Port Glasgow Athletic & Cowlairs

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Port Glasgow Athletic & Cowlairs

Post by Carlucci » Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:49 am

Could any of you give us some information about two old Glasgow clubs, Port Glasgow Athletic and Cowlairs? When were they founded? From which district in the city did they receive support? Could you tell me the name of the grounds where they played their games? What were their colours & badges and when did they cease to exist ? Could you also tell me the most important players that played for them? Thank your very much. Warmest Regards.

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Post by Ramalhete » Mon Feb 06, 2006 5:55 pm

I think Port Glasgow Athletic is from Port Glasgow near Greenock

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Post by Scottish » Mon Feb 06, 2006 7:09 pm

Ramalhete is right. Port Glasgow Athletic were actually from the Renfrewshire town of Port Glasgow and were founded in 1880 as Broadfield, changing their name a year later. They played at Clune Park in white shirts and black shorts. Oddly enough I’ve never seen a badge on any pic or illustration of them.

They were founder members of the Second Division in 1893-94 and won the title in 1902 after which they were elected to the First Division. Like Queen's Park they were an amateur side and struggled in the top flight. In eight seasons their best finish was 9th of 14 in 1903-04 and they were bottom three times and second bottom twice.

They failed to gain re-election in 1910 and in 1910-11 finished 11th of 12 in the Second Division. They were given notice to quit their ground at the end of the season and resigned from the Scottish League. Within a year they had vanished entirely.

They did much better in the Scottish Cup, reaching the semi-finals in 1899 and 1906. On the latter occasion they knocked out Rangers in the last eight.

As for famous players the most well-known was probably Gladstone Hamilton, the only player to be capped while with Port. He played on the right wing for Scotland in the 1-0 win over Ireland in Dublin in 1906. Two of his brothers were also Scottish internationalists though they played for Queen’s Park. Gladstone later moved south to join Brentford.

Cowlairs hailed from Springburn in the north-east of Glasgow. They were founded in 1876. Their ground pre-League was Gourlay Park and during their League days Springfield Park (though it is possible this was the same ground). Their colours changed quite a bit. Shorts were either white or blue and shirts changed from blue to chocolate & blue, to white to red.

They were founder members of the Scottish League but finished last in their first season and withdrew at the end of it. After a season of playing cup and friendly matches they joined the Scottish Alliance in 1892-93 which they won by seven clear points. This league was of a high standard, including well-known clubs like Airdrieonians, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle, St Bernard’s and Vale of Leven.

Like Port Glasgow Athletic they were inaugural members of the Second Division in 1893-94 and enjoyed a successful season, finishing second, two points behind Hibernian.

But they had financial problems and suffered in 1894-95, finishing last and failing to gain re-election. They struggled on for a while but folded early in 1896.

There is an excellent 56-page booklet on their history (with much greater detail than can be given here), by John Weir, entitled ‘A History of Cowlairs Football Club 1876-1896.’ This was published by Scottish Non League Review Publications for £2 in 1991. Copies may come up occasionally on eBay.

In the Scottish Cup they reached the last eight in 1891-92 and also reached the third round of the English FA Cup in 1886-87 (losing, oddly enough, to Rangers).

Best-known players were their three Scottish internationalists. Left-back William McLeod played against Ireland in 1885-86. McLeod also played for Queen’s Park and Aston Villa. Right-winger Tommy McInnes played against the Irish at Ibrox in 1888-89, scoring the last goal in a 7-0 Scottish victory. He later played for Clyde and Third Lanark and was in the Nottingham Forest team which won the FA Cup in 1898.

But easily their most famous player was John ‘Kitey’ McPherson, also of Kilmarnock and Rangers. He was capped with all three clubs – nine times in all - representing Scotland twice while with Cowlairs. He won four league title medals and three Scottish Cup winners prizes with Rangers. He also played five times for the Scottish League.

McPherson was from a famous footballing family – his father trained both Scotland and England and two of his brothers also played for Kilmarnock, one of them (David) also playing for Scotland.

While with Cowlairs he scored the winner in the last minute as Scotland came back from two goals down to beat England 3-2 at The Oval in April 1889. He also scored in his other cap earned while playing with Cowlairs - notching the third in a 4-1 win over Ireland in Belfast in March 1890.

He went on to become a director of Rangers.

Although these clubs didn’t survive, football still flourished in their respective areas. Junior clubs Ashfield and Petershill have long been two of the most prominent in Glasgow at that level and both are close to where Cowlairs played.

Port Glasgow Juniors were formed while the senior side were still in existence and there is no connection between the two.

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Port Glasgow Athletic and Cowlairs

Post by BMCCOLL » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:21 am

There seems to be some confusion regarding the relationship between PGA Juniors and the present Port Glasgow Juniors. I've done some research on the subject and can confirm that the two are seperate clubs.
Port Glasgow Athletic Juniors were formed 'officially' around 1899 although I have a reference to them in 1896. They took over from the senior side when they went bust in 1912 and continued until 1938. A failed attempt to find a ground in Port Glasgow (the club had to play in Greenock since 1921) prompted the side to disband. After the War (in 1948), Port Glasgow Athletic Juveniles were created as an offshoot of Clune Rock FC. They stepped up to the Junior ranks a year later as Port Glasgow Juniors. This appears to be where the confusion lies. Therefore the centenary celebrations of 1999 were a tad premature I'm afraid.

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Post by Lisbon67 » Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:23 am

So there was a Port Glasgow Juniors at the same time as the seniors. Two different teams but the juniors became the seniors when the original disbanded?

And the post-war juniors are no relation to the pre-war ones?

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Port Glasgow Athletic and Cowlairs

Post by BMCCOLL » Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:16 am

The two Junior sides were different clubs indeed, but the PGA Juniors didn't evolve from the seniors. The two sides, PGA FC and PGA Juniors,existed side by side at Clune Park until the seniors demise in 1912. The Juniors continued to use the ground until it was cleared for housing in 1917. After sharing with Morton for 4 years they built a new ground at Garvel Park, also in Greenock. They played in the Scottish Junior League (winning it a record 5 times).

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Post by BMCCOLL » Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:31 am

scottish wrote:Port Glasgow Athletic ....played at Clune Park in white shirts and black shorts. Oddly enough I’ve never seen a badge on any pic or illustration of them.
There's a colour photo of PGA from 1909-10 (I think) on page 43 the League's centenary book. There's no badge visible, nor on a large photo of the side from 1902-03 which hangs in the town's public library.

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