1920s Third Division
Peebles Rovers
Lawrie Leslie
'Dixie' Deans
Dons Hat-tricks
Alex James
1995 Cup Final
Graeme Sinclair
Falkirk's League Caps



Q “normanlisteningdevice” is back, asking: “Can you supply info about the old, old Third Division in particular the mighty Peebles Rovers?"

A The 'old, old' Third Division operated between 1923-26 and “the mighty” Peebles Rovers were members throughout.

In 1919 the Scottish League consisted of just 18 clubs. By 1923 it had expanded to an amazing 56. The Second Division, closed down during the First World War, started up again in 1921-22 and at the end of the following season this was deemed successful enough to merit the addition of a further division. However, these clubs were only ASSOCIATE members of the League and had no voting rights. Additionally, they still had to compete in the Qualifying Cup.

Sixteen clubs formed the new Third Division - East Stirling, who dropped down from Division Two, two former League members in Barrhead-based Arthurlie and Clackmannan and thirteen new teams. These were Beith, Brechin City, Dykehead (Shotts), Dumbarton Harp, Galston, Helensburgh, Mid-Annandale (Lockerbie), Montrose, Nithsdale Wanderers (Sanquhar), Peebles Rovers, Queen of the South (Dumfries), Royal Albert (Larkhall), and Solway Star (Annan).

The first season progressed as normal. Arthurlie and East Stirling won promotion and relegated Vale of Leven and Lochgelly joined the Third for 1924-25. As did former League members Leith Athletic, making for an unwieldy division of 17 teams.

In February 1925 Dumbarton Harp dropped out and their record was expunged. Nithsdale Wanderers and Queen of the South were promoted and Johnstone and Forfar Athletic relegated.

But by 1925-26 many of the teams were in financial difficulty. In January 1926 Galston folded and this precipitated a general collapse with only Helensburgh completing all fixtures. They were top of the table but could have been overtaken by both Leith and Forfar if the latter pair had been able to complete and win their games in hand.

Consequently the Third Division was laid quietly to rest and its clubs returned to the minor ranks or the juniors. Forfar Athletic were elected to Division Two to replace Broxburn United for 1926-27.

A few other Third Division sides made comebacks. Leith Athletic replaced Nithsdale in 1927-28 and when Arthurlie and Bathgate both resigned in 1928-29 Brechin and Montrose took their places the following season.

Although the Third Division is generally considered to be an ill thought out shambolic structure which was doomed from the start, it did have a few redeeming features. Five of the sides who played in it are still in the League today - Brechin, East Stirling, Forfar, Montrose and Queen of the South. And three teams - Leith, East Stirling and Queen of the South had all reached Division One by 1934.

The concept never really died, as there was a 'C' Division in operation between 1946-55 and every scheme for reconstruction for the next two decades envisaged three divisions.

This finally came to fruition in 1975-76 even if the new 'third' division was labelled the second!

Peebles Rovers had only a modest record; finishing 14th and 8th in the two full seasons played and were 14th in the unfinished 1925-26 season. All told, Peebles played 86 League matches, winning 28, drawing 15 and losing 43. They scored 159 goals and conceded 190. Their record victory at their Whitestone Park home was 7-1 v Beith on April 18th 1925. Best away was 5-2 at Galston seven days previously on April 11th 1925.

Oddly, of the 26 games Peebles completed in 1925-26, none of them finished in a draw.

Peebles Rovers themselves were active long before the Third Division, being formed in 1893 and have played in the Scottish Cup proper over twenty times. Their first appearance was back in 1907-08 when they lost 4-0 away to Celtic. In their first five appearances they were drawn away from home on each and every occasion, spanning nine ties in all. They managed to win three of these and draw two, including holding Hibs to a 0-0 draw at Easter Road in 1923 - easily their best result in he competition. The replay was also at Easter Road and Peebles lost 3-0. Hibs went on to reach the Final that year.

Other than a replay win over St Cuthbert Wanderers, they didn't have a home tie until beating Keith 7-3 in 1926. They drew away to Albion Rovers in the next round before losing the replay. They also drew with their Coatbridge namesakes in 1957 and again lost the replay.
The season before that they were involved in a marathon tie with Brechin City. There was a 1-1 draw away, 4-4 at home after extra time, 0-0 in a second replay at Easter Road, again after extra time and finally losing 6-2 in a third replay, at Tannadice.

After that they took some serious hammerings, losing 10-0 away to St Mirren in 1959, 6-1 at home against Ayr United the next year and then a 15-1 slaughter away to Hibs in 1961. Joe Baker scored nine that day and his brother Gerry grabbed four in the earlier debacle at Love Street!

Their final appearance was better though. In 1965-66 they drew 2-2 at Dumbarton and took the Sons to extra time in the replay before losing 3-2.

Although eligible to enter the Scottish Cup by virtue of their East of Scotland League membership, Whitestone Park, their home since 1906, does not come up to SFA standards so they no longer take part in the qualifying competition. Their greatest moment in the Qualifying Cup (South) came in the 1953-54 competition when they defeated Shawfield Amateurs 6-1, Burntisland Shipyard 7-0, Selkirk 4-2 (all at home) and Coldstream 4-1 after a 1-1 draw away to reach the Final.

They lost the first leg 4-3 away to Tarff Rovers but came back in the return on November 14th 1953 to win 3-1 and take the trophy 6-5 on aggregate.

Because of a change in rules which allowed direct entry to the Scottish Cup proper for all SFA-affiliated clubs the competition wasn't played for again until 1957-58, so Rovers held the cup for four years!

They nearly made it five, reaching the Final again where they lost 7-3 on aggregate to Vale of Leithen. They were back in the Final in 1959-60 and 60-61 but were beaten on both occasions by Eyemouth United and Duns respectively. Their fifth and last Final was in 1964-65 when they lost out 4-3 on aggregate to Edinburgh University.

While Peebles Rovers have won many minor and local competitions the highest level they have played at - the Third Division apart - is the East of Scotland League which they have won on six occasions - 1928-29, 32-33, 33-34, 34-35, 35-36 and 45-46.

In 1966-67 Rovers joined the juniors and entered a period of decline until they rejoined the East of Scotland League in 1980-81. When that set-up was altered to two divisions in the late eighties they found themselves in the (lower) First Division. Although they have won promotion several times, their stays in the Premier have been of short duration and they are currently back in the First Division.

Largest crowds to watch them have been 14,000 and 10,453, both at Easter Road in the Scottish Cup in 1923 and 1961. The record gate at Whitestone Park is problematical. Largest figure I have seen quoted is 1,750 for the 4-2 first round Scottish Cup win over Gala Fairydean in 1961.

Q James Carmen is “looking for information on Lawrie Leslie's career.”

A Lawrie Leslie was born in Edinburgh on Mar 17th 1935 and joined Hibs in September 1956 from Newtongrange Star. He made 12 League appearances in 1956-57, 33 in 57-58 and 31 in 58-59. He also featured in 12 League Cup and 11 Scottish Cup matches including the 1958 Scottish Cup Final which Hibs lost 1-0 to Clyde.

He moved to Airdrie in November 1959 for a fee of £4,475, making 11 League appearances in 59-60 and 31 in 60-61. He also made six League Cup and seven Scottish Cup appearances in that latter season.

Such was his form during that term that he made his debut for Scotland, appearing in five of the six internationals played that season. The only one he missed was the 9-3 defeat at Wembley!

His first appearance was in a 2-0 defeat in Wales on October 22nd 1960 and he was in the team for three victories - 5-2 v Northern Ireland at Hampden on November 9th 1960, 4-1 v the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden on May 3rd 1961 and 3-0 v the same opposition in the return in Dublin four days later. His fifth and final cap was in the 4-0 qualifying defeat against Czechoslovakia in Bratislava on May 14th 1961.

He also played for the Scottish League three times that season. The Scots won all three matches, 2-1 v the Irish League in Belfast on September 7th 1960, 5-1 v the League of Ireland at Celtic Park on October 5th and 3-2 v the English League at Ibrox on March 22nd 1961.

After such an outstanding season he was transferred to English 1st Division side West Ham United in June 1961 for a fee of £15,000. To put that in perspective the British record fee for a goalkeeper at the time was the £23,500 Man Utd paid Doncaster for Harry Gregg so he was valued at around two-thirds of the record.

Leslie was noted for his bravery in goal and suffered a number of injuries as a result. Nevertheless he made 37 League appearances for the Hammers in 61-62 and 20 in 62-63. But by 1963-64 Jim Standen was established as the first choice keeper so Lawrie moved on to Stoke City, then also a top-flight side, for £15,000 in October 1963. He made 25 League appearances there in 63-64 and also appeared in both legs of the League Cup Final which Stoke lost 4-3 on aggregate to Leicester City.

1964-65 saw him play in 41 of Stoke's 42 games. He turned out 12 times in 1965-66 before signing for 2nd Division Millwall in the close season. He was an ever-present at The Den in 1966-67, playing in all 42 League matches and made a further 25 appearances in 67-68.

By now 33 and with injuries taking their toll he dropped down into the 4th Division with Southend United and played 13 times for them in 1968-69. Although he remained on the playing staff at Roots Hall for the next two seasons he made no further first-team appearances.

He remained with Southend as trainer/coach until December 1972 before going into coaching in schools.

All told he made 333 League appearances, 215 in England and 118 in Scotland. 135 of his English appearances were in the top division and all his Scottish outings were at the highest level.

Q Alan Sheridan asks: “Do you have any information on 'Dixie' Deans who played for Celtic in the 1970's? How many caps did he win & how many international goals did he score?”

A John 'Dixie' Deans was capped just twice, both in 1974-75. He made his debut in a friendly at Hampden against East Germany on October 30th 1974 and played for the full 90 minutes as Scotland won 3-0.

He started the next match - a European Championship qualifier v Spain on Nov 20th 1974, also at Hampden, which Scotland lost 2-1.

Spain took a 2-1 lead just after the hour mark and in 65 minutes Scotland made a double substitution with Deans and Tommy Hutchison being replaced by Peter Lorimer and Kenny Dalglish. Officially, Lorimer was Deans' replacement.

He didn't score in either match.

Q Dons fan Dave Cunningham asks: Steven Craig came within inches of scoring a second half hat-trick for Aberdeen vs Livi - can you tell me who (and when) was the last person to score a hat-trick for Aberdeen both at Pittodrie and away from Pittodrie?"

A At the time of writing (September 2004) the last such hat-tricks for Aberdeen came from Hicham Zerouali, who scored three at Dens Park in a 4-3 SPL win over Dundee on Sep 29th 2001 and Arild Stavrum, who did likewise at Pittodrie in a 4-1 victory against Dundee United on April 4th 2001.

Q Dave Clayburn has a query about one of the all-time greats: “Was Alex James, ex Raith Rovers, an international player during his career?”

A He was capped eight times, all after he left Stark's Park for Preston in September 1925. Just over a month later he made his debut in a 3-0 win in Wales. His next cap wasn't until 1928 when he scored twice in the 5-1 defeat of England - the team became immortalised as the 'Wembley Wizards.'

He also played in the sides which beat Northern Ireland 7-3 in Belfast and England 1-0 at Hampden, both in 1929. After being transferred to Arsenal he played and scored in the 4-2 win away to Wales in October 1929, the 3-2 victory over Northern Ireland at Celtic Park in February 1930, a 5-2 defeat by England at Wembley and finally another 5-2 defeat, this time by Wales at Tynecastle in October 1932.

Q Mark Paterson has two Celtic-related questions: “Can you give me the teams for the 1995 Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Airdrie?”

“Was there also a Celtic player by the surname of Sinclair?”

A First things first. Teams for the Scottish Cup Final on May 27th 1995 at Hampden:

Celtic: Bonner, Boyd, McKinlay, Vata, McNally, Grant, McLaughlin, McStay, Van Hooijdonk (Falconer), Donnelly (O'Donnell), Collins

Airdrie: Martin, Stewart, Jack, Sandison, Hay (J McIntyre), Black, Boyle, Andy Smith, Cooper, Harvey (Tony Smith), Lawrence

Celtic won 1-0 with a goal from Pierre Van Hooijdonk. Attendance: 36,915

I can find three Sinclairs who have played for Celtic. First was Tom who played six League games in 1906-07 then Tommy with two League outings in 1927-28.

Most recent was Graeme Sinclair, signed from Dumbarton in 1982, who made 75 first team appearances before leaving for St Mirren in 1985. These comprised of 51 League, 12 League Cup, five Scottish Cup and seven European matches. He scored just once, in a 4-2 League win away against St Mirren on April 18th 1984.

Q Bairns supporter Michael White asks, “Is there any record of those who won Scottish League caps? I am trying to trace Falkirk players who won such honours, but I'm missing quite a few. Can you help?”

A The venerable 'Wee Red Book' used to include League 'caps' in its A-Z of internationalists up to and including the 1991-92 edition.

I've consulted my colleague Forrest Robertson and together we can find 21 players who turned out for the Scottish League while with Falkirk. Of course many of these also played for the full international team and there are a few others who played for Scotland while with Falkirk but not for the Scottish League. In addition Jocky Simpson was a full international for England but was capped after he left Brockville.

(Note: EL English League, DL Danish League, IL Irish League, LOI League of Ireland, SL Southern League. Year is second half of season as in 23 = 1922-23)

A Aikman LOI 48
J Anderson IL 12
J Croal EL 13,14 IL 13, SL 14
A Devine EL 10
W Dougal IL 24
T Ferguson EL 21, 22, 27
J Hunter EL 23 IL 24
J Hutchison IL 34
R Keyes IL 40
A Logan EL 07 IL 11
J McIllwaine IL 28
R McPhie EL 48
J McTavish EL 07,08
T Millar EL 10
A Parker DL 56, EL 56, 57, 58 LOI 56,57,58 IL 56,57
A Scott EL 22
R Shankly IL 38
J Simpson SL 11
R Thomson EL 27
T Townsley EL 23,24,25 IL 25
J White LOI 60, IL 60



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