Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Although not a Centre-Forward, Alex [never Sandy or Alec] Gillespie was probably Falkirk FC's first consistent goalscorer. The position he took was on the right wing, and this was probably down to his pace [his nickname "Ballangeich" came from a successful greyhound of the period], but he must either have been one of those wingers who drifted in to score from crosses from the other side, or a most prodigious of dribblers.
The oldest of seven Gillespie brothers [five of whom played for Falkirk at one time or another] his career was intermittent as he was effectively running of the family company at the same time as playing football and
competing in the country's many popular Athletics contests [he was a sprinter due to his aforementioned pace] which necessarily took precedent. The family lived at Campfield House on Wellside Place and ran a carrier business between Falkirk & Glasgow [effectively a part courier, part stagecoach service].
What makes Alex stick out even more is that he was Falkirk's youngest player before the Second World War, his first game being a Scottish Cup Match v Partick [Not Partick Thistle] on the 25th of October 1884 at the tender age of 16 Years and 294 Days. Which is slightly baffling .... Why would Falkirk give a player his first game in such an important fixture? Surely he played before this game. He had played at least one match for the reserves the season before [scoring], but still. Of course it may have been an emergency, but in all likelihood he would have played some matches before this game.
This is where my task can be infuriating, before the 25th of October that season I know of six matches played, but I only have details of who played for two of them. Most of the debuts I give up to the 1890s are just the first time it was reported a player played. In any case, no scorers were noted in his first match [although Falkirk did score] but after this point, he continued to score regularly when he was available to play until his Father died and he had to take on full control of the business.
As with many of the earliest players I have no picture of him, but am always looking.
Alexander 'Ballangeich' Gillespie
b 5th January 1868, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 17th March 1945, Rosyth, Fife
Debut – Saturday October 25th 1884 v Partick (A) Scottish Cup 3rd Rd
Positions – Outside-Right, Inside-Right
Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1885/86
Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup RU 1886/87, Falkirk District Charity Cup RU 1885/86
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [7/4]
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [11/9]
Other Matches/Goals [24/25]
Total Matches/Goals [43/38]
Known Career – Falkirk [1884/85-1889/90, 1891/92]
Played for Falkirk District XI v Rangers, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 30th May 1885
Played for East Stirlingshire v Port Glasgow Athletic, Friendly at Clune Pk, Port Glasgow, 6th November 1886
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 5th May 1887
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Vale of Grange, Friendly at Public Pk, Grangemouth, 29th October 1887
NB - As an addendum, Alex often played under the pseudonym 'Anderson', I did not relate the two players [well same player] in my notes until 'Anderson' playing with East Stirlingshire was injured by a kick between the shoulder blades, and it was noted the next week that Alex couldn't play for Falkirk as he had been injured during the ESFC match