennoxtown"
Comely Park - Falkirk
Dunipace - Dunipace
East Stirlingshire - Bainsford
Falkirk - Falkirk+
Grahamston - Falkirk#
Grasshoppers - Bonnybridge
King’s Park - Stirling
Milngavie - Milngavie
Ochil Rangers - Alva
Stenhousemuir - Stenhousemuir
Strathblane - Blanefield
Tayavalla - Camelon*
Vale of Bannock - Bannockburn

" Campsie played at Alum Works Park, since my knowledge of the area is somewhat lacking I have asked Lennoxtonians about this, but to no success. I know from match reports that it was on the banks of the Glazert, but can not be 100% sure it was Lennoxtown at all where they played, and not one of the several **** of Campsies.

+ of course, in 1884 Falkirk were not playing at their spiritual home of Brockville Park yet, but at the leafy surrounds of modern Bantaskine at the Mayfield Ground, the housing estate was, of course, yet to be built.

#Grahamston played specifically in the Grahamston part of Falkirk, the exact location of their original ground is unknown, but somewhere on Thornhill Road is most Likely.

* Tayavalla were originally a works team of the Tar Works in Lime Road [next to the Falkirk Wheel nowadays] so started life playing 'at Lime Road' which is in modern day Tamfourhill, back then there were virtually no houses there [apart from the house of the manager of the Tar Works: Tay-a-valla [roughly "house on the [Antonine] Wall", in Gaelic], shortly after forming Tayavalla moved to the 'Lock 16 Ground', but it was never made clear on which side of the Forth & Clyde Canal that this ground was situated, thus I have said that the team were from Camelon, but reservedly.


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