Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Best Falkirk FC XI - pre WWII

I have selected this 'best' Falkirk FC XI because of all the nonsense about modern players. Don't get me wrong, not slagging the current folk, I just prefer to research Falkirk FC pre-WWII.

Obviously I never saw any of these players play, so I am going somewhat on [lies, damned lies &] statistics, but it is much more than that. Match reports & commentary tell you more than just numbers. So partly this will be my perceived knowledge of the warmth felt for players.

This was difficult, I may have got some bits wrong, but since the picture of Falkirk is still incomplete, I too make errors.

Chosen in the 2-3-5 formation which was ever present until the early sixties, I give you.

Goalkeeper – Thomas Ferguson – From Dennyloanhead – still the club's most played player, there is a reason for this

Right-Back – Thomas Scott – From Denny – Second most games for the club; he was solid.

Left-Back – William Leishman – From Camelon – He played 197 games yet never scored, stuck to his job.

Right-Half – Jock Drummond – From Alva – Capped when we were still non-league, sadly spent most of his career with the orange Glaswegian bigots.

Left-Half – William Dougal – From Bonnybridge – Solid, did everything you need from a Left-Half until the money lured him South.

Centre-Half - Thomas Townsley – From California – This was my first problem [John Anderson or Thomas Townsley] but Tom Townsley was more attacking [he played more Central Midfield when Anderson was more a defender].

Inside-Right – Alex Stark – From Falkirk – I chose Alex because he made the club: from 1885 to 1895 he was there, he scored our goals, he is forgotten because professionals were more important.

Inside-Left – Robert Keyes – From Bellshill – 188 goals for the club, nothing extra is needed.

Outside-Right – John Simpson – Born in Pendleton, Lancs, but brought up in Laurieston from the age of two - From 1908 till 1912 he was the best Outside-Right in the World, for half of that he played for God's only club.

Outside-Left – Kenny Dawson – From Forres – He is GOD

Centre-Forward – Evelyn Morrison – From Wishaw – Holds the record for scoring in the most matches consecutively in the Scottish League [14], still holds the FFC record for most goals in a season [47].

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Missing Players

In my files of Falkirk matches there are three people who are never listed as Falkirk players, but may have been so. The problem is the usual: lack of contemporary match reports in the local media. Most books about the history of Falkirk FC state that the first ever football match played by the club was against the Bonnybridge club Grasshoppers. I have no reason to disbelieve, but I have no evidence. The earliest extant information about this game was published in the first half of the 20th Century, even then fifty plus years after the game was supposed to have been played.

But even then it is not so simple, because both reports were, at least second hand. One came from the memoirs of Robert Bishop [Falkirk FC Secretary 1883-1896] published in the Falkirk Herald during WWII, the other from the notes of George Richardson [Falkirk FC Secretary 1878-1883] via Thomas Mackie [FFC Committee 1890s and Editor of the Falkirk Mail] some years earlier.


Bishop – A.McEwen; J.Richardson & R.Walker; G.Richardson & R.Service; Cowan & Fleming, Thomson & Walker, Malcolm & Leishman.

Richardson – A.McEwen; J.Walker & G.Richardson; W.Carmichael & W.Gentleman; J.Leishman & R.Service, J.Fleming & M.Cowan, T.Taylor & W.Johnston.

You can understand why I do not include this match in my spreadsheets, from such a distance of history. Both sources have credentials and flaws. Bishop would have been in his mid 70s when his memoirs were published and while he may have been compis mentis his line-up has a couple of problematic issues- although James Richardson was from Falkirk, at the time he was living & working in Glasgow [and playing for Kelvinbank], it names two Walkers but only gives the initials of one. Whereas Richardson's line-up includes william Carmichael [who played in goal the next season] it looks much more likely, however it would have been given more gravitas if written in George Richardson's name [possibly editorial integrity by Tom Mackie]

NB - I should have said if James Richardson played in the first match, I think George Richardson [his wee brother] would have remembered.

The issue is further muddied by the fact that whilst the Falkirk Herald article stated the score as a 7-0 defeat the articles in the Falkirk Mail put the score as 8-1 to Grasshoppers.

Anyway in the match are three people who were never mentioned in Falkirk teams ever again

M??? Cowan

Debut – Saturday? March? ??th 1877 v Grasshoppers (A) Friendly
Positions – Forward

I know nothing about Mr. Cowan, his name is too common to make any possible research impossible without further clues.

John Fleming

b 9th October 1858, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday? March? ??th 1877 v Grasshoppers (A) Friendly
Positions – Forward

John Fleming was definitely the first ever secretary of the club, at the time he was a baker on the High Street [near where McDonalds is today [2013] but difficult to tell as the High Street has since been rebuilt], he lived in Burnhead Lane just round the corner. I do not know if it is the same but a J.Fleming also appeared for the 2nd XI v Lenzie 2nd XI the following season, perhaps he was too busy to play regularly. Soon dissappeared from the Club

Charles Malcolm

b 5th September 1856, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday? March? ??th 1877 v Grasshoppers (A) Friendly
Positions – Forward

Manager of the Crown Hotel [not Landlord, that was his Mum] on the Corner of Manse Place and the High Street [Bank of Scotland] he also seemed to live there [possibly in rooms above], though never noted again in a Falkirk team was Club Vice-President in the early 1880s.

All in all, I have no idea whether or not these three actually played for Falkirk FC. However I do believe to a certain degree that there is usually a kernel of truth in handed down local knowledge, so there is a good possibility. Like I always say, I am ever looking, if any relatives of these players are reading this, please get in touch, I would love to know more.

Friday, 6 December 2013

James Neil

Some players belong as much to Falkirk as they do to East Stirlingshire. Most of these players can be identified with one club over the other, however there are a rare few who rise above that nonsense, they are simply players for both clubs.

The first known player to have played for both clubs ticked a lot of these boxes, playing for most of Falkirk's early years before transferring his allegiances to his more local club. He was also the first player for both clubs to have died. I have to thank Drummond & Tadek of the Shire Trust for doing a lot of leg work on this one.

Jamie Neil came from Kilmarnock, and whilst I can not blame him for getting out of such a no-place to Falkirk, he came before the football, he came for work. Living towards Bainsford he, like most, being an Iron Moulder. He lived in John Street and would have probably worked in the Falkirk or Grahamston Works in the 1870s.

His name is an oddity as over his career in match reports and official documents it was spelt Neil, Niel, Neill & Niell regularly. I have gone with the name on the Birth Certificate [thanks Drummond] but can never be sure. As you will be sure if you have ever tried to read anything handwritten in copperplate from the mid 19th Century.

Jamie Neil from the start mostly played at Outside-Right for the Falkirk club, a regular in the early years when not many goals were recorded, but consistent. He played their until suddenly, one season he just appeared in the East Stirlingshire side, and stayed there until he quit the game [you must remember there was little transfer gossip back then]

When he died shockingly early in 1888, he was living in Carron, maybe he was then working at the Carron Iron Works there was nothing except a line in the Carron Local Notes to tell the world, no mention of the football, nothing mentioned in the football notes. Ah, well  ... I am mentioning it.

It almost goes without saying that no picture of him has been found, it was the wrong era. Still searching for his gravestone though ...

James Neil

b 26th October 1854, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
d 21st October 1888, Carron, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday March 23rd 1878 v Grasshoppers (H) Friendly

Competitive Debut – Saturday September 28th 1878 v Campsie Glen (H) Scottish Cup 1st Rd

Positions – Outside-Right, Inside-Right

Falkirk FC Matches
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [5/-]
Other Matches/Goals [23/4]

East Stirlingshire FC Matches
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [3/1]
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [9/4]

Known Matches
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [8/1]
Stirlinghire Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [32/8]
Total Matches/Goals [41/9]

Known Career – Falkirk [1877/78-1881/82], East Stirlingshire [1882/83-1884/85]

Played in Falkirk's first ever Senior Competitive Match v Campsie Glen (H) Scottish Cup, 28th September1878
The first player of many to cross the great Falkirk-East Stirlingshire divide
As far as I’m aware the first former East Stirlingshire & Falkirk player to pass on

John Ramsay

I take no credit for finding this gravestone, I found it on the internet whilst looking for details of Falkirk players who died during WWI. It was on one of those fora which document the details so well.

John Ramsay was from Grangemouth [and I mean old, proper, Grangemouth for any Portonians out there] but he never really got a chance to show his ability before those damned fuckers I mean politicians threw away millions of lives which were not their own.

He was promising, we know that, but I regret the fact that the failure of diplomacy equals war does not finish off the failed diplomats & politicians, but our youth...

Picture from John's Roll of Honour in the FH 

He is on the family grave  at Gartsable Cemetery, Grangemouth.

He is also listed on the Grangemouth War Memorial [only listed as J.B.Ramsay] taken from the The Scottish War Memorials Project.

John Ramsay

b c1897, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
d 28th April 1917, Arras, France

Debut – Saturday September 26th 1914 v Hamilton Academical (H) Scottish League Division 1
Positions – Inside-Right, Centre-Forward
Club Honours – Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1914/15
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [25/10]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [3/-]
Known Career – Falkirk [1914/15]

Dulce Et Decorum Est

William Moore

Not long after Joe Gowdy, came another Irish player, Falkirk went back into the same 'foreign' transfer market, this time without the all the problems. Into that ever troublesome Outside-Left position came Billy 'Pal' Moore also from what must have been a very good Glentoran side.

In comparison with Joe Gowdy, what is noticed is how little was written about Moore outside of football reports. Where Gowdy came across as stroppy [in the Falkirk Herald at least], we needed an Outside-Left and Billy Moore just slotted in. Little comment for the next couple of years. Eventually [as was the fashion] he went south, to Lincoln City for a season or two, before heading back across the water to end his career with Newtonards then Glentoran again.

Another of those players who played more than 100 League games without becoming part of the collective consciousness. It must be the time thing. Billy Moore's job was not to score, it was to provide goals, which he did. And he also got a nickname - "Pal".

He died, rather sadly, soon after his football career ended, I am not sure of the circumstances [the Falkirk Herald said little] so will say nothing. Again thanks for the work of the Northern Irish Football History Site.

Billy Moore 1922

William 'Pal' Moore

b 2nd August 1895, Ballyclare, Antrim
d 16th August 1932, Ballyclare, Antrim

Debut – Saturday December 25th 1920 v Kilmarnock (A) Scottish League

Positions – Outside-Left

Representative Honours – Ireland v Scotland 1922/23

Club Honours – Dunedin Cup RU 1921/22, Stirlingshire Cup W 1922/23, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1920/21, 1922/23

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [115/8]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [12/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [9/3]
Other Matches/Goals [9/-]
Total Matches/Goals [145/11]

Known Career – Brantwood, Glentoran [1914/15-1919/20], Falkirk [1920/21-1923/24], Lincoln City [1923/24-1924/25], Ards [1925/26], Glentoran [1925/26-1928/29]