Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

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Heed Boy
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Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Heed Boy » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:52 am

I was wondering if anyone might be able to help me with some research I am conducting into the history of Gateshead FC after their expulsion from the Football League in 1960. It is well documented that the club made more than one unsuccessful application to join the Scottish League, but can anyone point me in the direction of a source of more detailed information on these bids?

To assist with their bid Gateshead played 15 friendlies in 1960/61 against Scottish League clubs, home v Alloa, Dumbarton, Raith Rovers, Stenhousemuir, Hamilton Academical, Falkirk, Berwick, Morton, Ayr United & Arbroath, away v Stranraer, Berwick, Morton, Aloa, & Dumbarton. If anyone can offer any information on these games beyond date and score I would be delighted to receive it. This was by no means the end of such fixtures eg 62/63 v Stranraer, 63/64 v Berwick, and anything on these and similar games would also be greatfully received.

Information on Gateshead Fc can be sketchy even here in the North East, so any assistance would be appreciated.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Scottish » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:12 pm

Heed Boy wrote:It is well documented that the club made more than one unsuccessful application to join the Scottish League, but can anyone point me in the direction of a source of more detailed information on these bids?
Hi there and welcome to the forum. While there was a lot of paper talk about Gateshead joining the SFL after their - IMHO scandalous - ejection from the Football League in 1960, I don't think their name was actually considered for election on more than one occasion - 1974.

Regarding their friendlies v Scottish League clubs in 1960-61 I'm fairly sure that was because Gateshead were without a league to play in that season and the Scottish 2nd Division had an unwieldy 19 clubs which meant one club had no fixture on any given weekend. Of the fifteen fixtures you mention fourteen were against 2nd division clubs (Ayr United being the exception).

The same applies for later friendlies.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Heed Boy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:51 am

In 1960/61 (and 61/62) Gateshead played in the Northern Counties League (the name North Eastern League was unavailable at the time) along with a number of teams such as Ashington, Blyth Spartans and Stockton who had resigned from the Midland League at the end of 59/60. The league was quite short on members so played a home and away League Cup for half the season and a home and away League in the other half. It is reported that not only did Gateshead apply to the Scottish League but were prepared to offer a financial guarantee to teams for fulfilling their fixture at Redheugh Park!
The idea of an application in 1974 shocks me, I have never heard of this before! The club had ceased to exist at the end of 72/73 (a club called Gateshead Town played in the very low-level Northern Combination in 73/74), but then in a history-repeating move South Shields moved to Gateshead and (so I thought) kept their Northern Premier League status as Gateshead United. Any further information would be welcome.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Scottish » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:53 pm

Sorry, I didn't know they were in a league in 1960-61. I thought the unsuspected blow of failure to win re-election had left them without an alternative. Regarding applications to the SFL the only vacancies were in 1966 and 1974. Those were the only occasions when the SFL admitted new members so applications other than those would have been rejected out of hand as there was no vacancy. Much like the OF's attempts to join the Premiership. In 1966 Gateshead were not one of the teams considered. Clydebank won with 30 votes to six for Gala Fairydean and one for Hawick Royal Albert.

In 1974 it was as Gateshead United that they tried to join the SFL. Their name was one of seven which was put to the vote on May 25th 1974. I don't know how well they did as voting figures were only revealed for the final pair with Ferranti Thistle beating Inverness Thistle by 21-16. The other unsuccessful clubs were Elgin City, Forres Mechanics, Ross County and Hawick Royal Albert.

This was the only occasion in which a team from Gateshead were considered for election to the SFL.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by steve994 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:46 pm

I remember an attempt that was earlier than 1974. I don’t think it was a formal application but I have no details. There are passing references at a few websites such as

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/footba ... eague.html

The club’s own website places the first application before joining the Northern Premier League in 1968 - see

http://www.gateshead-fc.com/club-history

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Heed Boy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:58 pm

This is all a revelation to me! 1974? Are there any more details that can be revealed? It is almost 'convential wisdom' that an application was made in 1961 and a second later in the decade. Don't take too much notice of the club's website though, the history section is riddled with mistakes.
By the way, did Ferranti Thistle become Inverness Caledonian Thistle?

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by kiwiscot » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:37 am

Just looking through my programme collection and the editorial notes in the Alloa Ath. V Gateshead Friendly match from the 7th January 1961 states " A determined lot these Gateshead lads. After failing to have their team re-elected to the English Fourth Division at the end of last season, the Gateshead management were loath to break up and applied for admission to the Scottish Association. This, too , they failed to gain. Right then lets play big friendlies they said, and so it has been. Every week their side has been engaged in needle fiendlies, mostly against Scottish Second Division clubs and their record is excellent. Only once - last Monday, to Berwick Rangers have they been beaten at home ! Alloa's visit to Redheugh Park on the 17th September resulted in a five - two defeat for the Wasps. Which gives today's game that wee bit extra bite - Alloa will be going all out to turn the tables." The words Scottish Association to me implies they firstly attempted to join the SFA and if this was refused, then , it would have been futile to attempt to join the SFL, so they didnt bother with an application. For friendlies with mostly Scottish Second Division clubs , their closeness to the Scottish border and the availability of a fixtureless club every week , in a league of 19 clubs made regular fixtures easy to arrange. The 1974 application I do have a faint recollection that it came from South Shields with a prospective ground shift and name change To Gateshead United, but my memory is quite vague on that. The competions that Heed Boy mentioned ,that the club took part , in 1960/61 season, could they have been fulfilled by their reserve side ? as this could have been the league their reserves ,the season before were in , when they were still members of The Football League.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by MadMac » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:40 am

Heed Boy wrote:By the way, did Ferranti Thistle become Inverness Caledonian Thistle?
No, Sir. Ferranti Thistle changed their name to Meadowbank Thistle upon admission to the Scottish League, and subsequently became Livingston. ICT came about as a merger of Highland League clubs Inverness Caledonian and Inverness Thistle.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Heed Boy » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:37 am

No, it was definitely the first team playing in the Northern Counties League, I think the reserves were in the Northern Alliance but I'll need to check. They certainly were by the mid-sixties. I hadn't thought to make a distinction between the Scottish FA and the Scottish League, but I should have done, it's always a problem in England.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the debate, any more info welcome!

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by Scottish » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:50 am

The fact that Gateshead United's name was put to the SFL in 1974 suggests that, at that time at any rate, SFA membership must have been regarded as either not a problem or a formality.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by prorege » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:24 pm

Gateshead's applications to the SFL in the 60s were in a sense speculative - the SFL was not actively trying to recruit members. 1974 was different - the SFL had decided to add one new member to balance up the membership. The original Gateshead had been wound up in 1972. South Shields had lost their ground and changed their name to Gateshead United and moved into Gateshead Stadium. Their application to join the SFL is not mentioned in 'Requiem for Redheugh', the only club history I've got. Pre-season 1974 saw them play East Fife Home and Away in Friendlies.

Wigan Athletic also toyed with the idea of making an application to the SFL in the 60s and early 70s.

I have some minutes from SFL AGMs in the 60s somewhere amongst my assorted junk. I'll try and have a look in the near future to see if they shed any further light.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by steve994 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:39 pm

Heed Boy wrote: Don't take too much notice of the club's website though, the history section is riddled with mistakes.
Maybe, but that part agrees with my own memory, both as to the fact of it happening and the date range. My source was either the Daily Mirror or Grandstand.

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by HibeeJibee » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:18 pm

scottish wrote:The fact that Gateshead United's name was put to the SFL in 1974 suggests that, at that time at any rate, SFA membership must have been regarded as either not a problem or a formality.
Even today, infact, SFL only insists you apply to become an SFA Associate member within 14 days of joining.

SPL, for example, demand Full membership upfront. And all clubs to play in Scotland "save in the case of Berwick Rangers FC" :P.

I would assume that in the further past, it was not demanded at all; as it still isn't in the HFL (which used to demand a club achieved it within a couple of years IIRC), EOSFL, SOSFL, etc.

(On an unrelated but nevertheless interesting note of which: didn't Meadowbank Thistle play in the Qualifying Cup in 1974 despite being in the Second Division)?

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by steve994 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:49 pm

HibeeJibee wrote:Even today, infact, SFL only insists you apply to become an SFA Associate member within 14 days of joining.

SPL, for example, demand Full membership upfront. And all clubs to play in Scotland "save in the case of Berwick Rangers FC" :P.

So you have only to apply. Does that mean that you can still get into the SFL if the SFA reject you?

And are Berwick mentioned specifically by name in the SPL's rules?

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Re: Gateshead FC & the Scottish League

Post by ScottishFA » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:29 am

Berwick Rangers do indeed get an honorable mention:

Rules of the Scottish Premier League, H 6.1:
A Club’s or Candidate Club’s Registered Ground must be situated in Scotland unless otherwise agreed in writing by the SFA and the Board, save in the case of Berwick Rangers FC for whom approval to have its Registered Ground in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England shall be deemed to have been granted prior to the date of adoption of the Rules.

And as for Meadowbank Thistle, yes they did have to enter the Qualifying Cup in 1974 as to be exempt from qualification you had to have been a member of the Scottish League in the previous season. They were drawn at home to Selkirk and went down to an ignominious 4-1 defeat.

On the voting for entry to the league, it was decided at the SFL AGM on 24 May 1974. First, the clubs voted on whether they actually wanted an additional member club, and that was only passed by 20 votes to 16 (the Forfar delegate was late and missed that vote!).

There were seven applicants: Inverness Thistle, Elgin City, Forres Mechanics, Ross County, Hawick Royal Albert, Ferranti Thistle and Gateshead United. In the first round of votes, the outcome was 13 each for Ferranti Thistle and Inverness Thistle, 7 for Gateshead United, and the other four clubs seem to have got one vote each. A second ballot was required to separate Ferranti and Inverness, and this time the Edinburgh side won by 21 votes to 16 - so basically Inverness picked up the other three Highland votes, Ferranti got the Gateshead and Hawick votes.

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