Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Thomas Townsley

Ah, Thomas Townsley, okay not quite a Falkirk-ite [he came from a couple of miles outside the town, he was from California] I like him for many reasons [not least of which is the fact I am vagueley related to him, he was the uncle of my uncle's wife [I don't know what that is called]], he only played one match for Scotland [for which he was captain], but I like the most that when Falkirk got a penalty, he whistled for Thomas Scott to run up from right-back to bluter the ball in, in one movement, I can imagine that.

He started and ended his career at Falkirk, spending a couple of seasons at Leeds in between, it is the way of things. I hope he earned lots of money at Leeds.

As a player, he seems to have been the controlling midfielder type of Centre-Half than a stopper, he scored, if not prolifically. In pictures he is instantly recognisable by his 'lugs'.

He seemed like a decent chap was probably undervalued by Scotland because of his club.

Thomas Townsley

b 28th April 1898, Polmont, Stirlingshire
d 10th April 1976

Debut – Saturday April 26th 1919 v Vale of Leven (H) Friendly
League Debut – Monday September 8th 1919 v Ayr United (H) Scottish League
Positions – Centre-Half, Right-Half
Representative Honours – Scotland v Wales 1925/26, Scottish League v English League 1922/23, 1923/24, 1924/25, v Irish League 1924/25

Falkirk FC Club Honours – Dunedin Cup W 1922/23, RU 1921/22, 1931/32, Stirlingshire Cup W 1922/23, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1919/20, 1920/21, 1921/22, 1922/23, 1923/24, 1924/25, 1930/31

Known Career – Laurieston Villa, Cowie Wanderers, California Celtic, Falkirk [1918/19-1925/26], Leeds United [1925/26-1930/31], Falkirk [1931/32-1932/33], Bo'ness [1933/34]

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [267/12]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [17/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [28/2]

Monday, 14 October 2013

Falkirk v Celtic Feb 28th 1914

Yes, I am biased, I like it when Falkirk win, but I like it more when Falkirk is shown in the backdrop, again, this shows Watson Street whilst we thump Celtic 1-0 to a James Robertson Goal

It doesn't happen all the time, let me enjoy those rare occasions.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

"New" Falkirk Match

Researching the past can be a pretty hit or miss occupation. If it was all available to see in a book, or on a website there would be no point in researching it ...

It is hit or miss because reporting of football was so patchwork back in the earliest days of the game. Take for example my latest find, Falkirk v Glasgow Caledonians on the 1st November 1879. Yesterday I did not know this match existed, it was not reported in the Falkirk Herald [where it should have been] but in the Glasgow Herald on the following Monday [so the Falkirk Herald people had time to read it for the next Saturday edition] but that is the way it was back then.

Sadly the report doesn't tell me much, but it is another match and it makes the 1879/80 season slightly less 'patchy'.But if I have to check the local papers for every place Falkirk could concievably have played a football match it might take an awfy long time getting through them all.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Falkirk v Aberdeen, 1946

Have nothing to add, except it was George Brookes [not Brooks]

Firs Park 1928

The home of the 'Shire for so many a season, Firs Park was always an interesting ground [the last time I was there was for an ESFC v QP match a couple of years ago] it has the famous 'wall'.

Anyway, an 'associate' Alan McCabe put me on to this website 'Britain from Above' where I found a pic of Firs Park from 1928. [top-left]

Original here

For those who do not know, East Stirlingshire had only relatively recently moved into this ground, their spiritual home "Merchiston Park' no longer in use. Previously Firs Park was used by Junior Clubs big enough to pay for its upkeep [most Minor/Junior/Juvenile clubs played on Victoria Park just round the corner].

This explains why the ground doesn't look particularly like a League Ground, over the years it got developed. It is still there, but no longer used, for the reasons you would have to ask shirey people ....

Friday, 11 October 2013

Hibernian v Falkirk - Easter Road - Oct 1913

No real reason for posting this, just another picture of a Falkirk match, this goes out to Jason Urquhart & Bobby Sinnet.

Oh and we cuffed you 3-0 on your own patch ;)

Falkirk v Aberdeen, Brockville Pk 1914

Another pic from the past, [there are lots of them out there if you are willing to dig] this one [according to the caption] is from the Falkirk v Aberdeen Division 1 Match at Brockville Pk on the 14th of March 1914: 2-0 to Falkirk, and the houses in the background certainly appear to be those in Watson Street.

I am somewhat perturbed by this picture. The two players named as Falkirk players seem to be wearing a lighter coloured top than the Aberdeen player; I do not know what the Aberdeen change strip was this season, but at this point Aberdeen wore Black & Gold stripes so it is definitely not that; to my knowledge there has never been a Falkirk player by the name of Templeton; to the right the player may or may not be Robert Orrock [I'm not sure though]; the player named as Wylie looks awfy like Thomas Glancy of Falkirk to me. That and the fact there is no way to be 100% sure that the goalie is Alex Stewart, makes me think something has gone wrong up Dundee Courier way.

I'm also interested in what that advert might be "NE..." could be anything.

Note - I was contacted recently [Apr 2014] by Alex Blackwood from "right" 'darn sarf' as in South Australia south, who married into the Neilson Family from Falkirk, and it was their advert shown - well in this picture from c1907

I ought to have looked at the Falkirk Council site too, but I always look for the obscure. On reading more Neilson's had the privilege of creating that horrid drink "Coca-Cola" for you people in Falkirk, until the massive giant that was Barr's swallowed them up. Based in the Pleasance, I have today also noted a junior team by the name Rosehall Swifts, who may, or may not, have been their works team ..... so much to explore .... every answer brings me more questions!!!!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Reading Beyond the Sports Columns Pt II

Apropos yesterdays post about East Stirlingshire players/fans beating up defenceless people as is their nature, I came across this too.

Of course I can hear people saying that Thomas was also a Falkirk FC player, but I counter that by saying he only played a handful of games for Falkirk when he played for many a season in the Black & White.

Thomas McCall looking guilty in the Black & White of the 'Shire.

Besides, no proper Falkirk player would beat up an "imbecile" whilst too drunk to remember, would they?

Reading beyond the Sporting Columns

I must admit, when researching the game in the past, when it is a paper I know well, for example the Falkirk Herald I often skip most of the paper, I read the sports columns, and I read the local news. I know I should read every line of both the Saturday and Wednesday Editions [as it used to be], but that takes so much time, and it makes your eyes hurt, and it makes you never want to read another paper for the rest of your life.

This gets me through seasons much more rapidly, but it means I miss a lot of little things, it also means I can not take in the game in the wider context of society, if I had more time/patience I would do so. But every so often something just catches my eye, a name I recognise, or something and I get an insight into the world of football in Falkirk beyond twenty two men chasing the leather.

Towards the end of the 1889/90 season Falkirk & East Stirlingshire were as ever in contention for the local cups on offer, and this season the two clubs were again having one of their on-off lover's tiffs and refusing to play each other in friendly matches [even though the match was always a big draw]. The first meeting of the two teams that season was to be the final of the Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield held, as usual, at Camelon's Victoria Pk. East Stirlingshire won 5-3 and that is all I had in my notes.

Then a couple of years on looking for something else completely I just noticed a little article in the papers not in the Sports column but surrounding the game, well more the aftermath of the game. It seems that at least some of the 'Shire lads went out that night to celebrate their victory. There is very little of concrete to go on, it would seem [to my biased eyes] that in their revelry four "shireites" [at least two of them [Thomas Dunn & Andrew inches] seem to have been ESFC players] having lost an argument on the relative merits of the two teams with a single Falkirk fan decided to beat the crap out of him. What else do you expect from Bainsford?

Whether Andrew Inches was ESFC's legendary half or not I can't say, but it is not a common name ... and there is a problem with the change of name from Dunn to Burns in the two reports so it might not have been the Thomas Dunn. Millar/Miller and Chestnut I do not know, but they may have been in the reserves .... and, of course Falkirk had a forward called Nimmo at the time...

All in all I think we should just learn the lesson not to be around the same pub the next time ESFC win something, just to make sure.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Andrew Prentice

Andrew Prentice was a stalwart of the East Stirlingshire Half-Back line at the turn of the 19th-20th Centuries, he was helped in no little way by the fact that he was accompanied by those other 'Shire perennials Thomas Fish and Peter Steele. But he might just have become a Falkirk player....

Andrew grew up on the 'Shire's home patch, his mother was in the employ of the Merchiston Hall Gardens [roughly somewhere on the grounds of St Mungo's Secondary School], and this is where the family are listed in the 1881 census. However he played his juvenile football for Falkirk sides and this is where Falkirk got most of their young locals, but upon progressing to junior football he moved definitively into the East Stirlingshire sphere of influence.

He joined Vale of Carron who were based in Carron. True they were a very successful junior team in their own right, but most importantly it was virtually East stirlingshire's nursery club. The two teams had a very close bond, Vale played their home matches at Merchiston Park whenever it was available [in the same way Falkirk had relations with Falkirk Exselsior & Falkirk Hawthorn and later Falkirk Juniors].

Of course, Andrew might have been a Zebra himself, or perhaps he had just been looking at the results and the Silverware won by the two clubs and decided on which side his bread would best be buttered. There is no getting away from the fact that until Falkirk's promotion to Division 1 in 1905 East Stirlingshire were seen as by far the bigger & more successful club in the District.

But strangely enough, before Andrew became a regular down Bainsford way he actually made his debut in senior club football for Falkirk FC, he only played the once in a friendly at Stenhousemuir. Perhaps he was giving Falkirk a trial than the other way around, if he was, then Falkirk failed miserably. Falkirk were going through they all too common reorganisations on-field [trying to replace players pilfered by bigger clubs by local juniors] an quite simply the side Falkirk put out on that Monday Afternoon in Stenhousemuir were cuffed. It is a hideous sight to this day - Stenhousemuir 8 Falkirk 2.

It is no surprise he soon signed pro forms with East Stirlingshire, and stayed with them for nearly a decade, probably never looking back. Last laugh to Falkirk though, a couple of seasons later Falkirk 'pinched' "Punkie" Reid from the Vale a couple of season's later, but more on him another time.

NB - I recently stumbled across his grave in Camelon Cemetery

Andrew Prentice

b c1875
d 10th Jun 1931, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Falkirk Debut – Monday August 17th 1896 v Stenhousemuir (A) Friendly
East Stirlingshire Debut - Saturday November 28th 1896 v Royal Albert (H) Scottish Combination

Known Matches

Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [107/1]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [16/-]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches/Goals [28/1]
Minor League Matches/Goals [68/1]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [20/-]
Other Matches/Goals [39/2]
Total Matches/Goals [278/5]

Known Career – Falkirk Alert, Falkirk Northern, Vale of Carron, Falkirk [1896/97], East Stirlingshire [1896/97-1904/05]

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Peter Cabrelli

Yet another Italo-Scot from North of the Tay [I have a certain fondness for Italo-Scots by virtue of 'being one' just the grandparents were the wrong way round for me to get a cool name], who came south to play for Falkirk.

Peter Cabrelli started off as a nippy wee Inside-Left in School football in Dundee before moving swiftly into the Tayside junior scene with Dundee Osborne. He was soon picked up by Dundee FC but never managed to break into the first team. He knew the score and quickly moved onto Forfar where he started to show what he could do. During his period at Forfar Peter also spent time with family back in Italy where he played matches with Borgotaro, Genoa & Ambrosiana Milano [better know today as Inter, but Mussolini had impelled clubs to use 'Italian' names], it was reported in the Courier at the time that the Milan club offered him profesional terms as a player/coach but he turned them down due to commitments at home.

Peter Cabrelli after signing for Dundee in 1930

Soon the clubs came scouting in Forfar trying to lure him down South, Chelsea and Manchester United being amongst the big names mentioned, but when it came to signing his first full-time deal he made the only obvious choice: turning down such fly-by-night teams to take a chance at being allowed to play on the hallowed turf that was Brockville Park.

Peter Cabrelli with Falkirk in 1935

Peter was moderately succesful in a pretty poor Falkirk side which was facing what would be their first ever relegation. Peter started the next season at Inside-Left but soon found his place being taken by David Cowan [who was it must be said a more consistent scorer] and instead of staying on the sidelines Peter finished the season on loan to King's Park.

Falkirk had signed more forwards for the next season and knowing he could not be guaranteed a first team place Peter moved on to Raith Rovers, who crucially moved him to the position he would later become better known for, they played him as a Left-Half. Peter remained with Raith until the war, when he was called up for national service.

Throughout the war he seems to have played a lot of football, not all of which I have been able to track down. Along with Raith and a season with St Mirren, he played throughout the length & breadth of the UK depending on where he was stationed or when he was on leave. The clubs he played for that I have come across were Dundee United, Consett, Halifax Town, Millwall, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Bradford City, Bradford Park Avenue & Reading.

After the war Peter played the first full peacetime season with Dundee United before winding down with Arbroath then Montrose. But although ending senior profesional football in the 40s Peter continued playing. In particular with the lovely named Dundee Juventus in the Dundee Half-Holiday League

Peter Cabrelli

b 23rd October 1910, Dundee, Angus
d 14th December 1994, Dundee, Angus

Height - 5 ft 7½ in: Weight 11 st 6 lbs [1935]

Forfar Athletic
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [96/19]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [11/-]
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [9/2]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [6/1]

King's Park
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [9/4]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [2/1]

Raith Rovers
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [37/1]
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [66/-]
Scottish League Division East Matches/Goals [27/1]
Scottish North-Eastern League Matches/Goals [1/-]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [7/-]
Other Matches/Goals [4/4]

Dundee United
Scottish League Division East Matches/Goals [3/1]
Scottish North-Eastern League Matches/Goals [2/-]
Scottish League Division B Matches/Goals [14/1]
Southern League Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Victory Cup Matches/Goals [1/1]

St Mirren
Scottish Southern League Matches/Goals [30/1]

Scottish League Division B Matches/Goals [1/-]

Known Career
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [48/1]
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [195/27]
Scottish League Division East Matches/Goals [30/2]
Scottish North-Eastern League Matches/Goals [3/-]
Scottish Southern League Matches/Goals [30/1]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [14/1]
Southern League Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Victory Cup Matches/Goals [1/1]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [6/1]
Other Matches/Goals [4/4]
Known Matches/Goals [335/38]

Known Career – Dundee Crescent, Dundee Osborne, Dundee [1929/30-1930/31], Forfar Athletic [1931/32-1934/35], Borgotaro, Genoa, Ambrosiana Milano, Falkirk [1934/35-1935/36], King's Park [1935/36], Raith Rovers [1936/37-1945/46], Dundee United [1939/40], St Mirren [1942/43], Consett [WWII], Halifax Town [WWII], Millwall [WWII], Arsenal [WWII], Crystal Palace [WWII], Bradford City [WWII], Bradford Park Avenue [WWII], Reading [WWII], Dundee United [1945/46], Arbroath [1946/47], Montrose [1946/47-1947/48], Dundee Juventus.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Falkirk FC 1908

What can I say? This was simply one of Falkirk FC's greatest ever sides, not often would a Falkirk side challenge for the League title so effectively, there are some legends of Falkirk in this picture, nice they were appreciated in the National Media.

From January 1908. William Allan; William Leishman & Robert Gibson; Harry Collins, John Anderson & James Reid [sic]; John Simpson & John McTavish, Clyde Skene, Andrew Mitchell & William Davidson.

John Dora - What if?

In 1929, Falkirk having sold the record breaking Centre-Forward Evelyn Morrison were looking about for somebody who could replace the 40+ goals Morrison had scored the season before. Not an easy task in anybody's book, but Falkirk's eyes were upon a new young Arbroath Centre-Forward John Dora who was just fresh from Junior Football himself.

Having caught the eye with Arbroath Victoria and previously with Arbroath Ardenlea, Dora was trialled with Arbroath towards the end of the 1928/29 season impressing enough to be signed by for his hometown club for the next season. By the time Falkirk came looking for their replacement John had scored 15 goals in 21 games in Division 2 which is pretty impressive for someone so new to the senior game. No sums were mentioned in the press for the transfer so it was probably nominal if anything.

John got off to a flying start scoring on his debut match for his new club away at Buckie Thistle in the First Round of the Scottish Cup [Jan 18th 1930], a week later at Greenock he scored again on his League debut, it looked like Falkirk had done a bit of remarkably astute transfer wheeler-dealing for a change. The following week he was again included at number 9, this time his first match at Brockville Park, and for the only time in his time at Falkirk he failed to score. Because this was the last match he played for the club, and it would seem the last game of football he ever played: in a midweek Reserves Match he broke his leg which seems to have ended his playing days.

He remained nominally on the playing staff until 1932/33 and there were rumours in some of the Angus press of an attempted comeback but his playing days were over.

From an Italian background it would seem he returned to Arbroath to work in the family restaurant on Arbroath High Street. After serving his time in the Navy during WWII John [in common with his father] divided his time between the restaurant and pidgeon racing at which he seems to have been quite successful.

All in all his senior career lasted less than a complete season, less than a callendar year, but he managed to score 18 goals in only 27 games, when only just out of the juniors. Like I said in the title, what if? Of course it is a stupid question, but who can say.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Falkirk District Clubs 1900/01

We are all used to seeing the previews of the up and coming season in our press, this of course is nothing new. Way back in the day these were as popular [if not as lengthy] as they are today.

Way back at the start of the last century there was an article in the Evening Telegragh giving a brief sketch on the clubs in Scotland and what they were up to for the new season. The big difference for the clubs in Falkirk District was that there were five clubs included then instead of the modern three.

First up, of course, were East Stirlingshire, as the biggest and most successful team in the district they got the biggest article [and a player pic]. East Stirling though going through what was relatively their strongest era tended to overstretch themselves, playing far too many competitive matches in the season, this was of course partly due to being good in local cups, partly joining new leagues looking for a better standard of opponent.

Stenhousemuir were reviewed next, Stenhousemuir were then as now a village team that occasionally punched above their weight, but inevitably lost their players almost as soon as they unearthed them. They were ambling along just fine competing in the local competitions and more often than not progressing far enough in the national cups to keep themselves noticed.

Falkirk were severely underperforming at this point, they had been struggling with the transition to professionalism for nearly a decade and there were strong calls from within the club for a return to amateurism [as King's Park of Stirling had recently done] costs were outstripping incomes and the [largely] Glaswegian journeymen pros had frankly not cut the mustard. Things were now turning as the club had cast its eyes upon largely local talent for the future.

Camelon FC were an enigma, as strong as the 'shire or Falkirk in their day, they suffered from the village club malaise even more than Stenhousemuir due to their closer proximity to Falkirk. They struggled mainly with keeping hold of enough players especially after the advent of professionalism, they simply could not afford to keep any of their good players for more than a season at most.

Last of all was the newest of the Falkirk District clubs, the Ams, Falkirk Amateurs were a completely different kettle of fish to the other four as they showed no inclination towards the dog eat dog world of league football. They were members of the Falkirk & District League, but as this was just a competition put on top of the already exisiting regular friendlies it hardly counts. The Ams plied away in every cup they could enter [usually not lasting very long] and friendlies.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Aftermath of a Penalty

Just a quick little post because I found this picture of the Dundee players picking the ball out of the net after a John Simpson penalty from September 1908, the game was a 1-1 draw at Dundee.

I know there are no Falkirk players in the photo but I still like it because I am very biased.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Action Photo - Falkirk v Queen's Park 1914

You how it is with digging out old pictures of football matches from the archives, they are quite impressive in their poor quality retro-coolness. I wish there were so many more of them available [and of course there might be and I have not been looking in the right place yet] but for the moment I will be thankful for what I find.

This picture is from the Falkirk v Queen's Park Scottish Cup match in January 1914, Falkirk's first Cup game since winning the season before. It has a strange caption as it states that the players are [William] Lennie of Falkirk then Todd, Garvie, Young & Kerr [QP] from left to right, whilst it is clearly a Falkirk player at the right [Blue Shirt], so it probably means right to left....

I suppose that since cameras were much more basic than today it must have been very difficult to get a good action photo, therefore many of the other ones taken at the time were blurry and unuseable, so presumeably destroyed.

But what I like most about this picture is that in the background you can clearly see the houses in Watson Street so it was taken before the Shed was built [those very houses are still there a hundred years later]. Well I always like to come across pictures which have new [to me anyway] images of Brockville Park.

The match itself is quite annoying as Falkirk were beaten; the holders knocked out in the First Round. That sort of thing just doesn't happen anymore, and it is a shame it happened to Falkirk on this occasion, as [due to the war] the club would not have the chance to avenge it until 1920 [when Falkirk were beaten again in the First Round].

Will get back to looking through lots and lots of newspapers now, will be back when I find something of interest.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Obscure Matches : Stirlingshire Juniors v Stirlingshire Seniors

Junior Football in Falkirk has always been a very haphazard affair, there is no really strong tradition in the town. There is a long tradition in some of the outlying areas, but never really strong unlike say in Glasgow, Ayrshire or East Lothian. In Falkirk it has always been overshadowed by the senior clubs [few other 'conurbations' in Scotland carry three League sides in such proximity].

But right back in 1890s there were plenty of junior sides in Falkirk alone. For the most part they played on Victoria Public Park, but some had their own grounds, Falkirk Hawthorn played at Firs Park when East Stirlingshire were still playing in Bainsford, and Falkirk Thistle played on Princes Park to the South of Town. This along with borrowing Brockville for the big games [and Saturdays when Falkirk were away] they struggled through.

But although there were plenty of clubs, not all were big enough to make the local leagues strong enough. Every year they were re-organised, and every year it would struggle to be completed, both through lack of interest. Some problems were obvious, four big local sides Denny Athletic, Dunipace, Heather Rangers [Stenhousemuir] & Broomage Albion [Larbert] played in the Stirling & District Junior League. These would have been better off playing with the Falkirk, Grangemouth & Bainsford sides, alas they did not.

On top of this even back then there were so many Cups that the end of seasons were just, well, like they are now, there were many moves towards a Stirlingshire League before the main one was eventually set up, but more often as an afterthought, often concocted by the teams left out. Sometimes, like the Midland Junior League it was run alongside the Stirling & Falkirk Junior Leagues with the best teams from both, of course this meant two sets of home & away matches over & above cups & replays, so inevitably led to chaos.

What this meant was that both the leagues & the clubs themselves struggled to survive and had to play even more 'benefit' games to keep going. The point of this post, played on Tuesday 26th April 1898 for the Falkirk & District Junior League for the first time a representative side of Stirlingshire Juniors met a Senior Stirlingshire side [though made up solely of amateur players in the seniors] and did pretty well all told drawing on the hallowed turf of Brockville Park.

Of interest, is that this was probably the only time in their careers that the juniors got to play against a full international [David Alexander of ESFC]

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New Blog Name

Hey people, been a while since I posted anything here, pure laziness on my part I'm afraid. I haven't been doing nothing though, I have largely been reading several years worth of match reports from really old newspapers and doing a bit of spreadsheet tidying [the glamorous bit], so I'll probably write something soonish.

On other news I also decided [eventually] to get me my own site, bought it this morning, took about five minutes to transfer and whala, it seems to work. If it doesn't give me a shout.

Well, I have nothing to say now, should write something randomly obscure & parochial by the weekend. I think it will be about junior football, because the juniors are always a bit mad.