Friday, 28 November 2014

Sorry

I am sorry, I have not posted in quite a while, I am sad to say I took my eye off the ball, I am glad to say that I took my eye off the ball because the GF gave me the book of all the English League players from 1888/89 to 1938/39, and I have been busy cross-referencing it with the other info that I have.

Mostly it has been about adding dates of birth/death that I did not know, but it has also revealed the identities of several trialists, who although only playing in one friendly, or minor cup match, still played for Falkirk FC [which is one more match than I will ever get]. It is a big book and it will take me some time [since after I go through the book looking for players who played for Falkirk, I will then go through it looking for the names of known Falkirk players].

But bear with me, I will be back writing about the more pointless [yet interesting to me] points of fact in the history of football in Falkirk District.

Then I will do it all again looking for 'shire players [I love it really].

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Cigarette Cards


Never have been a big fan of collecting cigarette cards, for a start there were always too few Falkirk Players [never mind next to no ESFC players], and to get players once with Falkirk [or 'shire] now with some English team [no offence against the English, just none of you have ever won the Stirlingshire Cup!] seemed wrong. I would try to buy every player connected with Falkirk, but hey, I do have alcohol & tobacco to buy too!!!

I do however monitor, in passing, the trade in cards on ebay etc, and occasionally will try to get a card of a Falkirk player if it seems reasonable, it was with this I came across a card of the legend that was Jock Simpson. With Blackburn, and obviously dated from 1911 [whether later 1910/11 or early 1911/12 I can't say] but since he was born Christmas Day and joined Blackburn in January 1911, it just takes a bit of counting.


I like this, because it gives me his height and weight which I never knew before, and keep records [when I can find them] on a different sheet. And this within a year of signing for Blackburn from Falkirk allows me to crowbar it into my notes.

As it says, he was born in England, but was brought up just outside Falkirk, so couldn't play for Scotland by the rules of the day, and if I am correct in December 1910 became only the second person selected for an England Representative match whilst playing in Scotland after Henry Hammond who was selected whilst being a Master at Blairlodge and a player for East Stirlingshire in the 1890s.

Nota Bene

Just the other day I was looking for Falkirk cigarette cards on ebay, and I came across another one of Syd Puddefoot which I had not seen before, so [obviously] I copied it [I am not paying silly money for a bit of old card]. Here it is -






Sydney Puddefoot c1922

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Clubs from Falkirk District - Comely Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known Matches played by Comely Park FC



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

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

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

Thursday, 11 September 2014

East Stirlingshire 1890/91


Sterling work [or luck] by the folk over there at 'Shire Towers in coming across a long lost picture of one of the mighty Zebra teams from the 19th Century, especially for me as it includes two former Falkirk players [Michael Harley & John Mercer] of whom I had no pictures, my only surprise was there were only two players that played for both teams in the picture [Michael's wee brother Tom was with the ES for example]. During this era, I doubt if I have ever come across a team pic from either club that did not have at least one player who had played for both teams.

NB - After posting this, I noticed the picture also included Harry Reid [who played in 4 friendlies for Falkirk FC, so I am slightly happier].


However the best [and often most annoying] thing about images of football players is their strips. Until you look at it closely few things are obvious. Then look at Johnnie Mercer ..... The only thing that gives him away as a goalkeeper is a slight variance in the collar of his shirt. Then look at their shorts, never mind that they are knee-length, that is just fashion, the first thing that struck me is that they all have pockets!! Of course, there would be no major dealers in football strips, so apart from the shirts, the players would doubtless be wearing converted workwear. The third part of the strip which to me was conspicuous, is striking by its absence. Apart from a couple of players, and then only just, I cannot see a pair of socks: stockings made up part of the club colours which were listed in the SFA Annuals of the time! Never mind the fact that it is now against the laws to wear shin-pads over the socks.

Finally, a couple of little things for the purists, the fad for wearing caps was ebbing away, apart from Archie Ritchie rightly showing off his newly earned Scotland Cap, only Kadie is wearing a cap, yet several could have worn their Stirlingshire caps. There is no club insignia anywhere, in fact apart from things that only a fan or a historian could have known, there is no way of knowing which club it is and when it was taken! Finally, who is the Captain? I am guessing David Alexander, not because he is front and centre [he was a Centre-Forward after all] but because of his proximity to the ball, but that is still just a guess.

Read more over at the official East Stirlingshire Website.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A Whole New Country

OMG, can I say that again, OMG

Cate Dickinson-Byrne just got in touch with me about her Grandfather "James Robertson" who was a legendary Falkirk Centre-Forward from 1910 to 1914 [and from that point continued to play for Falkirk, but you have to admit world politics got in the way of Falkirk's selection policy]

Anyway, Cate tells me that James signed up again in 1939, which means I might have to make a new page about Falkirk players who served in both wars [but I suspect there might only be one chap] I give to you, all you who sadly forgot him James Robertson


James Robertson
b 15th March, 1885,Alexandria, Dunbartonshire

d 26th April 1968, London, Middlesex
Debut – Saturday February 18th 1911 v Clyde (H) Scottish League Division 1
Positions – Centre-Forward
Club Honours – Scottish Cup W 1912/13, North-Eastern Cup W 1911/12, RU 1910/11, Dunedin Cup W 1913/14, Dewar Shield W 1913/14, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1913/14, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1912/13, 1913/14
Falkirk Leading League Goalscorer 1911/12 [12], 1912/13 [12], 1913/14 [21], 1914/15 [11]
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [160/75]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [11/2]
Scottish Victory Cup Matches/Goals [2/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/1]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [26/20]
Scored [2] on his League Debut
Hat-Tricks – 1 [Division 1 [1]]
Known Career – Vale of Leven [1904/05], Distillery, Blackburn Rovers [1905/06-1907/08], Brighton & Hove Albion [1908/09], Vale of Leven [1909/10-1910/11], Falkirk [1910/11-1918/19], Dunfermline Athletic [1915/16], Vale of Leven [1918/19-1920/21], Dumbarton Harp
Played for Home-Scots v Anglo-Scots, Scottish International Trial at Glasgow, 18th March 1913
Awarded the Croix de Guerre in February 1918, Awarded the Military Medal in December 1918
Possibly one of Falkirk FC's best ever 'signings', coming as part of Jock Simpson's transfer to Blackburn Rovers, Jimmy Robertson went on to score over 100 goals in all matches for the club
Height - 5 ft 8 in: Weight 13 st 0 lbs [1913]


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Junior Hell - Heather Rangers 1897/98

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

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

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

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

Known Matches by Heather Rangers in 1897/98

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

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Football & Alcohol - James Tennant


The victorians were weird people, well some of them were anyway. If you read enough into it their morals were generally projected upon the working classes in a "do as I say; not as I do" sort of way. Temperance movements abounded, whilst at the same time "Gentlemen's Clubs" existed within which all manner of lasciviousness occurred beyond the prying eyes of the common or garden pleb, and handily beyond the reach of the licensing laws placed upon the Public House.

These victorian values even stretched their long arms into the realms of football [Dunipace FC, were literally formed as Dunipace Temperance Association Football Club], this was brought to mind when I came across this interesting case brought before the Falkirk Burgh Police Court on Tuesday 25th of September 1897 involving Falkirk FC's Centre-Forward of the time: James 'Midgy' Tennant.


My antipathy towards the police, plus the fact that Tennant scored more than a hundred goals for my beloved football club makes me want to side with 'midgy' ... however ... in an extract from the same paper, another Falkirk FC player Bobby Fearns pleaded guilty to the charges, also James Tennant once signed professional forms for East Stirlingshire, claiming it was a mistake as he was drunk out of his head when he did it. Hmmmm.


Still, when he was playing for Falkirk, he was good.

James 'Midgy' Tennant

b 29th November 1871, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 25th September 1926, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday January 10th 1891 v Battlefield (H) Friendly

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

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Forfarshire 1894/95

Club Honours – Midland League W 1894/95, RU 1895/96, Stirlingshire Cup W 1894/95, 1895/96, RU 1891/92, 1897/98, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1891/92, 1893/94, RU 1894/95, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, 1892/93, 1893/94, RU 1895/96

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [7/4]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [8/4]
Minor League Matches/Goals [73/33]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [43/21]
Other Matches/Goals [87/45]

Hat-Tricks – 6 [Midland League [1] Stirlingshire Cup [2] Other [3]]

Known Career – Burnhouse, Falkirk Athletic, Falkirk [1890/91-1897/98], Camelon [1898/99]

Note - He was called Midgy due to his alledged rotundity .....

Note - It was very difficult to trace this chap, whether or not he was born out of wedlock I am unsure, but by tracking his parents and knowing his rough age, I finally found James Sinclair Tennant McCready in the record. In the 1881 census he is living with his grandmother in Lint Riggs, while his parents were living in Vicars Street.

Note - Since this post was first published I have come across several more accounts of his drinking being reported in the FH.


Falkirk Herald - 1st June 1895


Falkirk Herald - 2nd May 1896


Falkirk Herald - 28th November 1896


Falkirk Herald - 22nd August 1900

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Town v County - 1902


In the aftermath of the Ibrox disaster nearly all of Scottish Football pulled together in aid of the benevolent fund and the Stirlingshire Association did their bit along with the others. A while back I wrote a weepost about the tournament at the start of the 1902/03 season, which was in effect an extra Stirlingshire Cup, the proceeds going to the fund. But before that there was a match played at the tail end of the 1901/02 Season for the same cause.

On Tuesday 15th April 1902 at Merchiston Park [the home of East Stirlingshire FC] the Stirlingshire FA organised two representative teams for a challenge match. Unlike previous matches this was not played by a Stirlingshire XI against a large club or another representative team, instead the sides were chosen along the lines of Town v County, in other words Falkirk against the Rest of Stirlingshire.

Besides the football entertainment was provided by the Carron Works, the Wright Memorial and the Falkirk Burgh Brass Bands, and a there was a "very large attendance of spectators". On the field the Town side wore the Black & White of East Stirlingshire, while County wore Red Jerseys and White shorts.


Town - Allan [FFC]; Hill [FFC] & Gillespie [FAFC]; Scott [FFC], Fish [ESFC] & Rae [ESFC]; Low [FFC] & Kellock [FFC], Leishman [FFC], Dobbie [ESFC] & White [ESFC].

County - McCrory [KPFC], Leishman [CFC] & McLeod [SFC]; Reid [CFC], McBride [SFC] & Campbell [CFC]; McNair [SFC] & Clarkson [SFC], Baird [SFC], Carrigan [CFC] & Rae [CFC].

The match itself was very competitive, although I suppose the tackling was less intense than in a more competitive fixture, and was very end to end. The first side to strike was County, who on the counter attack passed the ball to Baird who hit the leather so hard that Allan could not hold on to to it and let it slip over the line. However within three minutes Town had equalised, scorer missing. For the rest of the half County were on the ascendancy but the Town defence stood form. Half Time 1-1.

Within three minutes of the resumption Town's Centre-Forward Robert Leishman nipped in behind his wee brother William Leishman on the County side to sent Town into the lead. After some exciting goalmouth skirmishes at both ends Baird again put the teams level. But almost straight from the kick-off Dobbie took a long shot that slipped between McCrory's hands and put Town back ahead. For most of the remaining time play was camped in the Town half, but this time William Allan was on the form that was to become common for the next two decades between the sticks. Failing light brought the players off some ten minutes before the scheduled 45 minutes had been played; the result standing Town 3 County 2.

The gate reciepts were reported as £18 6s 1d, but collections made in the ground added to the sum to be given over to the Ibrox Fund.

This is the last time that I have come across a representative Falkirk [geographical] side, but I dare say that were one to compete against the County today an FFC/ESFC XI could have a decent tussle against a SAFC/SFC XI, but I am a hopless romantic and think such matches are the best way to play Benefits, Testimonials & Charity matches, far better than the same two clubs who might have played several times within the last year. I live in hope.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Clubs in Falkirk District - Gairdoch


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 6 June 2014

Falkirk FC 1919?


I have this picture in my possession, it purports to be Falkirk FC in 1919 [and I have no reason to doubt it, but cannot substantiate it either]. I can tell some of the players, Tom Scott [Back row, second left], Tom Ferguson [goalie], Robert McDougall [Front Row, Centre [and with the ball, so Captain, which surprised me]]. But I do not know most of these people.

I suspect it was taken before the match v Raith Rovers on the 16th August 1919, and the players I know fit into that, but I cannot be sure. If you can shed any light, or help me in any way, please get in touch.


The Youngest Falkirk Player ... ever?


If you look up your Rothmans [or whatever it is called now], and look at the Falkirk FC pages it will tell you that the youngest Falkirk Player (post-war) is Gary Gillespie, but we who know stuff know that the World & Football, did actually exist in the time before 1945.

So, some of us know James McPhie was younger than Gary when he played just before the War broke out. However, in my researches into the murky past of 19th Century Football has unearthed a potential rival: William Lees.

William Lees, and his uncle James [who also turned out for Falkirk FC], was from Blackbraes. This is difficult for people to get their head round nowadays, but, there was a substantial village called Blackbraes just South of California until the turn of the 19th/20th Century, California was almost non-existent then. I believe [from my reading of the 1891 Census that the family Lees lived somewhere between the only houses remaining in Blackbraes & the Greyrigg Inn [ie on the way from California to Avonbridge/Standburn].

Anyway, I digress, William had clearly been making noises in the junior scene, so was filched by Falkirk, and thrown into the mix v Grangemouth in a Stirlingshire Cup match in 1892. In the 1891 Census he is listed only as being born in Carnwath, Lanarkshire, and being 14 Years Old. The next year he was in the Falkirk FC 1st XI .... Now, I know, he may have had two birthdays between the Census & his Debut, and since I am yet to trace his exact Date of Birth I do not know for sure. But there is a chance he may have only been fifteen when he first played.

William Lees

b c1877, Carnwath, Lanarkshire
d ????

Debut – Saturday October 29th 1892 v Grangemouth (H) Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Positions – Centre-Forward
Minor League Matches/Goals [2/-]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [3/3]
Other Matches/Goals [10/1]

Known Career – Falkirk [1892/93]

Nephew of James Lees [Falkirk 1892/93]

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Jock Drummond


Jock Drummond was not properly a Falkirk Bairn, but he was good enough for me, the family was living here by the time of the 1881 Census. he was originally from the Hillfoots. But it would seem he grew up in the town [so if it was up to me I would give him a passport]. Like many of the great players for Falkirk FC he seems to come out of nowhere, but this is more to to do with the lack of 2nd XI matches being reported, then, as now, in the local press.

In his time at Falkirk Jock spent a lot of time at left back, but I suspect this may be more to do do with the fact his partner would have been worse. He was a class above Stirlingshire football. He even extendended his range to play when needed, at Left-Half. In his memoirs [published in the Rangers Historian [a surprisingly un-bigoted publication]] he remembered learning under Pat Murphy to play LB.

According to the Falkirk Herald, before he moved to Rangers [you must remember this was a time before the current nonsense] he was scouted & tempted by English clubs like Wolves, Preston etc, but he stayed in Scotland. But not because he was a hun, because he had a fine job as a Bank Clerk in Falkirk, and refused to leave the town, he would travel to the match on Saturday, but he would never leave the town.

After a long career with Rangers he returned to Falkirk, but not really as a player, but a director, well more as a director who would play when needed. He did not play much second time around, but must have been a great boon to the others about him.

John Drummond has a few things about him which will never go away, he was the first Falkirk player to play for Scotland: he is the first player known to have scored a goal from a Penalty Kick for the Club [Falkirk scored another two weeks before, but the scorer was not recorded], he is another who played before his 18th birthday.

When it came for him to eventually hang up his boots he was was only playing in goals [but still playing] he played for Falkirk FC in a post-season tour of 'the North' when he played against a Morayshire XI on the 7th May 1907 [this being the 20 years & 21 Days after the first time he turned out for that amateur team].


[I like this pic, aged 16 from the 2nd XI before he even played a First XI Match]
[Sorry about the quality, but, I was not there]

John Drummond

b 13th April 1870, Alva, Stirlingshire
d 23rd January 1935, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday April 16th 1887 v Alloa Athletic (H) Friendly

Positions – Left-Back, Centre-Half, Left-Half, Right-Back
Representative Honours – Scotland v Ireland 1891/92, Stirlingshire v Linlithgowshire 1888/89, v Fife 1890/91, vForfarshire v 1890/91, 1891/92

Club Honours – Stirlingshire Cup W 1889/90, RU 1891/92, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1889/90, 1891/92, RU1890/91, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, RU 1889/90, 1890/91

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [12/-]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches/Goals [1/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [11/1]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [30/1]
Other Matches/Goals [87/4]

Known Career – Falkirk [1886/87-1892/93], Rangers [1891/92-1903/04], Falkirk [1904/05-1906/07]

Selected for the 1891/92 International Trials.

Played for Zingari v Falkirk Excelsior, Friendly at Tannery Pk, Falkirk, 28th April 1887
Played for Falkirk Caledonians v Redding Athletic, Friendly at Redding, 5th May 1887
Played for Redding Athletic v Vale of Avon, Friendly at Redding, 8th June 1887
Played for Redding Athletic v Kilsyth Wanderers, Friendly at Garrell Garden Pk, Kilsyth, 10th September 1887
Played for Falkirk District XI v Rangers Ibroxonians, Benefit Match at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 11th June 1889
Played for Dunblane 2nd XI v Falkirk 2nd XI, Friendly at Brockville Pk, Falkirk, 18th January 1890
Played for King's Park v Hurlford, Friendly at Forthbank Pk, Stirling, 1st January 1891

Scored Falkirk's first recorded goal from a penalty kick, v Glasgow Wanderers (H) September 12th 1891, Scottish Federation

Cousin of George Drummond. [Falkirk 1899/00-1901/02]

Made his League debut for Falkirk 17 Years 126 Days after his Falkirk 1st XI debut

Friday, 23 May 2014

Death by Football - 1889


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

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

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

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

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


Robert Whyte

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

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

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

Friday, 16 May 2014

John Turner


We come, we go, none of us in the turn of events last for much of a muchness. I do not want to sound morbid, but I am morbid. John Turner only played one match for Falkirk FC, soon fell ill, then about a year later died. We have no idea, if he was run-of-the mill, or if he was next best thing, remeniscent of N.F.Callaway who scored a double Century in his only match at cricket, then promptly got shot in the War [was he better than Bradman?, We will never know].

John Turner

b 14th October 1873, Slamannan, Stirlingshire
d 19th June 1894, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday January 28th 1893 v Pollockshaws (A) Scottish Federation

Positions - Half-Back
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/-]

Known Career – Falkirk [1892/93]

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Falkirk

It is difficult to define Falkirk sometimes, so I thought I would resort to Law.

This is Falkirk as defined by the Great Reform Act of 1832, end of.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Stirlingshire Coronation Tournament 1902


In 1902 the Stirlingshire FA organised a seperate Competition on the same lines as the Stirlingshire Cup, It seems to have been in part to celebrate the Coronation, however the proceeds were given to the Ibrox Disaster Fund. I have never found an official name for this competition, so I made up the name above.

The ccup was rather hastily arranged, so the first round was a bit of a disaster, only two games taking place, both between Alloa Athletic & Falkirk, both draws leading Falkirk to withdraw [we had just joined the League and had more important fixtures to fulfill], in the other ties King's Park scratched to East Stirlingshire and Falkirk Amateurs scratched to Stenhousemuir.

At least the Semi-Finals were competed, with East Stirlingshire beating Camelon by a single goal and Stenhousemuir beating Alloa by 3-1 in Alloa.

So for the the big [semi] local final, naw, it was a drab affair by all accounts, ESFC again winning by the only goal of the match, but then again that it is all it takes.

So, in the summing up of all mankind at the end of times, at least ESFC will be able to meet their maker in the eye and say "We were the one and only winner of the Stirlingshire Coronation Tournament" [or whatever it was officially called].

I have put the results on Brian McColl's brilliant Scottish Football Historical Archive site.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Falkirk FC Top Goalscorer 1902 - George Campbell


Falkirk FC's first ever top League Goalscorer was a proper Bairn, a local lad. George [Geordie] Campbell was born and brought up in the Town, and as far as I know lived his whole life here.

Starting his career as a Juvenile with Brockville Star [not associated with Falkirk FC], within a season he drew the attention of Vale of Carron. Vale of Carron were the 'shire's wee team and were big in Junior Circles and Geordie joined them, where he made an immediate impact. However, after a season, he moved to Bo'ness [I don't know, West Lothian did have a better Junior scene at the turn of the Century [it still does]] for another season. But George was a Falkirk lad and soon moved to Dunipace Juniors where he made Centre-Forward his own.

Falkirk's ears pricked up and soon offered him terms. Of course, he couldn't be the Centre-Forward, Robert Leishman was the CF, but he was put at Outside-Left. And he scored, for a young man he scored. In Falkirk FC's First Season in the League he scored 14 from 22 games. And when you add his goal in the Qualifying Cup v East Stirlingshire, he scored FIFTEEN.

All in all George made the benchmark for all Fakirk Strikers to follow.

He retired from Falkirk due to ill-health, but was tempted out of retirement due to Raith Rovers who needed a CF, but he did not play many matches with them [possibly due to his health]. In April 1908 Falkirk played Raith at Stark's Park in a Benefit match for him. He died at the scarily young age of 25, but you know, he is one of our seasonal top scorers.




George Campbell


b c1884, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 13th February 1909, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday September 29th 1900 v Stenhousemuir (A) Scottish Qualifying Cup 2nd Rd
League Debut – Saturday August 16th 1902 v Clyde (A) Scottish League Division 2

Positions – Outside-Left, Centre-Forward

Club Honours – Scottish League Division 2 RU 1904/05, Dewar Shield RU 1903/04, Stirlingshire Cup W 1905/06, Stirlingshire Consolation Cup W 1902/03, 1904/05,Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1904/05, 1905/06, RU 1903/04

Falkirk Top League Goalscorer 1902/03 [14]

Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [16/10]
Scottish League Division 2 Matches/Goals [53/25]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [6/1]
Minor League Matches/Goals [19/8]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [31/11]

Known Career – Brockville Star, Vale of Carron, Bo'ness Our Boys, Dunipace JuniorsFalkirk [1900/01-1906/07] Raith Rovers [1907/08-1908/09]

Played in Falkirk's first ever Scottish League Match v Clyde (A) Scottish League Division 2, 16th August 1902
Scored on his League Debut
Hat-Tricks – 2 [Division 1 [1] Division 2 [1]]

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Westquarter v Falkirk 1933

I think I said in a previous blog post on Bob Shankly that he made his debut for Falkirk FC in August of 1933, well I was only half-right. Bob actually made his debut for the club a month earlier, except it was not for the reason he was signed ... as I'm afraid there is no need for a big, burly Centre-Forward in the gentleman's game of cricket against Westquarter.

Even by the 1930s professional football clubs playing the odd cricket match had become a rarity, whereas in the 19th Century it was quite commonplace, but is quite obvious why these social games died off: there is no point in signing a footballer just to have a wannabe tear-away fast-bowler try to knock his head off before he has even kicked a ball in anger.

Falkirk, quite rightly, were thumped by the village team, the game over in a day, but Scotland has never been renowned for its skill in the longer game.

Interestingly it would seem that Alex, Bob's big brother played in the match, interesting as he never played football for the club, and had retired from the professional game by then. Maybe he was just visiting his brother, since, he was meant to be a ringer he patently failed.

Useful for a really obscure trivia question about Shankly brothers playing together for the same football club.

Falkirk's best player in the match, Johnnie Richardson, although born in South Africa, interestibly was brought up in Westquarter, and lived there for the rest of his life.

Westquarter CC v Falkirk FC at Blairlodge, Polmont
Westquarter CC
J.Grant
b J.Hope 1
C.Storrar
c J.Hutchison b J.Hope 18
J.Myles
b J.Hope 0
J.Dick
b J.Hope 23
J.McLuckie
b J.Richardson 4
A.Fraser
c G.Grant b J.Richardson 4
D.Sharpe
b C.Thomson 17
W.McGilchrist Sr
b C.Thomson 14
W.A.U.Steven
not out 39
J.Brandon
dnb
W.McGilchrist Jr
dnb
Extras

17
Total
For Eight Wickets 137
Bowling
J.Hope
4 wickets for 34 Runs
J.Richardson
2 for 25
C.Thomson
2 for 50


Falkirk FC
J.Hope
c & b W.A.U.Steven 15
A.Henderson
b J.Dick 2
J.Thomson
b J.Dick 1
C.Thomson
b W.A.U.Steven 7
J.Richardson
not out 24
J.Bartram
b D.Sharpe 0
G.Grant
c J.Grant b W.McGilchrist Sr 7
R.Shankly
b W.McGilchrist Sr 1
J.Hutchison
retired 0
W.Harrison
b W.McGilchrist Sr 0
A.Shankly
b J.Brandon 7
Extras

1
Total
All Out 65


W.McGilchrist Sr
3 wickets for 2 runs
J.Dick
2 for 9
J.Brandon
1 for 0
W.A.U.Steven
2 for 15
D.Sharpe
1 for 12
Westquarter CC won by 72 runs

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Falkirk at Merchiston Park, 1904


I remember going to an East Stirlingshire v Clydebank match at Brockville Park in the early 1980s due to there being a problem with Shire central, it is interesting to watch League matches at neutral venues, there is an unnatural feel about them, none of the vie wing public being completely at home; and the odd neutral [like I was] being unfamiliar with both teams.

Of course games like this used pop up every so often, but they were mainly to do with the ground being used for another match, and nowadays would be more likely to cause a postponement than moving to another ground.

But the match brought to mind reading about an Abercorn v Falkirk match which was played at the home of East Stirlingshire, Merchiston Park on the 3rd May 1904.


Completely different circumstances of course and in this case it was technically an Abercorn home match, but it is close enough to bring a wry smile to my face.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Unsung Heroes - Andrew Mitchell


Andrew Mitchell is another of those players who will always come just under the radar, because he was not a great Centre-Foward, he was instead a bloody good Inside-Left, and could score a goal or two, Starting his senior career with the 'Shire, when Falkirk got promoted to the First Division we filched him, and apart from a period on Loan with Vale of Teith, he played his entire career with the two clubs, going back to ESFC in 1910.

During his time at Falkirk he proved his mettle by being selected for the Scottish International Trials in 1906, but didn't make it.

To put it in perspective he scored 47 Leaugue goals for Falkirk [56 in total], and there are no current Falkirk midfielders with anything like that tally.

Known Career – East Stirlingshire [1900/01-1905/06], Falkirk [1905/06-1909/10], Vale of Teith [1906/07], East Stirlingshire [1910/11-1912/13]

with FFC c1907



Thursday, 24 April 2014

ESFC-FFC Brothers

When two clubs have such a synchretic history and relationship [yet are not hindered by the baggage which weighs down the clubs to the East and [especially] the West of Scotland], they end up sharing many common factors - East Stirlingshire and Falkirk are the embodiment of this ... shared grounds, shared competitions, shared players .....

In this era of professionalism, sets of footballing brothers are more and more becoming a rarity, however back in the Nineteenth Century with more senior clubs therefore more competitions, there were fewer barriers to brothers playing on with the same clubs.

Of course it is not quite so rare for a club to have brothers amongst its ranks, both ESFC and FFC have many examples of this, there is even the case of Michael and Thomas Harley who played for Falkirk until the Summer of 1889 then both at the same time jumped ship to Bainsford. However I know of only one pair of brothers of whom one played for East Stirlingshire and the other for Falkirk.

Alex and Michael Drain came from Kilsyth [well they lived in Kilsyth: their father was from Cumbernauld, Alex was born in Rosehall [John & James, brothers in between were born in Airdrie] and Michael was born in Cumbernauld, and a younger brother in Kilsyth]. And it was in Kilsyth football that they were first noticed. Alex was a solid Left-Back with Smithstone Hibs [and with Kilsyth Hibs when they changed name], before moving up to their bigger rivals Kilsyth Wanderers [getting 'capped' for Stirlingshire], where came to the notice of Glasgow Celtic. Although I do not think he ever made it into the 1st XI, he certainly was a bit of a regular for the reserves for a while. And it was probably the lack of first team chances which prompted him to sign for East Stirlingshire in 1896. However tragedy was to befall him that season, as he was a miner in the real world [he is listed in the 1881 Census, aged 14, as an Iron Miner] and was severely injured in a mining accident, which was to end his life within a year.


His wee brother on the other hand played as an inside forward, normally Inside-Right, and first came to notice with the Junior side Kilsyth Emmet in the Stirlingshire Junior Cup and various Junior Leagues in Stirlingshire, by 1898 he had graduated to Kilsyth Wanderers [Kilsyth Hibs having folded in between] before joining Falkirk midway through the 1899/1900 season, but he never quite hit it off at Falkirk, although scoring when he got the chance, you had to be very good to dislodge Andrew Burt & Thomas Baird, and he wasn't quite that good. After Falkirk he dissapeared from my radar, and may have left football altogether.

Sadly as there were six years between the brothers, and Alex's early death there is little chance they played together [and no chance that they played on either side of the Falkirk Derby]. But there is still the slight chance they played against each other in some bizarre Kilsyth Charity Competition, but the lack of media coverage for Kilsyth at the times no-one will ever know.

Alex Drain

b 20th December 1868, Rosehall, Lanarkshire
d 15th March 1898, Kilsyth, Stirlingshire

Known Career – Smithstone Hibernians [1892/93], Kilsyth Hibernians [1893/94], Kilsyth Wanderers [1894/95], East Stirlingshire [1894/95 guest], Celtic [1895/96], East Stirlingshire [1896/97]

Michael Drain

b 17th December 1874, Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire
d

Known Career – Kilsyth Emmett, Kilsyth Wanderers [1898/99-1899/00], Falkirk [1899/00]

Sunday, 20 April 2014

East Stirlingshire Ancients 1893


Not even fifteen years after their birth East Stirlingshire were old enough to be fielding an ancients side, and a bloody good one at that. In 1893 they put out a side which thumped their contemporaries from Stirling. Most of the team, it has to be said, were not long retired from the first eleven. But who am I to argue with History.

On Friday May 5th 1893 East Stirlingshire Ancients beat King's Park Ancients by 5 goals to 2 at Merchiston Pk, Bainsford

ES - James Dougall; Allan Rae & Peter Mitchell; Andrew Inch, Henry Brand & Robert Johnston; Robert Wilson & Peter McGregor, Lawrence McLachlan, John Taylor & Alexander Cockburn.

KP - W.Armstrong; T.W.R.Johnston & Robert Wilson; Wm Muir, Wm Morrison & Wm Miller; B.Taylor & John Gray, Wm McLay, John McLaren & McQueen.

Strangely in all my time I have never come across an East Stirlinjgshire Ancients v Falkirk Ancients match, except for the 10th Anniversary match of the first Stirlingshire Cup, but that was meant to be between the same players, so is not quite the same thing.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Arsenal v East Stirlingshire 22nd Feb 1896

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


Like I said: Jealous!!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Laurieston FC - Clubs in Falkirk District


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.