The previous season, 1905-06, had been the most successful recorded by a Partick Thistle team – they had ended it in fifth place in the league and with the highest points total recorded by a Thistle team too.
Could they improve? The Evening Times was sure which area required attention.
“The Partick Thistle are alive to the prime necessity of having a strong team and special care has been taken in selecting suitable men for the vacancies. Last season there was a weakness in the front line, and as a body they never succeeded in attaining a level in keeping with the displays of the back division.”
The previous season’s forward line had been James Sommen, Willie Gray, Sam Kennedy, Robert Gray and Carrick Hamilton, and Sommen, Gray and veteran Kennedy had all re-signed. Willie Gray had moved to play for Southampton and Hamilton had returned to Queen’s Park. Outside right John Campbell, who had previously played for Partick Thistle in 1896) had returned to the club from Hibernian. Forwards Walter Aitkenhead (who had played and scored for the club against Clyde in the last game of the previous season), James Doherty and Alex McGregor (left, described by the Evening Times as “clever and versatile playing at centre or either inside position. Small and sturdy”) had joined from Maryhill, Cambuslang Hibs and Ashfield respectively, although they didn’t seem like the players required to improve on the previous season. Youngsters, as The Sportsman newspaper commented, are “always a doubtful quantity.” The experienced Tom Harvey had recovered from an injury sustained in December the previous year and he and young John Lyon would challenge each other for the right back position.
The Edinburgh Evening News previewed Thistle’s season:
“It would seem as if improvement on last year’s form so far as this club is concerned depends on the additions made to the fighting strength, and these do not appear remarkable. It is interesting to observe in this connection that John Campbell, who played forward for the Hibernian last season is among the number and thus returns his “first love.” It is confidently anticipated that he will reproduce his old form, and that being so no better acquisition to the playing strength of the team could be desired. Campbell is now married, and residing in Glasgow. Thistle have gone to the junior market for others, and induced the following forwards to join the senior ranks: Aitkenhead (Maryhill), James Doherty (Cambuslang Hibernians), A. M’Gregor (Ashfield), and they have also engaged P. McMillan of Clydebank. who was one of Dumbarton’s team last season. Noted men who will be seen out are Howden, Gibson, and Kennedy. The forward W. Gray has gone to England, and arrangements are likely to be made for the transference of Rangers’ back G. Gilchrist., who went to Ibrox from Shawfield.
Partick Thistle’s lot are W. Howden, T. Harvie, A. McKenzie, J. Lyon, N. Gibson, G. Allan. D. Walker, H. Wilson, D. Melville, S. Kennedy, B. Gray, J. Sommen, P. McMillan, W. Aitkenhead. R. Gray, J. Campbell, J. Doherty, A. McGregor.”
The influence of football clubs on public opinion was clearly seen before the season started, as Partick Thistle, along with Queen’s Park, Celtic and Rangers, were asked to consider how baseball could be promoted in Glasgow, by British Baseball Association. In England football clubs tended to win baseball competitions – Tottenham Hotspur in particular around this time. It’s unknown, but unlikely, that baseball took off in Glasgow.
The season begins
Thistle, and Third Lanark, began the season in midweek, three days before everyone else – their scheduled fixture at Cathkin being brought forward because of the Scotland v South Africa rugby international which had been scheduled for the same day in November, just a few hundred yards away at Hampden.
Before the game the Partick Thistle committee were confident of their new team. The forwards lined up: James Doherty, Walter Aitkenhead, Sam Kennedy, Alex McGregor and John Campbell.
However, there seemed to be an agreement in the press after the game that unfortunately the forwards hadn’t performed well. Although Gibson, Melville and Allan tackled well and passed cleverly, enabling the forwards to attack, poor shooting caused the defeat, said the Daily Record. The new forwards were no better than those they had replaced, clever in the outfield and monopolised play in the first half but they wouldn’t shoot, was the opinion of the Scottish Weekly Record. The veteran Campbell was best of the lot, showing his old form. Doherty was quick and clever on the right but was “inclined to hug the line and try to beat his man”. Aitkenhead looked like a player with a future but McGregor had a lot of improvement to make.
Thirds won the game 3-1, but Neil Gibson missed two penalties, and had the forwards been in better form Thistle might have got a result.
A game at Love Street against St Mirren followed. Archie McKenzie replaced Tom Harvey and Doherty was replaced by James Sommen in the forward line, although the forwards again failed to trouble the home goalkeeper. Johnny Campbell scored his first goal since his return, showing Neil Gibson how to convert a penalty kick. Not for the last time in the season goalkeeper Willie Howden was regarded as the best Thistle player.
Once famous Renton invited Thistle to send a team to Dunbartonshire to play a match in aid of their new pavilion fund – “Partick Thistle favoured the ‘village’ team,” said the Glasgow Herald. Thistle sent a strong team and led 2-0 at half time, although the game ended 2-2. Robert Gray and new signing from East Fife James Wilkie scored Thistle’s goals.
Outside left Wilkie had been keen to play with a bigger club against better players, reported the Dundee Evening Telegraph. East Fife agreed to let him go and received £20 compensation, feeling that Thistle had got a bargain.
In the following game, the first game at Meadowside of the season, Wilkie continued to show good form, being involved in all five goals in a 5-0 win, scoring one himself. The £20 fee was looking like money well spent. “His dodging, shooting and passing stamped him as a future first-rater,” said the Scottish Referee.
The month began with Thistle in 10th position in the league – a win, a draw and a defeat had been recorded.
Next up was a visit to Rugby Park in the midst of a heatwave. Scottish Referee referred to the Thistle players “not being garbed, as the home players were, in a manner suitable for the occasion.” The weather seemed to affect the players’ performances. Kilmarnock scored in the first minute before Thistle settled, smart and methodical, and pulled a goal back through bustling Sam Kennedy’s “characteristic breakthrough.” Kilmarnock were the better team in the second half and won 3-1. James Wilkie again impressed.
Chairman William Ward had been trying to persuade Rangers to release left back George Gilchrist and in early September he was successful. Gilchrist had often guested in odd games for Thistle and in the previous season had played 30 times for the club, while still being registered for Rangers. He joined Tom Harvey, John Lyon, and Alex McGregor giving the club four good solid full back options.
Gilchrist went straight into the team to play Celtic at Meadowside in the Glasgow Cup, replacing Tom Harvey. Celtic were top of the league, having won every game, scoring 13 in three games. There were still questions being asked of the forwards’ performances and talk of positional changes to help them find some form. “We are not downhearted” sad director William Reid, “and we hope for at least a draw.”
In the end, despite a solid performance from the half back line, particularly Neil Gibson, Celtic had a comfortable 2-0 win. The forwards never troubled the Celtic defence.
Willie Howden had been impressed by the visitors when speaking to the Irish News. “That Celtic are far and away the best team I have seen playing football for a number of years past. They remind me of the Rangers that season they won the league without losing a single match. There is no use speaking about stars in the Celts, because they are all stars. Quinn shot from all positions on Saturday, and he can shoot, there’s no doubt about that. The last shot of the match from him was a great one. I could scarcely hold it.”
A few days later the two clubs faced each other again, this time at Hamilton Crescent for a cricket match which saw the proceeds go to Mr Carter, the groundsman. Thistle won 101-77. “More amusing than serious, the ordinary rules of cricket were not religiously respected,” reported the Daily Record.
Partick Thistle team: W.Ward (captain), W.Paul, A.McKenzie, J.McAllister, J.Allison, J.Gillespie, Dr Campbell, H.C.Barbour, G.N.Beattie, Neil Gibson, Carter.
Celtic team: J.H.McLaughlin, John Liddell (SFA), James Kelly, W.Maley, R.Templeton, James Quinn, James Welford, P.Somers, A.Bennett, Donald McLeod, James Young.
This was the second cricket benefit match that William Ward had arranged for Carter. In August a Footballers v Cricketers match had been played. Willie Paul and Celtic’s Willie Maley had been involved and the footballers lost narrowly in a light hearted affair.
After another disappointing forwards’ display changes were planned for the next game, against Motherwell. Aitkenhead was dropped, having arrived late for the Celtic game. Kennedy and Sommen were out of form and would be replaced by some of the younger players who signed at the start of the season, and Robert Gray would be recalled.
“The Partick Thistle have begun to set their house in order. It has been known for some time that Sam Kennedy has only kept his place on sufferance. A passable display in the cup tie against Celtic would have kept him in the team, but Sam is ‘dead out of form’ and none too late the Meadowside officials have decided to give his place to another. McGregor is to be tried in the centre on Saturday and better results are anticipated. Kennedy is not a spent force and the last has not been seen of him.” [Scottish Weekly Record]
The changes – James Doherty and Gray as inside forwards supporting Alex McGregor at centre forward – didn’t have the instant effect hoped for, although Thistle fought to a 3-2 win. John Campbell replaced McGregor at centre forward part way through the game. Neither was rated a huge success, but McGregor did score two goals – the first came “… after a warm bully in front of goal McGregor came out of the crowd with the ball and beat Montgomery with a shot which could not be claimed to be unsaveable.”
Neil Gibson (left) was Thistle’s best player, “combining the resource of the veteran with the sprightliness of his old Ibrox days.” He put Thistle 2-0 up as he “wriggled his way through the defence in the cleverest fashion and finished his sinuous run with an unsaveable shot”. Harry Wilson had been brought into the team at centre half and he wasn’t having a good game as Motherwell brought the score back to 2-2 with two penalty goals, but a reshuffle between Wilson and left half George Allan steadied the defence. McGregor scored his second to secure the second home league win in two games.
The following match, against Falkirk at Brockville, ended in a mostly uneventful 1-1 draw, with Sam Kennedy, back in the team, scoring for Thistle. David Melville, a tough centre half. made his first appearance since his knee injury sustained against St Mirren in August. A couple of teammates had tried to replace him in the middle of the half back line but there were high hopes that he was now fit enough to return to the team. Unfortunately he suffered a recurrence of his injury and wouldn’t play again until December.
An impressive 3-0 win over Hibernian followed. Sam Kennedy had benefited from his rest and led the line impressively, well supported by the other forwards (apart from John Campbell who seemed over keen to beat his old club). The game had been even until the second half, when Hibs lost centre half McConnachie to injury. George Allan, with a 35 yard short, and Alex McGregor with two goals, punished the visitors. McConnachie came back on at 3-0 but Hibs were unable to rally.
In the old pre-league days Thistle and Rangers were rivals and regularly used to beat each other. Since the league began, though, Rangers had always had the upper hand. The season so far had been difficult for the Ibrox club – because of injuries they were having to play with a number of young players and were placed in mid table.
“They [Partick Thistle] have waited long for the opportunity to beat the Rangers on their own ground in a league match and the experiments at Ibrox give them hope,” reported the Daily Record.
The game was spoiled for the 12,000 spectators by fog which meant visibility was greatly limited. James Wilkie caused problems for home right back Robert Campbell the whole game, and it was from a Wilkie cross that Sam Kennedy (left) scored the first goal. Rangers equalised late in the second half and it looked for a while that Thistle’s chance had gone, but Kennedy scored again and Thistle had earned their first ever league win at Ibrox.
Sam Kennedy’s form had returned with a vengeance – three goals in a week since getting his place back, and he was well supported by another veteran – James Sommen – on the right, and by youngster Wilkie on the left.
Secretary/manager George Easton (left) and his board of directors must have been delighted. They had managed to get their forwards firing after a poor shot-shy start to the season. Three wins and a draw in the last four games had lifted the team to fourth in the league. A couple more good results would create a gap between them and the teams further down the table.
Unfortunately, the start of October saw the good form disappear, and defeats against Port Glasgow Athletic and in-form Airdrieonians saw Thistle drop to seventh and back into mid-table.
One consistent element of the Thistle season had been the form of goalkeeper Willie Howden. He was rewarded for his form when he was picked to represent Glasgow in the match against a Sheffield select. He played well and enhanced his growing reputation, but Glasgow still lost 3-2.
After two defeats the results improved with two 0-0 draws, against Aberdeen and Dundee. “There were few exciting incidents in the game [Thistle v Dundee],” reported the Dundee Evening Telegraph. “One was when McGregor, the home inside left, clean missed the ball with no one to beat but Muir, hitting the air with such a wallop that he nearly wrenched his foot off.”
Walter Aitkenhead hadn’t played since he was late arriving for the Glasgow Cup game against Celtic in early September, having played every game before then. The Thistle directors were unhappy with him and offered to transfer him, and he signed for Blackburn Rovers, having been recommended by ex Celtic and Blackburn player Peter Somers. Thistle retained his Scottish League registration, meaning they’d have first refusal on him if he came back north. However, he stayed with Blackburn for ten years, until 1915. Aitkenhead scored 75 goals in 210 games for Rovers, and was capped once for Scotland – against Ireland in Belfast in 1912 – scoring twice in 23 minutes in a 4-1 win, but was never capped again.
The poor run of results continued into November.
A 2-3 defeat at Hampden was notable for a forced change to the forward line after Sam Kennedy called off late with influenza. John Lyon was tried at centre forward, and despite scoring, didn’t lead the forward line well. He moved back to full back and George Gilchrist was moved forward, but the change came too late and despite a late James Wilkie goal Queens Park held on for the win. Willie Howden again had an excellent game.
Kennedy was missing again for the home match against Hamilton. This time the centre forward position was taken by youngster Stewart, who had been signed from Lanarkshire League team East Benhar in October, and who had been scoring regularly for the 2nd XI. The game ended 1-1 – Thistle’s goal was a rare one from centre half David Walker direct from a free kick – but the game was spoiled for the fans when both teams played the increasingly popular (with clubs in these difficult circumstances) ‘one back’ game after players had to leave the field injured and offside and offside decision was given by the referee.
The one-back game was a tactic being adopted by teams who had lost a player through injury. The lineup was changed to leave just a single full-back in front of the goalkeeper. The offside rule meant that an attacker was offside if there weren’t three defenders between him and the goal when the ball was passed.
It meant that games were condensed into the middle of the field as forwards tried to stay behind one of the HBs as well as the one remaining full back, and the goalkeeper, and forwards were regularly offside, even if they were in their own half, when they tried to move forward. Games were regularly being spoiled as the referee stopped the play regularly as teams tried to beat this offside trap.
Throughout shipyards along the Clyde, shipyard workers had been on strike since the start of October. Attendances had been badly affected at clubs along the river, like Thistle, Morton and Port Glasgow as many locals who hadn’t been sacked couldn’t afford to attend matches. Games at Meadowside were drawing crowds of only around 2000.
Thistle welcomed Celtic to Meadowside to play a match in support of the Partick Boilermakers strike fund. Four juniors played for Thistle, including Allan Leitch, a centre forward from Clydebank Juniors, who scored and was signed by Thistle after the game. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. The following day the six week strike ended.
The next home league game – against Hearts – saw an improved attendance of around 5,000. It was a much improved performance from the Thistle players too, who hadn’t won a league match for almost two months. Leitch started at centre forward and he played well and created the chance for Sam Kennedy who scored the only goal of the game. John Campbell played well too – the best performance he had made since re-signing at the start of the season. Howden, too, played well – “Howden is amongst the best of our goalkeepers,” reported the Athletic News.
The win over Hearts was a sign of improvement and the Daily Record reported an increase in confidence around Meadowside about the next game.
It was against Celtic at Parkhead and Celtic remained unbeaten since the start of the season. Bonuses were offered to the Thistle players and there would be no doubt they’d need to be hard earned.
In the end it was easy for the home team, who were determined from the start and were quickly a goal ahead. Thistle played well but Celtic were on top form. John Campbell scored for Thistle when the score was 0-3, sprinting away from the defence and shooting from 30 yards – Adams should have saved but the ball squirmed over the line. The final score was 1-4.
The optimism around the win and draw in November was clearly misplaced, and after the Celtic game the team went on a run of four more defeats in December, against Falkirk, Dundee, Queens Park and Clyde.
Scottish Referee was scathing in its reporting of the performance against Falkirk.
After Saturday’s exhibition the directors of the Partick Thistle may be expected to make numerous changes in the composition of their team for further League engagements. Last week at Parkhead this weakness was most apparent, the Celtic defence having absolutely no trouble with the opposition. The Celtic fiasco, however, was nothing to Saturday’s affair; in fact, it is no exaggeration to state that the “Bairns” had never an easier task in booking full points. Right throughout, the Falkirk defence simply toyed with the Partick forwards. Falkirk gave a bright, go-ahead, spirited exhibition, while the Thistle were erratic, spasmodic, and generally unreliable.
Since defeating the Rangers on the 29th September at Ibrox, the Thistle have played nine League matches: out of this lot they have only had one single victory, and that by the odd goal, three games have been drawn, while in five of the nine engagements the Thistle have failed to score, the goal record reading – goals for 4, against 15. In this list ample proof is afforded regarding the weakness of the Partick attacking line.
During the entire game on Saturday, Allan in the Falkirk goal only handled the ball twice. The Thistle were all over disappointing. Howden, in fact was the only man who showed anything like First League form. The backs did fairly well, but the halves and forwards were no match for the Stirling-shire team.
The Dundee game at Dens was also disappointing. Prior to the match the Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that Dundee wanted to propose changing the share of the gate money that visiting teams took away. Currently the gate was split 50/50 but Dundee felt that their home crowds were better than most others in the league and they wanted home teams to keep two thirds of the gate, and the away teams to benefit less when there was a big home crowd.
The team saw seven changes following the poor performance against Falkirk the previous week. The Dens Park pitch was “hard as iron, slippery as ice. Many players came a cropper despite ‘donning their rubbers.’” Robert Gray was injured after just six minutes, taking a nasty kick to the shin, unable to continue. Thistle didn’t immediately adopt the popular tactic of playing with one back and continued to try to make a game of it. However, Dundee adapted to the pitch conditions much better and dominated. The score was 4-0 to the home team at half time and it took until the 40th minute for the home goalie to touch the ball.
In the second half it was damage limitation time for Thistle. The one back and playing for offside approach that they had started the second half with meant that Dundee were unable to create many chances and it wasn’t until late in the game, when David Melville also had to leave the pitch injured, that Dundee scored a fifth with a solo run from Cox.
Partick Thistle, who have fallen on evil days lately, proved no match for Dundee on Dens Park on Saturday, the Taysiders romping home by the nap total of 5 to 0, which might have been greatly increased had there been any keen desire to do so. The “Jags” were undoubtedly badly handicapped through losing Gray after one goal had been scored, but they never at any time seemed like on an equality with their opponents, who in the first half gave a delightful exhibition of first-class football. In the second half, the game developed into a game through the one-back method being adopted by Partick, and if the popularity of football is to be maintained something will have to be done by the ruling bodies to lessen the baneful effects of such procedure on the play.Scottish Referee
“Everybody who knows anything about football is agreed that something will require to be done to remedy the offside rule, which meantime the bugbear of the game. An excellent object lesson was given at Dens Park on Saturday, where the one-back policy was adopted by Partick Thistle in the second stage of the game with Dundee. The former were quite within their rights in so doing. Their attack had early in the match been deprived of one of its parts. Gray received a nasty kick on the shin, and had to retire—and after vainly endeavouring to hold their own they found themselves so much out of it that in order to keep down the score they resolved to reconstruct the team, and play one back. Be it to Partick’s credit that they did not do so until the points had been assured for Dundee, as they might easily have done. At the same time, it brought very forcibly under the notice of the spectators the iniquity of the present rule, whereby “at least three of his opponents must be nearer their own goal line.” One feasible way out of the difficulty—indeed, the only way—is to alter the number of players to two. This would have a beneficial effect, and would tend to lessen, nay, render almost impossible, such farcical play as was witnessed at Dens Park on Saturday. Gradually the matter is being forced upon those responsible for the making of the laws, and at the next international conference discussion on this point is almost a certainty. To referee a game when only one back is being played is no easy task, and Mr Faichnie, Falkirk, who officiated in place of Mr T.Robertson, Glasgow—away at Dublin refereeing the amateur international—had a difficult job on hand, and if he did make a slip now and again such was excusable in the circumstances.”Dundee Evening Telegraph
In the week following the game in Dundee the first round of the Scottish Cup was drawn. For the first time in eight years Thistle got a home draw – good news! The newspapers asked if it was a coincidence – William Ward had been elected to the SFA’s management committee a couple of weeks earlier.
However, the cup tie was against Dundee – not so good!
When Thistle had played Rangers earlier in the season they had been in fifth place and Rangers were in mid table. When the return match at Meadowside came round Rangers had lifted themselves to fifth while Thistle had dropped to 13th. A 2-2 draw was a creditable result for a Thistle team that had been on a poor run. The Thistle forwards should have scored more but Rangers finished the game the stronger team.
Rangers, after their Celtic victory, appeared at Meadowside on Wednesday, but the Ibrox team failed to master the Thistle, a very even game ending in a two-goal apiece draw. From the outset it was evident that the Thistle players were in rare fettle; the defence kicked and tackled with rare precision, while the forwards exhibited form the like of which has been an unknown quantity in their engagements during the last two months of the year. The Rangers were never allowed much scope, the keen defensive tactics of the Partick men being an effective barrier to the Ibrox attack, and in consequence openings for a direct shot at goal were few and far between. The Thistle always led in the scoring, so that the Rangers were mostly fighting for a division of the points. In taking three points in their two engagements v. Rangers this season, the Thistle have established a record of which they are justly proud. All that is wanted is a maintenance of Wednesday’s form.Scottish Referee
Tom Harvey (left) had played in most games this season, either at right or left back, and also the occasional match at right half. He had joined Partick Thistle in August 1900 from Ayrshire junior club Irvine Meadow. He played more than 200 games for Partick Thistle during his time at Meadowside. A benefit match was arranged for him in January – Thistle would face Queen’s Park. This would normally be a prestigious fixture, well attended by supporters – there had been around 12,000 for the last game between the two clubs. 5000 attended Harvey’s benefit but the fans would have been disappointed with the quality of the two teams – Thistle fielded a strong defence but a forward line of unknowns. Nevertheless Thistle won 4-0 and the Dundee Courier reported that Harvey would benefit by £90.
A 3-0 win over bottom team Kilmarnock followed and confidence started to rise for the Dundee cup tie. The Dundee Courier thought that an improved Thistle team would give Dundee a good game.
Inevitably, then, the improved form took a dip. A 2-2 draw with Motherwell was followed by a very poor home defeat by Clyde, although this was partly due to the loss of Harry Wilson through injury. “If Dundee cannot beat the Thistle they should give up the game,” was the Dundee Courier’s changed opinion.
After the Clyde defeat the Thistle team, apart from George Allan and George Gillespie, travelled to Gareloch to prepare for the Dundee cup match. Chairman William Ward, Vice President William Reid and other directors accompanied the players to Shandon Hydro.
The players enjoyed the fresh air, some weight training with dumbbells and the hydro baths at the hotel and felt good, although a match arranged against the local team from Garelochhead didn’t happen. Neil Gibson was quietly confident although some changes were needed in the Thistle team. Harry Wilson was still unfit after his injury the week before, and George Gilchrist was also unlikely to play.
Dundee, too, were confident although they didn’t change their training preparations. They were in second place in the league while Thistle were 13th. “It’s not ‘we hope to win’, it’s ‘we must win’,” said captain Jack Fraser. However, they were concerned with the likely absence of key players Jeffray and Webb.
Dundee planned to travel down in an early train on the day of the game, and they would be followed by a big support – two trains carrying an expected 800 fans would leave Dundee West station at 12.20, due at Partick West station at 2.20. The return fare was 3s 3d.
As the game approached Glasgow was hit by a huge fall of snow. The Dundee Evening Telegraph on Friday reported that Thistle were confident that the game would go ahead, and that the SFA had arranged for early inspection of pitches because of the weather.
On the morning of the game the Daily Record reported that attempts would be made to clear the pitch on Saturday morning, and the Dundee Courier reported that local referee Mr Jackson of Rangers had approved the game to go ahead on Friday evening if conditions improved. An anticipated thaw, or sanding the area would improve the chances of the game going ahead. Thistle had 30 men clearing snow on Friday and from early on Saturday morning although this left a patch down the middle which was still hard. Unfortunately the sun didn’t come out and no sand was laid and the game was postponed. The Scottish Referee revealed that the Dundee club were informed at 7am but the trains carrying Dundee officials and supporters left after the game had been called off. Clearly there had been a breakdown in communication.
The near 1200 travelling supporters were frustrated. If they hadn’t travelled then their tickets would have been valid for the rearranged game. To placate them, and probably to earn some money, the two clubs decided to play a friendly, an approach that happened at a number of grounds which had seen games postponed.
“If the ground was too dangerous for a tie, it ought also to have been too dangerous for a friendly. This playing of a funny match savours too much of a determination to make money,” raged the Dundee Evening Telegraph.
Dundee fielded their full team while the Thistle side was a mix of regulars and youngsters. Both teams were understandably cautious on the frozen pitch, and the snow fell again half way through the match, which Dundee won 1-0. The Thistle directors were happy with their players’ performance – it was certainly better than the previous game which had been lost 0-5.
The Dundee Courier reported that Thistle played in their old black and gold hooped jerseys in the friendly rather than their new colours of claret and pale blue hoops. The new colours are regarded as unlucky, reported the Courier – not a single match has been won since they were adopted. It’s not known when that new kit had been adopted, but it had only been a few weeks since Thistle’s last win. This might suggest that the new kit was first used in January 1907 but it’s questionable that a three game run without a win would be enough to feel that the new shirts were unlucky. More likely it was a throwaway comment from the newspaper.
The cup tie was rescheduled for the following week, and this time the Thistle players would prepare at home rather than at Gareloch. A smaller crowd was now expected – the large numbers from Dundee had already used their train tickets and spent money on a friendly. There was frustration in Dundee – if word had reached the train station many wouldn’t have travelled and would have kept their money for the re-arranged game.
In the end the game was postponed again – the cold conditions hadn’t allowed the pitch to thaw out.
There were concerns in Dundee that over two weeks Thistle hadn’t done enough to protect the pitch and get the game on. Thistle promised to apply tons of sand from Irvine beach to get the cup tie on; Dundee wondered why this hadn’t been done earlier.
George Easton announced on Friday “Our tie with Dundee is certain to come off on Saturday. We had the field entirely cleared of snow on Tuesday, and have distributed twenty tons of sea sand from Irvine, Ayrshire, and one ton of salt. You can therefore depend on seeing a Cup tie at Meadowside.”
The pitch was a quagmire after the snow and frost of the previous two weeks. Thistle played a long ball game successfully to avoid the mud. David Walker opened the scoring through a penalty kick for Thistle after just three minutes and the game developed into a hard fought battle. Neil Gibson was injured but the tough half back carried on; the Thistle mid-line was less effective though.
“On either side the players took every risk, and if a man could be stopped from getting to the ball or dribbling with it, neither team seemed to care if the method employed were glaringly unorthodox. All through every man let himself go and as hot a contest as the competition is likely to produce was the outcome. Both were well trained, but the heavy going told in the end. The physical power imparted proved a tremendous strain on the players, and the referee’s whistle was as welcome to Partick Thistle as their opponents. At the finish the half-backs and forwards looked thoroughly done up.”Daily Record 11 February
It was Dundee that finished the game the stronger, but Thistle had a chance to win at the end.
“… in the last minute Sommen had a great run, and all held their breath. What helped to make the uncertainty more certain was the condition of the ground, which, with the thaw, was as soft as pulp, and cut up so fearfully that the players were soon ankle-deep in a thick sticky mud, through which the ball had to be rammed to make it travel. The conditions suited Partick down to the ground, and told correspondingly against Dundee in respect that proper football was almost an impossibility. Studied movements could not be executed except under great difficulties, and as Thistle make no pretence to that kind of thing they were not incommoded in the least. They simply launched out at everything and anything, but there were times when their display was quite as clever as Dundee’s. Sommen, in fact, was, next to Fraser, the most prominent forward on the field, and it was in keeping with the day’s events that the despised of the Partick fold—it is seldom he gets a place in the team—should have been by far and away Partick’s most effective forward.”
“It was from Sommen’s wing that most of the danger to Dundee came, and both of Partick’s goals were traceable to his efforts. It was from him M’Gregor got the pass and sent across to the left, when M’Kenzie was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty area, and it was when McDonald was tackling this wing that he spooned the ball across the goal mouth and gave Campbell the chance he made so good use of. As to the penalty, there was not the slightest justification for the decision.”Dundee Evening Telegraph
The game finished 2-2 in front of a crowd of around 12,000 (including 600 from Dundee) and the teams shared a gate of around £300 – a good payday after the disappointment of postponements.
The Thistle players had been offered a strong incentive to win against Dundee. The club hadn’t had a successful financial season in the league and a win and progression to the next round would have been important. At least the replay would help the bank account – another bumper gate was expected at Dens Park.
It seemed likely that Thistle would field the same team as the first game. Chairman William Ward was still confident: “I know it will require greater effort on the part of the players, if you can conceive that possible in the light of last Saturday’s game, but I am very sanguine they will not leave Dens Park a beaten side.” The winners would play Renton in the next round; the winners of that tie would play Queen’s Park in the quarter final.
John Lyon became unwell on the train and was replaced by Archie McKenzie, and Neil Gibson aggravated his injury and his place was taken by George Allan (who hadn’t played for a couple of months after being suspended for using foul language in a game against Queen’s Park).
Dundee started well and were quickly a goal ahead. Willie Howden (left) was injured, dislocating his shoulder, and he made it worse trying to stop Dundee’s second goal. Howden had to leave the pitch for treatment, replaced by Archie McKenzie – Dr Martin Ward, brother of the Thistle chairman, reset the dislocated shoulder in the clubhouse but Howden was unable to continue. John Campbell, too, was injured but had to carry on, barely able to run. With Thistle down to ten men and struggling, several players resorted to rough tactics to keep the score down, and Melville was sent off after being warned by the referee.
In the second half Thistle played the one-back game to keep the score down. The Dundee forwards were regularly given offside inside their own half (and even once close to their own penalty line). Tom Harvey, the sole defender, worked hard but couldn’t cope when the clever Dundee forwards managed to pass through the half back line, and Dundee won comfortably 5-1.
The gate money from a 16,000 crowd was a small consolation. The two clubs shared combined gate takings of around £800 over the two games.
Willie Howden’s injury was severe, and Thistle needed to replace him. Lee Massey of Petershill had been playing with the reserves, but manager George Easton signed John McArthur, a Partick local, from Falkirk. McArthur had been second choice at Brockville, and played well in his first game – a 1-0 win over Third Lanark at Meadowside in front of the watching Howden.
After the game the Thistle players said goodbye to their trainer of six years John Nutt, who had a new position at Queen’s Park. A black and white silk scarf was draped around his neck, and he left with good wishes from the players and officials. He was replaced by Alex Duncan who had spent four years with Third Lanark.
March was to be a desperately poor one for the team – defeats were inflicted by Airdrieonians, Port Glasgow and two at Hamilton (one of which was abandoned with the score at 1-2).
The game at Port Glasgow was a rough one. James Sommen tool an early knock and was unable to contribute much to the rest of the game. Tom Harvey was badly injured, and had to be carried from the field. The injury was so bad that it ended the long serving full-back’s career.
There were less than 15 minutes left at Hamilton when the game was abandoned because of snow to the disappointment of the home supporters. It had been a bad tempered game. James Wilkie had been badly injured and missed most of the second half. Archie McKenzie and McLean of Hamilton were both sent off (and later suspended for two weeks) for “rushing at each other on the field and on the track and butting each other.” With plenty of bad feeling on the pitch, and down to nine men, Thistle appealed for the game to be abandoned and referee Turnbull agreed. Was it a legitimate appeal because of the conditions, or did Thistle see an opportunity to avoid defeat? The Hamilton fans seemed to think so. A large number of spectators surrounded the pavilion and had to be cleared by police.
Off the pitch the Dundee Courier reported that Thistle were looking for a new home. A one year lease extension had been agreed for the ground at Meadowside but that a further extension was unlikely. A site closer to Glasgow city centre had been identified – “if terms are arranged the new ground will be one of the best in Scotland.”
William Reid, vice president of Thistle, was re-elected the chairman of the Glasgow FA.
Following the poor performances in March a desperately needed win was recorded at Cappielow. Alex McGregor scored early but Morton dominated the game, although their forwards missed numerous chances. Morton keeper Robertson was keen to help his forwards, making numerous runs down field to try to equalise. In the last minute Anderson Tennent * intercepted a corner and broke upfield with Robert Gray. After beating one defender they scored easily as Robertson was out of his goal. The 2-0 win was greeted with huge relief – it had been a while since Thistle had won a game.
A further win was recorded against Aberdeen at Meadowside but the mini run of wins ended at Ibrox in the Glasgow Charity Cup. Rangers won 3-0 and the home supporters threw abuse, and mud, at Sam Kennedy after he fouled Dickie. Poor weather meant there was only a small crowd of around 2000 – not much benefit for the charities supported by the match.
The season was coming to an end, and it had been a disappointment for the club and supporters. “Partick Thistle have a loyal following but they were elsewhere than Meadowside on Saturday,” reported the Athletic News following a 1-4 home defeat to St Mirren.
Defeats were also inflicted by Clyde, Celtic, Hearts and Kilmarnock (a draw with Hibernian the only positive) but Thistle were far enough ahead of Port Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Hamilton at the bottom of the league that relegation wasn’t a concern, regardless of the poor run of results in the second half of the year.
The game against Celtic turned into a double winning party for the visitors. Having already won the cup they would clinch the league (and be the first team to win the double) if they beat a Thistle team that seemed to have given up the fight. A match between the two clubs would normally be lucrative one for both treasurers (and Thistle could do with the money), but despite the visitors bringing the Cup with them to show the supporters, there was a poor crowd of just 4000. The game was played on a Wednesday, and Glasgow also saw a match at Ibrox and a royal visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales that day which would have affected the crowd.
After the game Chairman Ward congratulated the Celtic players and officials in an informal ceremony in the Meadowside pavilion. Celtic chairman McLaughlin responded that he hoped Partick Thistle would occupy a more prominent position in Scottish football soon.
With interest in football across the country waning with both competitions decided, Chairman Ward (re-elected to the SFA Committee), proposed that the season should be shortened and end on 30 April instead of 15 May (in line with the English FA’s season). Ward’s proposal was unanimously agreed to although this would require players’ contracts to be changed as they would normally run until 15 May. Hearts proposed that the league should be reduced from 28 clubs to 16 clubs but this idea was rejected.
“No plea for the shortening of the season could be advanced more convincingly than the play at Tynecastle,” was the Daily Record’s opinion after a weakened Hearts team easily defeated a dreadful Partick Thistle team in the last league game of the season.
Willie Howden had been injured for several months and had played just once since February – for Vale of Leven in a benefit match for Alick Galbraith against Rangers. There was speculation around whether he would re-sign for Thistle another season. He had been with Thistle since 1901. He eventually signed for another season in June. He joined Lee Massey who had played in goals for Thistle’s last few games of the season and had been playing for the reserves. Massey had previously played for Petershill and represented Glasgow Juniors against Aberdeenshire earlier in the season, and would remain with Thistle for a number of seasons.
Thistle sign Walter Aitkenhead (Maryhill), James Doherty (Cambuslang Hibernians), Alex M’Gregor (Ashfield), P. McMillan (Dumbarton)
Andrew Swan, formerly of St Mirren and Partick Thistle, left Dalbeattie (where he lived) for Blackpool, for which club has signed for the forthcoming season.
Cowdenbeath have signed McGregor (previously of Partick Thistle and Crieff Morrisonians).
William Gray moved to Southampton.
Players from 1905-06 – Adam McColl [sic] moved to Ayr Parkhouse, William Brown moved to Vale of Leven, and J.Lawrie had left the club.
Thistle signed James Wilkie from East Fife.
Stewart, an inside right, signed for Partick Thistle from Lanarkshire League team East Benhar. He is referred to as Alexander Stewart by Daily Record and Aberdeen Press & Journal in December, and H.Stewart in the Partick Thistle Official History.
John Barr signed from Ayrshire club Lanemark.
Walter Aitkenhead left Thistle and signed for Blackburn Rovers.
Irving, an outside left of Quarter Huttonbank has signed for Partick Thistle. He played a trial under the name Newman v Falkirk.
James Doherty is granted a free transfer on his own request.
Alex Stewart transferred to Ayr. He is referred to as H.Stewart by the Partick Thistle Official History.
John Barr moves to Lanemark, the club he had joined Thistle from.
John McArthur, Falkirk’s reserve goalkeeper, is signed to replace Howden.
Walter Buckton, who played against St Mirren, is from Newmains Thistle.
Lee Massey signed for Partick Thistle from Petershill.
Cowdenbeath sign James McGregor, outside left, who had played with them in 1906-07, despite Partick Thistle holding his papers.
Gallocher [sic, should be Gallacher], half back of Duntocher Hibs has signed for Partick Thistle. He had previously played with Tottenham Hotspur and Luton.
Thistle have signed McIntyre, left back, of Maryhill.
East Fife sign James Wilkie from Partick Thistle. Wilkie was signed from East Fife.
Daily Record July – May
Glasgow Herald – August – June
Evening Times July – Aug – virtually no football content.
Scotsman – July – June
Scottish Weekly Record July – June
Scottish Referee July – June
Athletic News – July – June
Sportsman – July – June
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Lancashire Evening Post – July – June
Irish News – July – June
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