Scotland's worst. Charlie Tully. Old Firm. Thistle. Challenge Cup

From great games to the game's greats. If you have a query concerning Scottish football, this is the place to send it to. We'll answer as many as we can but regret that we cannot respond individually to requests. So bookmark this site and look in regularly as questions and answers are frequently updated.

Q Why SFAQs? What does that mean?

A FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) can be found on many websites, mostly relating to technical matters and SFA stands for (amongst other things) Scottish Football Association. So a neat amalgamation of acronyms gives us SFAQs which means Scottish Football Answers (to) Questions.

Q "Greetings from Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. I am trying to find out who the "JAGS" played on the 12th April 1958 at Firhill. Please can you help ?

Jimmy Hamilton. S.M.T.F.C.
(Streetsville Meadowvale Thistle Football Club.)

A I’m afraid this eleven lost 1-0 to Celtic Jimmy:
Renucci, Kerr, Baird, Mathers, Davidson, Donlevy, Anderson, Bell, Keenan, McParland, Ewing.

The defeat left Thistle fourth in the League but they had played more games than some of the others and ended up in sixth place. Incidentally, this was the last season that Glasgow fielded six teams in the top flight. Rangers were 2nd, Celtic 3rd, Clyde 4th, Third Lanark 14th and Queen’s Park 18th (last) and relegated.

Q "I was just wondering why the ‘Old Firm’ is called that. I have asked lots of people and they don’t know."Shona

A This goes back nearly 100 years Shona. Believe it or not there was a lot of suspicion in Scottish football at the beginning of the 20th century that Rangers and Celtic – despite their fierce rivalry on the pitch – would act together for their own benefit rather than that of Scottish football as a whole.

There was a famous cartoon in the ‘Scottish Referee’ which used the phrase ‘The Old Firm’ to describe them though it is possible the term may have been in use before then.

The suspicions extended to the clubs own supporters. One of the causes for the 1909 riot at the Scottish Cup Final replay was the belief that the clubs had contrived a second draw in order to reap the financial rewards of a third game.

Q Graeme Allen asks: “Can you give me a break-down of the Scottish League Challenge Cup final results from 1990-2002, please? Also have you any information on the Spring Cup final played in 1975/76?”

A The Challenge Cup began life in 1990-91 as the B&Q Centenary Cup to mark the Scottish League’s 100th birthday. It became just the B&Q Cup the next season and the Scottish League Challenge Cup in 1995-96. Lack of interest/sponsorship meant that there was no competition in 1998-99. The tournament resumed for the next two seasons sponsored by Bell’s before reverting to the plain old Challenge Cup.

The competition was (and still is) open to all League clubs outside the Premier and there have been a few surprise winners over the years. Details of the Finals with results, crowds and venues are:

1990-91 Dundee 3 Ayr United 2 aet 11,506 Fir Park
1991-92 Hamilton 1 Ayr United 0 9633 Fir Park
1992-93 Hamilton 3 Morton 2 7391 Love Street
1993-94 Falkirk 3 St Mirren 0 13763 Fir Park
1994-95 Airdrie 3 Dundee 2 aet 8844 McDiarmid Park
1995-96 Stenhousemuir 0 Dundee United 0 (5-4 pens) 7586 McDiarmid Park
1996-97 Stranraer 1 St Johnstone 0 5522 Broadwood
1997-98 Falkirk 1 Queen of the South 0 9735 Fir Park
1998-99 No Competition
1999-2000 Alloa 4 Inverness CT 4 (5-4 pens) 4043 Shyberry Excelsior
2000-01 Airdrie 2 Livingston 2 (3-2 pens) 5623 Broadwood
2001-02 Airdrie 2 Alloa 1 4548 Broadwood
2002-03 Queen of the South 2 Brechin 0 6428 Broadwood

The Spring Cup ran for one season only – 1975-76. This was the first year of the Premier Division and those sides outside the top league had only 26 league matches.

So with the 1st and 2nd divisions finishing at the end of February, the Spring Cup was intended to run for the rest of the season. The 28 teams were grouped in seven sections of four. teams played each other home and away for a total of six matches.

The top two from each section plus the two best third-placed teams advanced to the last sixteen. Teams then played two-leg ties until the semi-finals which were played on neutral grounds. Clydebank beat Dumbarton 3-1 at Firhill and Airdrie triumphed 3-1 over Morton at Love Street.

The Final was at Firhill on May 3rd 1976. Despite falling behind, Airdrie recovered to beat Clydebank 4-2 after extra time. Teams:

Airdrie: Poulton, Jonquin, Lapsley, Black, March, Whiteford, Wilson, McVeigh, McCulloch, Walker, Cairney (Jones)

Clydebank: McKenzie, Hall, Abel, Fallon, Fanning, Hay (Browning) (Provan), Cooper, McColl, Larnach, McCallan, Lumsden

Att: 5,000 Ref: W Mullan (Dalkeith)

Attendances were poor so the following year the Scottish League scrapped the competition and teams met three times each season as a consequence.

It’s one of football’s little oddities that the two clubs that reached the Final were the pair that went out business before the start of this season!

Q Graeme follows-up his inquiry with this: "Re: Scottish League Challenge Cup final 1994/95 & 1990/91 and the Spring Cup final 1975/76 - what were the scores before extra time?"

A Both Challenge Cup Finals were 2-2 after 90 minutes. The Spring Cup score was 1-1.



For old SFAQs click here

Q From Jim Hamill: " I know they are a relatively recent innovation but I was wondering what is the lowest- ranked country in FIFA's current list to have defeated Scotland? Have we ever come up against the mighty Luxemburg? Can a draw against the Faroe Islands justifiably be deemed our worst ever result?"

A Although FIFA's monthly rankings take in 203 countries and six continents, the lowest placed side in the current listings to have beaten Scotland is one of our closest neighbours. No, not THAT one. It's Northern Ireland, ranked at 100. They've beaten Scotland on fifteen occasions, which sounds rather a lot until you remember that we played them every year for over a century (before anyone mails in to say Northern Ireland has only existed since the 1920s, I should point out that games between Scotland and Ireland prior to partition come into this category.)

We haven't played any of the countries in the bottom 40 in the rankings. San Marino (161) are the lowest ranked we've faced. Apart from Northern Ireland, there are just three countries ranked below Scotland (57) who have beaten us - Hungary (58), Wales (61) and Peru (71).

Luxembourg have been opponents on three occasions. First up was a friendly on May 24th 1947 in the Duchy when Scotland won 6-0 with Bobby Flavell, Billy Steel and Andy McLaren all scoring twice in front of a crowd of 4,000.

That was followed by two matches in the qualifiers for the 1988 European Championship. Scotland won 3-0 at Hampden in November 1986 thanks to two goals from Davie Cooper and one from Mo Johnston in front of 35,078. Then in December 1987 came an embarrassing 0-0 draw in the Duchy. Thankfully, only 2,022 bothered to watch it.

Worst result? That really is a 'how long is a piece of string' question. The Faroes are currently ranked at 114. Astonishingly, 89 countries are ranked below them. We've drawn in Malta (122) as well as that match in Luxembourg (148) so a case could be made for either of those matches.

This has to be a purely personal choice but the Maltese game was a friendly and we were out of the running to qualify when we played Luxembourg. For me, that makes the Faroes - our first match in the qualifying campaign - the worst. When you add in going two down, there's no doubt in my mind that it was the lowest point in Scotland's international history.

By the way, Iran are at 34 these days - ranked ahead of Croatia, Switzerland, Greece and Austria. And countries like Nigeria, Norway, Colombia and Poland are all rated beneath Costa Rica at 26.

If we played either of that pair again, the shock nowadays would be if Scotland managed a draw!

Q Duncan Thompson asks: "Is there any truth in the story that Charlie Tully of Celtic spent a spell on loan at Rangers?"

A Incredible as it may seem, the story appears to be correct. According to no less an authority than Celtic's official website, Tully spent periods on loan at Stirling Albion and Rangers before leaving Celtic in September 1959.

However he certainly didn't play for the Rangers first eleven in any recognised first-class matches.

Tully was an incredible character. He once accurately bounced a throw-in off the back of a defender's head to win a corner! In a cup tie against Falkirk, he 'scored' directly from a corner only for the referee to order the kick to be re-taken. Tully promptly scored from the corner kick again and this time the goal stood.

He also scored directly fom a corner for Northern Ireland against England. Before the game, Tully asked opposing defender Alf Ramsey if he enjoyed playing for his country. When Ramsey replied in the affirmative, Tully told him "Make the most of it today then. It might be the last chance you get."

Tully started his career with local club Whiterock before joining Belfast Celtic. He signed for their Glasgow namesakes for £8,000 in 1948. After leaving Parkhead he became player-manager of Cork Hibs before managing Bangor and Portadown.

Charlie Tully was only 47 when he died in 1971.

Q "Rangers beat Celtic 9-1 on 11th August 1888, that is all I know about this game. Can you tell me anything about team lines or scorers etc" -Trevor Clydesdale

A As the strangulated voice of Toyah Wilcox would proclaim, it’s a mystery. We’d have thought that Rangers websites would afford such a famous victory great prominence. After all, you can hardly get past the first page of any Celtic site without finding out that they beat Rangers 5-2 in the first meeting of the sides in May 1888. Of course they don’t tell you that it was a Rangers reserve side they met.

But we can’t find a trace of this game on any Rangers site anywhere. Nor is there any mention in any of the contemporary newspapers that might have reported on it such as the Glasgow Herald, North British Daily Mail or the Catholic Observer. Also, Celtic are listed as playing Airdrieonians that day.

It may have been a reserve game but we can’t find a trace of that either. So the jury is out on this one. If someone out there has any info then we’d be glad to see it.





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