Tuesday, 23 April 2013

David Ross was not an Anarchist!


David Ross was a fine Outside-Left for Falkirk FC in the 1880s & 1890s, but he is one of the few Falkirk players of his era about whom I know quite a bit of his biographical details, including the political non-affiliation [or should that be non-political no-affiliation?] referred to in the title.

I know this because that was one of the bizarre questions asked by the [still] paranoid American Immigration Authorities upon entry to Ellis Island. This was, of course, in the days before the rise of Bolshevism [now superseded by jihadism [or whatever it is this week [at time of writing “Chechen Nationalism”]]].

Though born in the County of Berwick, it would seem that his family moved about a fair bit, his Mother being from Coldsteam and his younger Sister having been born in Ireland.

The earliest I have come across young David was in the 1881 Census, still at school, the family lived in Cistern Lane, Falkirk [named for the Falkirk cistern which was between Baxter's Wynd & St Andrew's Square, and is nowadays partly under the Howgate Shopping Centre.

The earliest footballing mentions came in May & June 1889, when he was a member of the successful, if brief lived Falkirk Excelsior side that won the Falkirk & District Junior Cup [a blog post on that subject is in the making, but it won't be for a while].

Since I have never found a single friendly involving Falkirk Excelsior, and they only seem to have existed between March and June 1889, I strongly suspect that they may have been an invention of Falkirk FC to enable their younger players to get some competitive matches, but other than the fact that at least five of the Excelsior went on to play for Falkirk I have no real proof.

Falkirk had noticed his progress, and after a try out with the reserves Davie made his d├ębut in the last game of the season a friendly against Gairdoch.

Whether by luck or by design Falkirk's regular Outside-Left, Thomas Harley, transferred his allegiance to East Stirlingshire over the summer and David took up the vacant space with relish. He and George Barr forming a powerful balance to the right-wing partnership of Alex Stark & Thomas McDonald which had been the mainstay in propelling Falkirk to the position amongst the leading teams in the County during the latter half of the 1880s. With the addition of new Centre-Forward Danny Daye [another acolyte of that Falkirk Excelsior side], Falkirk had a truly strong forward five.

David kept his place for the next four seasons, occasionally having to move to Inside-Left when competition for the wing places got strong [Alex Stark was the best winger in the county, so occasionally played Outside-Left when needed]. Only when finally squeezed out by the new left-wing pair of Andrew Hamilton & James Tennant [both of whom went on to score more than 100 goals for the club] did David take a much lesser role, playing his final matches in December 1893.

I can find no further trace of him on the football field so presume that he turned fully to his [slightly] more dependable trade, that of a bricklayer. And usually this would be about where I would lose track of many of the early Falkirk players, unless their death was recorded in the local press usually just in passing.

But not David, for, as I have already stated he was no Anarchist, so was not barred entry to his new homeland. Thanks to the rampant paranoia of the US Government we now know that on the 17th of May 1907, aboard the S.S.Caledonia sailing from Glasgow was one David Ross, 35 [sic] years of age, born in Berwickshire, former resident of Falkirk. We further learn that he was able to read and write, was unmarried, had never been to the USA previously, paid for his own ticket, was carrying at least $100 with him and was going on to meet up with a friend, Mr Jas. Rankine of 117 Lea Place, Planefield, New Jersey [although I have no idea I would love to know whether or not this was the James Rankine that played for Falkirk 1884-1886 …]. On to the nitty-gritty, David was 5 ft 7 in, with dark hair, blue eyes and of a 'ruddy' complexion, he was of good mental & physical condition and was not deformed. But most importantly he was not an Anarchist, he was not a bigamist and he offered no threat to the Government of the United States [or at least that is what he said to the authorities …..]


SS Caledonia Ship Manifest

After this point I lose track of him again, there were several Scots called David Ross in the next US Census living in New Jersey, but none of them match well enough for me to pursue those avenues, of course the possibilities are boundless as to where he might have gone, anywhere in the US or Canada [even Mexico, why not?], he may have died soon after arrival, he may have changed his name, he may even have got sick of people asking him whether or not he was an Anarchist and packed up and gone home, until something new crops up, I will keep looking.


David Ross

b 2nd May 1871, Coldingham, Berwickshire

Debut – Saturday June 5th 1889 v Gairdoch (A) Friendly

Positions – Outside-Left, Inside-Left, Outside-Right

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Forfarshire 1893/94

Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1889/90, Falkirk District Charity Cup RU 1890/91, 1891/92, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, 1892/93, RU 1889/90, 1890/91

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [9/3]
Minor League Matches/Goals [18/9]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [30/26]
Friendly Matches/Goals [56/23]

Hat-Tricks – 4 [Midland League [1] Stirlingshire Cup [1], Falkirk District Charity Cup [2]]

Known Clubs – Falkirk Excelsior, Falkirk [1888/89-1893/94]