The Three Who Declined


Clyde F.C. were founded in 1877 as a private members football club and operated from Barrowfield Park on the banks of the river Clyde at the edge of the Bridgeton district of Glasgow. The invitation for Clyde to join a league was a strange one to say the least, as they could not claim to be a force in Glasgow North East never mind Glasgow itself. Their best effort in the Scottish Cup was taking Third Lanark to a Fifth Round Replay in season 1886/87 that they lost 4-0.

What they did have in their favour was the location from which they operated. The area was favoured by heavy industrial factories including chemical, industrial and textiles and therefore had a high-density population to support it. This gave Clyde an ideal catchment area from which to attract a support. Indeed attendances for Clyde’s matches were fairly healthy despite their lack of success. This was an era that, although clubs attracted good partisan support, games also attracted a substantial neutral attendance especially when opponents were regarded as good quality. It was this potential, which perhaps made Clyde a possible candidate for a league. Clyde declined the invitation.

Glasgow North Eastern Cup runners up twice.
Number of players capped for Scotland, none.


Founded in 1875 by a group of Irishmen from the Cowgate district of Edinburgh, the club took its name from the Roman name for Ireland – Hibernia. Initially the aims of the club were of a charitable nature in aid of the poor and unfortunate in the area of Leith. Hibernian utilised a number of football grounds before securing a lease for their own ground, Hibernian Park, in 1879.

If Clyde was a strange invite to the league, Hibernian was not. Without doubt, almost from their formation, Hibs became the dominant football club in Edinburgh and regularly gave a good showing in the Scottish Cup. After being knocked out in the first round of the Edinburgh Cup in the inaugural competition, Hibs never failed to reach a final in the following 11 years, winning 8 of them. Having won three times in succession (1878/79, 1879/80 and 1880/81), Hibernian got to keep the Edinburgh Cup outright. The following season under the competitions new name, Edinburgh Shield, Hibernian won again and having lost out to Edinburgh University in the 1882/83 final went on to win the next 4 in succession. When the Roseberry Charity Cup was introduced in season 1882/83, Hibernian lost out to Heart of Midlothian 3-1 in the semi-final but then went on to reach the next 5 finals of which 4 were won.

There could be no doubt that Hibernian were kings of Edinburgh and always attracted large crowds wherever they played. Their problem was overcoming the top Dunbartonshire and Glasgow clubs in the final rounds of the Scottish Cup. In season 1886/87, Hibernian finally reached the pinnacle when they won the Scottish Cup by beating Dumbarton 2-1 in the final and became the first club outside the west of Scotland to win the premier competition. The Edinburgh Shield and the Roseberry Cup were also won that season securing a clean sweep of trophies.

It came as a surprise when Richard Payne the Hibernian Secretary declined the invitation to get involved stating Hibernian had no interest in league football. As a club with a reputation for being forward looking this decision seemed strange and many football observers pointed out that the club could end up being isolated. This proved to be the case as it transpired that Hibernian had difficulty in securing attractive fixtures for the 1890/91 season since the league clubs were unavailable for matches. The Hibs supporters were not happy when they saw the standard of the fixtures for the coming season and made their views very clear to the club. In August 1890 Payne made a belated plea to the league for the club to be included but it was too little, too late and the club suffered as a consequence.

Scottish Cup winners, once.
East of Scotland Shield (previously Edinburgh Cup/Shield) winners 8 times, runners-up 3 times.
Roseberry Charity Cup winners 4 times, runner-up once.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 4. Number of caps gained, 4.

Queen’s Park

The club was founded in July 1867 by a group of young men who gathered regularly on Saturday afternoons to play and practice various athletic activities. The majority of the men had migrated from the north of Scotland to seek work in Glasgow and it was most likely they were known to each other prior to their weekly gatherings. Someone had suggested that they try out the game of association football that had begun to take root in England. A set of rules was acquired and in a corner of Queen’s Park Recreation Ground, Crosshill, the men practiced the “new” game. After agreeing that this was the ideal game to play they had to decide on a name for the club. Reflecting their northern origins the names “Celts”, “Northern” and “Morayshire” were suggested but, by a majority of one, settled on Queen’s Park.

It soon became apparent that more was needed than just playing amongst themselves so they issued challenges via newspaper advertisements to try and drum up opponents. The challenges began to be accepted, mainly from rugby football playing clubs willing to try the association version and, cricket clubs looking for something to fill the winter months. They also embarked on a series of exhibition games in around Scotland in an effort to promote the game. Soon other athletic type clubs also began to try out the game. One of the attractions of the game, apart from its simplicity, was that minimum equipment was needed, a piece of ground large enough to play on, a ball, and poles to represent goal posts were all that was needed (crossbars where not essential in these early days, a length of tape across the top of the poles sufficed). This then allowed for “works clubs” and local community clubs to form and give things a go.

Although in these pioneering years there was a high turnover of clubs forming then disbanding but by 1873 there was enough interest and stability to establish the Scottish Football Association and with it a challenge cup thus replicating what had taken place in England a few years earlier. 16 teams entered the first Scottish Cup when it kicked off in October 1873 and Queen’s Park and Clydesdale progressed through the rounds to face each other in the final on the 21st March 1874. In the summer of 1873 Queen’s Park moved to their first enclosed ground naming it Hampden Park after the nearby street, Hampden Terrace, and this was where the first final was held. Queen’s Park defeated Clydesdale 2-0 to win the first Scottish Cup. Queen’s Park then went on to win the next two Scottish Cups and thus establish their clear superiority but a challenge was on the horizon and it was not from Glasgow but from Dunbartonshire.

In season 1876/77 Queen’s Park met Vale of Leven in a Scottish Cup fifth round tie at Hampden Park. The match took place on the 30th December 1876 in what was described as terrible weather conditions on a quagmire pitch. With the rain so bad only around 2,000 spectators bothered to attend and yet both teams managed to put on an entertaining spectacle. By the end of the match Vale of Leven emerged 2-1 winners to inflict Queen’s Park’s first defeat in the Scottish Cup. Queen’s Park took the result badly and almost immediately after the game controversy ensued. Claims were made that the Vale players coped with the conditions better because they wore spiked boots that were illegal. In the end it was a spurious claim because no evidence was ever produced to support their claim and the whole episode soured the relationship between the clubs. Vale of Leven were particularly incensed because they were essentially being accused of cheating, the rest of the football community put it down to Queen’s Park being poor losers.

If one good thing did emerge from that sorry episode it was the establishment of the Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup. This was essentially to raise money for the many charitable institutions in and around Glasgow. It was also hoped that support for good causes would bring Queen’s Park and Vale of Leven back together on more amicable terms. In the end however Vale declined the invitation and were replace by Rangers whom Queen’s Park defeated 4-0 in the final to win the first Charity Cup.

Over the next two seasons, Queen’s Park’s dominance had slipped. 1877/78 saw them go out of the Scottish Cup in the second round to Third Lanark although they did retain the Charity Cup by defeating none other than Vale of Leven in the final. The following season Queen’s Park fell to Rangers in the Scottish Cup quarter-final and to Vale of Leven in the Charity Cup semi-final. It was the first time Queen’s failed to win a trophy. What made matters worse was in that time Vale of Leven emulated their three successive Scottish Cup wins.

However the next three seasons saw Queen’s Park bounce back and reassert their authority and dominance. Once again they won three successive Scottish Cups and also won the Charity Cup twice. During this time they also moved to a new ground, also named Hampden Park, in October 1884. The move was necessary because the ground they used was needed for the construction of the Cathcart Circle Railway. After that things started to get harder as new challengers from Dunbartonshire emerged. The next four seasons saw three successive Charity Cups but only two Scottish Cups as Dumbarton and Renton replaced Vale of Leven as their main rivals. Seasons 1886/87 and 1887/88 proved fruitless as Dumbarton and Renton, respectively, knocked them out of the Scottish Cup and Vale of Leven and Renton, respectively, in the Charity Cup.

Season 188/89 saw Queen’s Park win the Glasgow Cup for the first time when they demolished hapless Partick Thistle 8-0 in the final but a third round defeat to Third Lanark put an end to their Scottish Cup hopes. In the Charity Cup another final was reached and they faced Renton. After the first match was drawn the replay saw Renton emerge as 3-1 winners. Queen’s Park had lost a final cup-tie for the first time. The next season Queen’s Park got back on top. With the Glasgow Cup secured early in the season, they faced old enemies Vale of Level in the Scottish Cup final and beat them 2-1 in the replay after a 1-1 draw but a glorious treble of cups was not to be when Third Lanark beat them 2-1 in the Glasgow Charity Cup final.

Queen’s Park declined the invitation to join the league as they saw such an arrangement as a stepping-stone to professionalism, something they vehemently opposed. Queen’s Park also held high influence in the SFA and, the game as a whole in Scotland, so saw the creation of another administrative body a threat to their authority. They arrogantly believed that any attempt at league football would “die on the vine” without their support and participation. This was a view supported by the middle class leaning press.

Scottish Cup winners, 9 times.
Glasgow Charity Cup winners, 7 times, runners-up, twice.
Glasgow Cup winners, twice.
Number of players capped for Scotland, 44. Number of caps gained, 152.