Saturday, 30 November 2013

Robert Keyes


In the history of Falkirk Football Club only ten times has a player scored more than thirty goals in a season, three of those players were the same, and what is more it was in consecutive seasons.

When it came to scoring Bobby Keyes was the bomb, playing normally at Inside-Left (with his partner in crime Kenny Dawson) he scored lots and lots of goals, in his first three seasons he somehow managed to score 112 goals. No, I will say that again, 112. Good players play fewer games than 112.

We are not talking about an average player, I am talking about a man who scored 188 goals for the club, yet is barely mentioned in the books. For three seasons though he was godlike.

Player
Div 1
Div 2
Scot Cup
Min Cup
Tot
Season
Robert Keyes
-
29
4
7
40
1935/36
Robert Keyes
24
-
2
5
31
1936/37
Robert Keyes
30
-
4
7
41
1937/38

Again a picture of him from 1936 [that is 36/37] has him with the ball between his legs, normally this should mean he was captain, but I have never read about him being captain anywhere else.



Scored on his League Debut
Hat-Tricks – 10 [Division 1 [3] Division 2 [3] Scottish Cup [1] Stirlingshire Cup [1] Infirmary Shield [1] Other [1]]
100th First Class Goal v St Mirren (A) Saturday April 30th 1938, Scottish League Division 1 [118 Matches]
100th League Goal v Motherwell (A) Friday April 14th 1939, Scottish League Division 1 [139 Matches]
Scored five goals in the Scottish League Division 2 v King's Park (H) January 18th 1936
Scored five goals in the Scottish League Division 2 v St Bernards (H) February 29th 1936
Scored five goals in the Falkirk Infirmary Shield Semi-Final v East Stirlingshire (H) May 7th 1938
Known Career – Morton [1932/33-1934/35], Falkirk [1934/35-1941/42], Motherwell [1941/42-1943/44]
Height - 5 ft 8½ in: Weight 11 st 0 lbs [1935]
Height - 5 ft 8½ in: Weight 11 st 5 lbs [1939]

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Kenneth Dawson 1935/36


Sometimes players play above the norm, sometimes they play 'out of their skins'. Every club has their own incidences, Falkirk FC has many. Of course these are rarely published as Falkirk are not bigots from Glasgow. Same as it ever was.

In 1934/35 Falkirk were relegated for the first time in their history, a sad time, but just before the end of the previous season Falkirk had signed a young Outside-Left from up North. Kenny Dawson was signed from Forres Mechanics [he had previously been with Forres Thistle [as a Junior], Nairn County & Sheffield United and had shown more than just promise in scoring twelve goals in just eight matches at the end of the season.

In a partnership with Bobby Keyes, Kenny tore through the old Second Division. It would be wrong to say Falkirk won the league at a canter, Falkirk was much more dominant than that. In this season [1935/36] Kenny Dawson scored the second most goals in a season after Evelyn Morrison in the twenties. Of course, it was a lower division, and he was the penalty taker, but statistics are statistics.

Below is a game by game run-through of Kenny's Season

Date
Pos
Opp
Ven
Comp
Res
Gls
Note
Aug 10th
OL
Edinburgh City
A
Division II
3-1
2
1 Penalty
Aug 14th
OL
St Johnstone
H
Dewar Shield Semi-Final
2-1
1


Aug 17th
OL
Montrose
H
Division II
8-0
2


Aug 24th
OL
Forfar Athletic
A
Division II
4-1
3
First League Hat-Trick
Aug 31st
OL
Cowdenbeath
H
Division II
1-0
1
Penalty
Sep 7th
OL
Dundee United
A
Division II
1-3
1
Penalty
Sep 10th
OL
King's Park
H
Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
7-4
2


Sep 14th
OL
Leith Athletic
H
Division II
3-0
1
Penalty
Sep 21st
OL
East Fife
A
Division II
0-0
-


Sep 28th
CF
East Stirlingshire
H
Division II
3-1
2


Oct 5th
CF
Stenhousemuir
A
Division II
0-1
-


Oct 9th
OL
Aberdeen
A
Dewar Shield Final
0-3
-


Oct 12th
OL
Brechin City
A
Division II
4-0
-


Oct 19th
OL
Edinburgh City
H
Division II
3-0
1


Oct 26th
OL
Alloa Athletic
H
Division II
3-0
1


Nov 2nd
OL
Morton
A
Division II
2-2
1


Nov 9th
OL
Dundee United
H
Division II
4-2
2


Nov 16th
OL
Raith Rovers
A
Division II
3-2
2


Nov 23rd
OL
St Bernards
A
Division II
3-2
-


Nov 30th
OL
St Mirren
H
Division II
5-0
3
1 Penalty
Dec 7th
OL
Leith Athletic
A
Division II
5-2
2


Dec 14th
OL
Dumbarton
A
Division II
7-2
-


Dec 21st
OL
Forfar Athletic
H
Division II
1-2
-


Dec 28th
OL
King's Park
A
Division II
5-3
3


Jan 1st
OL
Stenhousemuir
H
Division II
5-1
-


Jan 4th
OL
Alloa Athletic
A
Division II
2-2
-


Jan 11th
OL
East Stirlingshire
H
Division II
5-0
-


Jan 18th
OL
King's Park
H
Division II
10-2
2


Jan 25th
OL
Montrose
A
Scottish Cup 1st Rd
2-0
-


Feb 1st
OL
Cowdenbeath
A
Division II
7-2
5


Feb 8th
OL
Kilmarnock
H
Scottish Cup 2nd Rd
1-1
-


Feb 12th
OL
Kilmarnock
A
Scottish Cup 2nd Rd Replay
3-1
1
Fiftieth Goal for FFC
Feb 15th
OL
Morton
H
Division II
2-1
-


Feb 29th
OL
St Bernards
H
Division II
7-1
-


Mar 7th
OL
Dunfermline Athletic
H
Scottish Cup 4th Rd
5-0
1


Mar 14th
OL
Raith Rovers
H
Division II
5-0
1


Mar 21st
OL
East Fife
H
Division II
8-0
3


Mar 28th
OL
Third Lanark
N
Scottish Cup Semi-Final
1-3
1
At Tynecastle Pk
Apr 4th
OL
Brechin City
H
Division II
4-0
1


Apr 11th
OL
St Mirren
A
Division II
2-0
-


Apr 18th
IL
Dumbarton
H
Division II
3-0
-


Apr 25th
OL
Montrose
A
Division II
4-0
-


May 2nd
OL
Stenhousemuir
H
Hospital Shield Semi-Final
5-0
2


May 9th
OL
East Stirlingshire
H
Hospital Shield Final
3-0
-





Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Joseph Gowdy


In the years just after the First War Falkirk looked to expand beyond parrochialism. Before 1914 most players were locals, with other occasional players from all around Scotland. These were supplemented with players who had for some reason or other given up playing down South and returned to the Fatherland. However Falkirk rarely ventured South of Birmingham to look for talent.

Probably Falkirk's first venture into the 'foreign market' did not as well as was hoped, but in the end worked out well enough. In 1920 Falkirk actively recruited the Glentoran Centre-Forward Joe Gowdy. Now it is difficult enough to uncover the details of Falkirk players in Scotland with this distance in time, so Ireland is really hard. But I can take it as read that Joe must have been impressing in the Irish League for Falkirk to try to sign him.

Joe made his debut [no sums were published as to any transfer/signing fee] on the 13th of November 1920 at Centre-Forward in a League match at Partick Thistle, nothing of note was made in the contemporary reports. That season he made 13 appearances with 2 goals all except one at Centre-Forward [the other, a benefit v East Stirlingshire he played Centre-Half when he scored one of his goals, a Penalty] this was not what was hoped for when he was signed.

The next season Joe was tried again at Centre-Forward [with little success] and occasionally at Inside-Right, until eventually, realising the problem Falkirk signed Sydney Puddefoot to try to solve that Centre-Forward problem. However the signing of Sydney Puddefoot seems to have ticked off Joe somewhat, seeing little chance of ousting Puddefoot from the Centre-Forward position, he packed his bags and returned to Glentoran [without, it must be said, Falkirk's permission].

The ensuing communications, demands & threats between Falkirk, Gowdy & Glentoran were coming to nothing, he refused to return, and with a heavy heart, and realising they had little choice eventually decided it would be "prudent" to loan Joe to Queen's Island for the forseeable future. During this period Joe managed to make his way into his national team [though this has always irritated me, his caps are always listed as being a Queen's Island player, when he was not, whereas several players on loan to Falkirk were always listed with the other club, but I digress ...]. I do not know what happened, he stayed in Ireland for the next season, then returned to Falkirk, again as Centre-Forward, with Puddefoot playing out on the Right Wing.

It only lasted for a handful of matches though. Puddefoot returned to Centre-Forward, and instead Gowdy was played at Right-Half, and there he largely stayed for the rest of his Falkirk career, only occasionally assuming the Centre-Forward or Centre-Half spot when Syd Puddefoot or Tom Townsley were not available.

From this distance I can not say whether Falkirk were right. However his scoring record at Centre-Forward is clearly poorer [though with fewer matches] to that of Puddefoot. He seems to have been a competent Centre-Forward but second to Syd [at a time when only one 'striker' was played] and being a competent Half-Back [when there were three] so after his spat just had to fit in.

He continued to play for Falkirk until 1928 when he moved on to East Fife, in between he did rack up more than a hundred league appearances for the club [when a lot less troublesome players did not] so he must have been rated by the management. Sadly the only picture I have traced of him was during his time with Glentoran before he joined Falkirk, as I say, always looking.

For more on his career in Ireland, and a lot of thanks must go to the Northern Irish Football History Blog.


Joseph Gowdy

b 7th December 1897, Belfast, Down

Debut – Saturday November 13th 1920 v Partick Thistle (A) Scottish League

Positions – Centre-Forward, Right-Half, Centre-Half

Representative Honours – Ireland v England 1925/26, 1926/27, Scotland 1925/26, 1926/27

Club Honours – Dunedin Cup RU 1926/27, Dewar Shield RU 1926/27, Stirlingshire Cup W 1926/27, Stirlingshire Consolation Cup W 1921/22, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1925/26, 1926/27

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [114/19]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [7/2]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [15/1]
Other Matches/Goals [7/2]
Total Matches/Goals [143/24]

Known Career – Glentoran [1919/20-1920/21], Falkirk [1920/21-1921/22], Glentoran [1922/23], Queen's Island [1922/23-1923/24], Falkirk [1924/25-1927/28], East Fife [1928/29-1931/32]

Height - 5 ft 9 in: Weight 10 st 6 lbs [1927]

Alex Gillespie


Although not a Centre-Forward, Alex [never Sandy or Alec] Gillespie was probably Falkirk FC's first consistent goalscorer. The position he took was on the right wing, and this was probably down to his pace [his nickname "Ballangeich" came from a successful greyhound of the period], but he must either have been one of those wingers who drifted in to score from crosses from the other side, or a most prodigious of dribblers.

The oldest of seven Gillespie brothers [five of whom played for Falkirk at one time or another] his career was intermittent as he was effectively running of the family company at the same time as playing football and
competing in the country's many popular Athletics contests [he was a sprinter due to his aforementioned pace] which necessarily took precedent. The family lived at Campfield House on Wellside Place and ran a carrier business between Falkirk & Glasgow [effectively a part courier, part stagecoach service].

What makes Alex stick out even more is that he was Falkirk's youngest player before the Second World War, his first game being a Scottish Cup Match v Partick [Not Partick Thistle] on the 25th of October 1884 at the tender age of 16 Years and 294 Days. Which is slightly baffling .... Why would Falkirk give a player his first game in such an important fixture? Surely he played before this game. He had played at least one match for the reserves the season before [scoring], but still. Of course it may have been an emergency, but in all likelihood he would have played some matches before this game.

This is where my task can be infuriating, before the 25th of October that season I know of six matches played, but I only have details of who played for two of them. Most of the debuts I give up to the 1890s are just the first time it was reported a player played. In any case, no scorers were noted in his first match [although Falkirk did score] but after this point, he continued to score regularly when he was available to play until his Father died and he had to take on full control of the business.

As with many of the earliest players I have no picture of him, but am always looking.

Alexander 'Ballangeich' Gillespie

b 5th January 1868, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 17th March 1945, Rosyth, Fife

Debut – Saturday October 25th 1884 v Partick (A) Scottish Cup 3rd Rd

Positions – Outside-Right, Inside-Right

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1885/86

Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup RU 1886/87, Falkirk District Charity Cup RU 1885/86

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [7/4]
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [11/9]
Other Matches/Goals [24/25]
Total Matches/Goals [43/38]

Known Career – Falkirk [1884/85-1889/90, 1891/92]

Played for Falkirk District XI v Rangers, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 30th May 1885
Played for East Stirlingshire v Port Glasgow Athletic, Friendly at Clune Pk, Port Glasgow, 6th November 1886
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 5th May 1887
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Vale of Grange, Friendly at Public Pk, Grangemouth, 29th October 1887

NB - As an addendum, Alex often played under the pseudonym 'Anderson', I did not relate the two players [well same player] in my notes until 'Anderson' playing with East Stirlingshire was injured by a kick between the shoulder blades, and it was noted the next week that Alex couldn't play for Falkirk as he had been injured during the ESFC match

Thomas Scott

Thomas Scott came out of nowhere: in 1916/17 he was nowhere to be seen, from 1917/18 he was an almost ever present at Right-Back in the Falkirk FC side. This is obviously not true, but it is how it seems to someone looking back with only match reports to go on. Of course he must have been making waves with Denny Hibs before he joined Falkirk, but this was during the First War and there was limited coverage of Football at the senior level, never mind the juniors. When this is added to the fact that there was no reserve football for him to be given a trial it does seem like a true deus ex machina.

What is interesting is that his career almost completely mirrors that of one of Falkirk's most consistent players in the club's history: Thomas Ferguson. Both born in the 1890s both from the Parish of Denny [Ferguson was from Longcroft], both came to Falkirk's notice in local junior football during WWI, and for the next ten years nearly every Falkirk FC line-up started Ferguson; Scott ............

Make no mistakes he was good, nobody lasts that long in the top league in his country without being good, but it looks odd that he was never selected for the national team. He did play for the Scottish League against the English League when it was still an important fixture, and was chosen by the Scottish FA to go on their 1927 tour of Canada, but it takes a sheen off his otherwise remarkable career.

I can not say why he was never capped, nor why he was never pilfered by an English League club [as so many were]. Sometimes though we should consider the fact that footballers are humans too, and maybe he was not all about chasing more and more money. Consider the facts that we know: Thomas was from Denny, his first serious engagements with football were with his local club Denny Hibs, when he came to the notice of bigger football clubs he joined Falkirk [just a short train ride away, this was when Denny was still on the national railway system], he stayed with Falkirk for more than a decade. The only aberation being a season with Morton when Falkirk released him. After he retired from football he stayed in Denny until he passed away in 1976.

It looks like me he was just contented with his life, as a professional footballers he would earn more than most without needing to leave his town and family, for some people he had an almost perfect life. Some people can do without moving to some grimy industrial mill town in Lancashire just to get a bit more money.

He came agonisingly close to playing 500 matches for Falkirk FC, but in the end never quite made it, however it is a bit of a consolation that altogether with his matches for the Scottish League & the Scottish FA, plus his season with Morton he did get to at least 504 in his career [there is a chance he would have played more matches, guesting with clubs and various elevens in benefit matches, but these are difficult to track down] which puts him in a select group for his time.

To be noted is his scoring record, which is very good for a Right-Back in a time when the backs rarely left their half, but this is explained by the fact that for most of his time he was Falkirk's Penalty taker [but remember in the pre-WWII era, excepting handball, you had to nearly assault a player for the ref to give a foul, never mind a penalty]. Match reports of time say little, but one of the many anecdotes surrounding Thomas was that when Falkirk were given a penalty, the skipper, Tom Townsley, would stick two fingers in his mouth, whistle and Tom Scott would start his long run up from Right-Back straight to the Penalty Box and in one fluid movement would whack the ball past the hapless goalie. I'm not sure if that is completely within the laws of Football, but I choose to believe it must have happened at least once for the story to get about.

Thomas Scott's Falkirk FC Career

[Lea=Scottish League, SCu=Scottish Cup [including Scottish Victory Cup 1918/19], Cup=Domestic Cups [Dunedin cup, Dewar Shield], Loc=Local Competitions [Stirlingshire Cup, Falkirk Hospitals Shield etc], Oth=Other Matches [Friendlies, Benefits, Etc]]

Season
Lea
SCu
Cup
Loc
Oth
Tot
1917/18
34/-
-/-
1/-
-
2/-
37/-
1918/19
30/-
2/-
-/-
-/-
3/-
35/-
1919/20
37/3
1/-
-/-
2/1
1/-
40/4
1920/21
35/3
2/-
1/-
2/-
2/1
42/4
1921/22
41/2
2/-
2/-
1/-
4/1
50/3
1922/23
37/4
3/1
2/-
4/1
3/-
49/6
1923/24
26/-
6/-
1/-
3/-
2/-
38/-
1924/25
34/-
4/1
-/-
-/-
-/-
38/1
1925/26
28/1
2/-
1/-
2/-
1/-
34/1
1926/27
31/2
7/2
2/-
1/-
2/-
43/4
1927/28
30/-
1/-
3/-
2/-
1/-
37/-
1928/29
24/-
3/-
1/-
-/-
-/-
28/-

387/15
33/4
14/-
17/2
21/2
472/23


Thomas Scott

b c1895, Denny, Stirlingshire
d 15th September 1976, Denny, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday August 18th 1917 v Dumbarton (A) Scottish League

Positions – Right-Back, Right-Half

Representative Honours – Scottish League v English League 1921/22

Club Honours – Dunedin Cup W 1917/18, 1922/23, RU 1921/22, Dewar Shield W 1927/28, RU 1926/27, Stirlingshire Cup W 1922/23, 1925/26, Stirlingshire Redding Pit Disaster Benefit Cup W 1923/24, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1919/20, 1920/21, 1922/23, 1923/24, 1925/26, 1926/27, 1927/28

Known Career – Denny Hibernian, Falkirk [1917/18-1928/29], Morton [1929/30]

Other Matches

Played for Scottish FA XI v Montreal All-Stars at Montreal, Quebec, 24th May 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v New Ontario All-Stars at Fort William, Ontario, 1st June 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v Manitoba All-Stars at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 4th June 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v Saskatoon All-Stars at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 8th June 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v Calgary All-Stars at Calgary, Alberta, 12th June 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v Upper Island All-Stars at Nanaimo, British Columbia, 18th June 1927.
Played for Scottish FA XI v Northern Ontario at Timmins, Ontario, 1st July 1927.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Robert McDougall

The past is a long, long time, and sometimes people get forgotten: it just happens, more important things come along, and of course people die. I do not know if it is the job of us amateur historians to remember them, or even to remind people they existed, perhaps it is to make sure they are not completely forgotten ...

I was recently contacted by a chap about the details of a former Falkirk FC player who signed from Liverpool. It is not often we sign players from Liverpool [those poor players, playing for such a miserable team in a miserable city, I am shocked only that so few have not made the journey North].

The player in question was Robert McDougall and he had made his way to Merseyside from St Cuthbert's Wanderers as a nipper. The liverpuddlian scribes make it out as he never quite made the cut in Lancashire, however I like to think he dreamt of the Elysian Field that was Brockville Park.


Robert McDougall joined Falkirk FC in 1915 [now the more astute of you might make a connection that something else was occurring in Europe from 1914 to 1919, but that is a mere distraction]. He came nominally as a Centre-Forward [oh how little those southrons know] but Falkirk already had the mighty James Robertson, so Robert played on the wing, mostly Outside-Right, occasionally Outside-Left, and when Jimmy was off fighting [the Germans of course] now and then at Centre-Forward.

From Kirkudbright [and who would not want to get away from there] Robert was one of those many players whose career was blighted by the territorial intentions of Kaiser Wilhelm, never really getting a chance at Liverpool, the longest time he spent at a club was with Falkirk, and after the War he seemed to have wound down back in the South-East. Obviously never getting over the times he had the opportunity to pull on that hallowed Navy Blue jersey.

But he is sadly now often forgotten, he played a lot of matches for Falkirk in a time of strife, he is one of those players over whom circumstances got the better deal. He probably deserves better.



Robert McDougall



Debut – Saturday October 16th 1915 v Raith Rovers (H) Scottish League

Positions – Outside-Left, Outside-Right, Centre-Forward
Club Honours – Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1919/20
Scottish League Division 1 Matches /Goals [92/13]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Scottish Victory Cup Matches/Goals [2/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [3/3]
Total Matches/Goals [101/16]

Known Career – St Cuthbert Wanderers, Liverpool [1913/14-1914/15], Falkirk [1915/16], Partick Thistle [1918/19], Falkirk [1918/19-1920/21], Ayr United [1921/22-1922/23], Queen of the South [1923/24-1924/25], St Cuthbert Wanderers

John 'Pitcher' Mitchell

I don't have much to say about John Mitchell, after all incredibly little was ever written about Goalkeepers, but I found this in The Falkirk Herald from 1976 which I found quite interesting.



Before taking over Harry Smith's place in goal, Mitchell had played a couple of games at Left-Back, but it was in goal that he made his own, barring injury, and I dare say work commitments, he was the regular goalie for about half a decade.
John 'Pitcher' Mitchell

b 9th September 1861, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday September 2 1882 v East Stirlingshire (A) Friendly
Positions – Goalkeeper, Left-Back
Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1886/87, 1887/88
Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup RU 1886/87, 1887/88, Falkirk District Charity Cup RU 1885/86

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [11/1]
Minor League Matches/Goals [2/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [17/-]
Other Matches/Goals [71/-]
Total Matches/Goals [101/1]

Known Career – Falkirk [1882/83-1890/91, 1892/93]

Other Matches

Played for Alloa Athletic XI v Queen's Park, Friendly at West End Pk, Alloa, 28th April 1883
Played for 1st Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers v Falkirk, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 13th April 1886
Played for 1st Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers v East Stirlingshire, Benefit Match at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford, 27th April 1886
Played for 1st Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers v Laurieston, Benefit Match at Zetland Pk, Laurieston, 4th May 1886
Played for Falkirk District XI v Partick Thistle, Benefit Match at Tannery Pk, Falkirk, 22nd May 1886
Played for Falkirk District XI v St Mirren, Friendly at Victoria Pk, Camelon, 12th June 1886
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Falkirk Jubileeans, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 20th Apr 1887
Played for Clydesdale Harriers v Falkirk, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 5th January 1889

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Robert Bishop


Sometimes it takes an annoying, self-righteous, self-important, obstreperous get to change the fortunes of a football club from that of also-rans into annoying, self-righteous & self-important [clubs just can't be obstreperous,] gets: Falkirk's first proper secretary was just that person.

Where Falkirk FC could have gone down the route of Grahamston FC & dare I say it [today's East Stirlingshire] the 'shire, one annoying, self-righteous, self-important & obstreperous person was at the helm of Falkirk FC.

His name was Robert Bishop. A mediocre player [he did however play in Falkirk FC's first victory, the Stirlingshire Cup win v East Stirlingshire in 1884] playing across the half-back line, he [in playing terms] was one of many who fleeted through the ranks of Falkirk players.

However, in 1886, he got a very serious knee injury and by 1887 stopped playing. In place he took up another two mantles; he took over the role of Club Secretary of Falkirk, and he later became a Referee.

To get over his playing career, yes, he was alright, when good backs were behind him he was better, he was not a big scorer, he filled a role.

The lack of a playing position meant he could concentrate on his role as club secretary [BIG NOTE – I am not 100% sure what the duties of the club secretary were: he did not select the team [though he was on the selection committee]; but he did correspond with the other clubs to arrange fixtures; he could not sign players [it was a club, you had to join [though I am sure he made it possible for membership fees to be waived]]; he was the public representative of the club; he had to attend those [I am sure] incredibly boring SFA meetings when they talked of protocol and little else], he was the central character of the club.

Robert Bishop was a bitch, he was especially a bitch to the Falkirk Herald [whose Sports Editor 'Scrutator' was a committed shire-ite] he once wrote to, and was published in, the Falkirk Herald complaining that the hero of the Falkirk fans [Alex Stark] had been referred to as 'buttons' [his nickname]. This would be like Alex Totten complaining that Kevin McAllister was called 'Crunchie'. It could not happen.

I don't know if it was like Arsene Wenger trying to protect his players, or like Gordon Strachan just being a tosser, but he was caustic with the press, especially if they said anything that did not shine the best light on Falkirk Football Club.

I cannot say from such a distance in time, but I get the feeling that it was Robert Bishop behind the decision in 1885/86 not to play friendly matches with any team in the district [in the end Falkirk did play a benefit against 1st Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers [Falkirk]] in order to get the club out of the parochial nature of Falkirk football [home & away matches against all the other teams mixed in with the cups]. The club might not have struck terror into the hearts of the Glasgow & Edinburgh clubs, but it got us known throughout the country, which reaped rewards in the ensuing seasons: no more friendlies with Grahamston, Grasshoppers, Dunipace & Tayavalla, instead Glasgow Thistle, Battlefield, Rangers Swifts, Queen's Park Strollers etc. would make up the majority of the Falkirk fixture card.

Fixtures were soon resumed with the local rivals, East Stirlingshire & King's Park, but the era of being a 'Stirlingshire' team had been left behind. Robert Bishop also presided over the next part of Falkirk FC's growth, when [even though all teams were amateur] Falkirk actively started 'poaching' talent from the minor clubs around. David Fleming from Laurieston, Albert Dixon from Grangemouth, Alex Hay from Grahamston and Robert Walker from Alloa all joined the cause. This did not make Falkirk unbeatable, it did however strengthen the club [no one could beat East Stirlingshire under the great “Laurie” at this time, but Falkirk made sure they could compete].

Of course great men are not made by their own skill alone, Robert Bishop was fortunate to be in charge when Falkirk's best player in the pre-League era came to the fore, 'Bob' did not make Alex Stark, nor a year later did he create Thomas McDonald or Daniel Daye, but he was there to reap the rewards of his earlier policies. But then again he kept them with Falkirk [it was well known that East Stirlingshire wanted Alex Stark], and although Falkirk did not always dominate, the club were never dreadful. I think they stayed because they believed Falkirk would out.

So, an average player, who was very annoying with the media, shaped the future of the club, Robert Bishop is another of those who 'made' the club what it is now.

Robert Bishop

b 2nd November 1861, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 21st September 1943, Larbert, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday February 2nd 1884 v Grasshoppers (H) Stirlingshire Cup 1st Round.
Positions – Left-Half, Right-Half
Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1885/86.
Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1883/84, RU 1886/87, Falkirk District Charity Cup RU 1885/86
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [4/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [9/-]
Other Matches/Goals [6/-]
Other Matches/Goals [20/-]
Total Matches/Goals [39/-]

Known Career – Falkirk [1883/84-1887/88]
Played for Falkirk District XI v Cowlairs, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 3rd May 1886
Played for Campsie v Falkirk, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 23rd April 1887

Falkirk Secretary [1883/84-1886/87, 1888/89-1891/92, 1893/94-1895/96]

Record as Secretary

P30  W14  D5  L11  F115  A87

NB, as ever this is incredibly unfair as I am only including Scottish Cup, Stirlingshire Cup, Falkirk Charity Cup & Falkirk Infirmary Shield matches. Many other matches were played, but they were non-competitive.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Falkirk FC's First Captain

In the first two seasons of the existence of Falkirk, match reports said remarkably little, often giving more space to the conditions under which the match was played rather than giving the details of the game itself [for example it is not until the final match of the 1878/79 Season that any scorers are recorded]. Often full teams are not given, only the players who were deemed to play well are named.

However in those reports with full teams and where there is a captain indicated on every occasion in those first two seasons the Falkirk captain is given as R.Peddie. He was not club captain as this was not yet an official position in the club, and there was no named Club Captain appointed at an AGM until Walter Gibson in 1882, but here was clearly the player who lead the team on the field of play.

R.Peddie was Richard Peddie, and in every match that R.Peddie there was also a W.Peddie [William Peddie] alongside him, yes here in the very first season was Falkirk FC's first set of brothers playing in the same side. The Falkirk club in 1878 was almost completely a team full of 'Bairns' which is why these two should be seen as interesting, for not only did they live in Grangemouth, they were both actually born in Sunderland. [Falkirk FC's first 'foreigners']. Of course it was not strange to have people born all over the place living in a major port, and the fact that Peddie is a very common name in Grangemouth suggests that they were born in Sunderland while the family was living there pro tempore, so we can't hold that against them.

Before turning up in the Falkirk ranks both brothers were noted in the Grangemouth annual Sports Day [though curiously in the rowing events], and in the Rifle Volunteers events, but neither of these seem particularly prescient for future football players. This came when both players started appearing in the reports of Grangemouth [rugby] football matches. Interestingly in a match between the Captain's Side and the Vice-Captain's Side of Grangemouth Football Club William Peddie is noted as Captain [with Richard playing on the other side], so why Richard was chosen as Falkirk's first captain is mysterious.

According to the rugby reports both players had an impressive turn of pace, and this was before the gap between the two codes of football had widened to the seemingly unbridgeable gap of today, so the skill of a winger in rugby would be just as useful in football [apart from the obvious difference] so why not?

The known Falkirk careers of the two players are incredibly similar, the only difference being William appearing in a friendly against Lenzie when Richard was absent [no captain being named], both brothers played in the club's first match [and victory] in the Scottish Cup v Campsie Glen on Saturday the 28th of September 1878, but both came before any goals were recorded, so although forwards no goals are attributed to them.

After the 1878/79 season both brothers disappear from Falkirk FC & football without a mention, and usually players like this just completely leave my radar, except that I stumbled across the gravestone of Richard in Camelon Cemetery.


I did not expect to find this here [Grandsable if anywhere..], and it took me a bit digging to assert that it was the same person. After football William continued with his Rifle Volunteers [representing Stirlingshire in the National Games in the 1890s] while Richard almost completely disappeared except for one little instance. In June 1882 he was named as one of the founders of Zetland Football Club, the first Association club from Grangemouth. There was extremely little published at the time about the exploits of Zetland FC and they soon seem to have been replaced by Grangemouth FC [I suspect though that they were one and the same club], I can not tell if Richard actually played for Zetland/Grangemouth, or if he had given up the game in the intervening three years.

No pictures of either brother seem to exist, but I am forever searching for these little things, until then a place in the history books of the club should be given to Falkirk's first brothers, Falkirk's first Englishmen, and most importantly, Falkirk's first Captain.


Richard Dawes Peddie
 

b c1857, Sunderland, Durham
d 11th February 1905, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
 

Debut – Saturday March 23rd 1878 vGrasshoppers (H) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday September 28th 1878 v Campsie Glen (H) Scottish Cup 1st Rd
Positions – Inside-Left

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [7/-]
Known Career – Falkirk [1877/78-1878/79], Zetland? [1882/83]
 

William Bertram Peddie
 

b c1855, Sunderland, Durham
d 6th July 1926, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
 

Debut – Saturday March 23rd 1878 vGrasshoppers (H) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday September 28th 1878 v Campsie Glen (H) Scottish Cup 1st Rd
Positions – Outside-Left

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [8/-]
Known Career – Falkirk [1877/78-1878/79]