Close Season - June/July 1891

 Monday, 1st June 1891


The final match, scheduled for Saturday 6th June 1891 at Cathkin Park between Celtic and Dumbarton, had to be postponed until Wednesday, 10th June 1891. This was due to the fact that Dumbarton were already committed to playing in the final of the Greenock Charity Cup on that day.

Tuesday, 2nd June 1891


The International Board, which is responsible for the laws of the game across all football, met to ratify two changes to the laws. Representatives from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were in attendance and the board was made up of Messrs Crump and Gregson for England, Mr Reid for Ireland, Mr Sliman for Scotland and Messrs Taylor and Hunter for Wales. Mr George Sneddon, president of the SFA, presided.

The first topic to be ratified was the introduction of “penalty kicks”. : -

“If a player shall intentionally trip, or hold an opposing player or deliberately handle the ball within 12 yards from his own goal-line, the referee shall, on appeal, award a penalty kick, to be taken from any point 12 yards from the goal-line under the following conditions: all players, with the exception of the player taking the penalty kick and the opposing goalkeeper (who shall not advance more than 6 yards from the goal-line) shall stand at least 6 yards behind the ball.

The ball shall be play when the kick is taken, and a goal may be awarded from the penalty kick.”

The new law was passed unanimously.

Also passed unanimously was the addition to Law 12: - “That linesmen shall be appointed whose duties (subject to the referee) shall be to decide when the ball is out of play and which side has the throw-in.”

These were two significant changes to the laws of the game, especially the introduction of the penalty-kick. Prior to this change the penalty for foul play anywhere on the field of play resulted in a free kick. However a goal could not be scored directly from that free kick, nor was there any stipulation on how far from the ball opposition players could stand. Because the “penalty did not fit the crime" in terms of foul play near the goal it had for some years become a contentious issue. It was common for unscrupulous players to prevent a goal by foul means, especially handball on or near the goal line. The resultant free kick near the goal would invariably descend into a free for all “scrimmage” with no goal being scored. It is hoped that a free hit at goal from a penalty kick would eliminate that form of cheating.

“Linesmen” would replace "Umpires" to assist the referees and their duties much reduced. Umpires were rarely neutral, usually each side appointed their own. Among other duties they could advise referees when a goal was scored or when a player was offside. Where the umpires disagreed on an issue the referee made the final decision. Given that the umpires were club officials the suspicion of bias was never far away. In an effort to rectify this, linesmen, although still club officials in the main, would have no influence on a referees decision. Their sole responsibility was to arbitrate on which team had the throw-in.

Friday, 5th June 1891


The Scottish League held their first AGM in the Union Hotel, Glasgow, and there was a full attendance of representatives. The reports of the secretary, Mr McLaughlin and treasurer, Mr Wilton, were read and adopted unanimously.

McLaughlin’s report contained thinly veiled digs at doubters in the press and the SFA who predicted, and indeed wanted, that the league would fail. It was both sarcastic and well directed.

“I have much pleasure in presenting to this body its annual report, especially since so many men of light and leading – at least in their own estimation – prophesied an early death for the infant League. Gentlemen, the kick of its little infantile foot strikes terror into the hearts of those unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. In spite of choruses of calumnies, misrepresentation, and almost universal condemnation – vicious misrepresentation that greeted our every act, opposition, hidden and open, that greeted our every step – when we consider all these, gentlemen, I say we are justly entitled to feel proud of our success.

We were always loyal to the Association, however much we may have differed from its late committee. In spite of a section of the Press, the public were with us, and so long as we provide good football they will be with us. Interest in our competition waxed stronger and stronger as the end drew near, culminating in that great battle on Cathkin Park on May 21st, when the Rangers and Dumbarton became joint champions of the Scottish League in the first year of its history.

Gentlemen, the hatchet is buried, and I will not refer to such events as the Renton case, the International matches, or the Charity competition. A complete reconciliation with the parent body has taken place. We have gained much and lost little. We hope the present season will be free from bickerings and misunderstandings that blacken the record of the past. It was alleged that the whole troubles of the past were due to our incapacity. Gentlemen, the result of the SFA annual meeting knocks that lie on the head.”

The secretary went on to point out that of the 91 matches played (including the play-off), only two protests arose, both of which were dismissed. Only four cases of rough play were reported.

The meeting then moved to the election of office-bearers. Mr Lawrance (Dumbarton), Mr McLaughlin (Celtic) and Mr Wilton (Rangers) were all re-elected unanimously as Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Mr Towns (St.Mirren) was elected as Vice Chairman.

Mr Richardson (Heart of Midlothian) moved that the league should be increased to 12 clubs, however Mr McLaughlin advocated that the number should remain at 10. After some discussion a vote was taken and Richardson’s motion passed. The league, for season 1891/92, would now consist of 12 clubs.

Eleven clubs, Airdrieonians, Clyde, Kilmarnock, Leith Athletic, Linthouse, Morton, Mossend Swifts, Northern, Partick Thistle, St.Bernard’s and Thistle all applied to be elected to the league. Interestingly nine of the applicants (excluding Mossend Swifts and St.Bernard’s) were committed to forming the new Scottish Alliance League. Added to these were the clubs who finished in the bottom three places in the Scottish League, St.Mirren, Vale of Leven and Cowlairs, and therefore had to re-apply for admission as per the league rules. Renton were also included as they had applied for reinstatement. With the league being increased from 10 to 12 clubs this meant a total of 15 clubs were vying for 5 places. Surprisingly, once again, no application was forthcoming from Hibernian. No doubt the disastrous season that culminated in them going into abeyance due to having no ground played a big part in their decision.

Each club made their case for inclusion and after some discussion it was decided that a short-list of 8 clubs would be voted on. Airdrieonians, Kilmarnock, Linthouse, Mossend Swifts, Northern, Partick Thistle and Thistle all failed to make the short-list. In the first round of voting Renton and St.Mirren came out top with 14 votes each and they were followed by Vale of Leven with 12 votes and Leith Athletic with 10. Clyde and Cowlairs tied with 9 votes and Morton and St.Bernard’s also tied with 2 votes. Each of the existing league clubs plus the 5 candidates were entitled to vote for up to 5 teams.

As a result of the first round, Renton, St.Mirren, Vale of Leven and Leith Athletic all secured their places leaving Clyde and Cowlairs tied for the last remaining place. St.Bernard’s and Morton missed out. The tie meant a run-off between the two and this vote also ended with both teams securing the same number of votes. A further vote once again ended in a tie before Clyde secured the final place by a single vote.

Although the election of Renton, St.Mirren and Vale of Leven came as no real surprise the election of Leith Athletic was. Messrs Heggie and Richardson, the Heart of Midlothian delegates, who argued passionately that additional representation from the east would strengthen the hands of the league, no doubt helped their cause. Interestingly, they threw their weight behind the 4-year-old Athletic rather than the more established St.Bernard’s.

Perhaps a bigger surprise, however, was Clyde’s election over Cowlairs. In terms of prestige, Cowlairs were a much bigger club than Clyde, had more success and, in head-to-head matches between the two, came well out on top. In terms of spectator attraction, they both pulled similar crowds. Cowlairs league record, points deduction excepted, was not that worse than the other two teams up for re-election so it was difficult to see how Clyde would be an improvement on Cowlairs. What may have swayed some teams against the Springburn club was the initial difficulties they had with their ground at the start of the season and the administrative problems that plagued them during the season. Perhaps the view was they Clyde was a better run club.

The meting ended with Mr McLaughlin receiving an honorarium of £15 (around £2,000 today) for his services, in particular, steering the league through the fixture chaos.

Saturday, 6th June 1891


DUMBARTON                     5            MORTON                              1                   2,000

Half time: 4-0                                                    Referee: Mr Rose (Partick Thistle)

Cappielow Park, Greenock

Dumbarton have no difficulty in retaining the cup.


CLYDE/THISTLE SELECT 1            CAMBUSLANG                    4

Half time: 0-4                                                     Referee:

Barrowfield Park, Glasgow


The match was for the building funds of the St.John’s Operative Lodge of Freemasons and raised £40 (£5,200). Reynolds (Celtic), Campbell (Third Lanark) were guest players for the Clyde/Thistle Select team.

Monday, 8th June 1891


The SFA called the meeting to announce the members elected to the committee. The members were elected under the new system agreed at the recent AGM. Each district would elect 2 members (Glasgow & Suburbs 4 members and Southern Counties 1 member) and each affiliated association one member each. The elected members were as follows: -

Division I – Ayrshire: G. Black (Kilmarnock) and J. McLean (Ayr)

Division II – Dunbartonshire: J.T. Baptie (Dumbarton) and J.B. Wright (Vale of Leven)

Division III - East of Scotland: T. Fraser (St.Bernard's) and J. Williamson (Mossend Swifts)

Division IV – Glasgow & Suburbs: S. Lawrie (Queen's Park), R. S. Martin (Northern), D. MacKenzie (Rangers) and T. R. Park (Linthouse)

Division V Lanarkshire: – R. B Crombie (Albion Rovers) and R. Livingston (Cambuslang)

Division VI – Northern Counties: J. K. Currie (Dunblane) and W.T. McCulloch (Our Boys)

Division VII – Renfrewshire: R. Dixon ( Abstainers) and J. McCallum (Dykebar)

Division VIII – Stirlingshire: T. W. R. Johnston (King's Park) and S. McKay (Campsie)

Division IX – Southern Counties: J. Robertson (5th K.R.V.)

Ayrshire FA – R. F. Harrison

East of Scotland FA – J. Bingham

Lanarkshire FA – J. Govan

Forfarshire FA – W. Crichton

Renfrewshire FA – A. M. Sutherland

Stirlingshire FA – R. Bishop

Representatives from Dunbartonshire FA and the Glasgow FA had not yet been chosen.

The elected members would join office-bearers President, G. Sneddon (Edinburgh), Vice-President, A. Sliman (Battlefield), Treasurer, J. M. Campbell (Pollokshaws) and Secretary, McDowall who were all elected at the recent AGM.

Wednesday, 10th June 1891


CELTIC                                   0            DUMBARTON                       3                 12,000

                                                                             Bell,Taylor (2)

Half time: 0-1                                                       Referee: Mr J. Marshall

Cathkin Park, Glasgow

Celtic: Bell, Reynolds, McKeown, Gallagher, Kelly, Kyle, Madden, McGhee, Dowds, Campbell, McMahon

Dumbarton: McLeod, Watson, A. Miller, McMillan, Boyle, Keir, Taylor, Galbraith, J. Miller, Bell, McNaught

Dumbarton picked up yet another trophy as they rather easily beat Celtic in the League Charity Cup Final. Bell opened the scoring after 15 minutes. Taylor scored midway through the second half and then again with a minute to go.

Thursday, 11th June 1891


The first meeting of the new committee met to decide which 16 teams would be exempt from the preliminary rounds of the 1891/92 Scottish Cup competition. As last season’s semi-finalists, Abercorn, Dumbarton, Heart of Midlothian and Third Lanark were automatically exempt. 28 teams were nominated for the remaining 12 places and after a ballot the following teams were successful: - Cambuslang, Celtic, Clyde, Dundee Our Boys, Kilmarnock, Northern, Leith Athletic, Queen’s Park, Rangers, Renton, St.Mirren and Vale of Leven.

In view of the new division of the competition into preliminaries and principal stages it was found necessary to add another round to the ties already arranged at the conference of secretaries. The semi-finals would take place on the date originally set for the final, 6th February 1892. The final would now take place two weeks later on the 20th February 1891.

The committee was informed that a great number of (former) professional players had returned from England to take advantage of the amnesty passed at the recent AGM. The long list was taken as read and amnesty granted.

In other business, East Stirlingshire were refused permission to play Dumbarton in a match for the benefit of the funds of the local bowling green. Captain Wilson, the architect in charge of the extensive alteration about to be carried out on the association’s property, attended and exhibited the plans of the alterations, which were approved. It was stated that £800 (around £105,000 today) would be required for the alterations. A Property Committee was appointed consisting of Messrs Sliman, Campbell, Lawrie, Crichton and Robertson to oversee the work.

Saturday, 13th June 1891


St.MIRREN                             6            DYKEBAR                            0         

Half time: 3-0                                                       Referee: Mr Robertson (5th KRV)

Underwood Park, Paisley

St.Mirren retain the Paisley Charity Cup with a thumping win over Dykebar.


CLYDE                                   1            CAMBUSLANG                    2

Half time: 1-2                                                      Referee:

Barrowfield Park, Glasgow


A meeting was held in Dumfries at which it was resolved to form a football association for the southern counties. Ten clubs were represented, 5th KRV, Annan, Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Dumfries Gladstonians, Lochmabben Thistle, Moffat, Newton-Stewart, Queen of the South Wanderers and St.John’s. A further four clubs submitted letters of approval. Mr J. J. Clark (Dumfries) was elected president, Mr R. Underwood (Annan) vice-president, Mr A. S. Harrison (Dumfries) treasurer and Mr W. G. Hay secretary. Clubs entitled to send delegates to the first year’s committee were; 5th KRV, Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Moffat, Newton-Stewart and Queen of the South Wanderers.


A meeting was held in Irvine to consider the formation of a league for the county. Clubs represented were Annbank, Ayr Parkhouse, Beith, Galston, Irvine, Mauchline, Newmilne, Kilwinning Monkcastle, Saltcoats Victoria, and Stevenston Thistle. It was resolved that a league should be formed and they follow rules of the Scottish and Ayrshire Associations. Mr R. M. Yuille (Irvine) was appointed interim secretary.

Saturday, 20th June 1891


A second meeting was held regarding the formation of a county league. The following committee office-bearers were elected; Mr Hood (Beith), President, Mr Anderson (Kilwinning Monkcastle), Vice-President, Mr McCallum (Ayr Parkhouse), Treasurer and Mr R.M. Yuille (Irvine), Secretary. The meeting agreed to adopt the rules and constitution as that of the Scottish League. Gate money would be divided equally with the guaranteed minimum of £2 (£260) to the visiting team.

Thursday, 25th June 1891


The meeting was called to discuss a new rule regarding the transfer of players between league clubs. After a heated discussion it was resolved that players who played for one team in the 1890/91 season could not play for another club in the 1891/92 season without the permission of the club they were leaving.

The new rule was passed in an effort to prevent possible poaching, however it was not met with universal approval. The main objection was the perception that the rule could be open to abuse. For example, what would prevent a player’s current club from withholding such permission? Although the player can appeal, the whole process was seen as unsatisfactory by a large minority of members.

Friday, 26th June 1891


The Alliance League met to draw up their fixture list for the coming season; however, they decided to delay this until the Scottish League issued theirs. A suggestion that St.Bernard's fixtures against Ayrshire clubs be played near the beginning or near the end of the season as possible on account of long rail journeys was to be considered.

Saturday, 27th June 1891


HEART of MIDLOTHIAN         2            LEITH ATHLETIC                  3                   5,000

Half time: 2-1                                                            Referee: Mr Waugh

Logie Green, Edinburgh

The much-delayed Edinburgh charity final saw Leith Athletic emerge as surprise winners.

Wednesday, 1st July 1891


The much anticipated fixture list for the new season was finally issued. However, the fixtures only cover up until the end of 1891, a total of 84 games. The remaining 48 games will be announced at a later date.

The league season opens on 15th August 1891 with joint champions Dumbarton away to Cambuslang. Fellow joint champions Rangers open with an away trip to Renton whilst Celtic travel to Edinburgh to play Heart of Midlothian. New members, Clyde, host Vale of Leven with the other new member, Leith Athletic, away to Third Lanark. Paisley clubs, Abercorn and St.Mirren hold their opening fixtures the following Saturday against Dumbarton and Heart of Midlothian respectively.


Clydebank were elected to replace King’s Park, who had left the league to join the Scottish Alliance League. The fixture list was delayed.

Monday, 6th July 1891


The committee was pleased to announce that the competition realised £800 (around £105,000 today) for charity. Donations ranging from £5 (£650) to £100 (£13,000) were given to various institutions. The Royal, Western and Victoria Infirmaries each received £100.

Tuesday, 7th July 1891


The Alliance League issued their fixture list for the 1891/92 season and like the Scottish League only covers the first half of the season. The season will commence on Saturday, 8th August 1891 and the opening games sees Northern play Linthouse, Partick Thistle play Ayr, Port Glasgow Athletic play East Stirlingshire, St.Bernard’s play King’s Park and Thistle play Airdrieonians.

Wednesday, 15th July 1891


The Eastern Alliance became the latest league to announce their fixture list. As Leith Hibernian could not commit to the league after all, their place was taken by another Edinburgh based club, Adventurers. In contrast to the Scottish and Alliance Leagues the Eastern Alliance was able to issue the fixtures for the whole season. The season will commence on Saturday, 15th August 1891 with Armadale against Adventurers, Bathgate Rovers against Broxburn Shamrock, Bo’ness against Mossend Swifts and Broxburn against Kirkcaldy being the opening fixtures.

Friday, 17th July 1891


The Federation League has now issued its fixture list for the coming season. In common with the Scottish and Alliance Leagues, the list only covers fixtures up to the end of 1891. The league commences on Saturday, 8th August 1891 with the opening fixtures being; Burnbank Swifts against Kilmarnock Athletic, Clydebank against Motherwell, Pollokshaws against Hurlford, Royal Albert against Glasgow Wanderers and Wishaw Thistle against Arthurlie.

Monday, 20th July 1891


The new body met for the first time and agreed to have a qualifying stage for their cup competition. Six leading county clubs would now be exempt until the competition proper.

W. G. Hay was appointed as the Southern Counties representative to the SFA.

Thursday, 23rd July 1891


Donald Gow has left Rangers and signed professionally for Sunderland.

Tuesday, 28th July 1891


Celtic’s fullback Michael McKeown has signed professional terms with Blackburn Rovers.

Wednesday, 29th July 1891


One of the founder members of the new Scottish Alliance League found itself in turmoil at the end of a bad tempered meeting. Mr James Gardner, secretary of Airdrieonians, called the special meeting to protest at what he described as the arbitrary manner that Mr John McAra had arranged a benefit match for one of the players, Mr John Welsh. An angry discussion ensued as to whether Welsh should get the benefit match as advertised by McAra, namely, Celtic v Airdrieonians on Wednesday, 5th August 1891. McAra had also arranged a second match for the following Wednesday, 12th August 1891. Both matches had been granted consent by the SFA.

Gardner’s main argument was that the matter had been dealt with in an underhand manner, and, that Welsh had not only frequently declined to play in the team, but had endeavoured to induce other players not to turn up in teams arranged by himself. When questioned, Welsh flatly denied all allegations put by Gardner. Angry exchanges took place for some time before calm was restored and the matter proceeded to a members vote. An overwhelming majority approved the first match, against Celtic, and the second match, against Dumbarton, was also approved by 29 votes to 17.

As a result of the decision Gardner promptly resigned as club secretary and walked out. After some difficulty in finding a replacement, Mr William Dalgleish was eventually appointed Gardner’s successor. Club president, Major Spence, refused to sign the guarantee to the Scottish Alliance League in respect of the club’s fixtures and then promptly resigned also.

Friday, 31st July 1891


A special league committee meeting was called to discuss a proposed rule change by Renton with regard to the distribution of gate money. The present rule allows that gate money be divided as two-thirds to the home team and one-third to the visiting team. Renton’s proposal was that the gate money should be a 50/50 split. Celtic, Rangers and Third Lanark were strongly opposed to such a change and in the resulting vote the proposal by Renton was rejected.

The player registration rule was also up for discussion and it was resolved that this rule be deleted. It was felt that the new rule which had the provision that before a player can transfer his services from one league team to another, he must have the consent of the club he is leaving, replaced the need for registration.