Saturday, 29 June 2013

John Pray

My little life was brightened, yet saddened at the same time when I found a picture of Bury FC from 1894/95 on t'web the other night. Brightened because it had a picture of John Pray in it, and a picture taken only a couple of years after he had left the club. Saddened because the article mentioned signing him from Rangers [he spent a derisory time at Rangers, most of his time in Scotland being spent with Falkirk].

Born in the greatest town in Stirlingshire on the 17th of March 1872, it would seem Jock Pray was brought up by his Grandparents [according to the 1881 census, I know nothing the parents], living in George Street [the street in Grahamsmuir running East from the North end of the old Brockville Park] he was definitely a local.

The first time he is noted in the local press was as part of the Falkirk & District Junior Cup winning side, Falkirk Excelsior, of 1889/90 [nearly everybody in that team went on to play for Falkirk FC, making me think it was just a Falkirk FC youth side, but there is no proof to back up my suspicions].

By September of the 1890/91 season John had made his debut in the Falkirk first XI. Playing mainly at his famous position of Centre-Half [though occasionally filling in at Right-Half or Right-Back] he quickly became a regular.

He did not score in his first season, so in his remaining three seasons at Falkirk he must have been developing into an attacking midfielder of a Centre-Half when he left the club [probably why he left the club, the lure of Full-Time League football must have been great].

He was also the first Falkirk player I know to have been sent off in a Scottish Cup match [v Bathgate Rovers (H) 3rd Rd Replay, 24th October 1891]

After his football career was over John emigrated to Canada, where he died about 1948, it saddens me that for a player who went on to great things from the Falkirk youth ranks, his nearly 150 matches for the club are often overlooked.

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1893/94
Club Honours – Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1891/92, 1893/94, RU 1890/91, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, 1892/93, 1893/94, RU 1890/91

Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [9/1]
Scottish Federation Matches/Goals [25/3]
Midland League Matches/Goals [13/1]
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals [12/4]
Falkirk District Charity Cup Matches/Goals [10/2]
Falkirk Infirmary Shield Matches/Goals [9/4]
Other Matches/Goals [60/4]
Total Matches/Goals [138/19]

Known Career – Falkirk Excelsior, Falkirk [1890/91-1893/94], Rangers [1893/94-1894/95], Bury [1894/95-1901/02], St Bernards [1903/04]

Other matches played while at Falkirk FC
Played for East Stirlingshire v Gairdoch, Friendly at Gairdoch Pk, Carronshore 5th August 1891
Played for Grangemouth v Glasgow Wanderers, Friendly at Caledonian Pk, Grangemouth, 4th April 1892
Played for East Stirlingshire v Airdrieonians, Scottish Alliance at Broomfield Pk, Airdrie, 9th April 1892
Played for Grangemouth v Falkirk District XI, Benefit Match at Caledonian Pk, Grangemouth, 28th April 1892
Played for Port Glasgow Athletic v East Stirlingshire, Friendly at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford, 5th January 1893
Played for Camelon v Laurieston, Friendly at Zetland Pk, Laurieston, 11th February 1893
Played for Stirlingshire XI v Grangemouth, Benefit Match at Caledonian Pk, Grangemouth, 9th May 1893

Edit - June 2016

Somebody over there in Canada took a picture of his grave and put it up on the internet recently, here it is.

He died in Hamilton, Ontario on the 14th of May 1947, the military cross representing his service in the Canadian forces during WWI.