Showing posts with label Football in Falkirk District. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Football in Falkirk District. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Sunday Football in Stenhousemuir 1890

Falkirk Herald - 1st March 1890

Stenhousemuir Local News


"The craze for this not particularly elevating pastime appears to be developing beyond the bounds of common decency. This was evidenced by the fact that number of young lads of ages ranging from 12 to 18 years were seen engaging in a game at football the other Sunday evening. A long game was engaged in, and though asked by young lady passer-by to desist, little or no attention was given. About a month ago some of this playing was going on previous to the evening service, it was viewed without murmur by about 200 spectators."

Monday, 6 July 2015

Football "Up the Braes"

Rumford Rovers & Redding Athletic

From Laurieston to Maddiston there is now a nearly contiguous line of villages just seperated from Falkirk because of Callendar Park.

Back in the 19th Century they existed relatively apart from one another and all based upon their own colliery and/or foundry.

The villages were [indeed still are] Laurieston, Westquarter, Redding, Reddingmuirhead, Brightons, Rumford & Maddiston. With the exception of Laurieston very few senior clubs came out of these 'outskirts', especially when compared to the intense rivalries to the West of Falkirk.

Rumford Rovers

This club, at the very least, began life as a serious club sometime during the summer of 1887, but toward the end, they were simply a laughing stock, if not simply a sham club.
Playing their matches at Wallacelea Park, Rumford were always going to struggle against clubs from bigger town when in the Stirlingshire Cup, never mind the Scottish Cup.
It must be said that not only did Rumford not provide a huge pool of players, but the local clubs largely shunned them when it came to friendlies, only the odd match against the 2nd XI being played. And without good matches they fell by the way. However by the time of professionalism they were still appearing on the rosters of the Stirlingshire & Scottish FAs, the only problem being that they never fulfilled any of their later fixtures.
In fact, there was often controversy, even intrigue, in the local press as to whether they existed as a club at all. The two main theories being that a local un-named politician was paying for the upkeep of the club in order to garner votes in local elections: or that somebody was maintaining a 'paper club' to retain voting rights on the SFA Council, either way both the Stirlingshire & Scottish FAs got too suspicious of their lack of playing record and forcibly ejected them.

Redding Athletic

Unlike their cousins up the Braes, Redding Athletic were never involved in any controversies, like Rumford they were rather inept at football at the senior level. Formed slightly before Rumford [they played their first recorded match on March 2nd 1887] at the end of the 1886/87 Season.
I have no record as yet where they played their home matches, but did read once that they played on the playing fields at the southern tip of Laurieston.
The most famous event in the short history of the club was hosting the largest home defeat in Scottish Senior Football, losing 0-17 to Camelon later in 1887.
Redding suffered from the same problems as Rumford, not enough local talent, not enough of a support base, not enough matches against larger clubs to get a regular income. Without the income they just fizzled out during 1892. Not with a bang like Rumford Rovers, they just stopped, with no announcement, being in the papers.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Alas Three O'Clock Saturday Afternoon

Fixture congestion! Avoiding clashes with other matches! We have all become enured to football matches being played at random times times [usually at the behest of the broadcasters] instead of what was some would have us believe happened back in the good old days, when all the clubs across the country kicked off at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, but of course, like everything else the pundits are again talking rubbish!

Football matches have always kicked off when it was most convenient to the sides playing, and I found a match which I found rather interesting [well to me anyway]: A match between the Lawyers' Clerks and the Press Clerks of Falkirk in April 1896 which kicked off at 7 o'clock of a Wednesday morning. Of course it makes sense when you think about it ... The match was played on one of the few parts of central Falkirk where a proper game of Football could be played: Brockville Park, the evenings were taken up with Charity Cup or Benefit matches, and the Clerks would have to work from about 9 to 5 during the day, so morning would be the best time for the match.

However it still seems a bit weird, imagine a lawyer's clerk turning up at 9:00 in the morning having only finished a game of football about 15 minutes earlier, it certainly puts into perspective those office workers who cycle into work before showering and taking their place at their desk. Of course it is possible that the players were allowed to come in an hour or so late, in order to go home and bathe [I can almost guarantee you that none of them had showers in 1896] before turning up at work, but it is still a bit bizarre.

The next time that your club is asked to play a match on a Sunday at 7:00 in the evening, just think before you say that the World has gone mad: Football matches have been going on at strange times for over a century!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Clubs from Falkirk District - Comely Park

Now, first things first, I do not come to this from a completely unbiased position, as a febrile youth I attended Comely Park Primary School, so I was brought up in the same part of Falkirk in which this team played, so I have a wee bit of affection for them.

One of myriad short lived senior football clubs from the 1880s Comely Park were one of the few clubs that played South of the High Street in the town. It is unclear exactly where they played their matches, apart from the vague 'within the policies of Comely Park House'. This is a large area, and in the 1880s much of it was not as built up as it now, but two places stick out, there was a patch of ground, modern Cochrane Street which developed into the current Bowling Club, and which was later used by several Junior Clubs, and there was a football ground later used by Falkirk Amateurs which was on the area of land roughly occupied by the car park directly East of Kemper Avenue [as an aside Kemper is the local dialect spelling of Quimper, France [oh I read far too much]], I tend to go for the second, but this is mainly because in one match Comely Park advertised "Entrance via Burnfoot Lane". Again things have to be contextualised, nowadays there is a large area [now a carpark] on Williamson Street, but back then Williamson Street was all tenaments, so it had to be further out. It is possible that you could access modern Cochrane Street from Burnfoot Lane before St Crispins Avenue was built, but to me the fact that Burnfoot Lane veers to the East makes me think it is more likely that they played on what was to become Tannery Park, but this is all conjecture.

Falkirk FC used Comely Park like a nursery club, much in the way they would later do with Falkirk Amateurs, and the overlap does not end there. The Gillespie brothers were as steeped in Comely Park and in Falkirk Amateurs as they ever were with Falkirk FC [there is an inkling in my mind that they may have been instigators of both clubs] - Alex & William played for Comely Park, Robert & George played for Falkirk Amateurs, John played for both. so what is known is that there was a lot of overlap with players between Falkirk & Comely Park. However it must be noted that Falkirk never took the club seriously only sending the second XI to play them.

One of the problems which football clubs in Falkirk have faced is that Falkirk FC simply got there first, so have been on the losing end of a circle of diminishing returns, fewer fans than the bigger clubs mean smaller gates, smaller gates means a smaller kitty for upkeep of ground, shabbier grounds means fewer good players wish to turn out for them, meaning it is made difficult to get good results, meaning the fickle fanbase are less likely to turn out, and it starts again [remember, Comely Park spent their entire time during the amateur era, but even then financial constraints mattered, if not for players' wages].

It was an interesting experiment, and although I love the fact my football club so simple that it is the name of my town, I occasionally hanker to support a club with a slightly exotic name, something local, something from left-field [something every ESFC fan must get when they rage at stupid reporters from South of the Border who lazily assume that they are from Stirling], but as I said, Falkirk FC got there first, besides if I were to support a team on the basis of name alone I would be a Tayavalla fan, even though I am not [and would never wish to be] from Tamfourhill.

All in all, Comely Park existed, they never shook anything up, they barely got recognition within Falkirk, never mind the wider world, but the chaps who turned out for them tried their hardest, and it was hardly their fault that those which showed any promise were pilfered by either Falkirk or East Stirlingshire, or even by Grahamston FC, the sad fact is that even by the 1880s football was so commercialised that a small, locally based football team could not survive [never mind compete] even at a local level before the advent of junior football, and I will point again to those of us knowledgable of Falkirk of the historical dearth of football South of the High Street.

Known Matches played by Comely Park FC

Sat Nov  3rd 1883 v Grahamston                (H)   4-1        Friendly
Sat Nov 17th 1883 v Tayavalla 2nd XI          (H)   2-1        Friendly
Sat Dec  1st 1883 v East Stirlingshire 3rd XI (H)   0-2        Friendly
Sat Feb  9th 1884 v East Stirlingshire        (H)   1-9        Stirlingshire 1st Rd
Sat May 17th 1884 v Carron                    (A)   3-3        Friendly
Sat Oct 18th 1884 v Strathblane               (A)   withdrew   Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Nov 15th 1884 v Laurieston                (A)   2-2        Friendly
Sat Mar 28th 1885 v Grangemouth               (A)   0-3        Friendly
Sat May 16th 1885 v Laurieston                (H)   2-3        Friendly
Sat Jun  4th 1885 v Grangemouth               (H)  11-1        Friendly *
Sat Sep 19th 1885 v Falkirk 2nd XI            (A)   1-8        Friendly
Sat Sep 26th 1885 v Stirling Olympic          (H)   7-0        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Oct 17th 1885 v Falkirk Cricket Club      (H)   3-1        Friendly
Sat Nov  7th 1885 v Laurieston                (A)   1-1        Friendly
Sat Nov 21st 1885 v Campsie Central           (H)   1-1        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Nov 28th 1885 v Campsie Central           (A)   3-6        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd Replay
Sat Dec  5th 1885 v Laurieston                (H)   0-5        Friendly
Sat Dec 19th 1885 v Falkirk Harp              (A)   1-1        Friendly
Sat Dec 26th 1885 v Camelon 2nd XI            (H)   3-1        Friendly
Sat Jan  9th 1886 v Falkirk 2nd XI            (H)   3-0        Friendly
Sat Mar  6th 1886 v Black Watch               (H)   2-1        Friendly
Sat Mar 20th 1886 v Falkirk Harp              (H)   6-3        Friendly
Sat Apr  3rd 1886 v East Stirlingshire 2nd XI (H)   2-1        Friendly
Thu May  6th 1886 v East Stirlingshire 2nd XI (A)   1-2        Friendly
Sat May  8th 1886 v Falkirk                   (A)   1-4        Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
Sat May 22nd 1886 v Partick Thistle           (H)   4-5        Benefit * #
Sat Sep 25th 1886 v Grangemouth               (H)   withdrew   Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd

* Comely Park played on these occasions with the explicit assistance of players from other clubs [mainly Falkirk FC]
# Benefit for the funds of Comely Park FC

NB - I have found several matches by Falkirk FC which were not reported in the Local press, so there is the massive possibility that Comely Park played more matches about which I have no clue, and no real way of knowing.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Clubs in Falkirk District - Gairdoch

Long before the current situation, in about the 1880s/90s if you were to ask a local who was the third biggest team in Falkirk District [clearly 'Shire then Falkirk [in that order] would be 1 & 2] they would probably look at you then say "Camelon" with the unsaid "ya div" left hanging in the ether.

If you were to ask who was fourth, it would be murkier, but I would lay a bet that they would more likely say Gairdoch before Stenhousemuir.

The village of Carronshore is not where you might find a really good football team [do not get me wrong shoreites, the village produced many good footballers, many who eventually joined other, bigger clubs] but it is too small to attract a big enough crowd to pay them players. They were helped by the fact that T.D.Brodie [their Patron] let them play at Dovecote Park without paying rent.

But even that could not stem the tide of professionalism, eventually FFC, ESFC & clubs further afeild pilfering their best players meant they collapsed into nothingness: they were reborn into a junior side, but even that could not sutain itself.

It is sad, as they really did produce some good players.

I have never tracked down the exact location of Dovecote Pk, but get the feeling that it might have been somewhere close to the Dovecote.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Death by Football - 1889

I came across an article in the Evening News, and saved it as it was to do with Football round about Falkirk, then I had a thought .... it was like - hmmmmm!

The article was about a young bloke who had died as a result of an accident on the football field, and it set me thinking. I had a look through the local papers that I have copies of, and I can not find an earlier fatality due simply to footballing factors in the District. I am pretty sure, but not certain, that it would have been mentioned had it happened anywhere else in Stirlingshire, but I can find nothing.

I have a very rubbish book about British Football, which states the first death due to football in Britain was William Walker of Leith Athletic v Vale of Leven in 1907, but I think they were only counting League & Cup matches. I have tried to look for an earlier death in google, but to no avail.

It is very difficult to look up these things as I can find no footballing/death source to cross reference, but on February 23rd 1889 in a match between Redding Athletic and Southfield at Redding a player by the name of Robert Whyte received a kick to the stomach, he left the field, however his condition worsened over the weekend, finally dying on the Tuesday. There is no match report in the Falkirk Herald [the fact that he died is the only reason I know the match even occurred], and I only have two sources for the aftermath.

Now, I can hear what some of you are thinking, Redding v Southfield [from Slamannan] this is just a kick-around, but both these teams were members of both the Scottish & Stirlingshire FAs, the fact that it was an ordinary match [not quite a friendly, but this was before League Football] is neither here nor there, however it was two Scottish Senior clubs in a tussle for local bragging rights, and Redding would have ended the game with only ten [or less] players.

Robert Whyte

b c 1866
d 26th February 1899, Redding, Stirlingshire

Known Career - Redding Athletic [????-1899] ["long a member of his club"]

NB - I have had a look at the 1881 Census and can only find a Robert White living in Polmont [Parish], however the IGI has a Robert Whyte born in Polmont [Parish] c 1865, but dying in 1888!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Arsenal v East Stirlingshire 22nd Feb 1896

Among my many faults, not only do I follow Falkirk Football Club, but am also a bit of a Gooner! So I can say without doubt that I am sooo jealous of this match! The world has so chnged in the last 100+ plus years that it makes it seem bizarre, or even ridiculous, but in February 1896 the Zebras went south to take on the soon to be mighty Arsenal.

Like I said: Jealous!!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Laurieston FC - Clubs in Falkirk District

Laurieston FC were one of the longest lasting of the small senior clubs in Falkirk District, which, in my opinion, counts greatly in their favour: although always struggling in the face of clubs with a larger support, they never gave up the ghost until League football finally killed off the village club.

Coming from just a mile or two direcly East of Falkirk, Laurieston was a newtown of its era, originally called New Merchiston [along with Grangemouth the Laird was Lawrence Dundas, who also owned Merchiston in Edinburgh] it was created to situate some nail factories, and though Laurieston was soon superceded by Camelon in the nail business, Laurieson remained, though have never discovered which industries replaced the nails!

The club itself seems to have been formed about the summer of 1884, and as far as I know played their home matches throughout at Zetland Park, just below the village toward Grangemouth [though whether this is the same ground as the current football pitches located there is impossible to ascertain]. However much is known of the club, many of the players are clearly named in many of their matches, so there is more known of the club. The players who were randomly 'snatched' by Falkirk & East Stirlingshire just show the big fish nature of football. But Laurieston were also a big fish in their own little pond, often 'pilfering' players from Rumford Rovers & Redding Athletic in their own right.

They were sometimes, but not always, knockovers, but were fully part of the local senior scene, entering the Scottish Cup, Stirlingshire Cup and the two local cups for most of their lifespan, as well as other cups where they had the opportunity. I do not think they won anything in their time, but nor do I think they expected to, they played for their village and they hoped against hope that they could pull off a result.

Among the players they reared were Peter Steele [East Stirlingshire], David Fleming [Falkirk FC], Mathew Myles [many clubs].

One of the few teams where it is known their colours, as the Falkirk Herald in 1889 stated that they played in Amber & Black stripes. It is an absolute shame we went the way of splitting out football on senior/junior lines as they could have survived in a Division 8-10 of Scottish Football, with the odd draw against a big team in the cup keeping them going, but that was not to be: they were replaced by the Junior Club Laurieson Villa soon after, who produced the mighty Jock Simpson.

I would put all of Laurieston FC's competetive matches here, but they did play a lot, am working on it!

18th Oct 1884 King's Park           13  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
26th Sep 1885 Laurieston             0  Campsie Central       4  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
17th Apr 1886 Falkirk                7  Laurieston            0  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
11th Sep 1886 Grahamston             0  Laurieston            2  Scottish Cup 1st Rd
25th Sep 1886 Grahamston             3  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd [Grahamston disqualified]
 2nd Oct 1886 Laurieston             1  Falkirk               3  Scottish Cup 2nd Rd
30th Nov 1886 Falkirk                4  Laurieston            1  Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
19th Feb 1887 East Stirlingshire     6  Laurieston            0  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
 7th Sep 1887 Slamannan              5  Laurieston            4  Scottish Cup 1st Rd
29th Oct 1887 Campsie               11  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
25th Feb 1888 Laurieston             6  Camelon               3  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
 7th Apr 1888 Laurieston             1  Grangemouth           3  Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
 1st Sep 1888 Vale of Bannock        3  Laurieston            2  Scottish Cup 1st Rd
27th Oct 1888 East Stirlingshire    11  Laurieston            2  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
20th Apr 1889 Laurieston             8  Stenhousemuir         1  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
 8th May 1889 Camelon                5  Laurieston            4  Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
11th May 1889 Denny                  7  Laurieston            2  Kilsyth Charity Cup 1st Rd
 7th Sep 1889 Dunipace               2  Laurieston            3  Scottish Cup 1st Rd
28th Sep 1889 Laurieston             1  East Stirlingshire    4  Scottish Cup 2nd Rd
 2nd Nov 1889 Laurieston             1  Kilsyth Wanderers     0  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
16th Nov 1889 Falkirk                6  Laurieston            2  Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
22nd Feb 1890 Falkirk                4  Laurieston            1  Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield Semi-Final
 6th Sep 1890 Campsie                4  Laurieston            1  Scottish Cup 1st Rd
 1st Nov 1890 Laurieston             3  Bridge of Allan       2  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
22nd Nov 1890 Laurieston             1  Stenhousemuir         1  Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
29th Nov 1890 Laurieston             2  Stenhousemuir         1  Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd Replay
13th Dec 1890 Campsie Hibs           1  Laurieston            6  Stirlingshire Cup 3rd Rd
17th Jan 1891 Grangemouth            4  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire Cup Semi-Final
28th Feb 1891 East Stirlingshire     7  Laurieston            1  Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield Semi-Final
25th Apr 1891 Falkirk                8  Laurieston            0  Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
31st Oct 1891 Laurieston             4  Bridge of Allan       2  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
12th Dec 1891 Falkirk                3  Laurieston            2  Stirlingshire Cup 3rd Rd
18th May 1892 Falkirk                7  Laurieston            0  Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
29th Oct 1892 Laurieston             3  Camelon               7  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
12th Apr 1893 Falkirk               12  Laurieston            0  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
17th May 1893 East Stirlingshire     5  Laurieston            1  Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield Semi-Final
16th Sep 1893 Denny                  5  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire League
14th Oct 1893 Laurieston             1  Dunipace              4  Stirlingshire League
21st Oct 1893 Gairdoch               8  Laurieston            0  Stirlingshire League
28th Oct 1893 Laurieston             2  Bridge of Allan       4  Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
 4th Nov 1893 Grasshoppers           6  Laurieston            2  Stirlingshire League
11th Nov 1893 Laurieston             5  Grangemouth           7  Stirlingshire League
 3rd Feb 1893 Grangemouth            8  Laurieston            3  Stirlingshire League
10th Feb 1894 Laurieston             2  Denny                 1  Stirlingshire League
24th Feb 1894 Laurieston             7  Slamannan Rovers      4  Stirlingshire League
10th Mar 1894 Laurieston             3  Grasshoppers          3  Stirlingshire League
31st Mar 1894 Laurieston             1  Gairdoch              7  Stirlingshire League
18th Apr 1894 East Stirlingshire     8  Laurieston            2  Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
15th May 1894 Falkirk                7  Laurieston            0  Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield Semi-Final
 1st May 1895 Camelon                3  laurieston            1  Falkirk Cottage Hospital Shield Semi-Final

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Falkirk v Kelvinbank 1877

Back in the day it was common for Combined Elevens to play matches, mostly for benefit games, but often as a bridge between Club and national football. Falkirk District XIs were commonplace throughout the 1880s and 1890s. However the first team to play under such a name was special, since it was the first ever game of football played in Falkirk.

In November 1877 the provost sponsored a match between Kelvinbank and a team of Falkirk Bairns then playing in Glasgow. The game was played at Mayfield, which was probably the same ground as Falkirk FC's later ground at Blinkbonny.

Falkirk XI v Kelvinbank, 8th Dec 1877 at Mayfield, Falkirk

Falkirk XI 0 Kelvinbank 5

Falkirk XI– P.C.Masterton; J.Richardson(Capt) & J.McNee; J.Thomson & J.Finlayson; J.Dunn & D.R.Watson, J.Taylor & R.McNee, J.Pringle & W.Parkinson.

Kelvinbank– D.McCall; McDonald & Robertson; Preston & Watson; W.Cumming(Capt) & W.Kerr, J.Thomson & W.Anderson, M.Currie & R.Cumming.

Scorers– Unknown.

James Richardson for the Falkirk side was the brother of George [the Falkirk FC Secretary], and later played for Falkirk FC, in later life he was manager of the Gothic foundry and as I never tire of telling people, was remarkably Falkirk's only player who was born in Peru!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Falkirk District Football 1880/81

Back in the day, before your internets, and before your mass media, the only way to find about anything was to be there or to be able buy one of the few publications about it. These days we can google this or that and find out in a flash the sum of human knowledge [which some idiot has been bothered to put on the internet] about whatever subject you want. Not so at the start of the 1880s when the only sources of info about football clubs was the local press and the SFA handbooks.

This sadly comes from the season just before East Stirlingshire joined the SFA so are excluded, but this is a very interesting insight into local football from the season 1880/81.


Founded in 1877, 50 members. Grounds - Private: Blinkbonny Grounds - 15 minutes drive from the station. Dressing Room - Crown Hotel. Colours - Blue & White. Last Year - Played: 26 matches - won 13, lost 7, drawn 6, obtained 38 goals, lost 25 goals. George Richardson: Hon & Match Secy.


Formed 1875, 30 members. Grounds - Private: Bonnyside, Bonnybridge - 15 minutes walk from Greenhill Station, NBR. Dressing room at ground. Colours - Red Jerseys & Stockings, White Knickers. Last Year - Played: 11 matches - won 4, lost 4, drawn 3, obtained 22 goals, lost 25 goals. William Reid, care of Singer Manufacturing Coy., Bonnybridge: Hon & Match Secy.

Thanks to Forrest Robertson for looking this up!

NB - I hope you note my silence of the foundation date of Falkirk FC published within 5 years of said foundation!!!!!!!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Early Football in Grangemouth

Grangemouth is the relative new town in Falkirk District, only coming to life with the opening of the eastern end of the Forth & Clyde Canal in the 1770s. But it was well situated therefore quickly profited with the completion of the canal due to the increase in trade from both the West Coast and from further abroad.

Started by Lawrence Dundas [a majority shareholder in the canal, who clearly wished to maximise his profits] Grangemouth [or Sealock as it began life] was originally situated between the north bank of the canal and the River Carron, the large influx of workers for the docks meant the town quickly grew and soon expanded south onto the carse lands which is now the centre of the town.

By the time of the football boom in Central Scotland had taken off Grangemouth felt secure enough in itself to join in, after a fashion. The first serious attempt to bring senior football to the town seems to be Zetland FC in June 1882 [largely at the hands of Richard Peddie, a former Falkirk FC forward [he lived in the port, but was actually from Sunderland [one of the many who moved to Grangemouth to work in the docks], he had a brother William [also ex-Falkirk but it not is known what, if any, part he had in Zetland FC].

Next to nothing is known of the players or the nature of Zetland FC [all reports in the press gave the barest of details] except that they played their home matches on the Public Park [Now Zetland Park] [Zetland Park was not named for the club, but for the above Lawrence Dundas, the Earl of Zetland, upon whose land Grangemouth was born, this is shown especially by the fact that the earlier village side of Laurieston [Lawrie's town] a mile or so to the north also played on a Zetland Park].

Zetland’s first match seems to have been against East Stirlingshire [themselves only founded in 1880/81] when a 1-1 draw was played at Grangemouth on the 12th of August 1882. Though the team played a fairly high level of opponents [Bo'ness, Grahamston Victoria, Stenhousemuir] that season it seems the main problem was that they rarely came away victorious in these encounters.

The following season the footballing picture becomes very muddled down on the port, though this might be largely down to poor press coverage. 1883/84 is the first season that matches by a team named Grangemouth appear, playing home and away matches with Tayavalla [from Lime Wharf in Tamfourhill]. But in between these two matches a curiosity occurs, for on the 17th of November East Stirlingshire sent both their 1st & 2nd teams to play in Grangemouth. The 2nd XI defeating ’Zetland’ by a goal, whilst the 1st XI played out a goalless draw with ‘Britannia’ on the same day. Both matches on the public park.

This leaves many questions unanswered. 1) was East Stirlingshire playing two distinct clubs that day? 2) Was Britannia the same club as the ‘new’ Grangemouth? 3) Had Zetland changed name to Grangemouth/Britannia [with their 2nd team styling themselves 'Zetland' in the same way that Falkirk often fielded a 'Brockville XI']? Were there, in fact, three teams now in the port? Sadly lack of any concrete info means we will probably never know.

What is certain is that none of the names, Britannia, Grangemouth or Zetland were amongst the entrants to the inaugural Stirlingshire Cup that season, and until the end of the season there is no more mention of football in the town, but that final mention is interesting because for once the report actually mentioned the players and gave a line-up, the match was Britannia against Grahamston 2nd XI in Falkirk on the 17th of May 1884.

Britannia – Muir; Egan & Syme; Johnston & Anderson; Dixon & Robertson, Drysdale & Proudfoot, McDunachie & Latters.
Albert Dickson! [from Dublin], went on to play for Falkirk and Hodge Drysdale for Grahamston.

The next seasons 1884/85 & 1885/86 senior football completely disappears from the radar in Grangemouth, only a couple of references to the [new?] junior club Grangemouth Thistle appear in the press, and most games were against Linlithgowshire junior teams. Followed with a single mention of St Mirren, seemingly a junior team from the town later on.

In fact, it was not until 1886 that anything like senior football returned to the town, when Grangemouth got its one and only serious claimant to a senior team, they went on to join first the Stirlingshire FA then the Scottish FA playing competitive matches at the highest level in the land [The Scottish Cup]. But it started from very humble origins

Falkirk Herald – 20th February 1886

“A club having been got up in Grangemouth, the 2nd Falkirk Harp kindly consented to play their opening match. The Grangemouth won by eight goals to one. For Grangemouth, Miller and Fenney played well on the right, and James Cox in the centre, and the left wing had some fine runs at goal. The back division played well. Ewen was a host in himself, and the goalkeeper played well. For the Harp the right and left wings played best, and the goalkeeper saved some good shots.”

Though never stated, the club most probably started playing on the same Zetland Public Park, but soon moved to Muirhead Park [on the grounds of Muirhead sawmills, currently part of the BP complex] before moving to their more permanent home of Caledonian Park [behind the Grangemouth Town Hall, on the grounds of the Caledonian sawmill [or where ASDA is now [2014]], the rest, as they say, was history, until the Scottish League killed off Senior Football in all but the largest towns.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Amateurs are a rare and fascinating concept in the age of professional football, I could not tell you the last amateur who played for Falkirk FC, but once upon a time they were common in the game. For some reason the term 'amateur' has come to mean something lesser than professional, but this divergence in meaning is flawed. The word 'amateur' in its proper sense means 'one who does it out of love', the fact that they are not remunerated for their effort being the sole difference between them and professional footballers.

The reasons for amateurism were also wide, James Callander played football at weekends, but professionally he was a much more successful architect, it would be sheer folly to abandon his practice; Leslie Skene was a GP which goes a long way to explaining his peripatetic club career, Wiliam Davidson had the luck to come from a well off family, he probably decided not to allow any club to decide what he could and could not do [if you read your contract of work it will likely say that your employer decides whether or not you can have another job] if you get me.

The playing careers of the amateurs were also more interesting, occasionally, they just did not turn up, sometime due to their other committments, sometimes because they were busy doing something in the real world, sometimes they might have simply been otherwise inclined. I was such that in 1909, in the middle of the football season William Davidson just upped and left Falkirk FC to go on a tour of the USA with the Pilgrims. Now good outside-lefts are hard enough to find, and harder to replace at the best of times, but William was an amateur, and had every right to bugger off to the US [I would have done the same thing].

William Davidson [Middle Row, Right]

I think it is a shame that we no longer have the amateurs in our game, if only because all the players are now so samey, it would be nice to think of players playing at a high level because they liked it! But I am a romanticist!

William Davidson

b Langside, Glasgow c1883

Debut – Saturday April 14th 1906 v Forfar Athletic (H) Dewar Shield Semi-Final
League Debut – Saturday August 18th 1906 v Rangers (A) Scottish League Division 1

Positions – Outside-Left

Club Honours – Scottish League Division 1 RU 1907/08, 1909/10, Stirlingshire Consolation Cup W 1906/07,

Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1906/07, 1907/08
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [109/7]
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [8/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [6/2]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [9/3]

Known Career – Queen's Park [1903/04-1905/06], Falkirk [1905/06-1909/10], Pilgrims [1909 tour of North America], Middlesbrough [1910/11], Airdrieonians [1910/11], Everton [1911/12-1912/13], St Mirren [1913/14]

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Grahamston FC - Clubs from Falkirk District

The first ever attempt at a second team in Falkirk [I stand firm to the fact that Falkirk & Bainsford were distinct and that ESFC were from Bainsford] came in the nature of Grahamston FC. As any local person will know by their name they were from the North of the High Street and took in most of the town East of Grahams Road as their territory. Since the now Victoria Pk was then private, I know they never played there, and have had an ongoing dialogue with Alan McCabe as to where their home ground "Crichton Park" actually was, he is more towards a Stewart Rd angle, whereas I am more towards Bell's Meadow, however the most obvious fact is that neither of us know for sure.

The earliest incarnations of Grahamston came in 1883 when Falkirk's 2nd XI played them in a friendly, but they were quick to grow above that station, soon challenging both Falkirk and East Stirlingshire to home and home matches. But the simple fact is that they were beaten to the chase, both Falkirk & East Stirlingshire 'pilfered' their better players, which hampered any chance at progression.

Grahamston could never compete though, only taking in modern day Chinatoon, and Grahamston, when Falkirk had the whole town, and East Stirlingshire could claim all of Bainsford, there was no place for another club in an era when there was little revenue flowing about the game. The most important fact is that both Falkirk & East Stirlingshire 'pilfered' their best players: James 'Sodger' McDonald moved to Falkirk after a season at Crichton Pk, and Harry Simpson [Uncle of the Falkirk Legend Jock Simpson] quickly moved to Bainsford, Alex Rule played for all three!

It is a fact that Falkirk can only accommodate two teams [and when the one which is not Falkirk is firmly rooted in another community], it is a sad fact. Following Grahamston FC's example came Falkirk Amateurs, through the intermediate team "Grahamston Corinthians" but this is not why I am writing. Grahamston were fully active in the football scene only their results let them down! They were a part of the Stirlingshire Football scene.

At their best they competed, at their nadir they were pathetic, if anyone can help on the location of Crichton Park please get in touch [or anything  else].
Grahamston FC in Competitive Football

09/02/1884 v Tayavalla           (A) 2-4 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
18/10/1884 v Grasshoppers        (A) 2-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
25/10/1884 v Grasshoppers        (H) 2-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
29/11/1884 v Strathblane         (A) 1-0 Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
14/02/1885 v Camelon             (A) 0-1 Stirlingshire Cup Semi-Final
15/04/1885 v Tayavalla           (N) 9-0 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
25/04/1885 v East Stirlingshire  (N) 0-5 Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
12/09/1885 v Grasshoppers        (A) 2-2 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
19/09/1885 v Grasshoppers        (H) 2-4 Scottish Cup 1st rd Replay
26/09/1885 v Barnsmuir           (A) 0-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
03/04/1886 v Camelon             (N) 0-5 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston awarded the tie as Camelon played 2 inelligible players]
15/05/1886 v East Stirlingshire  (N) 0-7 Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
11/09/1886 v Laurieston          (H) 0-2 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
25/09/1886 v Laurieston          (H) 3-0 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston disqualified for playing an inelligible player]
02/04/1887 v Camelon             (H) 2-3 Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd
03/09/1887 v Redding Athletic    (H) 4-3 Scottish Cup 1st Rd
[Grahamston disqualified for playing inelligible players]
29/10/1887 v King's Park (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd n/a v Vale of Bannock (A) s-w Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd n/a v East Stirlingshire (N) s-w Falkirk District Charity Cup 1st Rd 26/10/1889 v Slamannan (A) 2-6 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd Grahamston Corinthians 01/11/1890 v Kilsyth Standard (H) 5-2 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd 29/11/1890 v Grangemouth (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd

NB - Since writing this post, I have had a discussion with said Alan McCabe, when he proved, almost to the point of making me speechless that Crichton Park was almost certainly on the south part of where Stewart Road now exists. Sadly however, its brief existence landed almost exactly between two Ordnance Survey maps of Falkirk and was never [as far as I can tell] recorded.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Barnsmuir - Falkirk District Clubs

I never wish this blog to be only about Falkirk FC, or even just the senior clubs in the town, the problem is that even though the game was played across the whole of the district, there was very little organised football in the whole country, so much of the football had very little coverage. Therefore for even the most basic knowledge of football in the outlying villages of the district the only source of contemporary news was the local columns of the local press [ie not in the sport columns]. This haphazard nature means other than their existence, and the odd scoreline, next to nothing is known, or is of note, of most of these [short-lived] clubs. Except occasionally we get a deus ex machina.

Possibly the most Southern club in the history of football in Falkirk District was Barnsmuir, coming as they did from the very border settling of Limerigg. Most people have very little reason to go to, nor even pass through Limerigg; there will be some with little inkling of its location [it is on the road from Slamannan to Caldercruix], it is not very big but even they had a senior club in the heyday of Football.

One of the first problems they came across was of course, their location, apart from the two or so Slamannan clubs and Caldercruix, there were not very many other clubs nearby to play regular matches with, so they could not keep up a regular fixture list, and without the fixtures it is hard to keep up the members enthusiasm for training. Lack of training leads to poor results, which results to a lack of support, which does not help induce teams away from other more lucrative fixtures. This lack of fixtures also meant the club had no regular income, making it harder to comit to fixtures further afield, and the short spiral into oblivion kicks in quickly.

The club were not helped in being possibly the most Southern of the Stirlingshire teams, meaning that even when they were given a good draw in the Stirlingshire Cup, much of the receipts would be eaten up in travelling costs, and the lack of transport infrastructure precluded anything like a traveling support. Another poor hand dealt them in the location is that what transport there was [the Monklands-Bathgate Railway, the Monkland Canal] attached them to clubs outwith their sphere. Of the occasional scores which filtered through the grapevine many were against long-gone, long-forgotten Airdrie & Coatbridge sides.

The name is probably connected to the Barnsmuir Colliery which was one of the main reasons for the village's existence, but it is not known at this remove as to whether it was a Works team or whether they just took up the name because of its local attachments. But it is from this mining link that sprung their two best known players, one became better known in the world of mining, trade-unionism and left-wing politics than he did in the world of football, the other climbed the height of footballing success in the this country and down south. In one of the few matches which was reported in any detail, on the 17th of October 1885 Barnsmuir were drawn Falkirk in the Second Round of the Stirlingshire Cup, the game took place at their home ground Lochmill Pk, and by all reports put up a sterling effort, only losing by 3-0 from one of the best clubs in the county.

In this game two players on the Barnsmuir were singled out for playing well, The first was Dan Doyle, who was to soon move to play for East Stirlingshire, then Hibernian, Sunderland, Grimsby, Bolton, Everton, Celtic and Scotland itself, the other put simply as C.Robertson, turns out to have been Robert Chisholm Robertson, later leader of the Stirlingshire Miners Assoc and one of the inaugural leaders of the Independent Labour Party. It is fascinating that through this village passed two of the most important names in diverse aspects of Scottish cultural life, not only at the same time but battling for the same club on the football pitch. That both were Scots of irish descent is also an interesting coincedence, but there is a lot of that in these parts, my family [different name] would have been part of that same millieu [but in a different part of the county].

As I said before there is little left on the records as to the matches they actually played, and they never really made much of an impact even on the local scene: I have only found matches in two competitions and they are completely absent from the Scottish Cup, but they did play in the Stirlingshire Cup occasionally and once in the short-lived Slamannan & District Charity Cup.

26/09/1885 v Grahamston       (H) 2-0 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
17/10/1885 v Falkirk          (H) 0-3 stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd
22/10/1887 v Vale of Forth    (A) 2-3 Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
26/10/1889 v Denny            (A) 0-8 Stirlingshire cup 1st Rd
10/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 3-3 Slamannan Charity Cup 1st Rd
15/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 2-2 Slamannan charity Cup 1st Rd Replay
22/05/1890 v Drumclair        (N) 3-2 Slamannan Charity Cup 1st Rd Replay
24/05/1890 v Slamannan Swifts (N) 2-4 Slamannan charity Cup 2nd Rd

There were several other friendlies, but they were of a haphazard nature, if anyone is eager to know more, or wishes to research football in Limerigg, get in touch I would be glad to share all I know.