Showing posts with label Robert Chisholm Robertson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Chisholm Robertson. Show all posts

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.