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who also owned Merchiston in Edinburgh] it was created to situate some nail factories, and though Laurieston was soon superceded by Camelon in the nail business, Laurieson remained, though have never discovered which industries replaced the nails!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

Saturday, 5 April 2014

International XIs


In these days of jet setting and pre-season friendlies wherever it is nice [to me anyway] to think back to a time when the Scottish FA would send off a squad to play a whole bunch of games in a fertile territory in a largely proselytising role. The first of these tours undertaken by the SFA was to Canada in 1927 and had 3 Falkirk players. Both Canada & USA by then had their own fledgling clubs, and several Scottish players had journeyed across the pond to play in those leagues, though it must be said that since very few footballers were paid much in the 1920s it was mainly to work in the heavy industries not the football which attracted them for wages.

In 1927, just after the end of the season the Scottish FA sent a team on one of their few 'missionary' tours playing club sides and local XIs [and the Austrian Club side Vienna Hakoah], and were largely successful. But This about the Falkirk side of that tour. The Three Falkirk players, Thomas Scott, Patsy Gallacher and John Hunter were different carachters: Thomas Scott spent nearly his entire career at the club, Gallacher was an ex-Celtic legend who had been jetisonned by Celtic, and Falkirk saw a bargain, even though he was aging, and Shoogly Hunter a local who did well for some six years with Falkirk before going south to chase his fortune in the English Leagues.

These games came nowhere close to internationals, so Patsy Gallacher who was Irish and had previously played for Ireland and the Irish Free State, but was brought in Scotland, and played all his football in Scotland was given an honour which the SFA can no longer bestow on many servants of our game.

Patsy Gallacher

24th May v Montreal All-stars (IR) 1 Goal
28th May v Toronto All-Stars (IR) 1 Goal
8th Jun v Saskatoon All-Stars (IL) 1 Goal
16th Jun v Vancouver All-Stars (IR) 1 Goal
22nd Jun v Victoria All-Stars (IR)
1st Jul v Northern Ontarion (IL) 2 Goals
11th Jul v Toronto Ulster United (IR) 1 Goal

John Hunter

26th May v Hamilton All-Stars (IL)
1st Jun v New Ontario All-Stars (IR) 4 Goals
4th Jun v Manitoba All-Stars (IL) 1 Goal
6th Jun v Regina All-Stars (IR)
12th Jun v Calgary all-Stars (IL) 1 goal
18th Jun v Upper island All-Stars (IL) 1 goal
22nd Jun v Victoria All-Stars (IL) 1 Goals
26th Jun v British Columbia All-Stars (IL)
27th Jun v Edmonton All-Stars (IL)
29th Jun v Vienna Hakoah (IL)
10th Jul v Ontario All-Stars (IL) 1 Goal
11th Jul v Toronto Ulster United (IL)
15th Jul v Montral All-Stars (IL)

Thomas Scott

24th May v Monteal All-Stars (RB)
1st Jun v New Ontario all-Stars (RB)
4th Jun v Manitoba All-Stars (RB)
8th Jun v Saskatoon All-Stars (RB)
12th Jun v Calgary All-Stars (RB)
18th Jun v Upper Island All-Stars (RB)
1st Jul v Northern Ontario (RB)

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!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Andra Inch

Okay I am not having to write about a player who never played for Falkirk,who played for our arch-enemies East Stirlingshire,

In fact I believe he held the record for ESFC appearances for A Long time.
I am talking about Andrew Inch, outwith Alex Stark & Lawrence. Andra Inch was probably the best player In Falkirk District, but he was a CH so was mainly overlooked. I am pissed off, only because he never made even a guest appearrance for Falkirk, this was a shire man through and through, Andra Inch was the best CH in the County for about ten years, and he was shirey pirey and from Bainsford!

During his time in Local football I think he won everything there was to be won! I will go elswhere to be grumpy!

Andrew Inch

b 13/05/1864, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 18/09/1928, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fifeshire 1885/86 Stirlingshire v
Forfarshire 1886/87, 1887/88 Stirlingshire v Lanarkshire 1883/84 Stirlingshire v Linlithgowshire 1886/87 Stirlingshire v Renfrewshire 1885/86, 1886/87 Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1885/86, 1886/87. 1887/88, 1888/89, 1890/91 RU 1883/84 Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1884/85, 1885/86, 1886/87, 1887/88, 1890/91 RU 1888/89, 1889/90 Falkirk Cottage Hospitals Shield W 1889/90, 1890/91 Falkirk District XI V Linlithgowshire (Benefit Match) 1885/86 Known Career – East Stirlingshire (1883/84 to 1891/92)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Falkirk FC Managers - George Richardson


George Richardson was never, actually, Falkirk Manager: the position did not exist when he was about. He was however Falkirk FC's second Club Secretary [the first John Fleming was only in the position for some months [from the formation of the club in December 1877 until the first AGM in May 1878]. There is not much to say about his tenure, after all the position of Secretary was just an organisational role, most of the important decisions were made by the committee then. It was, however, the most important position in the club [casting vote on the committee, organising the fixture list etc], and it was a very different time from today's football.

George was very middle class, in a town of foundries he was a clerk, so was in the lofty offices instead of getting himself dirty at the coalface [to mix metaphors], therefore he had the perfect background to run the nascent club. And let it not be forgotten that back then the officials of the club were mainly drawn from the playing [and paying] members of the club. Living in Marine Cottage, Grahams Road [I think it was roughly about Carphone Warehouse [but on the Grahams Road]] he came from a well to do family, his father was a Captain in the Merchant Navy, his mother was from far-flung Chelsea, his big brother was a businessman in Glasgow [and a football player with Kelvinbank].

It is difficult to say much about his time in office, for most of the time, there was no other club in Falkirk, and the only other clubs in Stirlingshire were Grasshoppers & King's Park [until the formation of ESFC]. The club failed to make much ground in the Scottish Cup, there was no Stirlingshire Cup, however the club had a healthy fixture card, playing the secondary Glasgow clubs [and occasionally the 2nd XIs of the big Glasgow clubs].

In comparison with later secretaries he organised more charity matches [muscular christianity played some part no doubt] George enticing among others Third Lanark and Pollockshields Athletic to the town to the benefit of the good causes of the town. However, this was a time when football was yet to become the mass spectactle that it now is, and as far as I know he never interacted with the Falkirk Herald or any other medium, so I know nothing of his personality. And try, as I have, I have never come across a mention of him in the local press after he left football [of course he may have emigrated].

On the field of play, he seemed pretty average, moving about position, as you would get when the rules are if you are willing to turn up, you are likely to get a game, so he spent most of his career as right-back, left-back or goalkeeper. He did however play in a couple of Scottish Cup matches, which is more than most of us can say.

At the time the AGMs of Falkirk FC were not regularly published in the Falkirk Herald, so most of the officials of the club are unknown, however it was reported in September 1882 that he was awarded a watch by the club with this inscription:

Presented to Mr G.Richardson by the members of Falkirk Football Club, as a mark of the esteem in which he has been held by them as their secretary for the last four years

I know 'hyperbole', but I would really like to see that watch! If you know anything, please get in touch!

George Richardson

b 9th November 1859, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d10th June 1941, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday March 23rd 1878 v Grasshoppers (H) Friendly
Competitive Debut – Saturday September 28th 1878 v Campsie Glen (H) Scottish Cup 1st Rd

Positions – Goalkeeper, Right-Back, Left-Back
Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [2/-]
Other Matches/Goals [11/-]
Known Career – Falkirk [1877/78-1880/81]
Brother of James Richardson [Falkirk FC 1878/79-1880/81]

Competitive Matches as Secretary

Scottish Cup - 11      7     -      4      23     19

Edit - [5th May 2016]

I recently came across an obituary of sorts for George which appeared in the Falkirk Herald of Saturday June 21st 1941, however, given that he was Falkirk FC's first proper secretary, there is sadly no mention of his relationship with the club.



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.

Falkirk

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.

Grasshoppers

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

Falkirk Harp - Clubs from Falkirk District


Long before Glasgow Celtic came into being, Falkirk had a club which adhered to the Irish Flag, they were rubbish. That is not a criticism, just a reflection of their results, yes they limited themselves to a certain demographic, and they would always be limited by anyone good playing for the best teams [Pat Murphy for example] but they were asking for something which was not available.

Football was not a profitable venture in the 1880s, after the rent for the ground, and the lack of 'big matches' it would be difficult for a Falkirk or an ESFC to survive, never mind a Falkirk Harp. This is proven by the fact that of so many teams which existed, none survive. However that is not to say that they did not merit a try, or were not treated with optimism.

I have never found a ground For Falkirk Harp except "Cow Wynd" which is in the chocolate fireguard range of helpfulness, I know there was a football ground much later on where Cochrane Street now is, but have no definitive link between the two, towards the end of their existence, Harp changed name to Erin Rovers, which is problematic as there was a team from Bathgate by that name, so I can not tell in some match reports which is which.

They came just before the burgeoning of Junior Football, so had to play teams much bigger than them, after a couple of years Falkirk Hibs/Falkirk Celtic also tried to be a 'green' team in Falkirk, failed.

Amateurs


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.

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Unknown Sodger

"Sodger" was the nickname of one of Falkirk FC's longest serving, consistent, yet hardest to pin down players of the pre-league era. "Sodger" was James McDonald, but that is about all I know. I have no picture of him [that I know of], and match reports never gave a clue as to his life outwith the game, and, of course, his name is so common as to stand out in the normal places of research [censuses, voting rolls etc].

[NB - I have now found a picture of Sodger]


James McDonald 1889

I can surmise a bit, he played for a season with Grahamston FC before joining Falkirk, so he probably came from from north of the High Street. The nickname "Sodger" might suggest membership of the Rifle Volunteers [a forerunner of the TA], he might even be the big brother of Thomas McDonald. But in all truth, I do not have any real idea of the man outwith the match reports, and so it probably will ever be.

As a player I know a lot more, he was versatile [so versatile as to never make any one position his own], he played all over the front five, he was a regular scorer [if never getting to the levels of some our great goalscorers], but he soon became an old version of a supersub, as in he played regularly, but only when the first choice was not available.

Yet he continued, even when he was not in contention for a first team place, he was there in the 2nd XI, just waiting to take his chance, and he lasted longer than most, only Jock Drummond's career spanned longer in this era [and Jock was a professional, when 'sodger' was ever the amateur], from the first to the last his career spanned 12 years with the club.

Of course, since I do not know of either his birth or his death I can not find a grave, as I don't know where to start looking, however, if you are a relative, and you are reading this, please get in touch, I would be immensely grateful!


James 'Sodger' McDonald

Debut – Saturday January 24th 1885 v Campsie (H) Friendly

Positions – Centre-Forward, Outside-Left, Inside-Left, Inside-Right

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1885/86, v Forfarshire 1886/87, v Renfrewshire 1886/87

Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup RU 1886/87, 1887/88, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1889/90, RU 1885/86, 1890/91, Falkirk Infirmary Shield - RU 1889/90, 1890/91

Falkirk FC Career

Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [14/3]
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [32/21]
Other Matches/Goals [117/39]
Known Matches/goals [164/63]

Hat-Tricks – 3 [Stirlingshire Cup [1] Other [2]]

Known Career – Falkirk Rangers, Grahamston [1883/84], Falkirk [1884/85-1895/96]

Played for Falkirk District XI v St Mirren, Friendly at Victoria Pk, Camelon, 12th June 1886
Played for Grahamston 2nd XI v Camelon 2nd XI, Friendly at Crichton Pk, Falkirk, 18th December 1886
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Falkirk Jubileeans, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 20th April 1887
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 5th May 1887
Played for Grahamston Strollers v Grange Athletic, Friendly at Bo'ness, 14th May 1887
Played for Redding Athletic v Falkirk Swifts, Friendly at Redding, 18th May 1887
Played for Arbroath Wanderers v Falkirk, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 16th April 1894

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Thomas McDonald


I could not possibly write about Alex Stark without complementing it with a post about his "partner in crime" :- Thomas McDonald ever the Inside-Right to Alex's Outside-Right.

Thomas McDonald caused me so many problems when I was researching the murky past of Falkirk FC, by the simple fact that he played under two different names throughout most of his career. It seems obvious now that I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and see that Thomas McDonald & Tommy Donnelly are similar names, never once played in the same Falkirk FC line up, yet both only ever played in the same positions. But at first it was simply two different names to me, so two different players. The name is a real giveaway, now. It wasn't until I found his obituary that it was confirmed they were one and the same [which meant I had to fix several season's spreadsheets].

Like most Falkirk players of the time he was a true bairn: this isn't saying much as, apart from kudos and a chance at Cup and International honours, it would actually cost a player both in time off work and travelling expenses to play for anyone outwith the immediate locality.

McDonald & Stark were the Falkirk right-wing partnership for nearly a decade, both high scoring, both Falkirk Bairns, but eventually things came to a head. With the introduction of professionalism to the Scottish game people came looking for players to bolster their teams. Falkirk suffered. Alas, Falkirk in the first year of professionalism in Scotland, decided to remain amateur, and Thomas who was a foundryman, chose to sell his labour on a Saturday afternoon. Thus he signed pro-terms with Slamannan Rovers [it is completely bizarre to me, now, in 2014 that slamannan had a professional
football club when Falkirk had none, but hey], this is a shame to me as the Falkirk Herald and Falkirk Mail largely ignored the Slamannan clubs, so I do not have a good idea of how well he did up there. However, he must have done well, for the next season East Stirlingshire signed him up, where he seems to have done well, scoring at a better rate than he ever did at Falkirk. But by this time he was on that long slow decline we all must face.

He returned to Falkirk for just over a season before he finally gave up the ghost, but in all honesty he was more of a reserve by this time, and soon enough he dissapeared from the Falkirk team. During his time he had captained the club, and represented his county but there is little room for sentimentality in this game!

In closing I will say some little things; that although he grew up in Kerse Lane, later on he worked in the foundries, and died in his home in River Street, Bainsford. The other interesting thing is that he died on his birthday!


Thomas McDonald c1885


Pen Pic from the Scottish Umpire April 14th 1890

Thomas McDonald

b 28th December 1868, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 28th December 1943, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday March 26th 1887 v Rangers Swifts (H) Friendly

Positions – Inside-Right, Outside-Right

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Fife 1887/88, 1889/90, 1890/91, v Linlithgowshire 1887/88, v Forfarshire 1889/90

Club Honours – Midland League RU 1895/96, Stirlingshire Cup W 1889/90, 1895/96, RU 1887/88, 1891/92, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1889/90, 1891/92, RU 1890/91, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, RU 1889/90, 1890/91, 1895/96

Falkirk FC

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [16/3]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [1/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [31/14]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [42/19]
Other Matches/Goals [125/43]
Total Matches/Goals [215/79]

East Stirlingshire

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [4/2]
Minor League Matches/Goals [17/13]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [7/4]
Other Matches/Goals [37/18]
Total Matches/Goals [65/37]

Black Watch & Slamannan Rovers

Unknown

Known Career

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [20/5]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [1/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [48/27]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [49/23]
Other Matches/Goals [162/61]
Total Matches/Goals [280/116]

Hat-Tricks – 2 [Stirlingshire Cup [1] Falkirk District Charity Cup [1]]

Known Career – Black Watch [1885/86], Falkirk [1886/87-1892/93], Slamannan Rovers [1892/93], East Stirlingshire [1893/94-1894/95], Falkirk [1895/96-1896/97]

Played for Falkirk Swifts v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 18th May 1887
Played for Falkirk Swifts v Carron Athletic, Friendly at Inns Pk, Carron, 8th June 1887
Played for Falkirk District XI v East Stirlingshire , Benefit Match at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford, 17th April 1888
Played for Falkirk District XI v Glasgow Corinthians, Benefit Match at Victoria Pk, Camelon, 17th May 1890

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Alex Stark


Alex "Buttons" Stark was probably Falkirk FC's and certainly my favourite player in those years before the club joined the League. Sandy, as he was sometimes known, was a born and bred Falkirk Bairn, his Family home being on Kerse Lane backing on to Bell's Meadow, the family running a dairy business.

Apart from being registered as a scholar in the 1881 census I have never discovered what Alex did in the real world, but it is highly likely that he helped in the family business. the earliest he shows up in the extant match reports was during the 1884/85 season when it was mentionied he scored in the 2nd XI's 7-2 win against Tayavalla 2nd XI in the New Year's matches. Throughout the random reserve matches that the Falkirk Herald noted he had scored some 6 goals in four matches for the reserves all at Inside-Right to Alex Rule's outside-Right, and it was this form that must have prompted the committee to include him in an end of season friendly against Rangers Swifts, taking his, soon to be default position, at Outside-Right.

The Following season he started back in the reserves, but it was not long until he was brought into the 1st XI for his first senior match, a Scottish Cup Second round tie against local minnows Laurieston FC at Zetland Park. Falkirk won by 3-1 allowing the still young Alex to play in the next round against what was then still the most prestigeous opponents in the land: the Spiders [Queen's Park FC]. As was expected Falkirk got thumped, but Alex showed what was to come over the next decade by scoring twice in Falkirk's 3-8 defeat at the hands of the grand old team.

Forming a highly effective right-wing partnership with Thomas McDonald [AKA Tommy Donnelly], everything was set in motion. alex stayed at Outside-Right for the next decade [only occassionally switching to the other flank or Inside-Right when needed]. He quickly became a fan's favourite [I would say he became a legend, but that he is largely forgotten today], and it was a regular argument between FFC & ESFC fans as to whether he or Lawrence McLachlan were the best player in the county.

Of course, he was always highly in demand, for guest appearances for benefit matches by other other clubs and by various XI's, but also from other more predatory clubs wishing his services on a more permanent basis.

Therefore the Falkirk fans were crestfallen when it came to light that he had signed professional terms with Bolton Wanderers in 1889. Yet at the start of the following season, he was still there at Outside-Right for his hometown club. It is difficult from this distance in time to glean what exactly happened. Perhaps he just changed his mind, perhaps he didn't like Bolton! At the time Scotland had not yet recognised professionalism, so his professionalism down south would have barred him from Scottish football, but due to the little fact that he never turned out for Bolton Wanderers therefore never recieved any money, in Scottish Football he was not a pro, so could still play. the only ramification of his folly being that London Casuals refused to play against Falkirk with Alex in the side when they visited in a holiday fixture that year.

Alex came close to national recognition when he was chosen to play in the international trials, but Glasgow bias ruled as much then as it does now, and he was overlooked. Yet at the time there was an intermediate level for footballers to demonstrate their skills. Between club & country there were still Inter-County Matches and for a fair while a Stirlingshire XI was not a Stirlingshire XI without Stark, McLachlan & Inch [another legend of the 'shire].

During his last season with the club [and his last season in Scotland], Alx spent a fair chunk of the season guesting with Queen's Park, but as he had already played in the Cup for Falkirk he could only play in friendlies for them.

But in the end, he was a young man with a limited future in a game which paid little and offered next to no security, worse still he was only the third oldest son in the family, so had little chance of taking over the family business. So it was in 1895 he announced his emigration to New Zealand to go into business in a meat-packing factory with his uncle William [a former Stirling County batsman who had emigrated some years earlier].


And there the trail ought to have gone cold .... were it not for google! For, playing about on the internet a while ago, to my surprise my Alex Stark+New Zealand+Football searches brought one or two interesting results. It seems [confirmed by NZ Soccer's Historian] that Alex got involved in his new country's football scene, becoming the president of the Canterbury FA and Vice-President of the NZ FA, crowning this with an appearance in New Zealand's first ever representative XI in 1904 -alas, it was against a touring New south Wales XI so FIFA denied it international status.

A strange thing is that for all that is known about Alex, I have yet to find a definitive likeness of him: there was reported in the Falkirk Herald that his image was in "one of the evening papers in 1887", but I have yet to track it down; also I have a photocopy of an article about Falkirk FC which has a photo which purports to include Alex, but the contrast has reduced the entire team to a single amorphous blob, but there must be one out there ... even if only in New Zealand.

I do now!!!!


Alexander 'Buttons' Stark

b 11th April 1869, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d c1935, New Zealand

Debut – Thursday June 3rd 1886 v Rangers Swifts (H) Friendly

Positions – Outside-Right, Outside-Left, Inside-Right, Inside-Left

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Forfarshire 1886/87, 1887/88, 1888/89, 1889/90, 1890/91, 1891/92, 1892/93, v Renfrewshire 1886/87, v
Linlithgowshire 1887/88, 1888/89, v Fife 1890/91, 1891/92, 1893/94.

Club Honours – Midland League W 1894/95, Stirlingshire Cup W 1889/90, 1894/95, RU 1886/87, 1887/88, 1891/92, Falkirk District Charity
Cup W 1889/90, 1891/92, 1893/94, RU 1890/91, 1894/95, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, 1892/93, 1893/94, RU 1889/90, 1890/91

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [24/13]
Minor League Matches/Goals [53/20]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [60/24]
Other Matches/Goals [152/57]

Hat-Tricks – 6 [Scottish Cup [1] Scottish Federation [1] Stirlingshire Cup [1] Other [3]]

Known Career – Falkirk [1885/86-1894/95], Queen's Park [1894/95], Canterbury (NZ)

Played for Falkirk Swifts v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 18th May 1887
Played for Falkirk Swifts v Carron Athletic, Friendly at Inns Pk, Carron, 8th June 1887
Played for Falkirk District XI v East Stirlingshire , Benefit Match at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford, 17th April 1888
Played for Falkirk District XI v Ibroxonians, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 11th June 1889
Played for King's Park v Corinthians, Friendly at Stirling, 31st December 1889
Played for Falkirk District XI v Glasgow Corinthians, Benefit Match at Camelon, 17th May 1890
Played for King's Park v Hurlford, Friendly at Stirling, 1st January 1891
Played for King's Park v London Casuals, Friendly at Stirling, 2nd January 1891
Played for King's Park v Dumbarton, Friendly at Stirling, 3rd January 1891
Played for Falkirk District XI v Grangemouth, Benefit Match at Grangemouth, 28th April 1892
Played for Laurieston v Camelon, Friendly at Laurieston, 11th February 1893
Played for Stirlingshire XI v Grangemouth, Benefit Match at Bainsford, 9th May 1893

Finally - that nickname! I have no idea as to why he was called buttons, not a clue. But I can tell you that the Club Secretary Robert Bishop was moved to write to the Falkirk Herald on several occasions of its use in match reports. Make of that what you will!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Great Unspoken


If you listen really carefully, I mean very hard: block out all that white noise nonsense coming from Glasgow and the media in general, you can sometimes hear a slight murmuring. Only occasionally and usually from people who do not have a clue and who should quite frankly keep quiet and keep their own nonsense to themselves.

I am talking about the preposterous notion that Falkirk Fc are the protestant club of the area and that East Stirlingshire FC are the catholic club. I can never understand how this idea arose and can never see anything upon which it could be based. Such fripperies as church were not included on the census, so it is meaningless to look there, as name, age, address & profession are no way in which to judge a person's faith.

From what we know of the early days of the two clubs we can assume little: but we can tell that the originators and early leading lights of Falkirk FC seemed to come from a largely middle-class background [office clerks, retailers, service professionals] mixed a lesser number of working class members, whereas with East Stirlingshire it was the reverse, the club being mainly made up of working men [for the most part foundry workers] with an element of middle class enthusiasts.

This slight difference in social strata looks on first sight as if it might have something, but it again is profoundly misleading. To take Falkirk FC as being more middle class and East Stirlingshire as more working class is to infer patterns into raw data and take it as significant. It is not, it merely shows a far more important underlying factor - Location, Location, Location.

Every good 'shire fan knows his/her club belongs to Bainsford, and for their club to play in Falkirk [or even worse in Stenhousemuir] is as bad as Falkirk playing in Grangemouth [get over it, Westfield is over the border]; neither set of fans is 100% happy with it.

And this is the true difference between the clubs, location: with location comes demographics. In 1880 the town of Bainsford was in the same place [slightly smaller] it was built in between the River Carron and the Forth & Clyde Canal, in other words it was between the massive Carron Iron Works and the many foundries on the banks of the canal [Abbots, Gowanbank, Grahamston etc]. So of course a team from Bainsford was mainly made up of foundrymen, most of Bainsford was foundrymen. On the other hand there was a larger number of middle class people living in Falkirk, while at the same time there were many people working in those very same foundries.

None of this implies any sectarian divide, and having spoken to many a 'shire fan there seems to be no basis for it throughout the clubs histories. But most damning of all, it subtly ignores one salient yet rarely considered point. If Falkirk and East Stirlingshire were on either side of that divide, then why did a group of Falkirk youths in the mid 1880s feel the need to form their own "Irish" club, the short-lived Falkirk Harp? I like to think it is because we have better things to think about than where other clubs' fans choose to worship:

*fingers crossed*

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Harry Smith


Coming, as a teenager, from "Darn Sarff" to take up a position in Abbot's Foundry as a lowly cashier Henry [more commonly known as Harry] Smith ended up as Managing Director of the company, but not without contributing to the local sporting community for many a season.

He was given the rather unimaginative nickname of "English Harry", Smith started out as a Full-Back, before finally taking over between the sticks [this was very common in the early days, before Goalie became such a specialised position, and clubs were working out who was best where].

Before he signed up with the football team, Harry was playing in local cricket matches with East Stirlingshire then Falkirk [neither related to the football clubs of the same name], however he was to spend the longest part of his club career playing with Stenhousemuir CC. From what I have been able to glean from the match reports, he seems to have been a leg-spinner and lower middle order batsman, and quite a decent player at that [if I somehow manage to live to about 1500 years old I will eventually research his cricket career [don't hold your breath!]].

His football career in comparison was somewhat short, lasting only about five years, and this in an era where games were less regular, and less regularly reported upon. So the mere eighteen matches known about tell us little, and were it not for the fact that he rose to such prominence in local industry it is likely that he would have become another "forgotten man".

After being superceded in goal by John Mitchell, it would seem Harry restricted his sporting pursuits to cricket, however he never severed the link with Falkirk FC remaining on the committee for many a year afterwards. According to his obituaries, he was buried in Camelon Cemetery, however I have yet to locate the stone. The search continues....


Harry Smith c1880

Henry 'English Harry' Smith

b c1855, Farnham, Surrey
d 27th August 1928, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday June 14th 1879 v Bathgate (A) Friendly

Positions – Goalkeeper, Right-Back, Left-Back

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [5/-]
Other Matches/Goals [13/-]

Known Career – Falkirk [1878/79-1882/83]

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

East Stirlingshire v Falkirk - Stirlingshire Cup Final 1888


When writing this blog, I have prided myself on two things, I like to stray from the topic of Falkirk FC [perhaps not often enough, but I am a bairn!], and I never shy away from parts of Falkirk's less than glorious past. To put it frankly some of the stuff I have had to read in researching the past has made me cringe.

This post is about a Stirlingshire Cup match, way back in the mists of time when the individual county cup competitions were second only to the Scottish Cup itself [the league was still a couple of years away]. And this match in particular is horrible to read.

I still regard the Falkirk v East Stirlingshire match as the true derby, yes, the Fifers are bitter rivals, but it is not a 'derby'. I have often alluded to the fact that once upon a time, the upper hand on the football field was in Bainsford, and this is one of those matches at a time when ESFC had a stunning line up and Falkirk's was so-so.

The team Falkirk put out on this day was a strong team in local circles, it had managed to get to the final after all, but on Saturday the 31st of March they came up against an East Stirlingshire that were flying.

Falkirk Herald - Sat Apr 7th 1888

STIRLINGSHIRE CUP - FINAL TIE

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE v FALKIRK

Camelon was invaded by almost 3000 football enthusiasts on Saturday last, the occasion being the final tie between East Stirlingshire and Falkirk for the possession of the handsome cup of the Stirlingshire Football Association. From about three o'clock the spectators continued to arrived in a continuous stream up till the hour of starting, four o'clock. During the time of assembling a sharp shower of hail fell, but it had no material effect on the ground, which was in excellent order; and during the game the weather was excellent. There was a slight breeze blowing along the ground from the north. The teams stripped in Falkirk, and drove out to the ground in brakes, and appeared slightly before the advertised time, East Stirlingshire, who appeared to be the favourites leading the way. The following were the teams :- East Stirlingshire - Goal, R.Sharp; backs, R.Wilson and D.Doyle; half-backs, A.Inch, W.Kadie & R.Johnston; forwards- right, J.Stewart and D.Kirkwood; centre, L.McLauchlan; left, H.Simpson and W.Dunn. Falkirk - Goal, J.Mitchell; backs, J.Liddle and M.Harley; half-backs, T.Bellingham, Wallace and W.Law; forwards- right, A.Stark and T.Donnelly; centre, Sinclair; left, W.Hamilton and J.McDonald. Mr Sneddon and Mr Watts were umpires; and Mr George Sneddon, referee- all gentlemen of the Edinburgh Association. The spin of the coin between McLauchlan and Harley was in favour of the former, and he decided to defend the railway goal, having the breeze in his team's favour. After being cautioned by the referee, the teams took up their positions.

Sinclair started the game by a long kick, which Inch attempted to return over his head, but failed. Wilson, returned the ball, however, and Stewart ran it into touch. Falkirk were the first to have a try at goal, as, after a struggle near the corner flag, the ball was sent over the goal-line. stewart repeated this at the otherend immediately after. After the kick from goal, Dunngot the ball and passed it over to McLauchlan, and then Stewart got it, and the latter tried a shot which went across the goal, and striking the inside of the post, bounded through - the firstgoal being scored amidst loud cheering. From the kick-off, a little midfield play was indulged in, and then Donnelly tried a long drooping shot which landed on the E.S. cross-bar, and bounded over. The ball was then carried to the Falkirk end where a fruitless corner was obtained, and several times sent wide. Falkirk hadthe ball near the midfield line when "hands" was given against them. Doyle undertook the kick, and landed the ball beautifully into goal, where, in a scrimmage, Dunn was credited with scoring a second goal for E.S. - the game only about 8 minutes old. Again the E.S. were back at the Falkirk goal, and it had a narrow shave from downfall, the ball being in the centre of a knot of players a yard from the line. Then a little even play followed for a few minutes, during which Falkirk played a flying visit to Sharp, but the shot was wide of the mark. Doyle then roused a cheer by a long shot he sent infrom midfield sailing through the Falkirk goal, Mitchell failing in his attempt to stop it. Time 15 minutes. "Hand" was given against Inch in midfield, and this helped Falkirk to keep the play in E.S. ground for a short time, but nothing occurred, and the ball was again back at the Falkirk goal, where, after a scrimmage, Liddle conceded a corner, and before it was cleared Harley had to concede another which was well placed - Dunn just grazing the post. Not to be denied, however, E.S. kept at it, and mcLauchlan with a high swift shot beat the Falkirk defence for the fourth time. Before half-an-hour of the game had gone, a throw-in near the Falkirk goal fell to the E.S., and from it Inch passed the ball to McLauchlan, and the latter had it through the Falkirk goal for the fifth time before Mitchell could make a movement to stop it. The Falkirk was more successful, however, a minute after, with a shot which Stewart tried. The Falkirk right wing got a pass from McDonald, and made some progress. when nearing goal Donnelly tried a shot which Doyle, in attempting to return, was near sending through his own goal, the ball just going over the bar at the opposite end to that at which Sharp was at the time standing. the corner-kick was well placed, but it was headed behind. E.S. got another corner from the run up after the goal-kick, which dunn undertook, and Mitchell had to fist a shot. A free kick fell to Falkirk, and they transferred the ball to the E.S. half where it remained for a couple of minutes, but the backs could not be beat, and Falkirk were called on to defend. The remaining five minutes were even,during which Falkirk got a corner which was well placed, but Wilson cleared. Three times E.S. sent the ball past the side of the Falkirk goal, and matters looked dangerous for Falkirk, when a foul was given against them near their own goal, but it too was sent wide. Half-time was called with the ball near midfield and the score standing :- East Stirlingshire 5 goals; Falkirk 0.

After the customary interval, the sound of Mr Sneddon's whistle caused the players to again take up their positions. McLauchlan started the leather, and the E.S. right wing made off down the field, but they were stopped near goal, and the ball returned. Kadie got it, but his attempt was too high. Stark & Donnelly were having a run up when Doyle brought them to a stop, and entrusted the ball to Simpson and Dunn, who, when near goal, sent the leather over to Kirkwood, and the latter scored goal No. 6 for the E.S. Falkirk were up near the E.S. goal ere they were brought to a stop, and the ball carried into the Falkirk ground, where, after Inch had an unsuccessful shot, Kirkwood had a try, which, like Donnelly's in the first half for Falkirk,landed on the cross-bar and bounded over. Unlike Sharp, however, Mitchell did not appear to think it was so dangerous, and was standing quite cool. the Falkirk defence was severely taxed, Liddle doing yoeman service in heading out the ball in the scrimmaging. A corner was conceded the E.E., and before the pressure had been relieved, Kirkwood made a cross to Dunn who scored the seventh point. Falkirk were up three-quarter field, when a mis-kick by Johnston let in Sinclair, but before he could get placed for shooting he was tackled. Afterwards Law sent the ball wide. Simpson was next noticable by a single-handed run down the centre past several men, and with the assistance of Stewart and McLauchlan, Dunn got the ball near the Falkirk goal, and scored No. 8. The E.S. again visited Falkirk end, but had to return fruitless, and a somewhat long shot was sent into Sharp (the first he had got to save during the game), and which he had no difficulty in kicking out. The E.S. got on the ball, and forced a corner at the Falkirk end, which came to nothing. Two "hands" in quick succession brought Falkirk up the field, but McLauchlan nullified these by a run past the Falkirk backs. He was hard pressed by Liddle, but not withstanding he had a shot which Mitchell kicked out. E.S. had another unfruitful corner, and then the ball was sent past each end. McLauchlan and Kirkwood then had achance each, but were very wide of the mark. Falkirk right wing then made off with the ball, and when within the E.S. ground, a little roughness between some of the players was exchanged which roused the feelings of the spectators somewhat, and Sharp had to return a shot. Dunn made off with the ball, and Liddle gave a corner which was unsuccessful. Falkirk then for a time had the better of the play, and several times sent the ball wide. During this time a foul was given against Stark for tripping Johnston, and one against Dunn for a charge behind. Doyle had to concede a corner, which was cleared, and when Stark was on the ball in midfield, Doyle attempted to stop him, and in the referee's opinion tripped him, for which Falkirk were granted a free kick. Harley sent the ball well into goal, and Sharp, in saving, ran more than the regulation distance with the ball in his hands. The referee granted a free kick about three yards from goal for this. In the melee Inch fouled the ball nearer the centre of the goal, and again a scrimmage was formed, during which the ball was forced through. This success was recieved with cheers by the Falkirk supporters, but E.S. appealed. Mr Sneddon ordered all the players back, and, after consultation with the umpires gave E.S. a goal kick, on the ground that Sinclair pushed the ball through with his hand. The E.S. then ran the ball down the field, and, after Mitchell had saved, Kirkwood scored the ninth goal after some good work between him and Stewart. This occurred close on time, and maintaining their supremacy to the end, East Stirlingshire won the Stirlingshire Cup for the third year in succession this time by a large majority of 9 goals to 0.

On Leaving the field there was a great hand-shaking between the winners and their admirers, but the vast assemblage, on the whole, conducted themselves in a very orderly manner."

PRESENTATION OF THE CUP

About 7 0'clock in the evening the two teams sat down to tea in the Crown Hotel, under the presidency of Mr James Wilson of Bantaskin (in the unavoidable absence of Mr T.D.Brodie of Gairdoch). The chairman was accompanied by Mr Mitchell of Millfield, Baillie Young, Mr John Reid secretary of the Stirlingshire Association; and the referee and the umpires of that day's match. Mr R.Bishop, vice-president of the S.F.A., acted as croupier, and the other members of committee were also present, after an excellent tea.

The Chairman proposed the loyal toasts, and Mr Mitchell of Millfield, proposed "The Army, Navy, and Armed Forces,"to which Sergeant Grey (King's Park) replied.

The Chairman then proceeded to present the cup to the winners, the East Stirlingshire team. Before doing so he regretted the absence of Mr Brodie, who had shown he had a lively interest in football, especially in the Falkirk and East Stirlingshire clubs. He acknowledged that he was in a very peculiar position, being president of the Falkirk club. At the same time he was proud of the Falkirk Club - (applause) - who had played an uphill game that day, and yet not a man deserted his post. He had the honour of being a custodian of the cup one year; and he was wondering when it was coming back (laughter). Baillie Young had got the cup at Camelon. He (Mr Wilson) had seen many cups, and, with the exception of the Eglinton Race Cup, he had not seen one better and more handsome than the one before him, which reflected credit on the association who possessed it, and also on the designer. The East Stirlingshire club, who had that day won the County Cup for the third time, was formed in the month of October 1880, so that it had only been in existence for a period of little more than seven years, and it spoke volumes for the energy and vitality of its members, who had raised it to the position which it at present occupied. The season now drawing to a close had been a remarkably good one for the East Stirlingshire club. Their 1st XI had a record which few clubs could equal and still fewer surpass. Including that day's game, 36 matches had been played, of which 26 were won, 5 were drawn, and 5 lost, 161 goals having been scored by the team and only 49 goals scored against them. Seventeen games were played with Stirlingshire clubs, 16 being won by the Bainsford team, and the other one drawn. In these games 101 goals were scored by the East Stirlingshire club and only 15 were scored against them, so that it was only fitting that a team which had gone through the season and earned such a record, should win the championship of their county. In the course of the competitionj for the cup, the winners had a fair share of the hard nuts to crack, having had to dispose of the Camelon, Stirling, Campsie and Falkirk clubs ere they reached their present position. In this competition they had won 32 goals and lost 6 goals. Mr Wilson said he had very great pleasure in handing over the cup to the custody of Baillie Young, the president of East Stirlingshire. The defeat that day, he hoped would stimulate the Falkirk club to greater exertion to win it back.

Baillie Young replied in a few words.

Mr Wilson then proposed "The Winning Team", to which Mr McLauchlan replied.

Mr John Reid proposed "The Defeated Clubs", coupled with the name of Mr Bishop, Falkirk, who said he did not know how the other clubs took their defeat in the competition, but the Falkirk club would take their defeat very ill that day. He hoped, as the teams were to meet shortly in the Charity ties, that the result would then be closer. He thought one of the drawbacks was a want of enthusiasm amongst the working officials of the Falkirk club.

The other toasts were :- "The Referee and Umpires", proposed by Mr Gray (King's Park), replied to by Mr Sneddon; "The Stirlingshire Football Association", proposed by Mr F.Watt, secretary, Edinburgh Association, and replied to by Mr Bishop; "The Chairman", "The Croupier", &c.

The proceedings were brought to a close shortly after nine o'clock by the singing of "Auld Lang Syne". During the evening several songs tended to enliven the harmony of the meeting."


Stirlingshire Athletic Notes - by Scrutator

"The destination of the Stirlingshire Cup, with all its attendant anxiety and excitement to some, has again been decided for another year, and for the third year in succession East Stirlingshire have secured the championship. When I hazarded the opinion that East Stirlingshire would win by a few goals, I hardly expected a difference of 9 goals to 0. This is the third time East Stirlingshire and Falkirk have met in the final for the county cup, and of all the matches this has been the most one-sided. Falkirk were never in the hunt, and were beaten at all points. Mitchell, the Falkirk custodian, is receiving a large share of the blame from his club supporters - in fact, I think he is getting more than he is entitled to. He did not get in the way of the ball so often as I have seen him; but, with perhaps the exception of one on Saturday, he was not in a position to save any of the points scored against him. Harley and Liddle played well at back. The half-back line was the poorest display, although it can't be said they played any worse than usual. Law was doing away fairly well at first, but as the game progressed he was not able to catch the E.S. right wing if they passed him; and thus the greater strain was put on Harley. Stark and Donnelly were the best of the forwards; but, as a rule, Johnston and Doyle robbed them of the ball before they made much progress. Sinclair was very slack; and as for Hamilton, he was hardly ever on the ball the whole time. Macdonald, when he got the ball, usually tried to centre a long way in front. Sharp, for the E.S., only had some three or four shots to save all day, so that he can hardly be said to have saved his team from defeat. Doyle, at back, played one of his best games, his kicking being powerful and judicious. Wilson was not far behind him till near the close, when he kicked very badly. Johnston was the best and hardest working of the half-backs, although this does not disparage the play of the other two in the least. The forwards showed good combination, which was the article required last Saturday. They all scored with the exception of Simpson, who, on such an important occasion, played as well as his neighbours. The right wing combination was tricky as usual. "Laurie", while leading the wings well, did not appear to greatly exert himself, though he did his work neatly. If I could spot any one who played a single handed game it woud be Dunn, who caused Liddle to show his fastest pace.
The "gate" amounted to £51 4s 3d, which is about £3 less than the same occasion last year. To look at the crowd one would have thought there would have been as many. the shouting was mainly on the one side, though there was a "p├Žan of joy" went up from the Falkirk supporters when the ball was put through the E.S. goal, which showed that the "bairns" were all there. I had a very enthusiastic lot behind me, one of whom was continually encoraging the E.S. to "knock off the Carron 15". He should be satisfied with 9, surely. The keen E.S. supporters were prominent with tickets in their hats. One of the happiest designs for these was one by the secretary with the figure of a cat on top of the goal-posts.
The "spread" after the match was a very good affair - not exciting, but good of its kind. East Stirlingshire came in for a good deal of laudation all round.
Bainsford was in a lively state till late in the evening, when fireworks were set off. when a rocket burst "Pullar" says he counted nine falling stars, and then there was - nothing. The Carron Band also stopped on its way home from a concert.
The rejoicings were continued on Monday evening at the "smoker" in Bainsford, when there was an attendance which filled the hall. Both the cups were on the table, and the meeting was most enthusiastic. The singing was exceptionally good, and the sentiment of "The Team" was recieved with musical honours, the Falkirk Iron Works Band, which was present, playing "The Conquering Hero".

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jimmy Conlin


Jimmy Conlin was one of the ones that got away, coming to Falkirk from Lanarkshire Junior football, spending a season and a half at the club, before going back to Coatbridge, then to the English League and International football then on to foreign fields.

James was born of a Scottish Father and an English Mother in the town of Consett in County Durham, but the 1891 Census shows that the family was living in Coatbridge. His subsequent siblings were all born in the town from 1885, so it likely he was living there from at least the age of four.

It is often listed in books that he played football for Cambuslang then Hibs before moving to Falkirk FC, but I believe that to be a mistaken reading for the junior club Cambuslang Hibernian from what it said in the Falkirk Herald. James came to Falkirk a fortuitous time for both the club and the player, really good Left Wingers are notoriously hard to find [He was what become known as a 'nippy wee winger' with a burst of pace and a well placed low shot into the centre] and Falkirk were gearing up towards the team that would join the Scottish League shortly after he went back to Coatbridge.

After a relatively successfull period with his 'home' club, the English Scouts came looking and he was picked up by Bradford City [Sources say about £50], where he was selected to play for international side against Scotland. He soon moved to Manchester City where he was chosen in the League International to add to his honours.


However he had that human weakness that inflicts many a young man with money and time to spare: Drink. After a season with Birmingham City he was soon dispatched north of the border again this time to Airdrieonians, who soon discovered to their cost of his affliction, and after some run-ins with the management was told he was no longer needed by the club. It is reported he ended his football with a season with Broxburn Athletic but little evidence can be found of his play at the club.

Without a job and with a family to feed Jimmy signed up for the colours soon after the outbreak of the War, where he was to die on a field in Flanders, Belgium [like so many no remains were recovered].


With Falkirk FC c1900

James Conlin

b 6th July 1881, Consett, Durham
d 24th June 1917, Flanders, Belgium

Debut – Saturday December 30th 1899 v East Stirlingshire (A) Falkirk & District League
Positions – Outside-Left

Club Honours – Central Combination W 1899/00

Minor League Matches/Goals [16/7]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [1/2]
Other Matches/Goals [5/1]

Known Career – Captain Colt's Rovers, Airdrie St Margarets, Cambuslang Hibernian, Falkirk [1899/00-1900/01], Albion Rovers [1900/01-1904/05], Bradford City [1904/05-1905/06], Manchester City [1906/07-1910/11], Birmingham City [1911/12], Airdrieonians [1912/13], Broxburn Athletic [1913/14]

Falkirk FC in the Great War

Monday, 20 January 2014

Redding Athletic v Camelon 24th Sept 1887

Very rarely does a record take place in Falkirk, but occasionally these things do happen, and so was the case in September of 1887 when Camelon defeated Redding Athletic by 17 goals to nil in the Scottish Cup, the record away victory in British football.

Way back in the 1880s the early rounds of the Scottish Cup were regionalised to stop wee teams travelling too far for a mismatch, so it was that these two now defunct clubs met in 1887.

Of the clubs, Camelon could be seen for much of their existence as the third force in football in Falkirk, much more successful than Stenhousemuir, at times challenging Falkirk & East Stirlingshire in the local competitions, however they never had the consistency of the "big two" and were prone to lose players to both. They played at Victoria Park [now the Car Park behind the Mariner Centre].

Redding Athletic on the other hand were a bit of a basketcase [not as much as Rumford Rovers were it must be said] they were regularly known in local circles for not paying subs to the Stirlingshire FA, and when they did they often scratched in the first round due to not being able to get eleven players together. I do not know, exactly where they played, but I have read before that they played this match in Laurieston, not Redding [it is all very hazy]. Redding Athletic did not last long, especially as soon as professionalism was adopted [villages just could not get adequate crowds to pay the wages.

Here is the match report from the Falkirk Herald
These teams met on Saturday last on the ground of Redding Athletic before a good turnout of spectators, when a one-sided game resulted in the defeat of the Athletics by 17 goals to nil. From the kick-off Camelon had matters all their own way. W.Burns played half-back while Dan Inglis played centre-forward. The Athletics, though playing a hard game, could not prevent Camelon from scoring, and at call of half-timethe score stood 7 goals to nil. The Athletics started the ball for the second half, but it was soon returned, the half-backs playing a hard game, and a neat pass from J.Burns across to the right, Russell had no difficulty in scoring no.8 three minutes from the start. Camelon still continued to press, and through a scrimmage in front of goal no. 9 was registered, Horne failed to stop a low shot from Brown, thus registering no. 10. Only once were the Athletics considered dangerous, when Maxwell and Henderson had a run down the field, the former sending the ball over the bar. From this to the call of time Camelon kept up the siege in front of the goal, Brymer playing a good defence, but when the whistle sounded they had added 7 other goals, the game thus ending in an easy win for Camelon by 17 goals to nil. A.Balloch [E.S.] acted as referee.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Falkirk Amateurs - The First Season


A long, long time ago there was a second Senior club in Falkirk [East Stirlingshire were in Bainsford], they were called Falkirk Amateurs. They played in many places round the town but at the start of their existence were mainly based at Tanners Park [the car Park across from the Cladhan] for football and Bells Meadow for Cricket.

They were always a club of likeminded folk, who just wished to play, so I am pleased to bring you the reported matches from their first full season 1897/98.

I am not saying these are the only matches that the club played this season, just the matches I have found in the press.

Sep 4th    Dunblane              A   4   5   Friendly                                      Unknown
Sep 11th   East Stirlingshire    A   0   7   Qualifying Cup 1st Rd
Sep 18th   Uddingston            A   6   3   Friendly                                      Unknown
Sep 25th   Grasshoppers          A   0   4   Friendly
Oct 2nd    Alloa Athletic        A   2   2   Friendly                                      Unknown, ?.Kay
Oct 9th    Dunipace              H   5   0   Friendly                                      ?.Morrison, ?.Kay, Unknown 3
Oct 16th   East Stirlingshire    H   wo  scr Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Oct 16th   Camelon               A   1   3   Friendly                                      ?.Morrison
Oct 30th   Dunfermline Athletic  H   2   7   Friendly                                      Unknown
Nov 6th    Rumford Rovers        A   1   3   Friendly                                      Unknown
Nov 13th   Camelon               A   1   8   Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd 1st Leg              R.Gillespie [pen]
Nov 27th   Camelon               H   2   4   Stirlingshire Cup 2nd Rd 2nd Leg              R.Gillespie 2
Dec 11th   Dunipace              A   0   2   Friendly
Dec 18th   Grasshoppers          H   1   2   Friendly                                      J.Callander
Jan 15th   Kilsyth Wanderers     A   0   3   Stirlingshire Consolation Cup 1st Rd 1st Leg
Jan 22nd   Kilsyth Wanderers     H   4   0   Stirlingshire Consolation Cup 1st Rd 2nd Leg  T.McEwan 2, J.Callander, R.Gillespie [pen] 
Feb 5th    Paisley Academicals   H   1   4   Friendly                                      Unknown
Feb 12th   Fair City Athletic    A   3   2   Friendly                                      Unknown
Feb 19th   Bo'ness               A   2   2   Friendly                                      Unknown
Mar 12th   Rumford Rovers        A   2   0   Stirlingshire Consolation Cup 2nd Rd 1st Leg  Unknown
Apr 16th   Stenhousemuir         N   2   3   Stirlingshire Consolation Cup Final           Unknown

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Peter Rae - Falkirk FC Graves


Brought up in the 'rough and tumble' of Gairdoch, the senior club from Carronshore, Peter "The Stag" Rae was the cornerstone of the Falkirk defence for five Seasons. He did play a match for East Stirlingshire, which counts against him, but I shall gloss over that.

It could never be said Peter was an expansive player [until Thomas Townsley Falkirk never had an attacking No 5], he was solid, but I pity the Centre-Forwards who were up against him, he was, in every meaning of the word 'hard' just what we needed from a Centre-Half.

Though like all Centre-Halves, he was the emergency Centre-Forward [thus his one hat-trick]


In later years he became a coach at Falkirk FC from where I have the picture


Peter 'Stag' Rae

b 23rd November 1871, Carronshore, Stirlingshire
d 28th October 1952, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday August 4th 1894 v Johnstone (A) Friendly

Positions – Centre-Half, Right-Half

Club Honours – Midland League RU 1895/96, Stirlingshire Cup W 1894/95, 1895/96, RU 1897/98, Falkirk Infirmary Shield RU 1895/96, 1897/98

Falkirk FC Career

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [3/-]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [11/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [70/5]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [23/4]
Other Matches/Goals [60/9]
Total Matches/Goals [167/18]

Hat-Tricks – 1 [Stirlingshire Cup [1]]

Known Career – Gairdoch [1891/92-1893/94], East Stirlingshire (guest) [1893/94], Falkirk [1894/95-1900/01]

Friday, 10 January 2014

Falkirk FC Graves – Jerry Dawson




Jerry Dawson comes right at the very back end of where I research, but he does get in, as he made his debut in the Victory Cup, just after the war.

Starting at Camelon Juniors, he was so good that he wasted most of his career in Govan [because they pay more]. But he was a Falkirk Bairn and eventually came back. He was still a fine keeper when he was at Falkirk. But slightly past his best.


He was the spine of the team around which 'Tully' Craig started to rebuild the team in the immediate post-war era along with Kenny Dawson, James McPhie, Jimmy Fiddes, Willie Telfer & George Brookes.

As I said, not at his International peak, but a 'keeper with enough skill & 'nous' to get Falkirk out of the hole that was losing nearly seven years out of the careers of our best players, and not having a proper reserve team to bring up new talent.

He is now in Camelon Cemetery [sorry for my reflection].


James 'Jerry' Dawson

b 30th October 1909, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 19th January 1977, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday May 18th 1946 v Rangers (H) Victory Cup 3rd Rd
League Debut – Saturday August 10th 1946 v Heart of Midlothian (H) Scottish League Division A

Position – Goalkeeper

Scottish League Matches – 79
Scottish Cup Matches – 6
Scottish League Cup Matches - 18
Victory Cup Matches – 2
Dewar Shield Matches – 6
Stirlingshire Cup Matches – 2
Other Matches – 3
Total Matches – 116

Known Club Career – Camelon Juniors, Rangers [1929/30-1945/46], Falkirk [1945/46-1948/49]