The difference between the way present day footballers travel to and prepare for matches, and the same activities back in the early days of football must be huge. Players regularly met their opponents socially after matches, and in 1888 one of the most unusual examples of this bonding was reported on after Partick Thistle played a pair of friendly matches in Lockerbie and in Partick against Mid Annandale FC. The Thistle players certainly seemed to have a good day (and evening) out, as reported by the Govan Press.
The members of the Partick Thistle team are brimful of pleasant recollections of their trip to Lockerbie, where they journeyed on Saturday last to meet the Mid Annandale. The trip was arranged by Mr Dobbie, one of the patrons of the Mid Annandale and most enthusiastic supporter of that club, who received the Partick Thistle at Central Station, Glasgow, and conducted them to the saloon carriage he had engaged for their use. Here they found the arrangements for their comfort complete in every respect, and the wherewithal to refresh the nine men was conspicuous by its presence. At Motherwell and again at Carstairs, refreshments were served round, and the tedium of the journey was beguiled by the vocal talents of the musically inclined members of the party.
Lockerbie was reached at 1.20, and several members of the Mid Annandale were in waiting to conduct their visitors to the Kings Arms where an excellent luncheon was spread, and was done ample justice by the Partickonians. Taking a walk through town to see the “lions”, the team were somewhat disconcerted to find themselves being lionised, and were greatly relieved when they regained the shelter of the hotel. Here they got on their warpaint, and, headed by President Boag, proceeded to Livingston Place Park where the large crowd of spectators received them with a hearty cheer.
The Lockerbie men won the toss and elected to play with the wind in their favour. The ball was started at 3.30 and within five minutes Mid Annandale notched the first point. The Partick men then pressed and after some give and take play succeeded in equalising. After this the Lockerbie men played with great dash and had succeeded in adding three more goals to their score when half time was called. On change of ends the Partick Thistle settled down better to their work and in quick succession added three more points to their score, again equalising the game. But the Lockerbie men were not to be beaten and coming away with a rush put on the last point of the game, thus winning one of the pleasantest and most friendly contested matches that has been witnessed in Lockerbie for a long time.
After the match the Thistle team were entertained to dinner in the Kings Arms, the chair being taken by Mr Dobbie. After the usual loyal toasts had duly been honoured the Chairman proposed the health of the members of the Partick Thistle FC which was replied to by Mr Boag, who then proposed the “Mid Annandale FC”. The other toasts proposed were “The Secretary (Mr Byers) of the Mid Annandale” and “Umpires and Referee.” “Our Chairman” was then proposed by Mr J.N.Boag who paid a high and well deserved compliment to Mr Dobbie, attributing the success of the trip solely to his genial and efficient management. The toast was met with the utmost enthusiasm. Mr Dobbie in replying said that for anything he had done he had been amply recompensated by the victory of Mid Annandale. He was proud of them and he hoped they would keep up their record, and as they would have a chance of showing the Thistle supporters that the win that day had been no fluke, he trusted that, on Friday evening first, they would go to Inchview totally determined to win or perish in the attempt.
The company joined in singing “Auld Lang Syne” and then the Partick team started for the station, where they were accompanied by a large crowd. Getting aboard their saloon amid the cheers of the crowd, the Thistle treated their admirers to a sample of their vocal accomplishments, and as the train moved off to the strains of “Will ye no come back again” followed them on their homeward journey.
The game at Lockerbie had ended 5-4 in the favour of Mid Annandale.
Unfortunately the return match, which ended 1-1, wasn’t reported on in such detail. The Glasgow hospitality wasn’t as excessive as the first match, but the teams did have dinner together atThistle president John Boag’s new restaurant at 121 Dumbarton Road. Boag had foreseen the opportunities that the Glasgow International Exhibition (which had just opened a mile along the road at Kelvingrove) offered to local businesses.
My thanks to William Sheridan for alerting me to this incredible report.
Season by season