1891-92 League football at last


  • The Alliance league begins
  • Tragedy at the Crinnan Canal
  • Rough stuff in the Scottish Cup
  • Thistle’s first penalty kick
  • Massacred in England

View season statistics

If the season before had begun with a fancy dress party, this one began more seriously – with a meeting of the committee of the Alliance, as Thistle continued their way into the realms of organised league football. Thistle’s John Boag chaired the meeting. Half the season’s fixtures were arranged. There was concern, especially from the Ayrshire clubs, that teams would be weakened if players were selected to play for their county sides on league days. The committee assured clubs that all assistance would be given to re-arrange Alliance fixtures if this happened. The committee, however, were of the opinion that “the days of inter-association fixtures is numbered”. Thistle’s historic first round of Alliance fixtures were scheduled as:

Aug   8 Ayr (H)
Aug 15 East Stirling (A)
Aug 22 Morton (H)
Sep 12 Glasgow Thistle (H)
Oct   3 St Bernard (A)
Oct 24 Kings Park (H)
Nov 14 Airdrieonians (A)
Dec   5 Port Glasgow Athletic (H)

Queen’s Park continued their stand against league football, but retained their links with Partick Thistle by announcing a friendly game. Other of Queen’s Park’s opponents were Everton, Nottingham Forest, Sunderland, and Corinthians.

The Scottish Sport reported on preparations for the start of the season. “Partick Thistle are to restart training at Inchview when several new faces will be seen. All the players will return, including Paul. A practice match is arranged for Saturday 1st August. During the close season several alterations have been made to the clubhouse and ground which will be an improvement to players and spectators. Members’ and season tickets are now available from officials.” Notable amongst new faces was left back Thomas Campbell who had previously played for Abercorn.

The excitement, which surrounded the forthcoming season, was soured by the tragic news of the death of stalwart forward John Young, who was drowned in the Crinnan Canal. Young first played for the club in 1881; his last game was in the Past v Present game of the previous season. The practice match was cancelled, and forty members of Partick Thistle attended the funeral at Craigton Cemetery.

The first game in the Alliance attracted 1000 spectators for the game against Ayr, with admission priced at threepence (ladies free), and the grandstand threepence extra. The committee’s day, however, was fraught with worries. Willie Paul, a doubtful starter, turned up, but J.Smith the Thistle right halfback did not, while it was rumoured that John Herd had moved to Glasgow Thistle. Ayr were 45 minutes late in turning up, so the game did not kick off until 5pm. It was a brilliant and exciting game. Thistle scored the winner with two minutes left – there was a great shout when Thistle scored the winner to end the game 3-2. The match reports credited Willie Paul and J.H.Davie – a good left wing, and William Proudfoot and Thomas Campbell – safe at the back. Paul scored two goals, while Walter Keay was credited with the other goal, despite not being listed in the team!

Success continued with a 2-1 win over East Stirling, with McCorkindale best for Thistle with some good saves to take the club to the top of the Alliance after two games. However, the following week Morton inflicted a 1-2 defeat at Inchview after a disputed free-kick. John Gilchrist and P.Rodger both played despite being ill. At the next Alliance meeting Thistle complained that the referee against Morton had been incompetent – he had ended the first half early, restarted, and then ended early again. Reference was also made the the free-kick which led to the Morton goal, which should have been to Thistle. Morton supported the referee, despite criticising him at the post-match social.

Thistle visited Hampden for the friendly match against Queen’s Park, and it turned out to be a bizarre match. Thistle had never beaten Queen’s, but after 30 minutes were 4-0 up on their illustrious opponents, despite missing Gilchrist and Rodger. However, the home side came back and won the game 6-5. This game saw the first ever penalty in a Partick Thistle match. After a back handled the ball McCorkindale saved the penalty kick.

The first round of the Scottish Cup (the tournament did not have a Qualifying round yet) saw Thistle travel to play Glasgow Wanderers, and win 2-1, despite losing Thomas Campbell before the end with an injured leg, and Willie Paul getting injured too.

Paul and Campbell both missed the next game – a second defeat in the Alliance, as Glasgow Thistle won 4-2 at Inchview, before the third competition of the season was entered into – the Glasgow Cup.

Thistle suffered again from injuries come the end of the Glasgow Cup tie with Cathcart. With eight minutes remaining Thistle were losing, and with only nine men on the field, but brought the game back to 2-2 at the end. Walter Keay was injured and would miss his work for two weeks, while Davie and Woods were also suffering after the game.

PT v Hurlford After the disappointing Cathcart result, there was an appalling defeat, 3-0 at home to Hurlford in the Scottish Cup on a muddy pitch, despite having most of the play in a rough game. Thistle lost J.Smith late in the game after “an accident”, before Thomas Campbell was sent off along with Cosgrove of Hurlford. At the disciplinary meeting after the game, the referee accused both players of fighting. Campbell responded by saying that he had never been accused of rough play before, and if it had not been for his smartness in avoiding Cosgrove’s butting head he would have been carried off the field. “If I hadna put oot ma hauns I wouldna need to have been ordered off the field. I would hae been carried off”, Campbell told the meeting. Cosgrove denied butting, but admitted charging. Both players were censured. This game continued the poor run of results since the defeat at Hampden.

Amends were made when Cathcart came to Inchview to replay the Glasgow Cup tie. Thistle’s first penalty was awarded, but John Cameron missed it. Despite this, Thistle won comfortably 5-0, although they needed a good first half performance from McCorkindale and a goal from Willie Paul to hold a one goal advantage at half time.

Although results had been disappointing for Thistle in the Alliance, the taste of regular league football must have been regarded as a success, and 2nd XI representative Andrew Smith invited eleven other clubs to form a Glasgow 2nd XI league. The proposal was unanimously agreed to.

Thistle’s next opponents in the Glasgow Cup were League side Celtic, and it was the first time Thistle had hosted a Celtic team. Despite a good first half performance from Thistle, and especially William Proudfoot (“Thistle were wound up to a highly nervous pitch,” reported the Scottish Referee newspaper), Celtic won 3-0, and progressed to win the final, and also reach the Scottish Cup Final.

The Referee’s match report took the unusual step of allowing representatives of both clubs to comment. Thistle’s comments are interesting:

Yes, we had the mighty Celts at Inchview on Saturday – the first time we played them on our own ground. We do not forget the last time we had the pleasure of a game with them. It was last year, in the same competition. They licked us by 5 goals to 1, but we only had ten men during most of the second half, our goalkeeper, McCorkindale, having to retire through an accident.

It is not often we have such a gate at Inchview. Like a few more of our less fortunate clubs, we were badly in need of it. We have had a couple of poor seasons.

We must admit we were not sanguine of outing the Celts, but a draw on our ground would have satisfied us. With ordinary luck we might have managed this.

We were sorry Smith was unable to play as right half. It would have completed our usual team; but still, we consider D.Freebairn played a capital substitute. It was said West Bromwich was after the former. He is employed in the shipbuilding line. His terms were a shipyard down to begin with. Negotiations are still pending, and we would be sorry to lose him.

Oh, the tie! We consider the proper result was 2 goals to 1 in favour of the Parkhead lot. How? We distinctly maintain, and many outsiders beside ourselves, that the goal scored by McCombie from the extreme left was a legitimate one. Why? The ball was worked up on that side.

The second goal taken by Campbell was a more glaring instance of offside. He simply stood in front of our goal and put the ball past McCorkindale.

Well, we do not think a referee is infallible. Yet Mr Miller is not the man for us. We could not help the party bawling from the stand time and again that “he was a real Irishman.”

Yes; our team fought gamely, but the Celts, you know, are not to be laughed at, and unless we were blinded and told a fib we cannot but admit their superiority.

McCorkindale in goal maintained our prestige. Long life to “Corky”. Paul, we think, did not get much opportunity to shine. Our wings were sometimes wrong in monopolising the ball.

No; we do not wish to say anything about protesting. Just now that question is best left alone.

For their part Celtic were happy with what they described as a ‘practice match’ for the following week’s game against Hearts, felt that McCombie’s ‘goal’ was correctly disallowed, and were happy to take advantage of Campbell’s disputed effort being allowed.

There was a bit of controversy over the Celtic line up. Dan Doyle played, having recently signed for Celtic after leaving Everton in acrimonious circumstances, accused of being paid (by supposedly amateur) Celtic and Bolton, as well as Everton, to sign for the forthcoming season – wages from three clubs! Everton had appealed to the SFA to have Doyle suspended, and the Referee newspaper suggested that Thistle might appeal the result of the game based on Doyle being ineligible to play the game. [http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Doyle,+Daniel] Thistle didn’t lodge the appeal and exited the competition.

The Referee also reported that some damage had been done to the perimeter fence/palisade at Inchview during the Celtic game, but that Thistle had benefited financially from the 5000 crowd at the game, so the cost of the damage was offset buy the increased gate money.

PT v Kings Park Back to Alliance business, and further poor performances were recorded against Airdrie (1-5) and Kings Park (0-1) before a trip to England and a 3-0 defeat by Sunderland at Blue House Field in Hendon.

Off the field the Partick Thistle Male Voice Choir was formed, but after several even games which Thistle had lost there was a degree of feeling that there should be more practice at shooting, and less at singing.

The Scottish League agreed to a proposal from the Alliance that a representative game should be played. The likelihood was that it would be played at the end of the season.

The poor results continued, with a 0-7 home defeat from St Bernards, unthinkable a couple of years previous, before a 2-2 draw against Airdrie, and two rare wins, 4-2 away to Ayr followed by 2-1 at home to Port Glasgow Athletic. Following a terrible 9-4 defeat at Springburn against Northern, where the weather was so bad that only five players on each side finished the game, Thistle ended the year in eighth place in the Alliance.

The Scottish Referee reported after the St Bernards defeat that Willie Paul was “merely a shadow of his former greatness.” Willie had scored just four goals, and the rest of the forwards hadn’t scored many either. It wasn’t difficult to see where the team’s problems were coming from. Willie turned out at centre-half the following week against Airdrie and played a better game, then had to leave the field injured in the next game, away at Ayr.

A New Year tour of the Northeast of England had to be cancelled because players were unable to get away. Games against Newcastle, and a return against Sunderland had been planned.

Games were played against Queen’s Park – a creditable 1-0 defeat, and a defeat, 1-3, at the hands of Rangers – another indication of the disappointing performances being displayed. The Scottish Referee analysed the players’ performances after the Queen’s game.

A good word must be said for McCorkindale, who saved many likely shots. He has confidence in his kicking powers, for right under the bar he promptly used both right and left foot in saving his charge. Proudfoot is surefooted, steady and trustworthy, and Campbell, though he made one or two slips, which nearly cost his side further loss, accomplished some smart things which earned him the applause of the crowd. Smith was the best of the halves, but has a bad habit, like his brother halves, of one time falling back on the backs, and hindering them, and at another, of coming too far forward.

Gilchrist and Davie did the lion’s share of the work in the van and defeated Arnott more than once. They played a neat, passing game, but received little support from the centre. Kaye, who filled that position, is no better than Paul – in fact he is not as good. Once or twice he put in a neat dribble, but stuck too long on the ball, and often lost it. Wood and Bennett, the left wingers, could not manage to outwit Stewart, and they got little chance to shine. Good in the open, the Thistle van miserably failed near goal, for had their shooting powers been at all up to the mark Gillespie would have been overcome more than once.

Individually, Thistle players were receiving recognition. William Proudfoot was considering retiring from the game, so it was a great honour for him to play for Glasgow against Edinburgh, while David Bruce was selected for Glasgow’s team against Sheffield, a 4-2 win.

The first win of 1892 was recorded in a friendly against Glasgow Wanderers. Walter Keay and J.H.Davie scored in a 2-1 win. However, there was disappointing news that same day, when it was revealed that John McCorkindale, Thistle’s international keeper, had left to join Clyde. James Marshall was signed from Rangers Swifts to replace the goalie. Rumours were circulating that William Proudfoot would be joining McCorkindale, although Thistle threatened a complaint to the SFA if Clyde signed the player. It would have been a huge blow to Thistle as Proudfoot had been their best player in the first half of the season.

Eventually, the Scottish Referee announced that Clyde’s approach had been unsuccessful:

The announcement in our last issue that Proudfoot, of the Partick Thistle, had been approached by the Clyde with a view to his becoming a member of that League team caused the greatest consternation in the Western suburb. Following so closely on the desertion of McCorkindale, a crisis in the history of the Partick club would have resulted had Proudfoot followed suit. We are informed, however, from the best source possible, that he has decided to remain in the ranks of the Partick Thistle till he stops playing football altogether.

While admitting his right to leave his old club had he wished to, we must commend his loyalty in the decision he has taken, for he more than anyone has preserved his club from sinking to the level of mediocrity. We are informed by a prominent member of the Partick club that had the Clyde succeeded in enticing him away the Scottish Association would have been invited to give an opinion as to the means alleged to have been taken to secure his allegiance and that of another player. The feeling in Partick is very strung on the subject, and the loyalty of  “our Billy” has, it is said, saved the public some most interesting disclosures regarding the amateurism of some of our leading city clubs.

No club has suffered more from poaching within these last few years than the Partick Thistle, and there is a strong feeling among the members that the hypocritical status of the clubs who have benefited should be exposed.

Port Glasgow v PT Amidst the news that erstwhile match secretary Andrew Smith and most of the rest of the committee were contemplating retiral at the end of the season, poor Alliance results continued, and the start of the year saw an away 2-2 draw at Port Glasgow and an away 1-3 defeat at Morton, before Linthouse inflicted a 3-5 defeat at Inchview.

As the second month of the year opened, thankfully Thistle’s results improved, inspired particularly by the performances of William Proudfoot at full-back. Indeed there were calls for Proudfoot to be given a place in the international trial matches being arranged. 2nd top Kilmarnock visited Partick, where an own goal and goals from John Gilchrist and Lawrence Proudfoot gave Thistle a 3-2 win. An away 2-3 defeat at Glasgow Thistle was quickly followed up by a 5-0 win over East Stirlingshire and a 7-3 win over Northern. Prior to a spring trip to north-west England, Thistle visited St Bernards. Earlier in the season the Edinburgh team had inflicted a 0-7 defeat on Thistle, and this time there was an improvement, though St Bernards won 3-2.

At the Kennington Oval in London West Bromwich Albion won the FA Cup beating Aston Villa 3-0. Within their team were Tom McCulloch (who played for Thistle in 1890) and Roddy McLeod (1889-1891). Willie Groves, previously of Celtic, was also in the team. McLeod was credited with assists for all three of Albion’s goals.

West Bromwich Albion 1892

The West Brom team with the FA Cup. Roddy McLeod is 4th from the left and Tom McCulloch is furthest right.

Thistle travelled to Liverpool in high spirits, though without William Proudfoot, who remained in Glasgow, and turned out for Third Lanark against Blackburn Rovers. However, the travelling belief was quickly eroded in the game against Bootle. The home team played most of the game with just nine men, but easily won 9-1. Field Sports magazine of Liverpool was moved to comment “The Partick Thistle are not the team they were by a long chalk. (Thistle had drawn the previous season 2-2.) Most of them are strangers, there being only two – Gilchrist and Smith – who played against Bootle last season. Their secretary was wonderfully confident on Saturday, and pointed out how easily it was to get players in the land of the “amateur”. It may be so, but Partick Thistle have not got them, and a more ragged lot never left Scotland. Head and shoulders above his colleagues stood Bruce, the left half-back, who was second to no man on the field.” The Lancashire Evening Post asked “whether these men of Partick came south for football or fun?”

Two days later Sheffield Wednesday were the opponents at the Olive Grove. Wednesday had inflicted a 2-3 defeat the previous season but this time embarrassed Thistle, again by the score of 9-1. Scottish Sport was equally scathing “… much better to stay at home and do nothing than to go abroad and be so ‘active’.”

William Proudfoot had been missing from the tour. As well as turning out for Third Lanark he also guested for Clyde against Renton in a league match, reviving suggestions that he would sign for the Bridgeton team. Several other players didn’t travel, and some discontent was expressed by the players who did go to England to represent the club. Chairman John Boag abruptly resigned his position although reasons are unclear.

Returning home, Thistle quickly realised that the tour had been a fitting climax to a disappointing season, exiting cup competitions early and displaying poor form in the first year of the Alliance. Though there still remained a few Alliance matches to be played, these slipped by uneventfully – a 1-3 defeat by old Govan rivals Linthouse, and a 0-5 defeat from Kilmarnock, slightly tempered by a 3-2 win at Kings Park, which saw an appearance by Minerva junior player Joe Leiper. The Greenock Charity Cup, often a happy tournament for Thistle, saw defeat in the first round, 0-1 by Morton.

As the season drew to an end Thistle fans received the news they had been dreading all season that William Proudfoot would be joining Clyde on a permanent basis after guesting several times late in the season. Thistle had warned Clyde about poaching the player several times but eventually they lost their man. Clyde were finishing a great season, just below Rangers in 6th place in the First Division, guaranteed top division football again the following season. William Proudfoot had been a great servant for the club since 1888, captaining the team for several seasons, and appearing 150 times. His form had been excellent and he had been frequently singled out as being Thistle’s best player in 1892.

May saw the final of the Scottish Junior Cup which was won 5-2 by local side Minerva, starring Leiper (who scored one of the goals), prompting opponents West Benhar Violet to protest unsuccessfully that Leiper had forfeited his junior status by playing for Thistle.

A committee had been set up to look at potential new grounds in the burgh. Inchview was felt to be too far out of the centre of Partick. The expansion of rail line on the north bank of the Clyde, however, limited the potential of several fields. A field near Hayburn Street was considered.

The season finished at an Alliance meeting where dissatisfaction was expressed by clubs over the cost of travelling to away games compared to the visiting club’s share of gate receipts. Many clubs had developed financial problems because of this. The Alliance was reconstituted by Airdrieonians, Kilmarnock, Linthouse, Northern, Partick Thistle and Glasgow Thistle, and new clubs Cambuslang and Cowlairs. Morton, St Bernards, Port Glasgow, Ayr, East Stirlingshire and Kings Park (presumably the clubs who were unable to match expenses with gate receipts) were invited to reapply and offer guarantees for next season.

Final league table.

W D L F A Pts
Linthouse 15 3 4 89 51 33
Kilmarnock 13 3 6 76 39 29
Morton 12 3 7 67 66 27
St Bernards 11 4 7 63 45 26
Northern 9 4 9 76 70 22
Airdrieonians 8 5 9 65 66 21
Port Glasgow 7 6 9 54 56 20
Ayr 8 4 10 64 70 20
Partick Thistle 8 3 11 48 66 19
East Stirlingshire 7 4 11 62 82 18
Kings Park 7 1 14 60 84 15
Glasgow Thistle 5 4 13 55 84 14

View season statistics


2 Responses to 1891-92

  1. Les Compton says:

    Try as l might, our league record does not tally. It should
    read 8 2 12. Unless a score was changed afterwards on appeal,
    but there is no mention. PLEASE, PLEASE, put me out my misery and tell me what happened?

    • niallcinneide says:

      Hi Les

      I spotted a couple of typos in the results on the stats sheet which meant that the league table looked wrong. My mistake – I’ve corrected the stats sheet now. Thanks for pointing this out.


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