In September 1903 the Scottish Weekly Record published an exclusive interview with Partick Thistle President William Ward.
A love for athletics has long been one of the distinguishing traits of the members of the Ward family in Partick. The gentleman who presides so ably over the destinies of the Partick Thistle FC, Mr Wm. Ward, has identified himself more closely with the official side of the sports of the people than any of the others, but all three sons have come prominently before the public.
When the club at Meadowside was struggling to keep pace with the times a few years ago the subject of our interview, along with Captain Cameron of the Burgh Police, came forward at a time of crisis in the club’s history with substantial financial assistance. Their example at an annual meeting of the Thistle resulted in a sum of £500 being raised within as many minutes.
A “Weekly Record” representative joined the Thistle President the other afternoon, and naturally football matters bulked largely in the conversation.
“My father was a Colour-Sergeant in the 34th Cumberland Regiment,” remarked Mr. Ward, once our tobacco was alit, “and from him my brothers and I inherited a love of outdoor sport. As a soldier my father won the championship of the allied armies of France, Sardinia and Britain before Sebastopol. The event was a 300 yards race, and in recognition of his achievement, Lord Raglan, the Commander-in-Chief, presented him with the championship belt and a purse of sovereigns.
Two Notable Athletes
“My brothers, James and George, both gained some little distinction as footballers in the ranks of Partick Thistle.
“I started to play football in the ranks of the Lenzie FC, and thereafter I joined the Minerva, at a time when no junior club in Scotland could rival it for the high-class quality of its play. That would be in the early nineties when the Minerva won the Scottish Junior Cup, Glasgow Junior Cup, and the Maryhill Charity Cup in the same season. After that came the Scotstounhill days, when I was chosen as a left-wing forward two years in succession to take part in the International trial games. I only lost my cap by the casting vote of the chairman.
“As a senior I played a few games for Partick Thistle the year they won the Second League championship for the first time. Being an amateur, my aspirations lay in the direction of Hampden Park, and in the season of 1897, as a member of Queen’s Park Strollers I gained a Glasgow Second Eleven Cup badge.
“That practically sums up my football career so far as playing is concerned; but a little over two years ago I was elected to the office of President of the Partick Thistle Club without ever having served on the committee. The club were relegated to the Second Division of the League at the time, but after one season of hard work we fought our way into the First Division again, and are likely to stay there. Last season at a bye-election I was elected to the Scottish Football Association, in room of Mr AM Ramsey, and this year I was re-elected one of Glasgow’s representatives to that body.
A Club Debt of £1000
“What were the chief difficulties the Thistle had to face after you took office?”
“To begin with, we had a debt of about £1000 and the knowledge that we had to take up a team that was certain to go back into the Second Division. Our committee worked zealously and hard for the good of the club, and eighteen months later the debt was totally wiped off. Last Monday the boys asked me to be their guest and presented me with a grandfather’s clock as a recognition of my humble services during that period.”
“In the days when the exchequer was in an impoverished state you would doubtless have some amusing experiences. Can you recall any special occasion when the club was in a tight corner?”
“When things are going badly against the club the officials occasionally have a few odd experiences. I remember the Thistle were playing a match at Airdrie in the days when there were no funds in the club. The Airdrieonians happened to be in the same situation as ourselves, with the result that we could not get our share of the gate money. The treasurer did not turn up, and it was left to two officials of the Thistle to look after the players’ wages. They had just enough money of their own to disburse a proportionate scale all round. The last man to come into the room was Wilkie, the goalkeeper. All they had left between them was two shillings, and as Wilkie was signed a a decent wage they could not find it in their hearts to offer him the princely sum of one florin. I will not readily forget the spirit in which Wilkie met us. ‘Give me the price of a drink,’ he said, ‘and I’ll sign a receipt for my week’s wages.'”
Bright with Promise
“And now about the future of the club?”
“So far as I can see, there is a great future before Partick Thistle as a Limited Company. The chief difficulty that stands in the way is the conditions under which we hold the ground, but as these conditions have existed for seven years I do not see any immediate cause or know any reason to necessitate a change. So long as we retain Meadowside Park, which is so easily get-atable, and the teamkeep on doing as they are doing now, wesould very soon, if we do not already, rank as one of the very foremost clubs in Scotland. So far this season, we have only lost one League match, and the committee expect the club will finish very high in the table. While the present lotare good enough to go on with, there will be lots of money available to secure fresh players, if it is found necessary to engage more.”
“Outside of football, what are your other recreations?”
“I have played cricket for Lenzie and Minerva, and I keep myself in touch with the game by an occasional Partick fixture or an afternoon’s sport such as we had on the Rangers’ ground recently. I delight in a game of bowls and enjoy membership of the Partick Bowling Club. I discharge, too, the onerous duties of secretary to the Partick Curling Club. Many a capital day’s sport one can have at the ‘roaring game.’ In a general way I interest myself in the public affairs of the burgh, and in connection with my own trade have been elected three years in succession to the Parliamentary Committee of the Licenced Victuallers’ Association, and have been twice in London in connection with trade business.”
Season by season