Tuesday, 30 May 2017

1900 - East Stirlingshire's Summer of Cricket

During the football off-season of 1900, just on the brink of their entry into the Scottish League, East Stirlingshire decided to convert their ground, Merchiston Park, into a cricket ground for the summer. Eh?

Now, all of us who know, know East Stirlingshire were formed out of a cricket team, but like most professional club had long forsaken the summer game in favour the people's game. What is fascinating to me is the shockingly low scoring [by both teams], and since I seriously doubt it was due to the bowlers being at the top level, it must be down to playing the matches on a converted football ground which had just been through a long season. It was not until the last match for which there is a scorecard that any of the sides made a total of more than 50 [and then only just]. The matches were all one innings games, but it seems that if there was enough time, they would bat again.

All the matches were against members of the Falkirk & District Cricket League, and I can't help wondering if East Stirlingshire were shadowing the league with ideas of entering a side in future, however with their joining the ranks of the Scottish League, this was never going to work out.


25th? June East Stirlingshire v Falkirk Central at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford?

No Scorecard found

"Last week they had a defeat from Falkirk Central."


Mon 25th June East Stirlingshire v Thornbank at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
G.McGregor b Haig                 23
R.Clark b Haig                     0
J.Shirra c McVey b Haig            5
W.Wright b McVey                   0
P.Stewart c Walker b McVey         4
W.Allan b McVey                    2
J.C.Johnstone b McVey              0
J.Williamson b Haig                0
J.Graham b McVey                   1
D.Alexander not out                0
A.Scott b Haig                     0
  Extras                           3
Total                             38

Bowling
McVey   ?-?-17-5
Haig    ?-?-21-5

Thornbank
A.Walker c Clark b Wright          8
G.Allan c Scott b Allan            4
E.McPhie c & b Wright             12
D.Mullholland c Shirra b Wright    0
W.McVey b Wright                   0
T.Haig b McGregor                  5
R.Bell b Wright                    0
J.Stewart b McGregor               0
J.Bellingham c McGregor b Wright   3
J.McVey b Wright                   0
J.Forrester not out                2
  Extras                           4
Total                             38

Bowling
Wright   ?-?-13-7
McGregor ?-?-11-2
Allan    ?-?-7-1

Match Tied


Thu 12th July East Stirlingshire v Invergrange at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
G.McGregor b Aitken               13
R.Wilson b Whittock                7
P.Stewart b Flannigan              2
W.Wright b Aitken                  5
W.Allan b Aitken                   2
James Mitchell b Aitken            0
J.C.Johnstone b Aitken             0
R.Clark b Aitken                   0
J.Graham c Milne b Whittock        2
J.Williamson not out               0
J.Mitchell b Whittock              0
  Extras                           3
Total                             34

Bowling
Aitken     ?-?-?-6
Whittock   ?-?-?-3
Flannigan  ?-?-?-1

Invergrange
J.Flannigan b Wright               8
R.Whittock b McGregor              1
D.Millan b McGregor                2
W.Smith hit wkt b Wright           0
Hill Aitken c Wilson b Wright      2
R.McColl c Clark b McGregor        0
N.Whitehead b McGregor             0
J.S.Knowles b Wright               0
D.Rigg b Wright                    1
J.Scarborough c Clark b McGregor   1
J.Smith not out                    0
  Extra                            1
Total                             16

Bowling
Wright    ?-?-?-5
McGregor  ?-?-?-5
 
East Stirlingshire won by 18 runs.

Notes

The match ended early so ES went in for a second innings, they had reached 82-8 before rain stopped play.
Hill Aitken was Falkirk FC's reglar left-back, and had guested a number of times for East Stirlingshire.


Tue 17th July East Stirlingshire v Invergrange
 
Invergrange
J.Flannigan c & b McGregor         2
T.Learmonth lbw b Wright           2
D.Millan lbw b Wright             24
R.Whyttock b McGregor              2
H.Aitken run out                   5
W.Smith b McGregor                 3
R.McColl b Wright                  0
J.Smith b Wright                   0
J.Robertson b McGregor             1
J.Bow b McGregor                   2
G.Currie not out                   0
  Extras                           1
Total                             43

Bowling
McGregor  ?-?-?-4
Wright    ?-?-?-5

East Stirlingshire
R.Wilson b Learmonth               1
W.Allan c Millan b Learmonth       3
G.McGregor b Learmonth             0
W.Wright c Millan b Aitken         1
J.Mitchell run out                 2
P.Stewart c & b Learmonth          3
R.Clark b Aitken                   1
W.Roberts c Millan b Aitken        1
J.C.Johnston b Aitken              0
J.Williamson not out               0
J.Graham c & b Aitken              1
  Extras                           2
Total                             15

Bowling
Learmonth  ?-?-?-4
Aitken     ?-?-?-5

Notes
"E.S. went in for a second innings, when they were all dismissed for 21, Invergrange thus winning by an innings and seven runs."


Wed 18th July East Stirlingshire v Caledonia at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford?

No scorecard found.

"on Wednesday Caledonia only defeated them by 1 run, the scores being 18 and 19. In a second innings East Stirlingshire put on a good score."


Tue 24th July East Stirlingshire v Caledonia at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford
 
East Stirlingshire
N.Whitehead b Allan               18
W.Roberts b Lyon                   0
J.Hastings c Roper b Rigg          0
P.Stewart b Bain                   8
J.Dale b Allan                     1
J.Mitchell b Allan                 7
J.Williamson not out              10
W.Wright b Allan                   0
R.Clark b J.Mallice                1
J.Campbell b J.Mallice             2
H.Lyon b J.Mallice                 1
  Extras                           3
Total                             51

Bowling
Allan       ?-?-?-4
Lyon        ?-?-?-1
Rigg        ?-?-?-1
Bain        ?-?-?-1
J.Mallice   ?-?-?-3

Caledonia
J.Bain b Whitehead                 0
A.Mallice b Whitehead              3
W.Allan b Wright                  21
D.Rigg b Wright                    0
J.Mallice b Whitehead              3
A.Lyon b Wright                    9
W.Alexander b Whitehead            0
R.Kerr b Wright                    0
S.Roper b Wright                   0
J.Wilkie b Whitehead               1
A.Scott not out                    0
  Extras                           2
Total                             39

Bowling
Whitehead   ?-?-?-5
Wright      ?-?-?-5

Note This seems to have been played between two 'scratch' elevens, the Caledonia XI playing several guests including Willie Allan of ESFC; Sammy Roper of Falkirk FC & Thornbank CC, A.Lyon of Thornbank CC and Rigg of Invergrange CC, while East stirlingshire had the assistance of Whitehead of Falkirk Central CC.

East Stirlingshire were scheduled to play Falkirk Central on Tue 31st July to close their summer of cricket, but I have yet to find any reports of the match taking place.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Lost Football Grounds of Falkirk District - Blinkbonny Park

For most of this week I have been looking for the location of Falkirk FC's second permanent home: Blinkbonny Park. All of my life the only Blinkbonny Park in Falkirk has been a public space between Gartcows Road and the railway line close to the High Station. Now there is a substantial problem with this being the ground where Falkirk played teams such as Dumbarton and Renton in Scottish Cup matches over nearly three and a half seasons, namely that most of the sporting references to this Blinkbonny Park in the local press are about tobogganing!


Yes, it has a very pronounced slope.

The biggest problem that we have is that Falkirk played at Blinkbonny almost exactly halfway between the 1860 and 1896 OS surveys, so the ground is missing from the best sources available. A secondary problem is that Blinkbonny [and variant spellings] is a somewhat common name, so much so that there was another one [and another Blinkbonny Park] in the district, in Slamannan. So sorting out which references were to which Blinkbonny/ie took time and patience, plus the multiple references to sales of Turnips at Blinkbonny Farm never once mentioned its location.


Blinkbonnie, and Blinkbonnie Park, Slamannan 1896.

Therefore, as ever, you have to look wider than the football to find the parts of the jigsaw puzzle not staring you in the face. And so some five years after Falkirk FC had moved to Brockville, in 1890, Falkirk Town Council started looking for a suitable piece of land in order to create a public park for the residents of the town. In the reports of the Falkirk Herald of the time it was reported that they had had several possibilities and had sounded out the landowners as to the terms were a purchase to be necessary: among the possibilities was Blinkbonny.

On Saturday April 19th 1890 the FH reported that

 "... the committee were strongly of opinion that they could not get a better site for a park than the ground at Blinkbonny. It was splendidly situated, and its only drawback was its distance from the town. The Committee had visited Blinkbonny, and they were of opinion that if they could get that part lying to the west of the road leading to Greenhorn's Well, it would make a splendid park. The land was very similar to the town's muir, and if they could make arrangements with Mr Forbes [of Callendar] in the way of excambion, they might get the one for the other. The land had special advantages for a public park. In one corner was situated Greenhorn's Well, and near it was a natural hollow, which by being flooded, would make a splendid skating pond. ... The northern boundary ran along the Bantaskin wall, and formed a natural boundary".

The simple fact that they were looking at the land west of Greenhorn's Well, and that Blinkbonny was bounded to the South by the Railway Line and to the North by the Bantaskine Estate, and stretching from Drossie Road presumably to the estate of Glenfuir House means that Blinkbonny (Park) in the 1880s and 1890s was much bigger than the current park.


The area known to Falkirk Bairns as Blinkbonny in the late 19th Century

This, though, is still a huge piece of land, and just because a passer-by in 1882 would notice the throng of a football match, means nothing to anybody nowadays, the entire area is built over by the Windsor Road housing estate, and very little of it looks remotely suitable for a Scottish Cup Match.

And it was here that I was incredibly fortunate in coming across an article about a dispute over several 'rights of way' which were regularly used by Camelonites going to and from the different parts of Falkirk. In the summer of 1891 some of these 'rights of way' were blocked by the landowners and it took the law to settle which parties were in the right.

The single most important path/right of way here

"opens from the southern bank of the Forth & Clyde Canal near to Lock 16, at Glenfuir Lodge and passes between the estates of Glenfuir and Bantaskin, and thence through the estate of Callendar, joining Maggie Wood's Loan, near Blinkbonny. The thoroughfare is still open from the entrance at Glenfuir Lodge till a point a little beyond East Bantaskin pit, a new working which is presently being formed". [Falkirk Herald Sat 25th July 1891]

The part here from the Lodge to the mine is shown clearly as a path on the 1860 map, and equates exactly with modern day Blinkbonny Road.


1860 - Ordnance Survey


2017 - Google Maps

And the second part of the 'right of way' from the East Bantaskin Pit [renamed Camelon Pit No. 2 when opened in 1895] to Maggie Wood's Loan follows the path, almost exactly of the current Windsor Road.


1896 - Ordnance Survey & 2016 - Bing Maps Hybrid from the marvellous NLS Maps Site.

The reason that the course of this 'right of way' is so important to Falkirk fans and Scottish Football historians in general is what the Falkirk Herald went on to report.

"On Wednesday one of our representatives visited the district, and passed along the disputed road. Judging from its appearance, it appeared to have been in use for a considerable period. At one side of the thoroughfare is a hedge, while the other side is not fenced. The road does not appear to have been largely used of late, judging from its grassy surface. It passes along the north side of the park which was formerly occupied by the Falkirk Football Club, and when matches were played at Blinkbonny a great number of the spectators came from Camelon and Lock 16 by the road which has now been closed. Since the club left Blinkbonny the road has been chiefly used as a nearer approach to the High Station, and if it be closed great inconvenience will, it is stated, be caused to those who have been in the habit of using it for that purpose. ... our representative was informed that the road was formerly known as "the old mill road" and was largely used by people going to the Union Canal and the High Station".

If I have added everything correctly, and not misread everything, this would put the Blinkbonny Park somewhere in the vicinity of Balmoral Street, Falkirk - Google Street View.

After Falkirk FC left Blinkbonny the ground was taken over by Erin Rovers [who themselves were born out of Falkirk Harp] the local "Irish" team who did not last for much more than a season.