The 12 League Clubs


Football in Renfrewshire began in the early 1870’s in and around the Barrhead area and it was not until 1877 that the game reached Paisley. St.Mirren were the first to be formed and within a month or so another, Abercorn FC, was formed. With an initial membership of 200 and much local support, a piece of ground known locally as “Ministers Glebe” was cleared, made ready for football and named East Park. In 1878 they became a founder member of the Renfrewshire Football Association and entered the association's inaugural cup competition the same year. Abercorn soon outgrew East Park and in 1879 moved across the town to Blackstoun Park, a site they leased from the Paisley Corporation. Despite a growing reputation and popularity, Abercorn did not enter the Scottish Cup until 1880 and, after defeating Barrhead and Morton in the first two rounds, fell to local rivals St.Mirren in the third. In season 1883/84 they won their first trophy of note, the Paisley Charity Cup, defeating St.Mirren. 1885/86 saw them win the Renfrewshire Cup for the first time after defeating Port Glasgow Athletic in the final. Indeed, they went on to reach the next four finals, winning 3 of them.

The Scottish Cup was not a particularly happy competition for Abercorn, as they rarely survived the early rounds. All this changed in season 1887/88 when they reached the semi-finals for the first time. After holding Cambuslang to a 1-1 draw at Blackstoun Park they were summarily hammered 10-1 in the reply at Whitefield Park. In 1889/90 they again reached the semi-final, this time losing to Queen's Park. By 1890, Abercorn had evolved into the most prominent club in Renfrewshire, attracting good crowds, and had the upper hand competitively over local rivals St.Mirren so it was no surprise that they were strongly interested in a league competition. In 1890 they made the short move from Blackstoun Park to Underwood Park.

Renfrewshire Cup winners 4 times, runners-up once.
Paisley Charity Cup winners 3 times, runners up once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 5. Number of caps gained, 6.


In the small town of Cambuslang, just outside the outskirts of Glasgow, a football club of the same name was formed in 1876. Not much is known of its formation or its early beginnings apart from an initial membership of around 100. The Lanarkshire Football Association was formed in 1879 and Cambuslang were at the forefront of at its formation. Season 1879/80 seems to be the year that Cambuslang began to emerge as a club of note. They entered the Scottish Cup for the first time, progressing to the 5th round before falling to Pollokshields Athletic. In the inaugural Lanarkshire Cup however, they scratched from the competition. The following seasons saw a gradual improvement in the club's fortunes, particularly in the Lanarkshire Cup, losing semi-finalists in 1880/81 and losing finalists in 1881/82. Season 1883/84 was the breakthrough season. They defeated Dykehead 4-0 to win the Lanarkshire Cup for the first time and they also reached the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup, losing 5-1 to Rangers. The following season was even better. They retained the Lanarkshire Cup beating West Benhar 5-3 after a 3-3 draw, and reached the Scottish Cup semi-final for the first time, losing to Vale of Leven after a replay. Cambuslang reached a third successive Lanarkshire Cup Final but this time they lost heavily to Airdrieonians, 5-1. Season 1886/87 saw Cambuslang involved in a protracted dispute with the Lanarkshire FA over a protested cup-tie. As a result of the dispute the club resigned from the Lanarkshire Association and joined the newly formed Glasgow Football Association. Whether by accident or design, this move was to prove fortuitous for the club in that it thrust them into prominence.

The 1887/88 season proved to be the best in the 14 years of Cambuslang’s existence. Firstly, they won the inaugural Glasgow Cup: - having defeated Queen’s Park, no less, 2-1. In the semi-final they met Rangers in the final and easily won by 3-1. Secondly, they reached the final of the Scottish Cup for the first time: - having roundly defeated Abercorn 10-1 in a replayed semi-final they lost heavily in the final against Renton, 6-1. A few months later, in the Glasgow Charity Cup they reached their third final of the season and again they faced Renton. Once again Renton were too strong for Cambuslang and they lost 4-0.

Scottish Cup runners-up once.
Glasgow Cup winners once.
Lanarkshire Cup winners twice, runners-up twice.
Glasgow Charity Cup runners-up once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 6. Number of caps gained, 8.


Of all the clubs determined to form league football, Celtic were in someway the the unknown factor. Barely 2 years old yet already on their way to success and influence. The brainchild of Marist Brother Walfrid, who saw revenue from football as a means to alleviate poverty in the east end of Glasgow and beyond. In 1887 a committee was formed with a view to forming a football club. In their first full season, Celtic won the Glasgow North Eastern Cup and were runners-up in the Scottish Cup and the Glasgow Exhibition Trophy. They could not repeat that success the following season but still managed to retain the Glasgow North Eastern Cup and reach the final of the Glasgow Cup.

So how could a club come from nowhere to such prominence in such a short space of time? They had Brother Walfrid’s vision and on the committee the shrewd administrative skills of local businessmen John Glass and John McLaughlin. A look at the Scottish Cup Final team line-up tells the story – James Kelly and Neil McCallum from Renton, Paddy Gallacher, Mike McKeown, Mike Dunbar and Willie Groves from Hibernian and the Maley brothers from Third Lanark. Securing these players meant Celtic had a solid foundation on which to build upon and the persuasive words of Glass and McLaughlin together with Brother Walfrid’s vision did much for those players to commit to the club.

Scottish Cup runners-up once.
Glasgow Cup runners-up once.
Glasgow North Eastern Cup winners twice.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 4. Number of caps gained, 8.


Cowlairs were formed in 1876 in Springburn, a district in north Glasgow. Due to the rapidly growing locomotive industry, Springburn expanded from a village to a small town. As the population increased, football took root in the early 1870’s. West End were the first club formed in 1872 followed by Northern and Towerhill in 1874 with Shawfield (later changing their name to Derby) in 1875. Cowlairs began as a works team from the Cowlairs Railway Works and in the same year another works team, Hyde Park Loco Works, were also formed. Incredibly, the following year three further teams were formed; Petershill, Huntingdon and Springburn, taking the number of senior football clubs in the Springburn area to 10.

Cowlairs were, in some respects, slow starters, as they did not enter the Scottish Cup until season 1880/81. However, the following season they were instrumental in forming the Glasgow North Eastern Football Association. This body took in areas such as Springburn, Townhead, Bridgeton and Parkhead and was strong enough to compete in representative matches against county associations such as Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire. In this environment Cowlairs grew in prominence and become a force not only against their local rivals, Northern, but also against other clubs such as Clyde and Thistle. Cowlairs became the kings of northeast Glasgow. Although their Scottish Cup record was not of the best, a fifth round exit in 1887/88 was the furthest they got, the Glasgow North Eastern Cup was a different story. Athough they did not take part in the first competition of 1881/82, they were winners in 1882/83 and 1883/84 they reached four further finals between 1885/86 and 1888/89, winning two more. In the inaugural Glasgow Cup in season 1887/88 they reached the semi-final only to fall to Rangers after two replays. Perhaps their finest hour came the following season when they won the Glasgow Exhibition Trophy. After disposing of Thistle, Clyde and St.Mirren along the way, they defeated Celtic 2-0 in the final to take the trophy.

Glasgow North Eastern Cup winners 4 times, runners up twice.
Glasgow Exhibition Trophy winners once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 2. Number of caps gained, 4.


Dumbarton were one of three clubs from the Dunbartonshire area founded in 1872 following the pioneering work of Queen’s Park. The other two were Renton and Vale of Leven. Like their Dunbartonshire rivals they started off as essentially a village team but quickly developed the skills necessary in the “new game". Entering the inaugural Scottish Cup in 1873/74 they lost out to local rivals Renton in the quarter-final. In the following two seasons they reached the semi-finals, losing out again to Renton in the first and then Third Lanark after two replays in the second.

During the 1870s, Dumbarton first played at local grounds Meadow Park, Broomfauld Park and then Townend before securing a lease for Boghead Park in 1879. In that season they reached the semi-final of the Scottish cup for the third time. Again they fell just short losing narrowly to Queen's Park. The following season, 1880/81, they at last reached the final disposing of Rangers in the quarter-final and Vale of Leven in the semi-final. However, they fell short in the final losing 3-1 to Glasgow rivals Queen’s Park. The pattern was repeated in 1881/82. Again Rangers were defeated in the quarter-final, this time by 5-1 and Cartvale were brutally shrugged aside 11-1 in the semi-final. The final saw them face Queen’s Park once again and again they lost out, this time 4-1 in a replay. That season saw them also reached the Glasgow Charity Cup final for the first time and after defeating Rangers in the semi-final faced local rivals Vale of Leven. Once more a replay was required and once more Dumbarton fell short and lost 1-0.

Dumbarton finally made the breakthrough in season 1882/83 when they lifted the Scottish Cup for the first time. They met Vale of Leven in the final and defeated them 2-1 in a replay. Following that win they confirmed their status as an elite club by hammering English Cup winners Blackburn Olympic 6-1 in a match that was dubbed the Football Championship of the UK. In 1884 Dumbarton were instrumental in forming the Dunbartonshire Football Association and won the first Dunbartonshire Cup held that season. Dumbarton had grown to be a formidable club and were strong advocates of league football.

Scottish Cup winners once, runners-up three times.
Dunbartonshire Cup winners three times, runners-up once.
Glasgow Charity Cup runners-up twice.
Greenock & District Charity Cup winners once, runners-up once.
Football Championship of the UK winners once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 15. Number of caps gained, 49.

Heart of Midlothian

Following an exhibition match in December 1873 between Queen’s Park and Clydesdale to promote association football in Edinburgh, a group of friends from the Heart of Midlothian Quadrille Club formed Heart of Midlothian F.C. a few months later. One of the first true football clubs in the Edinburgh area, Hearts (as they are more informally known), joined the Scottish Football Association in 1875 and entered the Scottish Cup for the first time. During the 1870s, Hearts utilised the playing facilities of The Meadows, Powburn and Powderhall before settling in the Gorgie area in 1881 and by 1886 had built and established Tynecastle Park as their permanent home.

As football in Edinburgh expanded they became founder members of the Edinburgh Football Association that later took in the surrounding areas and became the East of Scotland Association. Hearts found success in the Scottish Cup hard to come by but had a little more success locally although more often than not found themselves playing second fiddle to local rivals Hibernian. In season 1877/78 they won the Edinburgh Cup for the first time by defeating Hibernian 3-2 in the final after an incredible 4 drawn games. The following season they captured the one-off competition, The Presidents Cup, when they beat Hanover 5-4 in the final but could not retain the Edinburgh Cup, losing the final 2-0 to Hibernian. Season 1882 saw the introduction of the Roseberry Charity Cup and Hearts won the first competition by beating St.Bernard’s 2-0 in the final.

These rare successes in the early 1880s proved to be false dawns. Although they won the Roseberry Charity Cup again in season 1885/86 they were unable to make any impact on the trophy that really mattered – the Scottish Cup. They regularly fell in the early rounds, often to local rivals, and the furthest they ever got was in season 1880/81 when the dizzy heights of the 5th Round was reached. It took a further 9 years before they were able to emulate that feat. It was in the Scottish Cup in 1884 that disaster struck which could have potentially finished the club. A Second Round tie against Dunfermline was easily won by 11-1 but the Fifers immediately lodged a protest with the SFA that Hearts had fielded two paid players. Due to the pressure of losing players to clubs in England it was not uncommon for Scottish clubs to employ underhand methods to pay players, the trick was not to get caught. The SFA found in Dunfermline’s favour and suspended Hearts for 2 years. This decision almost certainly meant that the club would have folded since they would be unable to play against any SFA registered club. Seeing the inevitable, the Hearts committee admitted to the breach of rules and resigned en masse thus allowing an entirely new committee to take over the running of the club. These actions satisfied the SFA and the suspension was lifted thus allowing the club to continue.

Over the following seasons, Hearts slowly emerged from the dark times and by the end of the 1880s began to assert themselves as Edinburgh’s top club by winning the East of Scotland Shield twice and the Roseberry Charity Cup once.

East of Scotland Shield (previously Edinburgh Cup/Shield) winners three times, runners-up twice.
Roseberry Charity Cup winners three times, runner-up twice.
Presidents Cup winners.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 5. Number of caps gained, 5


Formed in 1872, Rangers, in many ways emulated the founding club of modern Scottish Football, Queen’s Park. Just as Queen’s Park's foundation had emerged from a group of men who had migrated to Glasgow from the Highlands, Rangers formation followed a similar path with a group of friends who migrated from Argyll. Likewise both groups had employment in the “white collar” sector and their primary interests lay in other sporting activities before embracing the “new” sport of Association Football.

In the early years Rangers played their home games in a corner of Glasgow Green, known as Flesher’s Haugh and remained there until the end of season 1874/75. In 1873 when the Scottish Football Association was founded and the establishment of the Scottish Cup was made, Rangers failed to send a representative to the meeting and therefore did not take part in the first Scottish Cup competition. At the beginning of the 1875/76 season, Rangers moved to the Burnbank Grounds, following Glasgow Academicals Rugby Club relinquishing the lease from owners 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. The following season Clydesdale moved out of the Kinning Park ground and moved to Titwood Park, Rangers moved to take over the vacant lease. This was a stroke of good fortune for Rangers as the ground was more suitable for football matches and in an area with more potential to attract a larger support.

The move to Kinning Park coincided with Rangers reaching the Scottish Cup Final for the first time in 1876/77. They met one of the Dunbartonshire rising stars, Vale of Leven, and lost 3-2 after two drawn games. On the strength of reaching the final, and given that Vale of Leven declined their invitation, Rangers were invited to take part in the Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup. They met the might of Queen's Park in the final and were soundly beaten 4-0. The following season Rangers reached the fourth round of the Scottish Cup and again faced Vale of Leven. The match ended in a goalless draw at Kinning Park but in the replay at North Street Park, the Vale romped home with a 5-0 victory. They were again invited to play in the Charity Cup but lost to Third Lanark 2-1 in the preliminary round.

Season 1878/79 saw Rangers again reach the Scottish Cup Final and once again faced Vale of Leven in the final. Along the way they knocked out Queen’s Park in the quarter-final, indeed this was the first time Rangers had beaten Queen's Park competitively, and it was widely anticipated this would be Rangers year. The match ended in a 1-1 and a replay was arranged for the following week. However Rangers lodged a protest that a second goal they scored which was disallowed should have stood. Three minutes from the end of the match Vale equalised. The protest was thrown out; Rangers took umbrage at that decision and threatened not to turn up for the replay. On the day of the match Vale of Leven duly appeared but Rangers did not so the Cup was awarded to the Vale. Rangers were fortunate no further sanctions were imposed by the SFA. Ironically, on the back of this fiasco, Rangers actually won their first trophy. Rangers were selected to play in the Charity Cup and progressed to meet, you’ve guessed it, Vale of Leven in the final. This time Rangers beat the Vale 2-1 and this time there were no tantrums.

Following this success, what should have been the foundation for the club to go forward, the 1880s saw them descend instead. Their reputation was ruined by continued protests after defeats, on the field they attracted criticism for overtly “robust” play, and their fans criticised for "unruly and loud" behaviour. By 1882 most of the original founders of the club had left, either to Queen’s Park or down to England, others simply retired out of football. With the death of club president, Archie Harkness, Rangers were plagued by internal squabbling and fell into debt. J.W. McKay seized control of the club and made matters even worse. In 1884, with the club further in debt, Rangers faced fierce press criticism for taking “cuts” from money raised for charity, their response being “all very well for big clubs like Dumbarton to play for nothing”. This only damaged their reputation even further and the return of one of the founding members, Tom Vallance, as President did not help as he resigned after just a few months.

In 1885, the owners of Kinning Park announced that they wished to utilize the land for other purposes. Rangers therefore faced the prospect of being homeless so committeeman William Wilton was entrusted in finding a new ground. By 1886 McKay had left the club and they considered a move to Strathbungo. This prospect prompted a caustic comment in the “Scottish Referee" newspaper that the "rents in Pollokshields and Strathbungo would tumble if the Kinning Park roughs followed”. As it transpired Rangers moved to the Ibrox area of Govan for season 1887/88. William Wilton who proved to be an excellent administrator oversaw the move and his good work was rewarded the following season when he was appointed club secretary. The move to Ibrox coincided with Rangers reaching the final of the inaugural Glasgow Cup competition but they were well beaten 3-1 by Cambuslang.

Scottish Cup runners-up, twice.
Glasgow Charity Cup winners once, runners-up, four times.
Glasgow Cup runners-up, once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 18. Number of caps gained, 33.


Renton were founded in 1872, the same year as the Dunbartonshire clubs, Dumbarton and Vale of Leven. For the first 5 years of their existence they utilised a piece of private ground to the north of the village. During this time they set out to become a football force, first in Dunbartonshire, and on to the whole of Scotland. They took part in the inaugural Scottish Cup in 1873 and were drawn to meet Kilmarnock. As Renton had no proper ground of their own, the match was played at the home of Queen’s Park, First Hampden Park. Although both teams only fielded 10 men, Renton emerged 2-0 winners. After defeating Dumbarton 1-0, after a 0-0 draw, in the quarter-final their journey ended in the semi-final losing out to Queen’s Park by 2-0 at First Hampden Park. The following season they went one better and reached the final. Again rivals Dumbarton were eliminated, this time in the semi-final, and faced Queen’s Park in the final. Renton lost 3-0 to their powerful opponents.

After this early promise, Renton failed to make any real impact for the rest of the decade. A semi-final defeat to Third Lanark in season 1877/78 being the only highlight on the field. Despite securing the lease to Tontine Park in 1878, a piece of land on the banks of the river Leven to the north of the village, there was very little success. In fact by season 1881/82 Renton were unable to raise a team and had to scratch from the Scottish Cup. Just as it looked like Renton would fade away, they re-emerged the following season and got as far as the fourth round in the Scottish Cup. From this foundation, Renton went on to become one of the most powerful football clubs in the country.

By 1884/85, Renton became a club to be reckoned with. Instrumental in the formation of the Dunbartonshire Football Association and with it the Dunbartonshire Cup, they emulated their county rivals by winning the Scottish Cup. After a comparatively uneventful passage through the early rounds, they disposed of Rangers 5-3 in the quarter-final and faced the powerful Edinburgh side, Hibernian, in the semi-final. Renton triumphed 3-2 after a hard fought match to reach their second cup final and faced local adversaries, Vale of Leven. The Vale had already won the cup three times previously and with Dumbarton also previous winners, it was down to Renton to complete a Dunbartonshire hat trick. The final ended in a goalless draw but in the replay Renton triumphed by 3-1 to win their first Scottish Cup. This achievement saw them invited to participate in the Glasgow Charity Cup for the first time but they lost out to Queen’s Park in the semi-final.

The following season they again reached the final of the Scottish Cup. This time they met Queen’s Park but they were unable to repeat the success and lost out by 3-1. However there was some consolation when they won the Glasgow Charity Cup at the end of the season by beating Vale of Leven 3-1 in the final. This began an unprecedented run in that competition as they also won the next three to make it 4 wins in succession. Vale of Leven (again), Cambuslang and Queen's Park all fell to a rampant Renton in the finals.

There can be no doubt that season 1887/88 was Renton’s greatest. Not only did they win the Scottish Cup for the second time and retain the Glasgow Charity Cup but also they proclaimed themselves “Champions of the World”! It had been become tradition that the winners of the Scottish Cup and the English Cup met in what was dubbed by the press “Championship of Britain". Renton took it one step further, not only did they defeat the English Cup winners, West Bromwich Albion, they also challenged and defeated the runners-up, Preston North End. There being no further challengers, Renton claimed the title of “Champions of Britain and the World” and the trophy presented to them now resides in the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park.

Scottish Cup winners twice, runners-up twice.
Glasgow Charity Cup winners 4 times.
Dunbartonshire Cup winners once, runners-up once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 10. Number of caps gained, 19.


The club was founded in September 1878 in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh and was named after a local landmark on the banks of the Water of Leith. The parish and town council were also known as St.Bernard’s for that area. Not much is known regarding the origins of the club, however it seems to have been created from two clubs, United and St.Bernard’s, who played Rugby football in the early 1870s. In 1878 the two clubs joined forces and switched codes to Association football. St.Bernard’s first ground was on a public park known as Stockbridge Park.

Their first season, 1878/79, seems to have had little activity but season 1879/80 saw them join the Edinburgh Football Association and participate in the Edinburgh Cup. For the 1880/81 season the club moved to a more enclosed ground, the Royal Gymnasium Grounds and this season saw them reach their first Edinburgh Cup final, losing out to Hibernian 1-0 in the replay after a 4-4 draw. The following season the club joined the Scottish Football Association and took part in the Scottish Cup for the first time, losing to Hibernian 2-1 in the second round. They also reached the final of the Edinburgh Cup once again and once again fell to Hibernian, this time 4-2. At the end of the season they moved to a new ground at Powderhall.

The 1882/83 season saw St.Bernard’s reach the final of the inaugural Roseberry Charity Cup, an end of season competition along similar lines to the Glasgow Charity Cup. Unfortunately, once again, they fell short and lost 2-0 to Heart of Midlothian. This was a pattern that dogged St.Bernard’s, reaching finals of the Edinburgh and Charity Cups only to fall at the final hurdle to either Hearts or Hibs. It was a similar pattern in the Scottish Cup, with a regional draw; they would usually lose to Hearts or Hibs and exit the premier tournament early. St.Bernard's were clearly the third force in Edinburgh but incapable of overcoming Hearts and Hibs – always the bridesmaid never the bride.

In season 1889/90 the club moved from Powderhall to nearby Logie Green after securing a 10-year lease for that ground. No doubt they hoped a change of ground would bring a change of fortune.

East of Scotland Shield (previously Edinburgh Cup/Shield) runners-up four times.
Roseberry Charity Cup runner-up three times.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 2. Number of caps gained, 2


Formed as a gentleman’s club around the mid 1870s participating in various sports including cricket and rugby, the membership of St.Mirren decided to take up association football. Football in Renfrewshire was expanding and in 1877 St.Mirren football club was founded, becoming the first football club in Paisley. The club took its name after St.Mirrin, the patron saint of Paisley.

During St.Mirren’s first few seasons not a great deal of football was played and those that they did play were of the non-competitive type mainly against local opposition. Their first ground was the cricket ground at Shortroods and after one season moved to Abingdon Park. In season 1879/80 they moved again, this time to the home of Thistle Cricket Club, Thistle Park. By season 1880/81 St.Mirren were ready to play more seriously and joined both the Scottish and Renfrewshire Football Associations. This allowed them participate in both cup competitions. Their first Scottish Cup outing was encouraging. They reached the fifth round beating local rivals Abercorn along the way and also Cowlairs before falling to Dumbarton. In the Renfrewshire Cup they reached the final at the first time of asking but lost 3-1 to Arthurlie.

St.Mirren won their first trophy in season 1881/82 when they beat Alexandra Athletic 5-1 to win the Barlow Cup. This was a one-off challenge match and Mr T.C. Barlow, a pyrotechnic artist based in London, presented the cup. This success continued in season 1882/83 when they defeated Thornliebank 3-1 in the Renfrewshire Cup for the first time. The season also saw the introduction of the Paisley Charity Cup but Paisley Athletic hammered St.Mirren 6-0 in the final. Season 1883/84 saw St.Mirren move a short distance from Thistle Park to another ground at Westmarch. This season saw the Saints retain the Renfrewshire Cup when Thornliebank were again defeated in the final, this time 7-1 but Abercorn got the better of them in the Paisley Charity Cup final. Indeed St.Mirren contested the next two Charity Cup finals but failed each time, first to Abercorn then Arthurlie. It was not until season 1886/87 that they finally got their hands on the Paisley Charity Cup when they defeated, once again in a final, Thornliebank. In season 1887/88, St.Mirren at last got one over their great town rivals Abercorn when they beat them 4-1 in the Renfrewshire Cup final but Abercorn got their revenge the following season by beating St.Mirren 3-2 in the final. 1889/90 saw Abercorn feature again in a final against Saints this time in the Paisley Charity Cup with St.Mirren winning a nine-goal thriller 5-4.

Whilst St.Mirren were gaining success locally, the same could not be said nationally. In the Scottish Cup they rarely got past the early rounds and it was not until season 1888/89 that they reached their first quarter-final. However like their rivals Abercorn they were attracting good crowds and their committee was forward looking and ambitious, league football was seen as a step upwards.

Renfrewshire Cup winners 3 times, runners-up twice.
Paisley Charity Cup winners twice, runners-up four times.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 3. Number of caps gained, 3.

Third Lanark

The Third Lanark Rifle Volunteers Football Club was founded on the 12th December 1872 and was affiliated to the army regiment of the same name. Indeed one of the rules stated in their constitution was that only members of the regiment could be admitted to the club. Some years later, however, this rule was relaxed somewhat and the club became open to all. For the first two years the club played their games on an old drill field at Strathbungo before moving to first Cathkin Park in Govanhill. The club forged a close relationship with nearby Queen’s Park, the pioneers of association football in Scotland. This closeness was demonstrated at the club’s first AGM in March 1873 when it was agreed that members of Queen's Park could become office bearers of the club.

Third Lanark were founder members of the Scottish Football Association and took part in the very first Scottish Cup competition, losing out to Clydesdale in the quarter-final. In season 1875/76 they reached the Scottish Cup final for the first time but lost 2-0 to Queen’s Park in a replay after the first match was drawn 1-1. In the following season they were invited to take part in the first Glasgow Charity Cup where they lost 3-0 to Queen’s Park in the first tie. Thirds again reached the Scottish Cup Final in season 1877/78 taking the scalps of Queen’s Park and Renton along the way. They faced Vale of Leven in the final and after a hard fought tie lost by the narrowest of margins, 1-0.

After this near success Third Lanark seemed to fall into a period of decline and progression in the Scottish Cup usually ended in the early rounds of the competition. What made this hard to take was given that the early rounds of the competition where drawn on a regional basis it meant that more often than not Third Lanark fell to one of their Glasgow rivals. In season 1883/84 Third Lanark had some partial respite by reaching the final of the Glasgow Charity Cup however after a hard fought 1-1 draw with Queen’s Park they were trounced 8-0! It was, perhaps, this period of failure that prompted the Third Lanark committee to reconsider the rule that only members of the regiment could play for the club. By its very nature this restricted the pool of player talent and this clearly had an effect on the club that later changed its rules to become an open to all.

Third Lanark finally made the breakthrough in season 1888/89 by winning the Scottish Cup for the first time. In reaching the final Third Lanark had to overcome some stiff opposition: Queen’s Park in the third Round, Abercorn in the fifth round (after two replays) and “world champions” Renton in the semi-final. In the final they faced Celtic, a club barely a year old, and were installed as firm favourites to win the cup, this they duly did by winning a close game 2-1. The following season they fell at the semi-final stage to Vale of Leven, therefore could not retain the trophy, however, there was much consolation in the fact that they won the Glasgow Charity Cup for the first time beating by beating Queen’s Park 2-1 in the final.

Scottish Cup Winners once, runners-up twice.
Glasgow Charity Cup winners once, runners-up once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 15. Number of caps gained, 28.

Vale of Leven

Founded August 1872 Vale of Leven were the first of the Dumbartonshire trio to be formed, Dumbarton and Renton being the other two. The story goes that a group of young men who played shinty decided to try out football, which was beginning to take hold around central Scotland. However it was the Rugby version they were interested in not the Association version. Somehow Queen’s Park found out about their intentions and arranged for an exhibition match to take in Alexandria to demonstrate the Association code. The match, held in September 1872, attracted a large number of spectators including many from the nearby villages of Dumbarton and Renton. The demonstration was such a success that the Vale lads opted for the Association game and Renton formed their own team a few weeks later with Dumbarton doing the same in December 1872.

Vale of Leven played their first matches at Cameron Park before moving to a more suitable piece of ground in the village known as North Street Park shortly after. The Vale became founder members of the Scottish Football Association and with it the establishment of the Scottish Cup in 1873. Despite being at the forefront of establishing the national cup competition, Vale of Leven effectively did not take part in the first two series. In season 1873/74 they were drawn against Dumbarton but then withdrew and the following season they again withdrew after being drawn against Clydesdale. This strange affair all revolved around a player who was regarded as one of the finest of his day, John Ferguson.

Under SFA rules the game was strictly amateur, i.e. no player could be paid for playing football, however under the rules of the Scottish Cup, no player could be paid for participating in ANY sport. The problem for Ferguson was whilst he was not paid as a footballer, he was also a renowned runner and often earned prize money when participating in athletic meetings. Dumbarton and later Clydesdale both protested against Ferguson’s involvement, Vale of Leven therefore withdrew rather than play without their star player. The irony of this rule was demonstrated in the fact that Ferguson was selected and played for Scotland against England in 1874. Clearly Vale's rivals did not want to play against Ferguson but had no qualms in playing with him when needed. This stupid rule was dropped in 1875 when Vale of Leven's president, A. S. McBride was elected president of the SFA.

So Vale of Leven’s first proper venture in the Scottish Cup was in season 1875/76 when they progressed fairly easily to the semi-final. As fate would have it Vale’s opponents in the semi-final were Queen’s Park and Vale eventually lost out 2-1. Queen's Park then went on to win their third Scottish Cup in succession. The following season the Vale got their revenge when they knocked out Queen’s Park at the quarter-final stage by the same score. It was Queen’s Park first ever defeat in the Scottish Cup and it was not without controversy. Clearly sore at losing, Queen’s claimed on the Tuesday after the match to have found spike marks on the Hampden pitch. The inference was that at least one Vale player had been wearing spiked footwear in wet and heavy conditions, such equipment was not allowed. The claim was found to be spurious nonsense. Clearly the "gentlemen" of Queen's Park had proved to be bad losers - beaten by upstarts from a village in Dunbartonshire was just too much to bear. The Vale went on to dispose of Ayr Thistle 9-0 and reach their first final. Their opponents were Rangers, who were also playing in their first final, and again controversy was not far away. The first match ended in a 1-1 draw and after 90 minutes of the replay the teams were again locked at 1-1. The match went into 30 minutes extra-time and with 10 minutes remaining neither side had the upper hand. Then Rangers shot at goal which the Vale ‘keeper pushed away. Rangers claimed the ball had crossed the line but the referee disagreed sparking a pitch invasion. As the pitch could not be cleared the referee declared the match drawn. Rangers threatened not to turn up for the second replay but in the end saw sense and played. The result after a bad tempered game was a 3-2 victory for Vale of Leven and the Scottish Cup was theirs.

The following season Vale’s progression through the Scottish Cup was much more serene. After disposing of local rivals Dumbarton 4-1 in the second round they progressed through to meet Rangers in the fourth. The match ended goalless at Kinning Park but in the replay at North Street Park, Vale trounced Rangers 5-0. Vale then progressed smoothly to the final were they faced Third Lanark. Vale of Leven won the match 1-0, in what was described as a poor game, to win the Scottish Cup for the second time. At the end of the season, Vale also reached the final of the Glasgow Charity Cup and faced bitter rivals Queen’s Park. This time there was no accusations of cheating as Queen's run out 1-0 winners.

Season 1878/79 Vale set out to emulated the achievement of Queen’s Park and win the Scottish Cup for the third time in succession. They reached the final without too much difficulty and faced Rangers once again and once again the final was shrouded in controversy. Rangers went 1-0 up early in the game and then had a “goal” disallowed, as the ball had not crossed the line. Rangers protested that the ball had crossed the line and hit a spectator and rebounded back into play. The referee disagreed and Vale went on to equalise late in the second half and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Incensed, Rangers appealed to the SFA and on the Monday after the match the case was heard and thrown out, in any case, as was pointed out, goals could not be awarded after the event. A replay was arranged for the following week. Rangers spat out the dummy and refused to turn up. Vale of Leven turned up for the replay and appeared on the pitch at the appointed time, Rangers were nowhere to be seen and the referee awarded the game and the cup to Vale of Leven. The decision was ratified a few days later by the SFA; Vale had won the cup three times in a row. As fate would have it Vale of Leven and Rangers met in the final of the Glasgow Charity Cup and this time there was no protests with Rangers 2-1 winners.

After this period of success, Vale failed to make any impact although they did win the Glasgow Charity Cup for the first time in 1881/82. This sparked a revival and they reached the final of the Scottish Cup the following season. In the final they faced local rivals Dumbarton and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. In the replay Dumbarton ran out 2-1 winners to win the Scottish Cup for the first time. In season 1883/84, Vale again reached the Scottish Cup final and again they became embroiled in controversy. Arthurlie, Rangers and Renton were all beaten comfortably as Vale moved towards the final were they met old adversaries Queen's Park. As luck would have it the club suffered bereavement, illness and injuries in the days leading up to the final that severely depleted their playing squad. Not unreasonably, Vale of Leven requested a weeks postponement to the SFA. Vale's enemies within the SFA seized the opportunity to get back at them and refused. What Vale did next demonstrated that they could be just as petty as their foes. Within the press, all sympathy lay with Vale but instead of playing the tie with a weakened team (who knows they may have still won), they refused to play and did not appear for the final. Queen's Park were duly awarded the trophy.

Vale of Leven bounced back the following season reaching the Scottish Cup final once again and also reached the final of the inaugural Dunbartonshire Cup. First they lost out to Renton 3-1 in the Scottish Cup Final replay then to Dumbarton 3-0 in the Dumbartonshire Cup Final. It seemed Vale had lost their winning touch. However whilst further success in the Scottish Cup eluded them, Vale did win the Dunbartonshire Cup in 1885/86 and 1887/88. Another Scottish Cup final was reached in season 1889/90 but Queen’s Park got the better of Vale again winning 2-1 in a replay after the first game was drawn 1-1. In August 1888 Vale moved from North Street Park to nearby Millburn Park.

Scottish Cup winners 3 times, runners-up 4 times.
Glasgow Charity Cup winners once, runners-up 3 times.
Dunbartonshire Cup winners twice, runners-up 3 times.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 15. Number of caps gained, 49.