The story of the birth of Partick Thistle has been long lost. At the time of the formation of the club, in the 1870’s, literally hundreds of clubs were being formed, although most have now folded (Partick Thistle had been playing for four and a half years before it played another team who are still playing senior football today). No-one thought to have the details of the birth of Partick Thistle recorded for posterity. Although the Scottish Football Annual of 1890 listed the date of formation as December 1875, all subsequent publications list 1876.
What is known is the football environment that the new club entered into in the middle of the decade. The outlook at that time was strictly amateur; the top team in the coutry was Queen’s Park, then as know strictly amateur. 4-4-2 formations, sweeper systems, and overlapping wing-backs had not been invented – in front of the goalkeeper played two backs and two half-backs, while the rest of of the team was committed to playing forward. There was no organised source of fixtures, and friendlies were organised by club secretaries week by week. Press coverage of what was still a fledgling sport was sparse, and match details were often filed by over-zealous club officials, or often not at all.
Season by season
- Miscellaneous (16)
- Other clubs (15)
- Players (26)
- Thistle – early years (48)
- Thistle – general (5)
Football history links
- Ayr United archive
- Bill Shankly
- Falkirk Historian
- Gallant Pioneers – Early history of Rangers
- Glasgow Herald archive at Google
- Hibernian Historical Trust
- London Hearts
- Partick Thistle history archive by StuTheJag
- Rangers History
- Scottish Football Historical Archive
- Scottish Football Museum
- Scottish Sports History
- ScottishLeague.net and forum
Our family folklore says that Willie(?) Gourlay was the first goalkeeper and one of the founding members of Partick Thistle. Any confirmation or information would be gratefully received.
There’s no information on very early team lineups. The first one that’s been found was in 1880, four years after the first game we know about.
There was a Gourlay that played in goals in 1897-98 season, for three games. Could that be your relative?