Welfare football

Scottish Football Answers to Questions
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Welfare football

Post by LLD » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:17 pm

Does anyone have any sources for information on Welfare football?

I am currently researching the short period when Ferranti Thistle were members of the Edinburgh & Leith Welfare FA, around 1950-1953.

I've been trawling local newspapers but the games were publicised only intermittently.

Where did it sit amongst other grades, amateur, juvenile, junior etc?

Why did teams join the Welfare FA as opposed to, for example, SJFA?

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Welfare Football

Post by kiwiscot » Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:17 pm

Welfare football AFAIK was an open age competion mainly members of works teams, Juvenile Football was under age.


Post by Burnie_man » Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:44 pm

Welfare football is open to any age, and your previous football history doesn't matter. Whilst in Junior football you have all sorts of regulations on re-instatement from Senior and being allowed to go back Amatuer, Welfare football doesn't have such restrictions.

It's still going strong is some parts of the country and there is a Central Scotland Welfare FA including Linlithgow Rose and Harthill Royal sides (although I'm not sure as to their afiliation to the Junior clubs of the same name).

I contacted the Secretary asking for info on the long defunct Lothian Welfare League of the 1970's and he came back with some basic information. I think they are a bit like the Junior FA in the respect that they hold very little historical information, old minute books etc having been long since lost.

Alan McCabe
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Post by Alan McCabe » Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:47 pm

Having been a player and administrator for a number of years in Welfare football, I hope I can add to the topic with some of my own recollections.
Amateur football had a strict reinstatement policy for many years which, if I recall correctly, was that former professionals under 30 (I could be wrong with the age) needed a medical prior to consent. The cost for most players and clubs was expensive and the player had to demonstrate a medical reason for applying to become an amateur once more. I suppose it would date back to the original strictly amateur ethics of the Scottish Amateur FA.
Welfare football didn't have such constraints as players signed without reinstatement on either blue (amateur) or yellow (professional) 'Y' Forms. This effectively meant that Welfare football was arguably more related historically to the juniors than the amateurs. From my own personal experience of playing in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Welfare grade was a very physical one, much more so than the amateurs with the officials effectively embracing this as a lot of rough stuff was actively endorsed.
The stronghold for the grade was very much found within the heavy industries prolific in Scotland in the first half of the 20th century. The shipyards and engineering firms almost all possessed Welfare clubs, some such as Yarrows, John Brown Engineering and Govan Shipbuilders proving strong outfits right into the 1990s. Stirlingshire was latterly a hotbed of the grade with successful clubs like Westquarter Violet, Slamannan Royal and Glen Villa all eminating from former mining communities.
Because the amateur grades did not allow football to be played after a stipulated date (unlike Juniors today), a whole host of rural leagues (primarily the Highlands & Islands and Southern Counties) operated Welfare Leagues during the summer months.
The grade has taken a hefty fall in numbers in the past dozen or so years, the once strong Stirlingshire league amongst those that have disappeared. The clubs compete for two national trophies, the Templeton Trophy and the Daily Record Cup, these being played on Saturdays regardless of whether the competitors regularly play Saturday or Sunday football.
The Scottish Welfare still hold minimal sway in the set-up of the SFA and even today have a number of important seats within a variety of councils. Indeed, when Hamilton Academical were deducted points for their failure to turn up for a fixture at Stenhousemuir a few years back, SWFA president Jack Bryson had, if I recall correctly, a casting vote on Hamilton's subsequent appeal to what transpired to be enforced relegation to the 3rd Division.
I have a few SWFA Annuals lying around somewhere and if I find them, I'll endeavour to post some more details. I do know they contained a full list of member associations as well as full winners lists for the two national events.


Post by Burnie_man » Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:04 pm

Alan McCabe wrote:The stronghold for the grade was very much found within the heavy industries prolific in Scotland in the first half of the 20th century.
My own club, Blackburn United, started out in the Lothian Welfare League for a couple of seasons before going Junior. The local "derby" was against Leyland United (British Leyland of course, I think you now live on the site of the factory LLD?) who shared the same ground as us. I'm told they were "bruising" encounters.

We went Junior and Leyland went belly up along with the factory, and the league itself not long afterwards.

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