Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Alex Turnbull: Falkirk Goalkeeper

Alex Turnbull was one of Falkirk FC's first serious goalkeepers: to go further on this is difficult, he [of course] was not a professional, but the goalkeepers before him seem to have been slightly random, more like the worst player in the eleven rather than a specialist goalkeeper.

Coming from Plean [well,,, Touchhill Farm just outside of Plean] it seems that the Turnbull family also had links with Falkirk causing the footballing sons to play their football in Falkirk district rather than Stirling [Alex was the only footballing brother who never also played at some point for East Stirlingshire & Stenhousemuir].

Alex was good for Falkirk, good enough to represent Falkirk District & Stirlingshire when those kind of matches mattered, but truth be told probably not likely of going to a higher level.

And so it was he decided to emigrate to Canada about 1885 from where it was reported in the Falkirk Herald that he was playing with Montreal FC. But before professionalism that was not good enough to make a life in the new world, so Alex returned, with the resolve to return to the New World south of the Mason/Dixon line.

Soon Alex was off again, this time to Cheyenne, but presumably with the same level of failure as he turned up in Spokane [quite a distance apart] soon after.

It is difficult to determine the exact order of events from this remove, but it seems Alex was involved in quite a few schemes [including gold mining, diamond mining and local politics] before settling down as an undertaker in his new city, but not any old undertaker, he was active in the Rotarians, set up another branch of the the Order of Oddfellows, and in various school committees during his time in Spokane.

But important to me is the fact that in 1921 he returned to the Old World for a tour of Europe, and for this he had to apply for a US Passport, from where I have an image of the man [albeit nearly 40 years after the last time he kept the sticks for Falkirk] but him all the same








If you follow the Spokane Newspapers Alex seems to have kept in touch with his little World from then on writing to his local papers in as much a right wing fashion as many Daily Mail letter writers do to this day, but hey, that is their problem for being Right-Wing loons, not mine.

Alex died in the aptly named Medical Lake Center, just outside Spokane in 1945, where seemingly no-one except he knew of his input into the development of Football in Falkirk/Stirlingshire, since I find no obituary.

Alexander William Turnbull

b 14th May 1862, Bannockburn, Stirlingshire
d 18th September 1945, Medical Lake, Washington, USA

Debut – Saturday September 2nd 1882 v East Stirlingshire (A) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday October 28th 1882 v Renton (A) Scottish Cup 3rd Rd Replay
Positions – Goalkeeper
Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Lanarkshire 1883/84
Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1883/84

Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Stirlingshire Cup Matches/Goals [4/-]
Falkirk & District Charity Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Other Matches/Goals [23/-]
Scottish 2nd XI Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]

Known Career – Falkirk [1881/82-1884/85], Montreal

Notes
Played for Grasshoppers v East Stirlingshire, Friendly at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford, 27th December 1884
Played for Grahamston v East Stirlingshire, Benefit Match at Crichton Pk, Falkirk, 27th May 1885
Played for Falkirk District XI v Rangers, Benefit Match at Falkirk, 30th May 1885
Emigrated to Canada c1885-86
Emigrated to Spokane, Washington, USA in May 1888 sailing from Liverpool.
Brother of James [Falkirk 1903/04] & Thomas Turnbull [Falkirk 1893/94-1897/98].

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Revisionism: the First mention of East Stirlingshire

In History revisionism has a bad name, as if the crusty Victorians were right and anyone with new ideas were wrong. However, luckily football history never really started until the 1920s so we do not have to put up with the same stigma as the new wave of 19th Century social historians did.

I was recently reading a thirty year odd old book about East Stirlingshire, which claimed that the first mention of the club in the press was of a friendly against Dunipace on the 19th of November 1881 [and I will gloss over the fact that the author had missed a report of Armadale v East Stirlingshire in the midweek Falkirk Herald dated 3rd November], but this entire mistruth comes from the fact that the author had clearly only used the Falkirk Herald as a source.

Every football match takes two teams, and so it was that there was an earlier report of an East Stirlingshire match which exists not reported in the Falkirk Herald. Nearly a month before any mention of East Stirlingshire in the Falkirk Herald the West Lothian Courier of the 15th October 1881 carried this:

Armadale v East Stirlingshire

Played at Falkirk, and after a very pleasant and well contested game, resulted in favour of Armadale by two goals to nothing.


I am not saying this is the earliest mention of ESFC in the press, I am simply saying that this is the earliest I have found, and I welcome anybody who revises it to an even earlier date.