Friday, 23 May 2014

Death by Football - 1889

I came across an article in the Evening News, and saved it as it was to do with Football round about Falkirk, then I had a thought .... it was like - hmmmmm!

The article was about a young bloke who had died as a result of an accident on the football field, and it set me thinking. I had a look through the local papers that I have copies of, and I can not find an earlier fatality due simply to footballing factors in the District. I am pretty sure, but not certain, that it would have been mentioned had it happened anywhere else in Stirlingshire, but I can find nothing.

I have a very rubbish book about British Football, which states the first death due to football in Britain was William Walker of Leith Athletic v Vale of Leven in 1907, but I think they were only counting League & Cup matches. I have tried to look for an earlier death in google, but to no avail.

It is very difficult to look up these things as I can find no footballing/death source to cross reference, but on February 23rd 1889 in a match between Redding Athletic and Southfield at Redding a player by the name of Robert Whyte received a kick to the stomach, he left the field, however his condition worsened over the weekend, finally dying on the Tuesday. There is no match report in the Falkirk Herald [the fact that he died is the only reason I know the match even occurred], and I only have two sources for the aftermath.

Now, I can hear what some of you are thinking, Redding v Southfield [from Slamannan] this is just a kick-around, but both these teams were members of both the Scottish & Stirlingshire FAs, the fact that it was an ordinary match [not quite a friendly, but this was before League Football] is neither here nor there, however it was two Scottish Senior clubs in a tussle for local bragging rights, and Redding would have ended the game with only ten [or less] players.

Robert Whyte

b c 1866
d 26th February 1899, Redding, Stirlingshire

Known Career - Redding Athletic [????-1899] ["long a member of his club"]

NB - I have had a look at the 1881 Census and can only find a Robert White living in Polmont [Parish], however the IGI has a Robert Whyte born in Polmont [Parish] c 1865, but dying in 1888!

Friday, 16 May 2014

John Turner

We come, we go, none of us in the turn of events last for much of a muchness. I do not want to sound morbid, but I am morbid. John Turner only played one match for Falkirk FC, soon fell ill, then about a year later died. We have no idea, if he was run-of-the mill, or if he was next best thing, remeniscent of N.F.Callaway who scored a double Century in his only match at cricket, then promptly got shot in the War [was he better than Bradman?, We will never know].

John Turner

b 14th October 1873, Slamannan, Stirlingshire
d 19th June 1894, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday January 28th 1893 v Pollockshaws (A) Scottish Federation

Positions - Half-Back
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/-]

Known Career – Falkirk [1892/93]

Thursday, 15 May 2014


It is difficult to define Falkirk sometimes, so I thought I would resort to Law.

This is Falkirk as defined by the Great Reform Act of 1832, end of.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Stirlingshire Coronation Tournament 1902

In 1902 the Stirlingshire FA organised a seperate Competition on the same lines as the Stirlingshire Cup, It seems to have been in part to celebrate the Coronation, however the proceeds were given to the Ibrox Disaster Fund. I have never found an official name for this competition, so I made up the name above.

The ccup was rather hastily arranged, so the first round was a bit of a disaster, only two games taking place, both between Alloa Athletic & Falkirk, both draws leading Falkirk to withdraw [we had just joined the League and had more important fixtures to fulfill], in the other ties King's Park scratched to East Stirlingshire and Falkirk Amateurs scratched to Stenhousemuir.

At least the Semi-Finals were competed, with East Stirlingshire beating Camelon by a single goal and Stenhousemuir beating Alloa by 3-1 in Alloa.

So for the the big [semi] local final, naw, it was a drab affair by all accounts, ESFC again winning by the only goal of the match, but then again that it is all it takes.

So, in the summing up of all mankind at the end of times, at least ESFC will be able to meet their maker in the eye and say "We were the one and only winner of the Stirlingshire Coronation Tournament" [or whatever it was officially called].

I have put the results on Brian McColl's brilliant Scottish Football Historical Archive site.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Falkirk FC Top Goalscorer 1902 - George Campbell

Falkirk FC's first ever top League Goalscorer was a proper Bairn, a local lad. George [Geordie] Campbell was born and brought up in the Town, and as far as I know lived his whole life here.

Starting his career as a Juvenile with Brockville Star [not associated with Falkirk FC], within a season he drew the attention of Vale of Carron. Vale of Carron were the 'shire's wee team and were big in Junior Circles and Geordie joined them, where he made an immediate impact. However, after a season, he moved to Bo'ness [I don't know, West Lothian did have a better Junior scene at the turn of the Century [it still does]] for another season. But George was a Falkirk lad and soon moved to Dunipace Juniors where he made Centre-Forward his own.

Falkirk's ears pricked up and soon offered him terms. Of course, he couldn't be the Centre-Forward, Robert Leishman was the CF, but he was put at Outside-Left. And he scored, for a young man he scored. In Falkirk FC's First Season in the League he scored 14 from 22 games. And when you add his goal in the Qualifying Cup v East Stirlingshire, he scored FIFTEEN.

All in all George made the benchmark for all Fakirk Strikers to follow.

He retired from Falkirk due to ill-health, but was tempted out of retirement due to Raith Rovers who needed a CF, but he did not play many matches with them [possibly due to his health]. In April 1908 Falkirk played Raith at Stark's Park in a Benefit match for him. He died at the scarily young age of 25, but you know, he is one of our seasonal top scorers.

George Campbell

b c1884, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 13th February 1909, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday September 29th 1900 v Stenhousemuir (A) Scottish Qualifying Cup 2nd Rd
League Debut – Saturday August 16th 1902 v Clyde (A) Scottish League Division 2

Positions – Outside-Left, Centre-Forward

Club Honours – Scottish League Division 2 RU 1904/05, Dewar Shield RU 1903/04, Stirlingshire Cup W 1905/06, Stirlingshire Consolation Cup W 1902/03, 1904/05,Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1904/05, 1905/06, RU 1903/04

Falkirk Top League Goalscorer 1902/03 [14]

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [16/10]
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [53/25]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [6/1]
Minor League Matches/Goals [19/8]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [31/11]

Known Career – Brockville Star, Vale of Carron, Bo'ness Our Boys, Dunipace JuniorsFalkirk [1900/01-1906/07] Raith Rovers [1907/08-1908/09]

Played in Falkirk's first ever Scottish League Match v Clyde (A) Scottish League Division 2, 16th August 1902
Scored on his League Debut
Hat-Tricks – 2 [Division 1 [1] Division 2 [1]]

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Westquarter v Falkirk 1933

I think I said in a previous blog post on Bob Shankly that he made his debut for Falkirk FC in August of 1933, well I was only half-right. Bob actually made his debut for the club a month earlier, except it was not for the reason he was signed ... as I'm afraid there is no need for a big, burly Centre-Forward in the gentleman's game of cricket against Westquarter.

Even by the 1930s professional football clubs playing the odd cricket match had become a rarity, whereas in the 19th Century it was quite commonplace, but is quite obvious why these social games died off: there is no point in signing a footballer just to have a wannabe tear-away fast-bowler try to knock his head off before he has even kicked a ball in anger.

Falkirk, quite rightly, were thumped by the village team, the game over in a day, but Scotland has never been renowned for its skill in the longer game.

Interestingly it would seem that Alex, Bob's big brother played in the match, interesting as he never played football for the club, and had retired from the professional game by then. Maybe he was just visiting his brother, since, he was meant to be a ringer he patently failed.

Useful for a really obscure trivia question about Shankly brothers playing together for the same football club.

Falkirk's best player in the match, Johnnie Richardson, although born in South Africa, interestibly was brought up in Westquarter, and lived there for the rest of his life.

Westquarter CC v Falkirk FC at Blairlodge, Polmont
Westquarter CC
b J.Hope 1
c J.Hutchison b J.Hope 18
b J.Hope 0
b J.Hope 23
b J.Richardson 4
c G.Grant b J.Richardson 4
b C.Thomson 17
W.McGilchrist Sr
b C.Thomson 14
not out 39
W.McGilchrist Jr

For Eight Wickets 137
4 wickets for 34 Runs
2 for 25
2 for 50

Falkirk FC
c & b W.A.U.Steven 15
b J.Dick 2
b J.Dick 1
b W.A.U.Steven 7
not out 24
b D.Sharpe 0
c J.Grant b W.McGilchrist Sr 7
b W.McGilchrist Sr 1
retired 0
b W.McGilchrist Sr 0
b J.Brandon 7

All Out 65

W.McGilchrist Sr
3 wickets for 2 runs
2 for 9
1 for 0
2 for 15
1 for 12
Westquarter CC won by 72 runs

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Falkirk at Merchiston Park, 1904

I remember going to an East Stirlingshire v Clydebank match at Brockville Park in the early 1980s due to there being a problem with Shire central, it is interesting to watch League matches at neutral venues, there is an unnatural feel about them, none of the vie wing public being completely at home; and the odd neutral [like I was] being unfamiliar with both teams.

Of course games like this used pop up every so often, but they were mainly to do with the ground being used for another match, and nowadays would be more likely to cause a postponement than moving to another ground.

But the match brought to mind reading about an Abercorn v Falkirk match which was played at the home of East Stirlingshire, Merchiston Park on the 3rd May 1904.

Completely different circumstances of course and in this case it was technically an Abercorn home match, but it is close enough to bring a wry smile to my face.