1889-90 Grievance with the SFA
Dismay over players’ departures
Disappointment over the circumstances of the Scottish Cup exit
The Scottish Sport carried a notice which they described as a “notice of warning from Partick”. “The Vigilance Committee of the Partick Thistle Football Club would like to meet the acquaintance of a certain government official, who has been poaching the Inchview preserves.” This was clearly an in-joke directed at an agent who had been enticing Thistle players to join other clubs – Bob Marshall and Hay had signed for Rangers, prompting one member of Partick Thistle to comment that Rangers will soon have the whole Partick Thistle team playing for them. Willie Paul guested for Queen’s Park at the Kincardineshire Games. Ex-Airdrie player Spence had joined Sunderland instead of moving to Inchview.
Season 88-89 ended with a 5-2 win over Airdrie, and the new season was brought in with a similar result, a 7-2 win over the whipping boys from Airdrie, in Airdrie. The game was only remarkable for a disallowed goal from a free-kick that had been claimed by Thistle players. It was disallowed because the referee had not placed the ball before Freebairn shot in.
It was announced that the players were to wear new “uniforms” in the coming season – “dark blue shirts instead of jerseys”. Nearly all the season tickets had been sold prior to the start of the season. After the ill-feeling of the previous season between the two clubs, Third Lanark refused to arrange a match against Thistle. However, fate and the Scottish Cup draw decreed that Thirds would have to play The Jags, in the first round of the Cup.
The first home game of the season saw Jordanvale favourite Andrew Duff return to face Partick Thistle, and help Cowlairs to a 2-1 win at Inchview.
At the quarterly meeting it was decided to print more season tickets.
In the preparations for the Cup tie against Thirds, Thistle faced Renton away, and lost 3-0.
After the ill-tempered Glasgow Cup tie at Cathkin the previous season, this Scottish tie was no different. There was a large attendance of Thistle supporters in the crowd, and with 15 minutes remaining and the score at 3-1 to the home team Thistle captain, William Proudfoot, was hurt. Proudfoot lay down in front of his own goal while Thirds continued playing. It was reported that a Thirds fan entered the field and ran towards Proudfoot, prompting a crowd invasion by Thistle fans, and after a few minutes the whole pitch was covered, causing the players to leave the field. Several home players were reported to have been injured while the crowd of Thistle fans made a threatening demonstration outside the pavilion. After the police had cleared the pitch, the game restarted with less foul play than before. The game ended in a 3-2 win for Third Lanark.
The following week it was reported that four Partick Thistle players, including William Proudfoot, had been unable to attend work on the following Monday, under doctors’ orders. An extensive protest was made by Thistle over the circumstances of the Cup defeat, and decision and counter-protest continued over the next five weeks over the following points.
- The referee’s decision to stop the game because of the encroachment of fans on the pitch affected the outcome of the game.
- The encroachment of fans affected the players’ ability to continue the game after the restart.
- Johnston and Lapsley of Third Lanark had previously signed for Sunderland Albion and received £1 each so should be regarded as professional players.
- Third Lanark played Sunderland Albion and the Thirds share was split between the players rather than given to the club. This effectively made them a professional club.
Third Lanark denied the claims.
At the next SFA meeting the following decisions were made.
- The referee stated that he stopped the game because of the injury to Proudfoot rather than the crowd encroachment (although this seems moot since the game could not have continued regardless). A friend of Proudfoot had entered the field (not a Third Lanark fan) and he was followed by others.
- Since Third Lanark were not informed of this element of the protest at the time it was dismissed.
- Both Johnston and Lapsley had signed for Sunderland Albion and had received money. However, the money had been returned and no games were played. The SFA accepted this explanation without seeing any evidence from Partick Thistle.
- Partick Thistle had no evidence to hand. However, Third Lanark stated that the match was unofficial and the club committee were unaware of the game. The SFA heard that all money, minus legitimate expenses for players, was retained by John Auld, then of Thirds, now of Sunderland Albion.
The protest was dismissed. Scottish Sport agreed with the SFA ruling but felt that the evidence should have been heard in point 2, if only to clear the Third Lanark players. Partick Thistle were to appeal against the dismissal.
A fortnight later the appeal was heard and dismissed because nothing new had been brought forward. Partick Thistle pointed out that their original evidence had not yet been heard, and also asked that Thirds old trainer be cross-examined, and that Thirds books should be examined.
A degree of suspicion was being pointed at the SFA, as they continued to refuse to investigate the points, if only to clear the Thirds players and club. The SFA were displeased that a club should re-appeal a dismissed protest. Thistle produced a letter proving that Lapsley received £5 from Aston Villa to induce Bell of Dumbarton to sign for Aston Villa. This evidence, however, was felt not to be relevant to the current dispute. It did, however, “show Lapsley’s character and lack of morals” felt Scottish Sport. Thistle had become unpopular due to the constant appealing to the SFA, and decided to drop to protest.
Back on the field, the Glasgow Cup was preceded by a 3-2 win over Cambuslang at Inchview, before Thistle visited Victoria Park, Govan to beat Summerton Athletic 4-1 in the 1st Round.
A 2-6 defeat away to Albion Rovers and a 5-2 win over Port Glasgow Athletic at Inchview were the preparation for a home Glasgow Cup tie against Glasgow Thistle. Previously a difficult opponent, the game finished in a 5-2 win for Partick Thistle.
The semi-final draw for the Glasgow Cup drew Thistle with a team they had never beaten – Queen’s Park. Thistle managed a 3-1 win over Glasgow Hibernians and a 0-5 defeat by Cowlairs before scoring three against Queen’s Park, and conceding six. Jerry Suter returned to the team after a spell missing. Three goals was, however, more than any other team had managed against Queen’s Park since the start of the season.
Following the Glasgow Cup exit, wins over Battlefield away and Albion Rovers at home, and a 4-4 draw with Morton in poor light in Greenock were followed by disappointing defeats – 2-5 at Ibrox at the hands of Rangers, and 1-2 at home to Linthouse.
Sam Clark joined the numbers at Inchview from Clyde and scored in his first game, a 4-0 win over Battlefield at home. Clark was to replace M.Ferguson, who was leaving Scotland to move to Japan. The following week Clark played at centre against Dumbarton, replacing Willie Paul, who was turning out for Clydesdale Harriers against Rangers. Clark helped the team to a creditable 2-2 draw in Dumbarton.
A poor 1-3 defeat at the hands of Royal Albert at Inchview followed Christmas, before the following squad was announced to travel to the north-east of Scotland for a New Year tour: McCorkindale, Proudfoot, Robertson, Killin, Freebairn, Gorham, Johnston, Drummond, Paul, Hislop, Clark, McLean, Smith and McLeod. The squad would be accompanied by trainer J.Kelly.
Football in the north-east was still somewhat in its infancy, and Partick Thistle were considered a big draw. Four games were played and four wins recorded – Dundee Harp (10-1), Victoria United (2-0), Montrose (4-1), and Aberdeen (5-2 at Chanonry Park). The two goal defeat that Victoria United suffered was regarded as the best result that an Aberdeenshire team had ever recorded.
The players returned refreshed from the tour, and recorded wins over Kilbirnie (5-2 at home, with Willie Paul scoring), and over Port Glasgow away (9-2).
The burgh of Partick was shocked at the death of sitting Liberal Unionist Member of Parliament Alexander Craig-Sellar. Sellar, who had been a keen supporter and patron of Partick Thistle, had been ill for some time. In the days of debate over home rule for Ireland it was expected that the Unionists would lose the seat, but James Parker Smith retained it a few weeks later
Rangers had not won in Partick for a long spell, so when they visited Inchview and left 2-0 winners, it was a bitter disappointment, despite the fact that Willie Paul was missing, playing for Glasgow against London.
If this was a disappointment then the following week’s game, at home to young Dumbartonshire outfit Methlan Park was even more so. The visitors left with a 7-2 win. The game had been a physical one, and Thistle cancelled the following week’s game due to the number of injuries the players were carrying, and the following week again, four players were still missing when Thistle visited Westmarch to play St Mirren. Thistle were also missing McCorkindale, who had accepted an invitation from Rangers to play with them against Everton. Reid of Rangers played in goals for Thistle. The under-strength team won 4-1.
The poor result against Rangers appeared to have given the players a shove, and in the following weeks Clyde (8-1 at home), Ayr (5-3 at home), St Bernards (5-3 at home), Linthouse (3-1 at Langlands, gaining revenge for an earlier defeat), and Morton (5-0 at home) were recorded in March.
Representative honours also came Inchview’s way, when Willie Paul further impressed. Selected for the match against Wales (although many people thought he had played well enough in the last two years against the Welsh to deserve a step-up to play England) he scored four of Scotland’s goals in a 5-0 win.
John McCorkindale was selected for the Glasgow team to play against the East of Scotland FA, which Glasgow won 3-2.
Prior to a trip down south, Thistle visited Whitefield Park, losing 2-5 to Cambuslang.
A 5-2 win over St Mirren at Inchview, followed by an excellent 4-0 victory over Renton preceded another jaunt south. In front of 9000 fans Everton outclassed Thistle 6-2 for which Thistle were rewarded with a £35 appearance fee. John Hendry of Rangers guested for Thistle. The team shown in the programme below differs from the one given in the newspapers after the game. (Everton programme images courtesy http://www.evertoncollection.org.uk/
The disappointment felt when Rangers had come to Partick and won was overturned when a visit to Ibrox provided a 6-3 win over Rangers, while Airdrie were beaten 4-2 the following week at Inchview.
The season began to wind down with a range of benefit matches and local tournaments. Northern knocked Thistle out of the Maryhill Charity Cup 3-1 at Hydepark, while a 4-4 draw was recorded at Somerset Park against Ayr. Benefits were played against Glasgow Thistle (1-2 defeat, for the Masonic Lodge Scotia (178), and against Abercorn for the Partick Orphanage (a 2-0 win).
At the Annual General Meeting it was announced that 46 matches had been played, with 26 won, 16 lost, and 4 drawn. J.N. Boag retired as President, and was unanimously replaced by David Hastie. The following committee was elected:
- Patrons – Sir Andrew McLean, J.Parker Smith MP
- Hon. President – J.H. Robinson
- President – David Hastie
- Vice President – Walter McLean jnr
- Hon. Secretary – Wm. Stirling
- Match Secretary – Andrew M Smith
- Treasurer – Charles McQuarrie
- 1st XI Captain – William Proudfoot
- 2nd XI Captain – L. Proudfoot
- Committee – J.N.Boag, A.Rose, A.Auchterlonie, J.Goudie, J.Dougall, M.Bryson
- Glasgow FA rep – J.N.Boag (replacing McQuarrie)
- 2nd XI FA rep – A.M.Smith
The English League had begun in 1888, the natural progression from the professionalism that had been accepted in England since 1885, and since then players had been regularly lured south on the promise of money. It was felt by the top clubs in Scotland that a similar league set-up would be required to stem the flow of talent.
Rumours had been circulating in Scottish football about a league set-up, and in February 1890 Partick Thistle had expressed an interest in taking part in a Scottish league. In March 1890 Renton FC became the catalyst which would bring the Scottish League into being. Fourteen clubs were invited to attend a meeting to discuss a league set-up. Partick Thistle were not one of them. This was of great disappointment, because Partick Thistle felt that their results against the invited clubs over the last year merited inclusion.
The clubs invited (with Partick Thistle’s results against in brackets) were Abercorn (2-0), Cambuslang (3-2, 2-5), Celtic, Clyde (8-1), Cowlairs (1-2), Dumbarton (2-2), Heart of Midlothian, Queen’s Park (3-6), Rangers (2-5, 0-2, 6-3), Renton (0-3, 4-0), St Bernards (5-3), St Mirren(4-1, 5-2), Third Lanark (2-3) and Vale of Leven.
The League was inaugurated in April 1890, without Clyde and Queen’s Park, who declined to attend, and St Bernards, who were not elected. Games against the attractive league teams would now be few and far between. Time would tell whether this would have a detrimental effect on the clubs left without the league.
Season by season