Monday, 5 August 2013
In 1889 a junior football club appeared in Falkirk and were instantly quite successful at the their level, then suddenly dissappeared. The club was called Falkirk Excelsior and there is very little solid information about them to go on, however I have a theory. But first I need to ramble on with a little bit of background info.
The junior Football scene in the district was up until 1889 thriving, but unorganised. There were plenty of clubs with their usual plethora of obscure names [why was there a Barracks Rovers from Camelon?, why Rising Star from Skinflats?, why Bullet Rangers of Grahamston? why Heather Bell of Bainsford? why Royal Oak of Grangemouth?] they played regularly between one another, and against the 2nd XIs of the senior clubs, but the limited coverage they recieved in the papers was usually just a score.
It was out of this that a letter was published in the Falkirk Herald of 16th February 1889, adressed to 'Scrutator' the sports columnist of the paper back then.
"Dear Sir, - I take the liberty of writing to you to see if you could assist in getting a Junior Cup for Falkirk and District, as I am sure it would greatly encourage junior football in this district. I don't see how Falkirk should be behind other towns as it is at present. For instance, in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and also in Paisley, Greenock and Dumbarton, they have more cups than they know what to do with; and, in fact, all the large towns in Scotland have a Junior Cup, with the exception of Falkirk. I am sure there is some gentlemen in the district would present a cup for competition if the matter brought to their notice - the cup to be named after the gentleman presenting it. I am sure it is time something was done, as who is to fill the places of the senior teams? Is it not the present juniors?
James Graham, 11 Graham's Road"
I am not sure whether Mr Graham was involved with a junior club, or just an interested spectator, but he seems to have started something. A couple of weeks later a meeting was announced to be held in Ross's Restaurant, Newmarket Street, Falkirk on Wednesday 6th March between 'represtentatives' from the various villages of the district, however nothing was reported in the following Saturday's paper. It seemed almost as if the whole thing had been forgotten until the end of the month when fixtures were announced for a new Falkirk District Junior Cup with fourteen teams entering. The draw for the first round was - Larbert v Carron Rangers, Our Boys v Falkirk Excelsior, Royal Albert v Carronshore Pates, Slamannan Rovers v Burnhouse, Falkirk Central v Zetland Star, Royal Oak v Falkirk Athletic, Vale of Grange & Falkirk Emmet - byes.
I have already published the details of the competition on the Scottish Football Historical Archive Website so I won't repeat it here, but will say that it was a slightly messy affair, the clubs being new to competition seemed to protest the most trivial of matters, but, in the end the Cup was completed [for its one and only season] with Falkirk Excelsior coming out the eventual victors.
This brings me back to my original point - Excelsior. There was no mention of Falkirk Excelsior until that Falkirk and District Junior Cup draw, and nothing much written after the final. I never noticed this when first reading the reports but later on it started to dawn on me that something was not quite right.
It seems to me quite likely that Excelsior were Falkirk Reserves in disguise, all the players mentioned in the few reports went on to play for Falkirk: James Callander, Daniel Daye, John Devlin, Thomas McFarlane, John Pray, David Ross.
Falkirk Excelsior Matches
30th Mar 1889 v Bainsford Our Boys (H) 7-2 Falkirk District Junior Cup 1st Rd [Protested]
6th Apr 1889 v Bainsford Our Boys (H) 7-0 Falkirk District Junior Cup 1st Rd
13th Apr 1889 v Falkirk Emmett (H) 5-5 Falkirk District Junior Cup 2nd Rd
20th Apr 1889 v Falkirk Emmet (A) 2-1 Falkirk District Junior Cup 2nd Rd Replay
11th May 1889 v Slamannan Rovers (N) 9-2 Falkirk District Junior Cup Semi-Final [protested] played at Brockville Pk, Falkirk.
25th May 1889 v Slamannan Rovers (N) 7-2 Falkirk District Junior Cup Semi-Final played at Crichton Pk, Falkirk.
7th Jun 1889 v Falkirk Athletic (N) 7-3 Falkirk District Junior Cup Final played at Brockville Pk, Falkirk
Note - Another Falkirk Excelsior who played in the mid-1890s were a completely different club.