Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Falkirk FC - Formation

I once wrote a little piece for the Soccer History Quarterly magazine about the formation of my beloved Falkirk FC. It was mainly a refutation of the oft cited date of 1876 for the formation of Falkirk Football Club and my arguments as to why I think the club was actually formed in 1877. I'm not going to republish that article here [no, if you want to read it, buy the magazine [or at least read the copy in Falkirk Library, then subscribe to the magazine]], no, here I am just going to reproduce two articles from the local press which lend much credence to my argument, and leave you to consider which date seems most likely.

"Falkirk Football Club: Celebration of Semi-Jubilee"

Published in the Falkirk Mail on Saturday the 15th of March 1902

"Last night, in the Falkirk Town Hall, the Falkirk Football Club celebrated their semi-jubilee, when a social, concert, and dance were held when Mr Murdoch McIntyre, president of the club presided over an attendance of about 300. The chairman was supported by the following :- Councillor Stevenson, hon. president: Mr Thomas Waugh, vice president: Mr Wm. Nicol, secretary of the club: Mr D.M. Reid, secretary of the Stirlingshire Football Association: Mr J. Morrison (Falkirk Amateurs), Mr Martin (Camelon), Mr McNicol (King's Park), Mr McLaren (Alloa Athletic), and Mr F. Lindsay (Dunipace).

After tea had been partaken of the Chairman addressed the audience and gave a brief resume of the club's history. In 1877 the club was inaugurated, and their first ground was Brockville Park. After being there for a few years they removed to Randyford. Subsequently they removed their camp to Blinkbonny, where they remained for a few years. They ultimately returned to their old quarters at Brockville Park. When they first occupied the park they paid in rental £12, while today they paid £50, which showed how the value of the land had increased, and gave some indication of the efforts they had to make to meet the rental. They had always been able to keep the old ship rolling, and he hoped they would continue to do so for a great number of years (applause.) He mentioned that they had had three leases of of five years each of Brockville, and they had now entered their fourth lease of five years, and hoped they would be able to continue there for another term of five years at least (applause.) He did not see many of the old members present that evening who were at the institution of the club. he had expected another gentleman [illegible word] who was one of three who held a meeting about the cross in the High Street, when there was some talk of the club being formed. A meeeting [sic] was held in the Newmarket Inn, which used to be the club headquarters, and they decided to advertise the matter. They did so and the result was that a large meeting of the young men of the town was held and the club was formed. Although they had had many years of ups and downs, the club had always been kept going, and it was now for the members of the club to rally round the committee and make it a better success than ever next year (applause.) They had every prospect of it being better than it had been last year (applause.) In regard to the "gates" in the early days, they used to draw £1 or 25s, while recently they realised £150 in a Scottish Cup tie. Their lub had always had a sort of middle class team. They had never been able to raise many stars. They had, however, given to the football world John Drummond of the Rangers (applause) and John Prey [sic] of Bury (applause.) They had also as a player Alexander Stark (applause.) He was never able to get an international cap, but he was chosen to play in the trial teams. As for playing for the Falkirk Club he was always willing to give them a helping hand (applause.) He mentioned that during the year they had played 32 matches, of which they had won 18, lost 10, and drawn 4. That was a very good record (applause.) Although they did not lift the Qualifying Cup they hoped that next year they would be able to do so (loud applause.)

An enjoyable programme was thereafter submitted. Songs were contributed by Misses Helen Henderson and Nimmo, and Messrs Geo. Mallice, Robert Walker, D. Grant (comic) and Wm. Nicol the popular club secretary: while recitations were given by Mr Will. Stevenson. At an interval Mr J. Malcolm gave an interesting display with the indian clubs.

There was a large number at the dance which followed. The music was supplied by mr Fleming's orchestra, and the duties of M.C. were discharged by Mr Wm. Allan (the club's goalkeeper.) Messrs R. Mathieson & Sons, High Street, purveyed, and the refreshments were supplied by Mr George D. Wright, High Street. The function throughout was of a very enjoyable and most successful kind."


And a second piece by 'Scrutator' (the sports editor of the Herald) on the same day

"Athletic Notes by Scrutator"

Published in the Falkirk Herald on Saturday the 15th of March 1902

"Last night the Falkirk Club celebrated their semi-jubilee with a soiree, concert and ball in the Town Hall. The club has seen a few ups and downs since 1877, and there has been many a change since I witnessed one of the first practice games on the slope where the present Brockville Park now stands. That game stands out in my memory as being noteworthy for the play of two Kelvingrove players, who came from Glasgow to give the Falkirk players a lesson - one of the two being a brother of Geordie Richardson's an old Falkirk player"


There you go, both local newspapers said the date, however I am not trying to start a campaign to rewrite history [again] just pointing out that this kind of thing is not always so straight forward all the time, not long after 1902 there was an 'accident' at Brockville Park, and many of the club's records and ledgers were lost forever. Thus I have had to research individually players from before centralised player registration. But if it was so easy it wouldn't be half as much fun, would it?