1893-94 Members of the Scottish League


  • New Scottish League Division Two formed
  • Bickering sees Airdrieonians and Kilmarnock barred from the League
  • Scottish Cup disappointment again
  • Biggest win ever in the Scottish League recorded by Partick Thistle

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Off-field politics rumbled on over the summer, as clubs tried to change the state of the organised game. Following the end of the season St Bernards were elected to the Scottish League rather than Alliance winners Cowlairs, adding another Edinburgh club to the Scottish League. The bottom three clubs in the Alliance, Vale of Leven, Kilmarnock, and Cambuslang were asked to re-apply for membership.

Vale were the unlucky club not to be re-elected at the AGM in June – Morton and Port Glasgow Athletic were asked back after a season out of the Alliance, completing a line-up of Airdrie, Cambuslang, Cowlairs, Kilmarnock, Linthouse, Morton, Northern, Partick Thistle, Port Glasgow, and Glasgow Thistle. Although a settled group of clubs had been agreed on for the forthcoming season, there was dissatisfaction over the Scottish League’s decision to elect St Bernards, who had finished second to champions Cowlairs. Many clubs felt that closer ties with the Scottish League would lead to automatic election for the top club, and also lead to greater competition. A motion was passed to approach the League regarding amalgamation. Andrew Smith of Partick Thistle, elected President of the Alliance, was to lead the discussions.

While President Smith’s approaches were successful, the League agreeing in principle to a Second Division based around the Alliance, it appeared that several Alliance clubs were trying to sabotage the plans, trying to tempt fellow clubs to start a new league along with high profile non Scottish League clubs such as newly relegated Clyde and Abercorn from the Scottish League, and Edinburgh Hibernians. Partick Thistle were unsurprisingly one of the clubs not seeking to leave the Alliance, and it quickly transpired that there was a clique of clubs keen to lose the memberships of Thistle and Springburn’s Northern club. The reason for Northern’s unpopularity stemmed from problems at Springburn’s other club, Cowlairs. Despite winning the Alliance, there were problems at Springvale Park, particularly in recruiting players. Cowlairs felt that the area could not sustain two clubs. No reason was given for Partick Thistle’s absence from the group, although it was pointed out that the President of the Alliance was Thistle’s Andrew Smith, while the Secretary was from Northern.

As it turned out, the Scottish League became tired of the inbickering, and decided to elect a Second Division rather than take a ready packaged group of clubs. Thus the first season of the Scottish League Second Division was fought out by Abercorn, Clyde, Cowlairs, Hibernian, Morton, Motherwell, Northern, Partick Thistle, Port Glasgow and Glasgow Thistle. The unlucky clubs not elected from the Alliance were Linthouse, Airdrieonians, Kilmarnock and Cambuslang, though disappointment was tempered by the fact that these clubs were leaders behind the split. As if to rub salt in their wounds, Andrew Smith was elected President of the Second Division.

Although members of Partick Thistle were helping to shape the future of football, at Partick things were not looking good for the season ahead. The committee was described as “…. at their wits end for a team. Most of last year’s recruits have deserted, dissatisfied with their treatment at Inchview”. J.Harvie and A.Stewart played a practice game for Third Lanark.

Morton v PT As the first ever Second Division game approached things seemed just as desperate. Frank Herbertson had joined from South-Western, but it was a team made up largely from last season’s members, some local juniors, and Hope Robertson (previously of Everton) that faced Morton at Cappielow. Goalkeeper Crozier had joined from Clyde. “Bravo, Partick Thistle! You’re no’ dead yet!” proclaimed the papers as they recorded a 3-2 Thistle win. Willie Paul fittingly scored Partick Thistle’s first League goal in front of a small crowd.

The other main off-field change during the summer was the official sanctioning by the SFA of professionalism. Players had been paid for their services for some time, though in underhand ways. This gave respectability to clubs who wished to reimburse players, though it would bring other problems with it. The press, in particular, were obsessed, and the Scottish Sport regularly ran a table of each club’s pro’ players. At the end of the first month of the season Thistle had nine registered, but players had already rejected the professional code. Frank Herbertson was reinstated as an amateur in September.

For the first League game at Inchview, Abercorn were the opposition, recording a 3-0 win over Thistle in front of a fair crowd. They were followed by a Scottish Cup visit from Airdrieonians (left behind in the Alliance), followed by 300 on a special train. W.Freebairn scored Thistle’s three in a 3-3 draw. The replay the following week saw a large number travel from Partick, only to see a 1-3 defeat. John Harvey returned from Third Lanark, Willie Paul scored the only goal.

Cup runs had rarely troubled Thistle in recent years, and following the Scottish Cup exit, Glasgow Thistle closed that competition for Partick Thistle – 1-2 defeat at Braehead. A 2-3 defeat at Barrowfield from Clyde in the League ended a poor September.

October, though, started better, as Motherwell visited Inchview, and dinner had been arranged for the players of both trams to socialise after the game. In a very fast game the Thistle forwards were well matched by the Motherwell backs. The game got rough towards the end as Motherwell disputed a Thistle goal and threatened to leave the field. The Motherwell president persuaded them to stay on as Thistle won the game 4-2, with three goals from William Freebairn. The atmosphere in the Mikado restaurant after the game was not reported.

Morton players might have been worried about their League visit to Inchview after a week when a cholera outbreak was discovered in Partick. Steps were taken by the local authorities to prevent any spread.

A 5-2 win over Morton was recorded, with another goal from Freebairn, and the papers were prepared to wax lyrical about the team struggling just two months previous. “Freebairn is a dandy, and Finlay backs him up well. Paul is in good form. Robertson, at half-back, played his best game, and was about the cleverest man on the field.”

A third of the way through the season the Division Two table saw Thistle in fifth place, having won three and lost two of their five games, scoring 14 and losing 12 goals.

Glasgow Thistle v PT Glasgow Thistle were struggling – off the pitch they were financially embarrassed, and as an effect were having problems fielding teams. Partick Thistle visited Braehead and found the place in disrepair. A poor crowd attended the game, which saw Partick Thistle fans unkindly shout that the club should “pawn the park”. Freebairn scored another three goals, Harvey also netted, but Partick Thistle thought they should have scored better in a game which finished in a 4-3 win.

With no League game, a hastily arranged friendly was arranged with Linthouse to keep the players on the boil. Linthouse must have regretted the game as Thistle won 7-2 at Inchview. Recognition also came Thistle’s way, as Hope Robertson and Willie Paul were selected to play for Glasgow at Sheffield (although Robertson had to pull out of the team).

Rough play and bad feeling had marred an earlier game with Motherwell, and the return game at Dalziel Park was little different. Thistle were 2-0 up at half time through Freebairn and Murray before Motherwell came back to 2-2. However, with ten minutes remaining Motherwell suffered their second defeat of the season, both by Partick Thistle, when Willie Paul scored the winner.  “Motherwell station platform was a perfect pandemonium on Saturday night when Partick Thistle supporters took possession of it. New hats and sore throats should now be the order of the day,”  said Scottish Sport. The Dundee Telegraph reckoned that “the Inchview men will no have to be reckoned with seriously in the struggle for the flag.”

An example of 1893 humour published in the Athletic News featured Willie Paul:

The other day a number of football critics were discussing the merits of several players, when Paul, the noted forward of the Thistle, came in for his share of cynicism. One of the crowd was such an ardent admirer of his that he offered to back him against anyone in `braid Scotland’. A bystander pawkily, with just a ‘soupcon’ of profanity, asked if this was the same Paul who, when he could not go to the Corinthians, wrote to them. Paul’s admirer, not perceiving the quip, was quite wroth at the insinuation. ‘It’s no true,’ he exclaimed. ‘Paul never wrote to the Corinthians, for Queen’s Park wanted him, but he would not go.’ The more the bystanders laughed the more furious he became in his advocacy of Paul’s claim to supremacy, never dreaming, poor man, that they were laughing at his ignorance and density regarding the New Testament, and not at Mr Paul’s claims to be considered an A1 football player.”

Missing Paul, on representative duty, the good run of form slammed to a halt against Alliance champions Cowlairs. 8-1 to Cowlairs. There was a return to wining against Northern – a 4-3 win at Inchview without Willie Paul, but with goals from Finlay, Murray and W.Freebairn after Northern had gone 3-0 up.

Northern v PTA series of friendlies then approached, as the turn of the year approached. A battle of two goalkeepers was at Inchview against Clyde. Crozier had signed from Clyde at the start of the season, while John McCorkindale, Thistle’s ex-internationalist, was now playing for Clyde. Clyde won 2-1. A 4-4 draw against
Battlefield saw the first ever penalty awarded at Inchview. Battlefield scored it, after a foul by Hope Robertson. A 1-0 win over Vale of Leven at home completed the pre-Christmas friendly games, though Northern evened the results with a 2-1 win over Thistle at Springburn. Willie Paul, newly returned to the side, scored the goal.

Thistle had often seen themselves as missionaries for the Scottish game, taking themselves to Dundee, Ireland and Angus to spread the word, and this season’s New Year tour was to be to the north of Scotland.

peterhead v partick thistle

Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for Buchan District

The outstanding feature of New Year’s Day in Peterhead—to the sporting portion of the public at least—will be the match between the Partick Thistle F.C. and the Park team, which is to come off in the Recreation Park in the afternoon, kick off at 2 p.m. With the view of giving probable spectators some ideas of what is the position both of the players individually, and of the team as a whole has compared with the rest of the first class players and teams of Scotland. I have pleasure to presenting the following notes which for the most part have been supplied to me by an old Peterhead boy now resident in Glasgow, and who knows all the stalwarts of the football circles.

Taking the team collectively first, they arc at present the holders of the Greenock Charity Cup for 92-93, and are third on the list of the 2nd division of the Scottish Football League, which if we accept the League system for our guide, would prove that they could claim to be among the dozen best clubs of the country. Then, I understand, they have to be bracketed with the famous Queen’s Park as the only two really first class clubs of those players several are amateurs — no mean distinction nowadays, when we consider the terms that some of these south clubs now pay their members. I am assured that this year’s team is, if anything, better than last years ; it is certainly not inferior.

As to the players Crozier, late of the Clyde, as goal has proved himself a keeper of great resource, and is looked upon as a coming man. Hope Robertson, the right back was until lately in the ranks of the Everton and Bootle Clubs ; he was selected to play for Glasgow and Sheffield, but preferred to help his club. Campbell is a rare left back and a strong kick. Robertson and Harvie. the right and centre halves were formerly in the famous Minerva, the erstwhile junior champions, and several of whom are now in the Queens. These two have been much sought after by English clubs, but prefer home. The left half, D.Bruce (captain), is the holder of numerous inter-city and inter-county caps. Of the forwards Paul at centre is undoubtedly the best, for he is the holder of no less than three international besides numer0us inter-city caps. He is one of the best dribblers in Scotland, and is considered by many to be the best centre that we have. Freebairn, the outside right, is a tiny dodger, and a capital shot. His partner, Findlay, is a very eager player, although inclined at times to try too much. Gilchrist and Murray form the left wing, the former being more of a scientific than a forcible player, but a good shot at goal; while Murray is strong and resourceful and likewise dangerous when in the neighbourhood of goal. The reserves are Archibald Freebairn, and David Proudfoot ; and the team will be accompanied by Mr J. Dougall (vice president); Mr Wm. Gaudie, treasurer ; and Mr Andrew M. Smith secretary.

After exploring their merits I feel assured that, such of us as turn up at the Park will see the finest exposition of football that has ever been given in Peterhead, and at the same time we shall feel that we are doing our little to encourage the Committee in the endeavours to bring really first class teams so far north. I believe that this match will cost the Club about £15 or £16, so that they will require to have a record gate.
(Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for Buchan District)

There was a great deal of interest as Thistle travelled to Aberdeen to beat Victoria United 5-4 at the Wellington Grounds. Willie Paul received the majority of the plaudits from the Aberdeen Free Press: “[Paul] gave a fascinating display of centre forward play and is apparently as good as ever. His passing was quick and correct, and his shooting was of a type calculated to make the boldest goalkeeper quiver. Long passing was the order of the day, capped by long shooting.

At Recreation Park Peterhead were defeated 10-1, before Thistle returned south. On their way back they visited Montrose (2-2), where a fight between players in the closing minutes was followed by a pitch invasion by spectators, and Forfar (3-3).

As the league readied itself for the second part of the season, Thistle’s end of year form had moved them up to third in the table, four points behind Clyde in first place, having won seven and lost five of their twelve games, scoring 33, but losing 35 goals.

The first League visitors of the new year were Cowlairs. Thistle, keen to make up for the 1-8 reverse at Springvale, gave new members David Proudfoot and Galloway a game. “Interesting and exciting, but it’s roughness at times marred it’s beauty” was the Scottish Sport’s opinion of a game which saw Thistle win 5-3, with two goals from Galloway.

The next two League games saw the loss of ten goals in return for just two, as away games against Port Glasgow (1-4) and Hibernian (1-6) were lost against as Hibernian stretched their lead in the league. However, with those games past, the Thistle players went into the next few games with a better attitude. A 3-2 away win over Abercorn at Underwood Park was followed by a 5-0 home win over Port Glasgow. This should have been a League game, but poor conditions saw the clubs decide to play the game as a friendly. Clyde, second top of the division, were next at Inchview. An early goal from Harvey and a late one from Freebairn opened and closed the League game that Thistle won 5-4. Glasgow Thistle’s early season problems were worsening, and there seemed no hope for the old club. Opposition clubs were taking advantage of a team only just fulfilling fixture obligations, and at Inchview at the end of March there was no deviation. A record score at Inchview, the 13-1 win was also the highest recorded in a Scottish League match ever.

That run of victories had lifted the club to second place, three points behind Hibernian. Thistle had won ten games, losing six, and scoring 55 times, losing 50. There were, however, just two League games left for Thistle to play, while others, notably Clyde and Cowlairs, had more games left.

The two remaining League games were both at home, against Port Glasgow and against likely champions Hibernian. Port visited first and left with a 1-0 win, before Hibernian again emphasised their position by winning 7-1 at Inchview.

Final league table.

W L D F A Pts
Hibernian 13 2 3 83 29 29
Cowlairs 13 4 1 72 32 27
Clyde 11 5 2 51 36 24
Motherwell 11 6 1 61 44 23
Partick Thistle 10 8 0 56 58 20
Port Glasgow Athletic * 9 7 2 51 52 13
Abercorn 5 11 2 41 59 12
Morton 4 13 1 36 62 9
Northern 3 12 3 29 66 9
Glasgow Thistle 2 13 3 30 72 7

* Port Glasgow had seven points deducted for playing an ineligible player.

The season ended with Secretary Andrew Smith again announcing his intention to resign, while a committee was organised to look for a new ground.

Goalkeeper Crozier ended the season well, and rumours flew that both Newton Heath (later to become Manchester United) and Woolwich Arsenal were interested in signing him. Crozier played in an end of season representative match along with Jack Robertson, William Freebairn, George Proudfoot and Willie Paul, for a Second Division team selected from Glasgow clubs, against a similar team from the provincial clubs. The City won 3-2.

As holders of the Greenock Charity Cup Thistle were expected to do well again, but a 2-3 defeat to Battlefield in the first round meant the cup did not stay in Partick.

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