Wednesday, 5 February 2014

East Stirlingshire v Falkirk - Stirlingshire Cup Final 1888

When writing this blog, I have prided myself on two things, I like to stray from the topic of Falkirk FC [perhaps not often enough, but I am a bairn!], and I never shy away from parts of Falkirk's less than glorious past. To put it frankly some of the stuff I have had to read in researching the past has made me cringe.

This post is about a Stirlingshire Cup match, way back in the mists of time when the individual county cup competitions were second only to the Scottish Cup itself [the league was still a couple of years away]. And this match in particular is horrible to read.

I still regard the Falkirk v East Stirlingshire match as the true derby, yes, the Fifers are bitter rivals, but it is not a 'derby'. I have often alluded to the fact that once upon a time, the upper hand on the football field was in Bainsford, and this is one of those matches at a time when ESFC had a stunning line up and Falkirk's was so-so.

The team Falkirk put out on this day was a strong team in local circles, it had managed to get to the final after all, but on Saturday the 31st of March they came up against an East Stirlingshire that were flying.

Falkirk Herald - Sat Apr 7th 1888



Camelon was invaded by almost 3000 football enthusiasts on Saturday last, the occasion being the final tie between East Stirlingshire and Falkirk for the possession of the handsome cup of the Stirlingshire Football Association. From about three o'clock the spectators continued to arrived in a continuous stream up till the hour of starting, four o'clock. During the time of assembling a sharp shower of hail fell, but it had no material effect on the ground, which was in excellent order; and during the game the weather was excellent. There was a slight breeze blowing along the ground from the north. The teams stripped in Falkirk, and drove out to the ground in brakes, and appeared slightly before the advertised time, East Stirlingshire, who appeared to be the favourites leading the way. The following were the teams :- East Stirlingshire - Goal, R.Sharp; backs, R.Wilson and D.Doyle; half-backs, A.Inch, W.Kadie & R.Johnston; forwards- right, J.Stewart and D.Kirkwood; centre, L.McLauchlan; left, H.Simpson and W.Dunn. Falkirk - Goal, J.Mitchell; backs, J.Liddle and M.Harley; half-backs, T.Bellingham, Wallace and W.Law; forwards- right, A.Stark and T.Donnelly; centre, Sinclair; left, W.Hamilton and J.McDonald. Mr Sneddon and Mr Watts were umpires; and Mr George Sneddon, referee- all gentlemen of the Edinburgh Association. The spin of the coin between McLauchlan and Harley was in favour of the former, and he decided to defend the railway goal, having the breeze in his team's favour. After being cautioned by the referee, the teams took up their positions.

Sinclair started the game by a long kick, which Inch attempted to return over his head, but failed. Wilson, returned the ball, however, and Stewart ran it into touch. Falkirk were the first to have a try at goal, as, after a struggle near the corner flag, the ball was sent over the goal-line. stewart repeated this at the otherend immediately after. After the kick from goal, Dunngot the ball and passed it over to McLauchlan, and then Stewart got it, and the latter tried a shot which went across the goal, and striking the inside of the post, bounded through - the firstgoal being scored amidst loud cheering. From the kick-off, a little midfield play was indulged in, and then Donnelly tried a long drooping shot which landed on the E.S. cross-bar, and bounded over. The ball was then carried to the Falkirk end where a fruitless corner was obtained, and several times sent wide. Falkirk hadthe ball near the midfield line when "hands" was given against them. Doyle undertook the kick, and landed the ball beautifully into goal, where, in a scrimmage, Dunn was credited with scoring a second goal for E.S. - the game only about 8 minutes old. Again the E.S. were back at the Falkirk goal, and it had a narrow shave from downfall, the ball being in the centre of a knot of players a yard from the line. Then a little even play followed for a few minutes, during which Falkirk played a flying visit to Sharp, but the shot was wide of the mark. Doyle then roused a cheer by a long shot he sent infrom midfield sailing through the Falkirk goal, Mitchell failing in his attempt to stop it. Time 15 minutes. "Hand" was given against Inch in midfield, and this helped Falkirk to keep the play in E.S. ground for a short time, but nothing occurred, and the ball was again back at the Falkirk goal, where, after a scrimmage, Liddle conceded a corner, and before it was cleared Harley had to concede another which was well placed - Dunn just grazing the post. Not to be denied, however, E.S. kept at it, and mcLauchlan with a high swift shot beat the Falkirk defence for the fourth time. Before half-an-hour of the game had gone, a throw-in near the Falkirk goal fell to the E.S., and from it Inch passed the ball to McLauchlan, and the latter had it through the Falkirk goal for the fifth time before Mitchell could make a movement to stop it. The Falkirk was more successful, however, a minute after, with a shot which Stewart tried. The Falkirk right wing got a pass from McDonald, and made some progress. when nearing goal Donnelly tried a shot which Doyle, in attempting to return, was near sending through his own goal, the ball just going over the bar at the opposite end to that at which Sharp was at the time standing. the corner-kick was well placed, but it was headed behind. E.S. got another corner from the run up after the goal-kick, which dunn undertook, and Mitchell had to fist a shot. A free kick fell to Falkirk, and they transferred the ball to the E.S. half where it remained for a couple of minutes, but the backs could not be beat, and Falkirk were called on to defend. The remaining five minutes were even,during which Falkirk got a corner which was well placed, but Wilson cleared. Three times E.S. sent the ball past the side of the Falkirk goal, and matters looked dangerous for Falkirk, when a foul was given against them near their own goal, but it too was sent wide. Half-time was called with the ball near midfield and the score standing :- East Stirlingshire 5 goals; Falkirk 0.

After the customary interval, the sound of Mr Sneddon's whistle caused the players to again take up their positions. McLauchlan started the leather, and the E.S. right wing made off down the field, but they were stopped near goal, and the ball returned. Kadie got it, but his attempt was too high. Stark & Donnelly were having a run up when Doyle brought them to a stop, and entrusted the ball to Simpson and Dunn, who, when near goal, sent the leather over to Kirkwood, and the latter scored goal No. 6 for the E.S. Falkirk were up near the E.S. goal ere they were brought to a stop, and the ball carried into the Falkirk ground, where, after Inch had an unsuccessful shot, Kirkwood had a try, which, like Donnelly's in the first half for Falkirk,landed on the cross-bar and bounded over. Unlike Sharp, however, Mitchell did not appear to think it was so dangerous, and was standing quite cool. the Falkirk defence was severely taxed, Liddle doing yoeman service in heading out the ball in the scrimmaging. A corner was conceded the E.E., and before the pressure had been relieved, Kirkwood made a cross to Dunn who scored the seventh point. Falkirk were up three-quarter field, when a mis-kick by Johnston let in Sinclair, but before he could get placed for shooting he was tackled. Afterwards Law sent the ball wide. Simpson was next noticable by a single-handed run down the centre past several men, and with the assistance of Stewart and McLauchlan, Dunn got the ball near the Falkirk goal, and scored No. 8. The E.S. again visited Falkirk end, but had to return fruitless, and a somewhat long shot was sent into Sharp (the first he had got to save during the game), and which he had no difficulty in kicking out. The E.S. got on the ball, and forced a corner at the Falkirk end, which came to nothing. Two "hands" in quick succession brought Falkirk up the field, but McLauchlan nullified these by a run past the Falkirk backs. He was hard pressed by Liddle, but not withstanding he had a shot which Mitchell kicked out. E.S. had another unfruitful corner, and then the ball was sent past each end. McLauchlan and Kirkwood then had achance each, but were very wide of the mark. Falkirk right wing then made off with the ball, and when within the E.S. ground, a little roughness between some of the players was exchanged which roused the feelings of the spectators somewhat, and Sharp had to return a shot. Dunn made off with the ball, and Liddle gave a corner which was unsuccessful. Falkirk then for a time had the better of the play, and several times sent the ball wide. During this time a foul was given against Stark for tripping Johnston, and one against Dunn for a charge behind. Doyle had to concede a corner, which was cleared, and when Stark was on the ball in midfield, Doyle attempted to stop him, and in the referee's opinion tripped him, for which Falkirk were granted a free kick. Harley sent the ball well into goal, and Sharp, in saving, ran more than the regulation distance with the ball in his hands. The referee granted a free kick about three yards from goal for this. In the melee Inch fouled the ball nearer the centre of the goal, and again a scrimmage was formed, during which the ball was forced through. This success was recieved with cheers by the Falkirk supporters, but E.S. appealed. Mr Sneddon ordered all the players back, and, after consultation with the umpires gave E.S. a goal kick, on the ground that Sinclair pushed the ball through with his hand. The E.S. then ran the ball down the field, and, after Mitchell had saved, Kirkwood scored the ninth goal after some good work between him and Stewart. This occurred close on time, and maintaining their supremacy to the end, East Stirlingshire won the Stirlingshire Cup for the third year in succession this time by a large majority of 9 goals to 0.

On Leaving the field there was a great hand-shaking between the winners and their admirers, but the vast assemblage, on the whole, conducted themselves in a very orderly manner."


About 7 0'clock in the evening the two teams sat down to tea in the Crown Hotel, under the presidency of Mr James Wilson of Bantaskin (in the unavoidable absence of Mr T.D.Brodie of Gairdoch). The chairman was accompanied by Mr Mitchell of Millfield, Baillie Young, Mr John Reid secretary of the Stirlingshire Association; and the referee and the umpires of that day's match. Mr R.Bishop, vice-president of the S.F.A., acted as croupier, and the other members of committee were also present, after an excellent tea.

The Chairman proposed the loyal toasts, and Mr Mitchell of Millfield, proposed "The Army, Navy, and Armed Forces,"to which Sergeant Grey (King's Park) replied.

The Chairman then proceeded to present the cup to the winners, the East Stirlingshire team. Before doing so he regretted the absence of Mr Brodie, who had shown he had a lively interest in football, especially in the Falkirk and East Stirlingshire clubs. He acknowledged that he was in a very peculiar position, being president of the Falkirk club. At the same time he was proud of the Falkirk Club - (applause) - who had played an uphill game that day, and yet not a man deserted his post. He had the honour of being a custodian of the cup one year; and he was wondering when it was coming back (laughter). Baillie Young had got the cup at Camelon. He (Mr Wilson) had seen many cups, and, with the exception of the Eglinton Race Cup, he had not seen one better and more handsome than the one before him, which reflected credit on the association who possessed it, and also on the designer. The East Stirlingshire club, who had that day won the County Cup for the third time, was formed in the month of October 1880, so that it had only been in existence for a period of little more than seven years, and it spoke volumes for the energy and vitality of its members, who had raised it to the position which it at present occupied. The season now drawing to a close had been a remarkably good one for the East Stirlingshire club. Their 1st XI had a record which few clubs could equal and still fewer surpass. Including that day's game, 36 matches had been played, of which 26 were won, 5 were drawn, and 5 lost, 161 goals having been scored by the team and only 49 goals scored against them. Seventeen games were played with Stirlingshire clubs, 16 being won by the Bainsford team, and the other one drawn. In these games 101 goals were scored by the East Stirlingshire club and only 15 were scored against them, so that it was only fitting that a team which had gone through the season and earned such a record, should win the championship of their county. In the course of the competitionj for the cup, the winners had a fair share of the hard nuts to crack, having had to dispose of the Camelon, Stirling, Campsie and Falkirk clubs ere they reached their present position. In this competition they had won 32 goals and lost 6 goals. Mr Wilson said he had very great pleasure in handing over the cup to the custody of Baillie Young, the president of East Stirlingshire. The defeat that day, he hoped would stimulate the Falkirk club to greater exertion to win it back.

Baillie Young replied in a few words.

Mr Wilson then proposed "The Winning Team", to which Mr McLauchlan replied.

Mr John Reid proposed "The Defeated Clubs", coupled with the name of Mr Bishop, Falkirk, who said he did not know how the other clubs took their defeat in the competition, but the Falkirk club would take their defeat very ill that day. He hoped, as the teams were to meet shortly in the Charity ties, that the result would then be closer. He thought one of the drawbacks was a want of enthusiasm amongst the working officials of the Falkirk club.

The other toasts were :- "The Referee and Umpires", proposed by Mr Gray (King's Park), replied to by Mr Sneddon; "The Stirlingshire Football Association", proposed by Mr F.Watt, secretary, Edinburgh Association, and replied to by Mr Bishop; "The Chairman", "The Croupier", &c.

The proceedings were brought to a close shortly after nine o'clock by the singing of "Auld Lang Syne". During the evening several songs tended to enliven the harmony of the meeting."

Stirlingshire Athletic Notes - by Scrutator

"The destination of the Stirlingshire Cup, with all its attendant anxiety and excitement to some, has again been decided for another year, and for the third year in succession East Stirlingshire have secured the championship. When I hazarded the opinion that East Stirlingshire would win by a few goals, I hardly expected a difference of 9 goals to 0. This is the third time East Stirlingshire and Falkirk have met in the final for the county cup, and of all the matches this has been the most one-sided. Falkirk were never in the hunt, and were beaten at all points. Mitchell, the Falkirk custodian, is receiving a large share of the blame from his club supporters - in fact, I think he is getting more than he is entitled to. He did not get in the way of the ball so often as I have seen him; but, with perhaps the exception of one on Saturday, he was not in a position to save any of the points scored against him. Harley and Liddle played well at back. The half-back line was the poorest display, although it can't be said they played any worse than usual. Law was doing away fairly well at first, but as the game progressed he was not able to catch the E.S. right wing if they passed him; and thus the greater strain was put on Harley. Stark and Donnelly were the best of the forwards; but, as a rule, Johnston and Doyle robbed them of the ball before they made much progress. Sinclair was very slack; and as for Hamilton, he was hardly ever on the ball the whole time. Macdonald, when he got the ball, usually tried to centre a long way in front. Sharp, for the E.S., only had some three or four shots to save all day, so that he can hardly be said to have saved his team from defeat. Doyle, at back, played one of his best games, his kicking being powerful and judicious. Wilson was not far behind him till near the close, when he kicked very badly. Johnston was the best and hardest working of the half-backs, although this does not disparage the play of the other two in the least. The forwards showed good combination, which was the article required last Saturday. They all scored with the exception of Simpson, who, on such an important occasion, played as well as his neighbours. The right wing combination was tricky as usual. "Laurie", while leading the wings well, did not appear to greatly exert himself, though he did his work neatly. If I could spot any one who played a single handed game it woud be Dunn, who caused Liddle to show his fastest pace.
The "gate" amounted to £51 4s 3d, which is about £3 less than the same occasion last year. To look at the crowd one would have thought there would have been as many. the shouting was mainly on the one side, though there was a "p├Žan of joy" went up from the Falkirk supporters when the ball was put through the E.S. goal, which showed that the "bairns" were all there. I had a very enthusiastic lot behind me, one of whom was continually encoraging the E.S. to "knock off the Carron 15". He should be satisfied with 9, surely. The keen E.S. supporters were prominent with tickets in their hats. One of the happiest designs for these was one by the secretary with the figure of a cat on top of the goal-posts.
The "spread" after the match was a very good affair - not exciting, but good of its kind. East Stirlingshire came in for a good deal of laudation all round.
Bainsford was in a lively state till late in the evening, when fireworks were set off. when a rocket burst "Pullar" says he counted nine falling stars, and then there was - nothing. The Carron Band also stopped on its way home from a concert.
The rejoicings were continued on Monday evening at the "smoker" in Bainsford, when there was an attendance which filled the hall. Both the cups were on the table, and the meeting was most enthusiastic. The singing was exceptionally good, and the sentiment of "The Team" was recieved with musical honours, the Falkirk Iron Works Band, which was present, playing "The Conquering Hero".