Springburn Football Clubs

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Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Aten » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:03 pm

Hello all.

I have started researching senior football in Springburn, the area I was born. The best known Springburn clubs are Cowlairs and Northern, yet apart from Dave Twydell’s “Defunct” series and a short booklet by John Weir on the history of Cowlairs, not much is known. There is a twenty-year window in which football thrived in the area, mainly off the back of the locomotive industry expansion. Cowlairs and Northern certainly had connections with the railway industry, as did several others. Sadly by 1896 it was all over.

The project is going to involve many, many hours in the Mitchell Library but by going through existing club histories of other clubs etc, a few anomalies have already surfaced so if anyone out there has any information on any of the clubs which will help my research and is willing to pass it on, I would be extremely grateful.

Caledonia (1882-1891) – Seems to have been around for about 10 years but does not appear to have participated in any major or local competitions. Said to have played at Fountainwell Park. Fountainwell Road is off Springburn Road at the bottom end of Sighthill Cemetery. This would make sense if there is a connection to the Caledonian Works which where next to Hyde Park Works on Springburn Road opposite to Fountainwell Road. So far no matches involving Caledonia have been traced even against other Springburn clubs.

Cowlairs (1876-1896) – Played at Gourlay Park, Springvale Park and Arrol Park.

Huntingdon (1877-1882) – Played at Sighthill Park that may have been close the Sighthill Cemetery. Does not appear to have participated in any major or local competitions.

Hyde Park Locomotive Works (1876-1877) – A one-season wonder associated with the company of the same name. Played at Vale Park which may have been part of company land.

Northern (1874-1897) – The longest lasting of the Springburn clubs who played at Lodge Park and Hyde Park.

Oswald (1876-1881) – Mentioned to have been a Springburn club but played their game at Glasgow Green. This is of no great surprise since many clubs from all over Glasgow played there at one time or another. So far I have traced no solid information to confirm whether or not it was a genuine Springburn club. Did not participate in any major or local competitions.

Petershill (1877-1883) – Played at Avenue Park and Germiston Park. Probably merged with Northern in 1883. Not to be confused with Petershill Juniors.

Shawfield/Derby (1876-1880) – Began as Shawfield in 1876 and appear to have played at Kelvinside Park, Kelvinside. However a year later changed their name to Derby and played their games at Craigbank Park, said to be in Springburn. So far I have not been able to locate anywhere in Springburn where Craigbank Park could be.

Springburn (1877)/Springburn (1884/85) – This is a strange one. I can find no trace of any games played by the 1877 club and this is the only one listed in Brian’s Club Directory. However following the merger between Northern and Petershill a dissenting faction broke away to form Springburn in 1884. This club took park in the North Eastern Cup in 1884/85 and where eliminated by Northern in the first round. The first match was abandoned following crowd disturbances that may have had something to do with above-mentioned merger. It is not known where either club played their home games.

Springburn Hibernian (1884/85) – Participated in the Scottish Cup and the North Eastern Cup of that season. Home ground, if they had any, is not known.

Towerhill (1874-1877) – Mentioned as a Springburn club but so far I could find no information to confirm this. Participated in the Scottish Cup in 1875 and 1876.

West End (1872-1878) – Said to be Springburn’s first football club. Certainly they played their first season at Avenue Park but then moved to Burnbank Park. Can find no Burnbank Park in Springburn but there was a Burnbank Park in the Partick area. It was at Burnbank that West End played their Scottish Cup ties. I am not 100% convinced this was a Springburn club. The name does not fit insomuch that Springburn is in the north of Glasgow. Burnbank Park is in Glasgow’s west end so some confusion here.

A lot of work ahead of me so if anyone has any useful pointers, I would be extremely grateful.

Partick Thistle
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Re: Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Partick Thistle » Sun Oct 16, 2016 1:05 pm


Probably no use to you whatsoever, but these are Thistle's results vs Springburn clubs. As you can see, 3 dates and a couple of venues are unclear.

If you find any other matches or could help with my 3 problem games then that would be smashing. Cheeky? Aye, but ach well, if you don't ask you don't get ; - )

Good luck with your digging!

19.01.1878 Cowlairs [h] W4-1 (West Of Scotland Cup 1st Round)
26.10.1878 Cowlairs [h] L1-2 (Friendly)
04.03.1882 Cowlairs [h] W2-0 (Friendly)
17.10.1885 Cowlairs [a] D1-1 (Friendly)
21.08.1886 Cowlairs [h] W4-0 (Friendly)
22.01.1887 Cowlairs [a] L0-3 (Friendly)
02.04.1887 Cowlairs [h] W3-1 (Friendly)
01.10.1887 Cowlairs [a] L1-2 (Glasgow Cup 1st Round)
26.05.1888 Cowlairs [?] W5-3 (TBC... thought to be a friendly, date is an approximation for guidance, venue not clear)
18.08.1888 Cowlairs [a] L2-6 (Friendly)
15.12.1888 Cowlairs [h] L0-2 (Friendly)
24.08.1889 Cowlairs [h] L1-2 (Friendly)
26.10.1889 Cowlairs [a] L0-5 (Friendly)
27.09.1890 Cowlairs [h] W5-2 (Friendly)
08.10.1892 Cowlairs [a] L3-8 (Scottish Alliance - game 5)
25.03.1893 Cowlairs [h] L3-5 (Scottish Alliance - game 14)
11.11.1893 Cowlairs [a] L1-8 (SFL Second Division - game 8 )
13.01.1894 Cowlairs [h] W5-3 (SFL Second Division - game 11)
15.12.1894 Cowlairs [a] W4-3 (SFL Second Division - game 7)
05.01.1895 Cowlairs [h] W4-2 (SFL Second Division - game 9)
19.10.1895 Cowlairs [h] W6-1 (Glasgow Cup Quarter Final)

20.10.1877 Huntingdon [h] W4-0 (Friendly)
23.02.1878 Huntingdon [h] W4-1 (West Of Scotland Cup 3rd Round)

17.11.1883 Northern [h] L1-3 (Friendly)
10.05.1884 Northern [a] L2-3 (Friendly)
03.04.1886 Northern [h] W2-1 (Friendly)
13.08.1887 Northern [?] W3-2 (TBC... thought to be a friendly, date is an approximation for guidance, venue not clear)
16.05.1888 Northern [a] L0-2 (TBC... thought to be a friendly, date is an approximation for guidance)
20.10.1888 Northern [h] D1-1 (Friendly)
12.01.1889 Northern [a] L2-4 (Friendly)
13.04.1889 Northern [h] D2-2 (Friendly)
13.05.1890 Northern [a] L1-3 (Maryhill Charity Cup 1st Round)
12.12.1891 Northern [a] L4-9 (Scottish Alliance - game 11)
12.03.1892 Northern [h] W7-3 (Scottish Alliance - game 18)
04.02.1893 Northern [h] L1-2 (Scottish Alliance - game 7)
13.05.1893 Northern [a] L1-6 (Scottish Alliance - game 18)
23.09.1893 Northern [h] W2-0 (Friendly)
25.11.1893 Northern [h] W4-3 (SFL Second Division - game 9)
23.12.1893 Northern [a] L1-2 (SFL Second Division - game 10)

07.12.1878 Petershill [h] W3-0 (Friendly)
22.10.1881 Petershill [a] D2-2 (Scottish Cup 3rd Round)
29.10.1881 Petershill [h] V2-0 (Scottish Cup 3rd Round replay - voided game)
05.11.1881 Petershill [h] W3-2 (Scottish Cup 3rd Round replay)

22.11.1879 West End [a] W4-0 (Friendly)

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Re: Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Aten » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:15 pm

Partick Thistle

Thanks very much for the info, much appreciated.

I had most of the matches v Cowlairs apart from 3 of the friendly games including the one with the doubtful date. However Cowlairs played Hibernian in Edinburgh the week before (19/5/1888) but I have no record of them playing anyone the week before that (12/5/1888), but if Partick Thistle played that Saturday then 26/5/1888 is a good bet. I doubt it was played in June.

None of the friendly games v Northern had I picked up on yet, so many thanks for those. As soon as I can confirm the two doubtful dates I will let you know.

The game v West End is a bit of a puzzle since according my current info they disbanded late 1877, early 1878. Still given the scant reporting of such matters at that time it is possible they struggled on playing in just the odd game. There is still a big doubt in my mind as to whether they were a genuine Springburn club given their home ground. Given your knowledge of Partick Thistle can you confirm that there was/is a Burnbank Park in the Partick/Maryhill area?


Partick Thistle
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Re: Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Partick Thistle » Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:23 pm

Hi Peter, glad to see that info was of some use after all!

Re the Cowlairs game, yes, Thistle were at Meadow Park playing Albion Rovers on the 12th and I knew about Cowlairs on the 19th, so this is why I forwarded to the 26th.

Sorry I've no idea about the location of Burnbank Park, only a presumption that it's in Cowlairs due to Brian's clublist. I haven't seen any press reports myself for the West End game, but the researchers for the Thistle History book have stated simply "West End" and I have presumed it to be the alleged Cowlairs club which played at Burnbank Park. I guess we should keep an open mind on these things; especially since the "West End" name was quite common. I doubt very much we'd have travelled up to Angus at the time, though. Our away matches in the 1870s were almost always local affairs. Looking at Brian's clublist, I guess West End Athletic (1879-1884) from Paisley could be a possibility.

As an aside, with your talk of Caledonia and Burnbank (albeit unrelated), I noticed there was a team called Caledonian (Burnbank ***unreadable***), as per link below. Could be something or nothing.
http://www.londonhearts.com/scores/imag ... 112207.htm
With a second look it could be Caledonian (Burnbank Eleven)

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Re: Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Aten » Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:48 pm


Just a wee update for your information re West End and Burnbank/Burnbank Park/Burnbank Grounds.

It is most unfortunate that in the 1870’s there was no local newspaper so information about the area is extremely rare unless it was connected to the expansion of the railway which in effect transformed Springburn from a north Glasgow village into virtually a town in its own right. There are several references to West End as being a Springburn club in the Glasgow Herald and played (for the first year at least) at Avenue Park, which can almost certainly be placed in Springburn. (Petershill for instance also played there before moving to Germiston Park). Later it is reported that they played their home games at Burnbank. It would appear that there was a Partick team called Burnbank so that would strongly suggest that “burnbank” is/was in the Partick area. This is backed up by another Partick team, no doubt familiar to you, known as Caledonian. There are Glasgow Herald reports of them playing home games at “Burnbank”, Great Western Road. What is confusing however is there are other reports of Caledonian playing their home games at Kelvinbrige Cricket Ground, Great Western Road! And just to add more confusion 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers played home matches at Burnbank Grounds, Maryhill!

I am beginning to wonder if “burnbank” was a generic term for a number of playing fields similar to Queen’s Park or Glasgow Green or whether it was a bona fide football field shared by several clubs. I wonder if there is anyone else out there who has further clues to this conundrum. As for West End, I guess a slight possibility is that they begun life in Springburn and then moved to Partick or it might simply be that they played there as no alternative could be found in Springburn. Great Western Road being just as far away as Glasgow Green and much closer than Queen’s Park. Might be a question I can never find the answer to.

As to the “doubtful” match between West End and Partick Thistle, I am leaning more to it being the Springburn West End. This is due to the fact that I have found another match involving West End, against Woodlands the previous month. It could be they managed to stumble on longer albeit infrequently. Finding futher matches will confirm that.

As a side note it is a bit of a puzzle why Cowlairs and Northern (or indeed both) did not survive into the 20th Century. Their foundation was built on an expanding railway industry and should have had a better chance going on than the likes of Vale of Leven and Renton. Those clubs, strong and successful in their day, undoubtedly suffered due to professionalism. The local population being more or less stable was just not large enough to support professional teams. The same cannot be said for Springburn, its population was growing larger each decade so in theory if any part of Glasgow could support professional football, Springburn was it. Even stranger is when Cowlairs and Northern folded, no serious attempt was made to establish a senior professional club. Evidence that such support existed lies with the large crowds junior clubs Petershill and nearby Ashfield could attract in their heyday.

To give you an idea on how big Springburn was, in 1970, some 10 years after the closure of the railway industry there was still a population of around 60,000. Sadly with the road by-pass built in the early eighties going straight through Springburn the area was totally and utterly destroyed. In 1988 the population was down to around 23,000. Some 739 shops in 1970 reduced to 79 by 1988. Thank you Glasgow City Council!


PS. I can confirm it is indeed Caledonian (Burnbank Eleven)

Partick Thistle
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:54 am

Re: Springburn Football Clubs

Post by Partick Thistle » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:58 pm

Tough gig researching these obscure clubs Peter, hats off to ye! I was glad to get your snip on West End (Springburn) still playing in late 1879; I'm going to presume it's they who were indeed our opponents in November, and I think that's reasonable in the circumstances.

An update since we last spoke...

newly discovered game:
26.04.1887 Northern [a] W2-1 (Friendly)

confirmed games:
13.08.1887 Northern [h] W3-2 (Friendly)
19.06.1888 Cowlairs [n] W5-3 (Friendly)

still awaiting confirmation:
19.05.1888 Northern [a] L0-2 (TBC... thought to be a friendly, date is an approximation for guidance)

Of general interest to the forum is an advert for the Cowlairs game in the Scottish Referee, 19 June 1888 (found by my colleague Niall Kennedy):


Note the construction of the grandstand in the Recreation Grounds in preparation for the forthcoming exhibition events, including, of course, the forthcoming Exhibition Cup (which Cowlairs won).

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