Monday, 31 March 2014

Andra Inch

Okay I am not having to write about a player who never played for Falkirk,who played for our arch-enemies East Stirlingshire,

In fact I believe he held the record for ESFC appearances for A Long time.
I am talking about Andrew Inch, outwith Alex Stark & Lawrence. Andra Inch was probably the best player In Falkirk District, but he was a CH so was mainly overlooked. I am pissed off, only because he never made even a guest appearrance for Falkirk, this was a shire man through and through, Andra Inch was the best CH in the County for about ten years, and he was shirey pirey and from Bainsford!

During his time in Local football I think he won everything there was to be won! I will go elswhere to be grumpy!

Andrew Inch

b 13/05/1864, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 18/09/1928, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fifeshire 1885/86 Stirlingshire v
Forfarshire 1886/87, 1887/88 Stirlingshire v Lanarkshire 1883/84 Stirlingshire v Linlithgowshire 1886/87 Stirlingshire v Renfrewshire 1885/86, 1886/87 Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1885/86, 1886/87. 1887/88, 1888/89, 1890/91 RU 1883/84 Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1884/85, 1885/86, 1886/87, 1887/88, 1890/91 RU 1888/89, 1889/90 Falkirk Cottage Hospitals Shield W 1889/90, 1890/91 Falkirk District XI V Linlithgowshire (Benefit Match) 1885/86 Known Career – East Stirlingshire (1883/84 to 1891/92)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Falkirk FC Managers - George Richardson


George Richardson was never, actually, Falkirk Manager: the position did not exist when he was about. He was however Falkirk FC's second Club Secretary [the first John Fleming was only in the position for some months [from the formation of the club in December 1877 until the first AGM in May 1878]. There is not much to say about his tenure, after all the position of Secretary was just an organisational role, most of the important decisions were made by the committee then. It was, however, the most important position in the club [casting vote on the committee, organising the fixture list etc], and it was a very different time from today's football.

George was very middle class, in a town of foundries he was a clerk, so was in the lofty offices instead of getting himself dirty at the coalface [to mix metaphors], therefore he had the perfect background to run the nascent club. And let it not be forgotten that back then the officials of the club were mainly drawn from the playing [and paying] members of the club. Living in Marine Cottage, Grahams Road [I think it was roughly about Carphone Warehouse [but on the Grahams Road]] he came from a well to do family, his father was a Captain in the Merchant Navy, his mother was from far-flung Chelsea, his big brother was a businessman in Glasgow [and a football player with Kelvinbank].

It is difficult to say much about his time in office, for most of the time, there was no other club in Falkirk, and the only other clubs in Stirlingshire were Grasshoppers & King's Park [until the formation of ESFC]. The club failed to make much ground in the Scottish Cup, there was no Stirlingshire Cup, however the club had a healthy fixture card, playing the secondary Glasgow clubs [and occasionally the 2nd XIs of the big Glasgow clubs].

In comparison with later secretaries he organised more charity matches [muscular christianity played some part no doubt] George enticing among others Third Lanark and Pollockshields Athletic to the town to the benefit of the good causes of the town. However, this was a time when football was yet to become the mass spectactle that it now is, and as far as I know he never interacted with the Falkirk Herald or any other medium, so I know nothing of his personality. And try, as I have, I have never come across a mention of him in the local press after he left football [of course he may have emigrated].

On the field of play, he seemed pretty average, moving about position, as you would get when the rules are if you are willing to turn up, you are likely to get a game, so he spent most of his career as right-back, left-back or goalkeeper. He did however play in a couple of Scottish Cup matches, which is more than most of us can say.

At the time the AGMs of Falkirk FC were not regularly published in the Falkirk Herald, so most of the officials of the club are unknown, however it was reported in September 1882 that he was awarded a watch by the club with this inscription:

Presented to Mr G.Richardson by the members of Falkirk Football Club, as a mark of the esteem in which he has been held by them as their secretary for the last four years

I know 'hyperbole', but I would really like to see that watch! If you know anything, please get in touch!

George Richardson

b 9th November 1859, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d10th June 1941, Falkirk, 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 – Goalkeeper, Right-Back, Left-Back
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [2/-]
Other Matches/Goals [11/-]
Known Career – Falkirk [1877/78-1880/81]
Brother of James Richardson [Falkirk FC 1878/79-1880/81]

Competitive Matches as Secretary

Scottish Cup - 11      7     -      4      23     19

Edit - [5th May 2016]

I recently came across an obituary of sorts for George which appeared in the Falkirk Herald of Saturday June 21st 1941, however, given that he was Falkirk FC's first proper secretary, there is sadly no mention of his relationship with the club.



Friday, 28 March 2014

Falkirk District Football 1880/81

Back in the day, before your internets, and before your mass media, the only way to find about anything was to be there or to be able buy one of the few publications about it. These days we can google this or that and find out in a flash the sum of human knowledge [which some idiot has been bothered to put on the internet] about whatever subject you want. Not so at the start of the 1880s when the only sources of info about football clubs was the local press and the SFA handbooks.

This sadly comes from the season just before East Stirlingshire joined the SFA so are excluded, but this is a very interesting insight into local football from the season 1880/81.

Falkirk

Founded in 1877, 50 members. Grounds - Private: Blinkbonny Grounds - 15 minutes drive from the station. Dressing Room - Crown Hotel. Colours - Blue & White. Last Year - Played: 26 matches - won 13, lost 7, drawn 6, obtained 38 goals, lost 25 goals. George Richardson: Hon & Match Secy.

Grasshoppers

Formed 1875, 30 members. Grounds - Private: Bonnyside, Bonnybridge - 15 minutes walk from Greenhill Station, NBR. Dressing room at ground. Colours - Red Jerseys & Stockings, White Knickers. Last Year - Played: 11 matches - won 4, lost 4, drawn 3, obtained 22 goals, lost 25 goals. William Reid, care of Singer Manufacturing Coy., Bonnybridge: Hon & Match Secy.

Thanks to Forrest Robertson for looking this up!

NB - I hope you note my silence of the foundation date of Falkirk FC published within 5 years of said foundation!!!!!!!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Early Football in Grangemouth


Grangemouth is the relative new town in Falkirk District, only coming to life with the opening of the eastern end of the Forth & Clyde Canal in the 1770s. But it was well situated therefore quickly profited with the completion of the canal due to the increase in trade from both the West Coast and from further abroad.

Started by Lawrence Dundas [a majority shareholder in the canal, who clearly wished to maximise his profits] Grangemouth [or Sealock as it began life] was originally situated between the north bank of the canal and the River Carron, the large influx of workers for the docks meant the town quickly grew and soon expanded south onto the carse lands which is now the centre of the town.

By the time of the football boom in Central Scotland had taken off Grangemouth felt secure enough in itself to join in, after a fashion. The first serious attempt to bring senior football to the town seems to be Zetland FC in June 1882 [largely at the hands of Richard Peddie, a former Falkirk FC forward [he lived in the port, but was actually from Sunderland [one of the many who moved to Grangemouth to work in the docks], he had a brother William [also ex-Falkirk but it not is known what, if any, part he had in Zetland FC].

Next to nothing is known of the players or the nature of Zetland FC [all reports in the press gave the barest of details] except that they played their home matches on the Public Park [Now Zetland Park] [Zetland Park was not named for the club, but for the above Lawrence Dundas, the Earl of Zetland, upon whose land Grangemouth was born, this is shown especially by the fact that the earlier village side of Laurieston [Lawrie's town] a mile or so to the north also played on a Zetland Park].

Zetland’s first match seems to have been against East Stirlingshire [themselves only founded in 1880/81] when a 1-1 draw was played at Grangemouth on the 12th of August 1882. Though the team played a fairly high level of opponents [Bo'ness, Grahamston Victoria, Stenhousemuir] that season it seems the main problem was that they rarely came away victorious in these encounters.

The following season the footballing picture becomes very muddled down on the port, though this might be largely down to poor press coverage. 1883/84 is the first season that matches by a team named Grangemouth appear, playing home and away matches with Tayavalla [from Lime Wharf in Tamfourhill]. But in between these two matches a curiosity occurs, for on the 17th of November East Stirlingshire sent both their 1st & 2nd teams to play in Grangemouth. The 2nd XI defeating ’Zetland’ by a goal, whilst the 1st XI played out a goalless draw with ‘Britannia’ on the same day. Both matches on the public park.

This leaves many questions unanswered. 1) was East Stirlingshire playing two distinct clubs that day? 2) Was Britannia the same club as the ‘new’ Grangemouth? 3) Had Zetland changed name to Grangemouth/Britannia [with their 2nd team styling themselves 'Zetland' in the same way that Falkirk often fielded a 'Brockville XI']? Were there, in fact, three teams now in the port? Sadly lack of any concrete info means we will probably never know.

What is certain is that none of the names, Britannia, Grangemouth or Zetland were amongst the entrants to the inaugural Stirlingshire Cup that season, and until the end of the season there is no more mention of football in the town, but that final mention is interesting because for once the report actually mentioned the players and gave a line-up, the match was Britannia against Grahamston 2nd XI in Falkirk on the 17th of May 1884.

Britannia – Muir; Egan & Syme; Johnston & Anderson; Dixon & Robertson, Drysdale & Proudfoot, McDunachie & Latters.
Albert Dickson! [from Dublin], went on to play for Falkirk and Hodge Drysdale for Grahamston.

The next seasons 1884/85 & 1885/86 senior football completely disappears from the radar in Grangemouth, only a couple of references to the [new?] junior club Grangemouth Thistle appear in the press, and most games were against Linlithgowshire junior teams. Followed with a single mention of St Mirren, seemingly a junior team from the town later on.

In fact, it was not until 1886 that anything like senior football returned to the town, when Grangemouth got its one and only serious claimant to a senior team, they went on to join first the Stirlingshire FA then the Scottish FA playing competitive matches at the highest level in the land [The Scottish Cup]. But it started from very humble origins

Falkirk Herald – 20th February 1886

“A club having been got up in Grangemouth, the 2nd Falkirk Harp kindly consented to play their opening match. The Grangemouth won by eight goals to one. For Grangemouth, Miller and Fenney played well on the right, and James Cox in the centre, and the left wing had some fine runs at goal. The back division played well. Ewen was a host in himself, and the goalkeeper played well. For the Harp the right and left wings played best, and the goalkeeper saved some good shots.”

Though never stated, the club most probably started playing on the same Zetland Public Park, but soon moved to Muirhead Park [on the grounds of Muirhead sawmills, currently part of the BP complex] before moving to their more permanent home of Caledonian Park [behind the Grangemouth Town Hall, on the grounds of the Caledonian sawmill [or where ASDA is now [2014]], the rest, as they say, was history, until the Scottish League killed off Senior Football in all but the largest towns.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Falkirk Harp - Clubs from Falkirk District


Long before Glasgow Celtic came into being, Falkirk had a club which adhered to the Irish Flag, they were rubbish. That is not a criticism, just a reflection of their results, yes they limited themselves to a certain demographic, and they would always be limited by anyone good playing for the best teams [Pat Murphy for example] but they were asking for something which was not available.

Football was not a profitable venture in the 1880s, after the rent for the ground, and the lack of 'big matches' it would be difficult for a Falkirk or an ESFC to survive, never mind a Falkirk Harp. This is proven by the fact that of so many teams which existed, none survive. However that is not to say that they did not merit a try, or were not treated with optimism.

I have never found a ground For Falkirk Harp except "Cow Wynd" which is in the chocolate fireguard range of helpfulness, I know there was a football ground much later on where Cochrane Street now is, but have no definitive link between the two, towards the end of their existence, Harp changed name to Erin Rovers, which is problematic as there was a team from Bathgate by that name, so I can not tell in some match reports which is which.

They came just before the burgeoning of Junior Football, so had to play teams much bigger than them, after a couple of years Falkirk Hibs/Falkirk Celtic also tried to be a 'green' team in Falkirk, failed.

Amateurs


Amateurs are a rare and fascinating concept in the age of professional football, I could not tell you the last amateur who played for Falkirk FC, but once upon a time they were common in the game. For some reason the term 'amateur' has come to mean something lesser than professional, but this divergence in meaning is flawed. The word 'amateur' in its proper sense means 'one who does it out of love', the fact that they are not remunerated for their effort being the sole difference between them and professional footballers.

The reasons for amateurism were also wide, James Callander played football at weekends, but professionally he was a much more successful architect, it would be sheer folly to abandon his practice; Leslie Skene was a GP which goes a long way to explaining his peripatetic club career, Wiliam Davidson had the luck to come from a well off family, he probably decided not to allow any club to decide what he could and could not do [if you read your contract of work it will likely say that your employer decides whether or not you can have another job] if you get me.

The playing careers of the amateurs were also more interesting, occasionally, they just did not turn up, sometime due to their other committments, sometimes because they were busy doing something in the real world, sometimes they might have simply been otherwise inclined. I was such that in 1909, in the middle of the football season William Davidson just upped and left Falkirk FC to go on a tour of the USA with the Pilgrims. Now good outside-lefts are hard enough to find, and harder to replace at the best of times, but William was an amateur, and had every right to bugger off to the US [I would have done the same thing].


William Davidson [Middle Row, Right]

I think it is a shame that we no longer have the amateurs in our game, if only because all the players are now so samey, it would be nice to think of players playing at a high level because they liked it! But I am a romanticist!


William Davidson

b Langside, Glasgow c1883

Debut – Saturday April 14th 1906 v Forfar Athletic (H) Dewar Shield Semi-Final
League Debut – Saturday August 18th 1906 v Rangers (A) Scottish League Division 1

Positions – Outside-Left

Club Honours – Scottish League Division 1 RU 1907/08, 1909/10, Stirlingshire Consolation Cup W 1906/07,

Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1906/07, 1907/08
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [109/7]
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [8/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [6/2]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [9/3]

Known Career – Queen's Park [1903/04-1905/06], Falkirk [1905/06-1909/10], Pilgrims [1909 tour of North America], Middlesbrough [1910/11], Airdrieonians [1910/11], Everton [1911/12-1912/13], St Mirren [1913/14]

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Grahamston FC - Clubs from Falkirk District

The first ever attempt at a second team in Falkirk [I stand firm to the fact that Falkirk & Bainsford were distinct and that ESFC were from Bainsford] came in the nature of Grahamston FC. As any local person will know by their name they were from the North of the High Street and took in most of the town East of Grahams Road as their territory. Since the now Victoria Pk was then private, I know they never played there, and have had an ongoing dialogue with Alan McCabe as to where their home ground "Crichton Park" actually was, he is more towards a Stewart Rd angle, whereas I am more towards Bell's Meadow, however the most obvious fact is that neither of us know for sure.

The earliest incarnations of Grahamston came in 1883 when Falkirk's 2nd XI played them in a friendly, but they were quick to grow above that station, soon challenging both Falkirk and East Stirlingshire to home and home matches. But the simple fact is that they were beaten to the chase, both Falkirk & East Stirlingshire 'pilfered' their better players, which hampered any chance at progression.

Grahamston could never compete though, only taking in modern day Chinatoon, and Grahamston, when Falkirk had the whole town, and East Stirlingshire could claim all of Bainsford, there was no place for another club in an era when there was little revenue flowing about the game. The most important fact is that both Falkirk & East Stirlingshire 'pilfered' their best players: James 'Sodger' McDonald moved to Falkirk after a season at Crichton Pk, and Harry Simpson [Uncle of the Falkirk Legend Jock Simpson] quickly moved to Bainsford, Alex Rule played for all three!

It is a fact that Falkirk can only accommodate two teams [and when the one which is not Falkirk is firmly rooted in another community], it is a sad fact. Following Grahamston FC's example came Falkirk Amateurs, through the intermediate team "Grahamston Corinthians" but this is not why I am writing. Grahamston were fully active in the football scene only their results let them down! They were a part of the Stirlingshire Football scene.

At their best they competed, at their nadir they were pathetic, if anyone can help on the location of Crichton Park please get in touch [or anything  else].
Grahamston FC in Competitive Football

09/02/1884 v Tayavalla           (A) 2-4 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
18/10/1884 v Grasshoppers        (A) 2-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
25/10/1884 v Grasshoppers        (H) 2-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
29/11/1884 v Strathblane         (A) 1-0 Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
14/02/1885 v Camelon             (A) 0-1 Stirlingshire Cup Semi-Final
15/04/1885 v Tayavalla           (N) 9-0 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
25/04/1885 v East Stirlingshire  (N) 0-5 Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
12/09/1885 v Grasshoppers        (A) 2-2 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
19/09/1885 v Grasshoppers        (H) 2-4 Scottish Cup 1st rd Replay
26/09/1885 v Barnsmuir           (A) 0-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
03/04/1886 v Camelon             (N) 0-5 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston awarded the tie as Camelon played 2 inelligible players]
15/05/1886 v East Stirlingshire  (N) 0-7 Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
11/09/1886 v Laurieston          (H) 0-2 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
25/09/1886 v Laurieston          (H) 3-0 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston disqualified for playing an inelligible player]
02/04/1887 v Camelon             (H) 2-3 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
03/09/1887 v Redding Athletic    (H) 4-3 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston disqualified for playing inelligible players]
29/10/1887 v King's Park (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd n/a v Vale of Bannock (A) s-w Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd n/a v East Stirlingshire (N) s-w Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd 26/10/1889 v Slamannan (A) 2-6 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd Grahamston Corinthians 01/11/1890 v Kilsyth Standard (H) 5-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd 29/11/1890 v Grangemouth (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd

NB - Since writing this post, I have had a discussion with said Alan McCabe, when he proved, almost to the point of making me speechless that Crichton Park was almost certainly on the south part of where Stewart Road now exists. Sadly however, its brief existence landed almost exactly between two Ordnance Survey maps of Falkirk and was never [as far as I can tell] recorded.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Barnsmuir - Falkirk District Clubs

I never wish this blog to be only about Falkirk FC, or even just the senior clubs in the town, the problem is that even though the game was played across the whole of the district, there was very little organised football in the whole country, so much of the football had very little coverage. Therefore for even the most basic knowledge of football in the outlying villages of the district the only source of contemporary news was the local columns of the local press [ie not in the sport columns]. This haphazard nature means other than their existence, and the odd scoreline, next to nothing is known, or is of note, of most of these [short-lived] clubs. Except occasionally we get a deus ex machina.

Possibly the most Southern club in the history of football in Falkirk District was Barnsmuir, coming as they did from the very border settling of Limerigg. Most people have very little reason to go to, nor even pass through Limerigg; there will be some with little inkling of its location [it is on the road from Slamannan to Caldercruix], it is not very big but even they had a senior club in the heyday of Football.

One of the first problems they came across was of course, their location, apart from the two or so Slamannan clubs and Caldercruix, there were not very many other clubs nearby to play regular matches with, so they could not keep up a regular fixture list, and without the fixtures it is hard to keep up the members enthusiasm for training. Lack of training leads to poor results, which results to a lack of support, which does not help induce teams away from other more lucrative fixtures. This lack of fixtures also meant the club had no regular income, making it harder to comit to fixtures further afield, and the short spiral into oblivion kicks in quickly.

The club were not helped in being possibly the most Southern of the Stirlingshire teams, meaning that even when they were given a good draw in the Stirlingshire Cup, much of the receipts would be eaten up in travelling costs, and the lack of transport infrastructure precluded anything like a traveling support. Another poor hand dealt them in the location is that what transport there was [the Monklands-Bathgate Railway, the Monkland Canal] attached them to clubs outwith their sphere. Of the occasional scores which filtered through the grapevine many were against long-gone, long-forgotten Airdrie & Coatbridge sides.

The name is probably connected to the Barnsmuir Colliery which was one of the main reasons for the village's existence, but it is not known at this remove as to whether it was a Works team or whether they just took up the name because of its local attachments. But it is from this mining link that sprung their two best known players, one became better known in the world of mining, trade-unionism and left-wing politics than he did in the world of football, the other climbed the height of footballing success in the this country and down south. In one of the few matches which was reported in any detail, on the 17th of October 1885 Barnsmuir were drawn Falkirk in the Second Round of the Stirlingshire Cup, the game took place at their home ground Lochmill Pk, and by all reports put up a sterling effort, only losing by 3-0 from one of the best clubs in the county.

In this game two players on the Barnsmuir were singled out for playing well, The first was Dan Doyle, who was to soon move to play for East Stirlingshire, then Hibernian, Sunderland, Grimsby, Bolton, Everton, Celtic and Scotland itself, the other put simply as C.Robertson, turns out to have been Robert Chisholm Robertson, later leader of the Stirlingshire Miners Assoc and one of the inaugural leaders of the Independent Labour Party. It is fascinating that through this village passed two of the most important names in diverse aspects of Scottish cultural life, not only at the same time but battling for the same club on the football pitch. That both were Scots of irish descent is also an interesting coincedence, but there is a lot of that in these parts, my family [different name] would have been part of that same millieu [but in a different part of the county].

As I said before there is little left on the records as to the matches they actually played, and they never really made much of an impact even on the local scene: I have only found matches in two competitions and they are completely absent from the Scottish Cup, but they did play in the Stirlingshire Cup occasionally and once in the short-lived Slamannan & District Charity Cup.

26/09/1885 v Grahamston       (H) 2-0 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
17/10/1885 v Falkirk          (H) 0-3 stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
22/10/1887 v Vale of Forth    (A) 2-3 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
26/10/1889 v Denny            (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire cup 1st Rd
10/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 3-3 Slamannan Charity Cup 1st Rd
15/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 2-2 Slamannan charity Cup 1st Rd Replay
22/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 3-2 Slamannan Charity Cup 1st Rd Replay
24/05/1890 v Slamannan Swifts (N) 2-4 Slamannan charity Cup 2nd Rd

There were several other friendlies, but they were of a haphazard nature, if anyone is eager to know more, or wishes to research football in Limerigg, get in touch I would be glad to share all I know.