Showing posts with label Falkrk FC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Falkrk FC. Show all posts

Monday, 24 December 2018

Did Falkirk FC invent the diamond formation?

Falkirk FC were undergoing one of their regular poor seasons in 1892/93 - Their demon Goalkeeper John Patrick had been poached by St Mirren, John Drummond had been theived by Rangers, John Gillespie pilfered by Queen's Park, Thomas McDonald had gone off in a strop to Slamannan Rovers and Danny Daye had got a real job in a foundry.

Falkirk had adequate replacements for most of these players, except McDonald & Daye, Inside-Right and Centre-Forward respectively. For the early part of the season Falkirk had used Robert Fearns, normally a Right-Half to cover in the Inside-Right position, and a continuation of transient journeymen, all failures at Centre-Forward. But all was not going well, the club were in the bottom half of the Scottish Federation, and not looking like climbing the table anytime soon.

Then in January, Fearns got injured. Falkirk then used a trialist who proved a "total frost" at Inside-Right in the Cup game against Campsie Falkirk losing 4-3 - a disaster only averted by the fact that Campsie had played a Left-Back who had played in the Army Cup that season (the lack of clarity in the SFA rules as to whether the Army Cup constituted a cup saving Falkirk this time), therefore the game was ordered to be replayed.

In the rematch Falkirk played their usual Centre-Half, John Pray, at Inside-Right, hoping he would emulate Fearns' promotion [it has to be said Pray had previously covered at Centre-Forward with mixed success], at the same time Falkirk promoted Paddy Wemyss from the 2nd XI to play at Centre-Half.

Reading the match reports, Pray was not particularly impressive at Inside-Right and in the second half was ordered to play in his usual Centre-Half role. Falkirk were playing with no Inside-Right and two Centre-Halves, however Pray was given licence to come forward linking the Half-Back line with the forwards, whilst Wemyss retained a more defensive central position, Falkirk went on to win the cup tie, though not necessarily by dint of Falkirk's tactical fudge.

The very next week Falkirk played almost the same line-up, except Pray and Wemyss had been reversed. Seemingly the selecting committee hoping Wemyss would prove a better Inide-Right. But it was not to be so, within 15 minutes of the match against Kilsyth Wanderers Pray & Wemyss again swapped, with Pray again given the role of an extra Centre-Half with licence to link between the halves and the forwards.

Falkirk continued to play two Centre-Halves in their matches for about a month and a half, always Pray going forward and Wemyss staying back, with a Right-Half and a Left-Half this is clearly a diamond in the midfield.

As an experiment it was certainly more successfull than Falkirk's form in the first half of the season, however it fundamentally relied upon Falkirk's best player of the time Alex Stark controlling the whole of the Right-Wing on his own, therefore when Alex started missing matches because of work commitments (it was pre-proffessionalism) it quickly fell apart.

Eventually, Fearns, plus veteran John "Sodger" McDonald (and even the prodigal Thomas McDonald) became available towards the end of the season, Fearns returned to Right-Half, Falkirk played a regular 2-3-5 and their "extra Centre-Half" experiment was given up. Although it came about by pure necessity and not through tactical innovation it would seem Falkirk had stumbled upon playing a defensive central midfielder with an attacking central midfielder decades before it became a recognised tactic.