Showing posts with label Junior Football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Junior Football. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Falkirk District Works Cup 1898

There have been many football competitions in Scotland from the international to the ultra-local, the best overall coverage of these competitions is on the Scottish Football Historical Archive. Research into these cups is ongoing, and in many places patchy is about the best compliment that can be paid. This is not to cast aspersions upon the many researchers and local historians beavering away at the coalface of Scottish Football History, the fact is that most of the games were simply not reported, and even when they were they were not reported adequately.

Which brings me to the latest obscure competition that I have been looking into, the rather clumsily titled Falkirk & District Junior Works Cup [I think]. Like I said coverage was patchy, it was reported that a Falkirk Works Junior Association had been formed in order to have a competition between the major companies in the district. The Falkirk Herald reported that the new FA was to be affiliated to the Falkirk & District Junior FA and the Competition would be played to their rules.

This brings up many unanswerable questions: since the Falkirk Junior FA was affiliated to the Stirlingshire Junior FA and therefore in turn also affliated to the Scottish Junior FA, were the players not cup tied by the tail-end of the season, or were they given an exemption, or did the teams only use players not already with the Junior Clubs of the District?

Like I said, this is completely unaswerable from this remove, since there were no reports as such, most of the games were only mentioned in passing in the Junior part of the 'Football Intelligence' columns [read 'Gossip columns'] of the local papers. I am not even completely sure that I have been able to find the complete competition since none of the draws were reported, however the matches that I have found do not bring up any glaring problems to what I believe the basic structure of the Cup was, though there is the possibility that some of the games here may have been replays of previous unreported matches.

First Round

Apr 12    Falkirk Foundry             3      Larbert Foundry             3
Apr 19    Abbots Foundry              5      Springfield Foundry         0
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

There is clearly something missing from this round, most probably a replay for the Falkirk Foundry v Larbert Foundry match, however it is also possible that Larbert Foundry withdrew or were thrown out for an infringement, either way only Falkirk Foundry made it through to the next round.
I presume that Carron Foundry & Castlelaurie Foundry were given byes, however there is the possibility that they played [and won] matches against two [as yet] unknown opponents.


May 11    Carron Foundry              5      Abbots Foundry              6
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]
May 16    Falkirk Foundry             0      Castlelaurie Foundry        0

May 23    Falkirk Foundry             3      Castlelaurie Foundry        4
     Replay, Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

Slight clarification needed here, the first two of these matches were referred to as Second Round matches, it was only in the replay that the papers stated Semi-Final, but it seems most likely that was just poor word choice.


Jun 6     Abbots Foundry              3      Castlelaurie Foundry        2
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

One last thing to touch upon, of the six matches I can trace, four were reported to have taken place at Merchiston Park, for the other two there was no mention of the ground, I think it was quite likely that all the matches were played at Merchiston Park, the fact that none of the known matches took place on the same date gives this some traction, but I doubt if that will ever become clear, or will ever be relevant.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Junior Hell - Heather Rangers 1897/98

Although I mainly concentrate on Senior Football in Falkirk District, as a sideline I do note down all football in the town & its suburbs. So I have reems & reems of results from all manner of 'clubs' from proper Junior clubs down to scratch XIs representing anything from streets to the various Co-Operative Societies. And this is where it Hell. To this day I do not fully 'get' Junior Football: Dunipace Juniors play in the West Region; Camelon Juniors play in the East Region; Falkirk Juniors [who actually play in Grangemouth further East than Camelon] play in the Central. On top of this there are all manner of bizarrely named cups which seem to go on until the week before the next season.

Excuse my ignorance, I was just not brought up following the Junior game. But in my researches this week into the 1897/98 season and trying to put together an idea of the local Junior teams & Competitions has given me an inkling into why Junior football is so byzantyne. One club: Heather Rangers of Stenhousemuir.

In 1897/98 Heather Rangers competed in the Scottish Junior Cup, the stirlingshire Junior Cup, the Falkirk District Junior Cup, The Falkirk District Junior League, the Falkirk Cottage Hospitals' Junior Shield, the Stirling District Junior Cup & the Stirling District Junior League [nb - The Stirling District Junior Cup was two legged, and both the Stirling District Junior competitions did not start until after Christmas].

Now, you will obviously be shocked that they did not fulfill their fixtures [some of the cup matches having to be played in the next season], but this is a bugbear of mine, very little is known of these competitions, and even though some of us are trying to record them, so little was published that it is nearly impossible from this remove. And another, will Stenhousemuir make up its mind as to whether it is in Falkirk District or Stirling District.

Known Matches by Heather Rangers in 1897/98

Aug 21    Airth Castle Rangers        3      Heather Rangers             1      Friendly
Sep 4     Forth Rangers               0      Heather Rangers             1      Falkirk District Junior League
Sep 11    Heather Rangers             1      Falkirk Hawthorn            2      Falkirk District Junior League
Sep 18    Heather Rangers             5      Forth Rangers               3      League?
Sep 25    Heather Rangers             5      Falkirk Excelsior           1      Scottish Junior Cup 1st Rd
Oct 2     Gairdoch Junior             -      Heather Rangers             -      Falkirk District Junior League [Heather did not turn up]
Oct 9     Heather Rangers             5      Falkirk Excelsior           4      Falkirk District Junior Cup 2nd Rd
Oct 16    Heather Rangers             2      Slamannan Swifts            3      Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd [protest]
Oct 23    Gairdoch Juniors            2      Heather Rangers             0      Hospitals Shield?
Oct 30    Artizan Thistle             2      Heather Rangers             1      Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Rd
Nov 6     Heather Rangers             3      Slamannan Swifts            3      Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd
Nov 20    Slamannan Swifts            6      Heather Rangers             2      Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd Rep
Nov 27    Forth Rangers               2      Heather Rangers             1      Falkirk District Junior Cup Semi @Merch
Dec 18    Gairdoch Juniors            3      Heather Rangers             2      Falkirk District Junior League
Dec 25    Heather Rangers             3      Larbert Broomage Albion     2      Friendly
Jan 15    Longcroft Thistle           1      Heather Rangers             2      Stirling District Junior Cup 1st Rd 1st Leg
Jan 22    Heather Rangers             4      Longcroft Thistle           1      Stirling District Junior Cup 1st Rd 2nd Leg
Jan 29    Heather Rangers             3      Falkirk Excelsior           3      Falkirk District Junior League
Feb 5     Heather Rangers             7      Rising Star                 1      Falkirk District Junior League
Feb 19    Heather Rangers             3      St Ninians Thistle          2      Stirling District Junior Cup 2nd Rd 1st Leg
Feb 26    St Ninians Thistle          2      Heather Rangers             1      Stirling District Junior Cup Aband
Mar 5     Tillicoultry Victoria       2      Heather Rangers             2      Friendly
Mar 19    St Ninians Thistle          1      Heather Rangers             4      Stirling District Junior Cup 2nd Rd 2nd Leg
Apr 2     Heather Rangers             0      Bannockburn                 2      Stirling District Junior Cup Semi 1st Leg
Apr 9     Bannockburn                 5      Heather Rangers             2      Stirling District Junior Cup Semi 2nd Leg
May 7     Rising Star                 1      Heather Rangers             1      Falkirk District Junior League
May 14   Falkirk Excelsior            0      Heather Rangers             1      Falkirk District Junior League
I have to add to this that the Falkirk Herald did not publish every football result, it was dependant upon the club sending in match reports/results. I know this as they occasionally published the Falkirk District Junior League Table and the table did not tally with the published matches, but I can only go on what was reported.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Obscure Matches : Stirlingshire Juniors v Stirlingshire Seniors

Junior Football in Falkirk has always been a very haphazard affair, there is no really strong tradition in the town. There is a long tradition in some of the outlying areas, but never really strong unlike say in Glasgow, Ayrshire or East Lothian. In Falkirk it has always been overshadowed by the senior clubs [few other 'conurbations' in Scotland carry three League sides in such proximity].

But right back in 1890s there were plenty of junior sides in Falkirk alone. For the most part they played on Victoria Public Park, but some had their own grounds, Falkirk Hawthorn played at Firs Park when East Stirlingshire were still playing in Bainsford, and Falkirk Thistle played on Princes Park to the South of Town. This along with borrowing Brockville for the big games [and Saturdays when Falkirk were away] they struggled through.

But although there were plenty of clubs, not all were big enough to make the local leagues strong enough. Every year they were re-organised, and every year it would struggle to be completed, both through lack of interest. Some problems were obvious, four big local sides Denny Athletic, Dunipace, Heather Rangers [Stenhousemuir] & Broomage Albion [Larbert] played in the Stirling & District Junior League. These would have been better off playing with the Falkirk, Grangemouth & Bainsford sides, alas they did not.

On top of this even back then there were so many Cups that the end of seasons were just, well, like they are now, there were many moves towards a Stirlingshire League before the main one was eventually set up, but more often as an afterthought, often concocted by the teams left out. Sometimes, like the Midland Junior League it was run alongside the Stirling & Falkirk Junior Leagues with the best teams from both, of course this meant two sets of home & away matches over & above cups & replays, so inevitably led to chaos.

What this meant was that both the leagues & the clubs themselves struggled to survive and had to play even more 'benefit' games to keep going. The point of this post, played on Tuesday 26th April 1898 for the Falkirk & District Junior League for the first time a representative side of Stirlingshire Juniors met a Senior Stirlingshire side [though made up solely of amateur players in the seniors] and did pretty well all told drawing on the hallowed turf of Brockville Park.

Of interest, is that this was probably the only time in their careers that the juniors got to play against a full international [David Alexander of ESFC]

Monday, 5 August 2013

Falkirk Excelsior & the Falkirk Junior Cup 1889

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.