1885-86 A Season of Two Halves
First home game at Inchview
English FA Cup participation
3-0 win over Everton
Expectations and ambitions were high after the off-field wranglings of the previous season. The club had moved back to Whiteinch to take up residence at the larger Inchview, the home of now-defunct Partick FC.
On the field early August saw the announcement that the club would take part in the English FA Cup, a tournament that was not, in those days, restricted to those who were members of the English FA. This was obviously a move forward, bringing better potential opposition and larger crowds. However, a potential problem existed, as the Scottish FA prohibited Scottish teams to play games against professional English teams. It remained to be seen what would happen if the draw paired a Scottish team with an English professional team.
Rumours were also rife that Partick Thistle had tempted the much-admired McIntyre and Marshall of 3rd Lanark to join the ranks at Inchview. The south-side club were quick to state that their players had not left, but Thistle Secretary Andrew Smith was equally quick to point out that McIntyre had stated that he would join, as would Marshall.
The opening match for Partick Thistle at Inchview was against Abercorn, who scored an early goal before A.Johnston equalised and went on to score three. Abercorn’s forwards, too, were on scoring form, and the game finished 4-4. There were two players named Marshall – John and Bob – playing for Thistle, but it is unclear whether either was the 3rd Lanark player – Thistle had two Marshalls on the books already the previous season.
George Mackay, Thistle’s halfback with a reputation for rough play, had been attracting the attentions of professional clubs in Lancashire. With professionalism still frowned upon in Scotland, associating with professional clubs was a gamble for players who then returned to Scotland. However, the Scottish Umpire informed that Mackay had not left for England, and was still playing for Thistle.
Following the high-scoring draw with Abercorn, Thistle travelled to Greenock to play Morton at Cappielow. The forwards were again on form, winning the game 5-1, although the game was marred by fighting amongst supporters – the game was delayed for 15 minutes while the pitch was cleared. The following week a visit to Powderhall in Edinburgh saw a game against St Bernards. In an at-times rough game, J.Miller scored an equaliser for a 1-1 draw.
The complicated system of players being registered for different clubs was again raised, when Partick Thistle announced their intentions to register the entire playing staff of Northern and Cowlairs to allow them to play in the cup if required.
After the hopes of drawing an attractive English club in the English Cup, the draw paired the club with old rivals Queen’s Park. Also in the draw were Rangers, 3rd Lanark, and Hearts.
The Scottish Cup was more pressing, and the following week Thistle played Granton in the first round. The match had originally been drawn as Granton’s home match, but Granton described the game as being “likely to be a lost day for us”, and the tie was switched to Inchview. The junior team played well but were outpaced by a Partick Thistle team who won 11-0.
Three draws in the last three games against Cambuslang meant there was great interest in the meeting at Whitefield Park. However, Partick Thistle were outclassed, the home side winning 6-0.
Despite the result against Cambuslang, president Halley still believed that Partick Thistle were “the best club in Scotland”. Middleton was signed from Partick Rovers, while the club received a bye in the second round of the Scottish Cup.
Middleton went straight into the team who faced Dumbarton in a difficult match at Inchview. Dumbarton started well and were 2-0 up at half-time. Robert Robertson took the game to the visitors after the break, and scored two solo goals to level the game, which finished 2-2. “There was great cheering and hats and handkerchiefs flying, and many old Partick followers cheered on Partick Thistle. The team to a man seemed intensely interested in the result, and played away like the proverbial nigger.”
October saw some disappointing results – a 2-4 home defeat by Cartvale, and a 1-2 defeat at Barrhead against Arthurlie. A 1-1 draw was recorded at Gourlay Park against Cowlairs in a rough and unpleasant game. Cowlairs scored a goal which was protested by the Partick Thistle players. The game was help up for 20 minutes until the Cowlairs players gave up the goal.
It was the Scottish Cup that Thistle seemed to be keeping their winning and scoring form for, and the 23rd goal in two cup ties was recorded after a 12-0 away win over Alloa.
The English Cup tie with Queen’s Park loomed, and a crowd of 3000 assembled at Hampden to see the first clash between two Scottish sides in the English Cup. A large percentage of the crowd were from Partick and witnessed Thistle keep Queen’s Park at bay using “questionable tactics”. Ex-Partick man John Boag played his first game for Partick Thistle. Andrew Johnston scored for Thistle after a good passing move on the left between James Miller and Jerry Suter and the game stood at 1-1 at half time. The Thistle backs, John Hendry and Robert Brown, had been in good form, repelling the Queen’s forwards repeatedly. However, Queen’s Park scored twice early in the second half and finished comfortably 5-1 winners in a game reckoned by the English press as the best tie of the round. Again Partick Thistle had been unable to beat Queen’s Park.
There had been reports for some time that halfback George Mackay had been attracting interest from English professional clubs in Lancashire, and in early November, Mackay played an ill-advised game trial game for Burnley. Its not known what happened in Burnley but it clearly wasn’t a good experience – Mackay wrote to the owner of the Royal Oak Hotel that “I would not have stayed on any account”. On his return he was suspended for two months for professionalism.
Following the dalliance with the English Cup, Thistle returned to Inchview with a 2-2 draw with Airdrie. Andrew Duff was magnificent, saving Partick Thistle.The Scottish Umpire, though, had a complaint: “If one objected to anything it would be the too profuse indulgence of many of the spectators in language anything but parliamentary.”
Following the good draw at Inchview, Partick Thistle viewed a visit to Boghead for the 4th round of the Scottish Cup with hope. The first half was even, with Partick Thistle playing well. However, in the second half the visitors tired and Dumbarton won 3-0.
There followed a poor month and a half for the club, with defeats coming at the hands of Cambuslang, Abercorn at Blackstoun Park, and 0-5 against Rangers at Kinning Park. Despite Thistle’s superior record in previous years, the Scottish Umpire opined that the doubts over who was best were now settled. A creditable draw at Tynecastle against Hearts and another draw against Clyde were the only positive results in November and December. The most positive event in this period was the return to the team of Willie Paul, a regular scorer the previous season, and absent so far this season.
The Scottish Athletic Journal were unable to explain the results “Since the demise of the Partick club, Partick Thistle is now a combination of two clubs, and monarch of all it surveys down Partick way. Yet when it had to rely solely on its own resources it met with much greater success.” The Scottish Umpire felt they had a clue “The Partick Thistle are surely going downhill. Week after week they are on the shady side. What does it all mean? Has Mackay’s absence anything to do with it?”
The North of England was normally busy with Scottish teams playing exhibition matches but this year Thistle were the only team touring because of the threat of expulsion from the Scottish FA if games were played against professional clubs. Games were arranged against Everton, Stoke On Trent, and Barrow. Everton and Stoke played the games without their professional players, removing the risk of censure for Partick Thistle from the SFA. Thistle beat Everton 3-0 in Liverpool, displaying ‘capital dodging’ which was appreciated by the home support, and could have scored more – two goals were disallowed. A day later Thistle lost to a disputed goal 2-1 at Stoke. No result was reported from the Barrow game which a reserve team played in.
Returning to Scotland, a 0-1 defeat by Airdrie was played, before a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Inchview. Perhaps the disastrous end of the year was past the players, who recorded a 6-0 win over Heart of Midlothian at Inchview. The Scottish Umpire agreed “Truly a splendid performance and one that will atone for a good deal of recent slackness.” Suter and Young were amongst the goals.
The Scottish Athletic Journal were also impressed with showings since the turn of the year, and led the calls for Thistle again to be included in the Glasgow Charity Cup. These calls were again ignored, but Thistle continued with their run of good form with a 2-1 win over Dumbarton Athletic, a 1-1 draw with Battlefield, and a 5-4 win at Clune Park over Port Glasgow Athletic. Andrew Duff and his defenders seemed to be the cause for the turnaround in form.
Following the Annual Festival, at the start of April, the next days game saw not at their best against Northern, although a 2-1 win was achieved, before a splendid 7-1 win over St Bernards at Inchview. Robert Robertson and Bob Marshall were amongst the scorers.
George Mackay, suspended till the end of the season, decided to try his luck again in England, this time with Southampton. Jack Beattie, who had left Partick Thistle to play with Burnley the previous season, was reported to be returning to Glasgow. Jerry Suter guested for London Caledonia against Morton.
Rangers visited Inchview, and had most of the play until Johnston scored for Partick Thistle. Marshall then scored a second for Thistle. The game ended 4-1 to Partick Thistle to swing the balance back to Partick.
The season, almost at an end, saw two final games – a 5-2 win over Arthurlie and a 4-2 win over Morton, both at home. McHardy of Rangers played for Thistle against Morton where “some amusement was caused by two of the Greenockians jumping on the Partick Thistle goalkeeper”.
The annual meeting at Jackson’s Hall in Partick was held on the 26th of May, where dissatisfaction was expressed towards the Glasgow FA. Many members thought that the club should not rejoin, although it was finally decided that it would rejoin. This was taken as a warning to the Glasgow FA over ignoring Partick Thistle players for representative matches.
The following were elected:
- President Josh Halley
- Vice President Alex Rose
- Hon Secretary Andrew M Smith, 6 Church Street, Partick
- Match Secretary Jervis (Jerry) Suter, 107 Bothwell Street, Glasgow
- Treasurer Charles McQuarrie
- Committee Messrs Robertson, Marshall, Livingston, Weir, Gardiner, Hastie
- 1st XI captain John Hendrie
- Vice captain John Young
- 2nd XI captain Walter McLean
- Vice captain Andrew Mackay
- Representative to SFA John M Boag (formerly of Partick)
- Representative to GFA Alex Rose jnr
- Representative to 2nd XI Association Andrew M Smith
Season by season
- Miscellaneous (16)
- Other clubs (15)
- Players (26)
- Thistle – early years (48)
- Thistle – general (5)
Football history links
- Ayr United archive
- Bill Shankly
- Falkirk Historian
- Gallant Pioneers – Early history of Rangers
- Glasgow Herald archive at Google
- Hibernian Historical Trust
- London Hearts
- Partick Thistle history archive by StuTheJag
- Rangers History
- Scottish Football Historical Archive
- Scottish Football Museum
- Scottish Sports History
- ScottishLeague.net and forum