Thursday, 18 July 2013

Grasshoppers of Bonnybridge


A couple of years before people got round to playing 'the Association Game' in the town of Falkirk, a couple of miles to the West football in the County of Stirlingshire began in the form of the Grasshoppers from the now unlikely location of Bonnybridge.

I say unlikely because Bonnybridge is little but a local identity these days. It has since the war been amalgamated into a sprawl of former villages between Falkirk and Cumbernauld [encompassing, Bankhead, Banknock, Bonnybridge, Denny, Dennyloanhead, Dunipace, Fankerton, Greenhill, Head of Muir, Longcroft & Milnquarter [the Metropolis of Greater Herbertshire as I have decided to call it]]. The borders are still signposted, but few other than the locals know where one place ends and the other begins.

But in 1875 the situation was far from this. Bonnybridge was the only one of these villages which straddled the Forth & Clyde Canal and it was for this reason that Smith & Wellstood's, the Glasgow Stovemakers, decided to build a foundry [the Columbian Works] just to the South of the Canal, soon to be followed by Singer's [the Sewing Machinists]. This had two main impacts on the village, it helped take the focus away from Falkirk in terms of trade, and more importantly, it brought workers from the city.

Tradition has it that in the Autumn a group of workers met in the library of the Columbian Works Halls and decided to form a football team, writing to their boss H.N.Smith of Queen's Park FC [Scotland's referee in the first ever international], to send them a ball and a copy of the association rules, and that was that. Within months they were playing a team from the firm's Glasgow Warehouse and football had begun in Stirlingshire.


'The Falkirk Herald' Edition - Thursday October 21st 1875.

NB - The only reason that I can think of as to why they chose the name 'Grasshoppers' is because sand for the moulds in foundries was moved about in big Hoppers, but that is just a guess on my part.