Any info on Thistle?

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Aten
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Any info on Thistle?

Post by Aten » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:10 am

I am currently researching senior football in Glasgow with the intention of publishing a book on the subject.

Queen’s Park is of course Glasgow’s earliest club formed in 1867 and another club, Drummond, was formed in 1869 but they barely last a year. However the club that is causing a slight problem is Thistle. Until around 1882 they played at Shawfield and most sources give the founding date as 1875 but the Scottish Historical Archive gives 1868 as the dated founded and has them stationed at Glasgow Green until 1881.

The problem is Thistle did not enter the Scottish Cup until 1878 and seemed only to have played friendly matches prior to this. Unfortunately little is known about these matches; indeed it is not until 1877 that any solid information is forthcoming.

I should be grateful therefore if anyone could throw any more light on Thistle, particularly the foundation year.

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by ScottishFA » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:49 am

The likely answer is that there were two clubs called Thistle.

The first Thistle was formed at Glasgow Green, possibly even before QP, and of course they were QP's first opponents in 1868. According to some accounts, the Thistle Football Club was formed by young men from Callander and played opposite Menteith Row, where the People’s Palace now stands, paying a penny a week to take part. That Thistle club foundered and some of its members created new clubs such as Drummond, Callander and Eastern.

But I think any account of early organised football in Glasgow has to take into account the 'other' codes as there was no real distinction between association and rugby rules in the 1860s. A football section was established at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in 1865, although they did not play their first external match till November 1867, and they were soon followed by Glasgow Academicals, established for cricket and football in 1866, but again with a delay before their first match in January 1868. Even when QP was formed, they were undecided about which code to follow and wrote off for both sets of rules.

There are tantalising glimpses of other clubs, which indicate more football activity around Glasgow. For example, there is an advert in the Herald on 24 November 1865 for the St Andrew Football Club, with a ground off the Great Western Road, which they call – confusingly enough – Queen’s Park. What happened to them?

There are two books of cuttings at the Scottish Football Museum, compiled from 1916-17 (ie jubilee) accounts of the formation of QP, with numerous interviews of the club founders and some others. I suggest you have a close read at these, they contain a mine of information.

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by LEATHERSTOCKING » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:13 pm

The oldest recorded football club in the World is the Foot-ball Club of Edinburgh for which there are records dating from 1824 to 1841. What type of foot-ball it played and against whom is not known but it predates the types of kicking and handling games known in the mid 19thC.

The oldest Scottish club playing a recognisable version of football was Hamilton Thistle believed to have been formed in 1862 although its first recorded match wasn`t played until 1877. Edinburgh Academicals Football Club & Edinburgh University Football Club were both formed in 1857 & West of Scotland Cricket Club formed a football section in 1865. Academy Coursers, Lodge TC, Sheuchan Swifts and Waverley were all formed in Stranraer in 1865 and merged in 1870 to form Stranraer FC. St.Andrews FC near Glasgow Cross started circa 1865, Hamilton Gymnasium 1866, Thistle on Glasgow Green 1866, Royal High School 1867 and Edinburgh Wanderers 1867. Exact dates for the formation of Glasgow Academicals, Merchistonians & St.Andrews University football clubs are shrouded in doubt but they were all playing in 1867. Queen`s Park, the oldest club playing Association football still in existence, was formed on 9th July 1867.

John Meffen

Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by John Meffen » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:28 pm

There was an article in Soccer Quarterly History, about the oldest clubs, it disregarded teams affiliated to institutions, because it can get too fuzzy where the line should be drawn, i am apt to this way of thinking.

The article was written by an Englishman who duly ignored all clubs outside of England *rolls-eyes", but was a fairly good investigation into the line between myth and reality.

I don't think you can include any team before the FA decided on the 'Association Rules', [David will tell you] Kilmarnock played Rugby before turning to football, the foundation of Kilmarnock FC [as we know it] must be when they accepted the Association Rules, not when the Club was formed.

IMHO anyway

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by Scottish » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:58 pm

John Meffen wrote: I don't think you can include any team before the FA decided on the 'Association Rules', [David will tell you] Kilmarnock played Rugby before turning to football, the foundation of Kilmarnock FC [as we know it] must be when they accepted the Association Rules, not when the Club was formed.

IMHO anyway
The first mention of the Kilmarnock FOOTBALL club is in the Kilmarnock Standard of January 2nd 1869. Membership cards exist from that year. The first games were hybrid affairs, sometimes with twenty a side on pitches 200 yards long & 100 yards wide. There was no limit on the numbers taking part. There were eleven rules, including not picking up the ball during play but being allowed to catch above knee height then running or taking a kick. Goals could only be scored by KICKING. One rule permitted holding, pushing and tripping opponents within four yards of the ball but another forbade attempts to throttle or strangle which were "opposed to all the principles of the game." If you take accepting Association rules as the foundation date of any club then you have to then ask whose rules? If you take the foundation of the SFA then you are claiming that Queen's Park, Dumbarton, Kilmarnock & Rangers of current clubs did not exist until then - despite having played matches.

However there has always been controversy over some clubs foundation dates. 1872/1873 for Rangers for example. Kilmarnock went into abeyance, probably on account of no local opposition (a situation you could claim still exists today!) and were refounded in 1872. When they reached their first Scottish Cup Final in 1898, that was the date one newspaper gave them. But as the same newspaper compared their arrival in the final as similar to the "villagers of Thornliebank and Cambuslang" perhaps that shouldn't be taken too seriously.

As late as December 1872, Killie refused a request to play Queen's Park as they were still a rugby team. When QP wrote again, in March 1873, asking for a quid to help establish the Scottish Cup, Killie said they couldn't agree as they were at present a rugby club but that from next season they would play Association rules in the first half of the season and rugby in the second. The rugby men tried to reverse the decision but enough footballers had joined by December 1873 (two months after the establishment of the Scottish Cup) to resolve to "play no other than association football." Despite this, there was one further rugby game in Paisley in February 1874. The rugby players went their own way. The don't claim to have been founded in 1873 but in 1868.

Either you accept both as founded in 1868/69 or both as 1873/74 and some hybrid bearing the name Kilmarnock Football Club 1868/69-1873/74. The latter seems daft to me.

Anyway,KFC held their fiftieth anniversary jubilee in 1918 when there were still people alive who took part at the beginning. Most people in those days were sticklers for detail. I doubt if they would have gone ahead or received congratulatory messages from the SFA and other clubs if they were considered to be making false claims.

John Meffen

Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by John Meffen » Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:36 pm

Kind of what I was saying on Kilmarnock, yet I was not so eloquent, Kilmarnock were formed when they were formed, but when the Football club [as we know it] gets a lot more fuzzy

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by soccerhistory » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:14 pm

To add a few points. The situation with the clubs in the 1860s (both in England and Scotland) is quite fluid. The London (i.e. Football Association) dates from 1863, however it was initially most important in London and the Home Counties of England. The Sheffield Association had separate rules and these were played by clubs from as far south as Birmingham up to at least Middlesbrough. When the Scottish FA was established it had its own rules too, although Queen's Park were also members of the London Association and would have played under these rules as well (they entered the first FA Cup competition in 1871-72). The early Alcock's Football Annuals record all football clubs together (rugby included) and state the rules played. Although I cannot recall any clubs based in England listed as playing Scottish rules, it is certainly the case that some clubs outside of Scotland adopted these in preference to the other codes available and were accepted as members of the Scottish FA. There were probably several other local initiatives in addition to this, for example in 1870 a number of clubs in Lincolnshire and the surrounding area established the short-lived Midland Football Association which had its own set of rules.

Probably because there were few clubs around the earliest clubs that emerged established their own rules and in most cases the games arranged were internal affairs between club members (e.g. divisions by surname, A-K vs. L-Z, or by profession). This is almost certainly the case with the Hamilton Thistle Cricket and Football Club, formed in 1862 and probably, initially at least, with Hamilton Gymnasium, formed in May 1866 to promote a range of outdoor activities to be played in the summer months, including football, cricket and rounders. Gymnasium probably made a switch to more generally accepted rules from around May 1869 when they played against Queen's Park. Queen's Park played a significant role in developing a universal code in Scotland and then arranging exhibition matches to ensure that code was spread. The situation was not quite the same in England, although the London FA's control of the FA Cup plus a willingness to accept rules from the Sheffield and Scottish codes as improvements ensured they would eventually take control of the game.

When trying to define 'the oldest clubs' I would suggest the best method would be to take the date on which that club adopted rules (whatever the formal code) which essentially produced a kicking as opposed to a handling version of the game. This would mean that clubs formed before 1863 could be accepted if their rules outlawed most handling (worth noting handling is still a feature of the modern game, just that its restricted to one player on each side and in specific areas of the pitch). In some cases clubs were formed out of what were essentially local versions of a folk game and these clubs may have adopted the traditonal rules for their game, they may have adopted their old school rules or failing that if a group of young men wished to establish a club and had no other source for rules they would have been able to follow the general guidelines outlined in the Manual of British Rural Sports, first published in 1856. Whatever the source, if the rules led to a kicking rather than a handling game then it is 'football' as opposed to 'rugby'.

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by LEATHERSTOCKING » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:43 am

St.Andrews FC played near St.George`s Cross in Glasgow, NOT Glasgow Cross, in an area then known as Queen`s Park at the City end of the new Great Western turnpike Road which ran and still runs arrow straight to Anniesland Cross two miles away where the roads diverge toward the Highlands and to the Vale of Leven. It was an area ripe for development in the 1860s and 70s and was covered in tenements and industry within 30 years. It was a popular area for numerous sports clubs - football, cricket, bowling, curling etc. In the 1860s, neither the Queen`s Park @ St.George`s Cross nor the one @ Mount Florida was actually within the Glasgow City boundaries.

The boys who formed foot-ball sections of existing cricket clubs or just started playing foot-ball did just that and it is perhaps presumptive to say they`re not football clubs as opposed to Rugby ones; they played foot-ball! They didn`t play cricket, they didn`t play bowls, they didn`t play bowls - they played football. The two types were virtually indistinguishable in the 1850s and most of the 60s anyway. Nowadays, we do have two distinct forms of the game but they are both still football; one is now Rugby football and the other Association football.

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by Aten » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:27 am

Many, many thanks to all who have replied to my enquiry; most appreciated!

Seems there was in fact two clubs called Thistle. The one formed in 1868 and are accepted as Queen’s Park’s first opponents folded in 1873 and a second Thistle, no relation to the first, was in fact formed in 1875. The fact that they both originally operated out of Glasgow Green is a bit of a red herring really. Many clubs started with Glasgow Green as their playing base due to the ready-made space the park offered.

Setting out on this journey, my main aim is to concentrate of competitive games played between Glasgow clubs in both national and local competitions. But it would be remiss of me to ignore the origins of Association Football in Glasgow and the pioneers of this were of course Queen’s Park, not just in Glasgow but Scotland as a whole. Very quickly they adopted the London Association rules, adding their own modifications later to be enshrined in the Scottish Football Association when formed in 1873.

Undoubtedly clubs formed prior to 1873 would have played under a raft of different rules and most likely chaos abounded at times. Indeed for some clubs “association” football was just another activity to be enjoyed outside their main sport be that cricket, rugby or even lacrosse! Queen’s Park’s “mission” was to seek out like minded clubs prepared to play the game under their rules and in doing so “spread the word”. It is fair to say that a club formed prior to 1873 and subsequently adopted the 1873 rules should rightly claim the original formation date as valid.

Off topic slightly, a question for “Scottish” just to satisfy my curiosity. Is there any connection between Kilmarnock Cricket and Football Club and Kilmarnock F.C.?

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by Scottish » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:24 pm

Aten wrote: Off topic slightly, a question for “Scottish” just to satisfy my curiosity. Is there any connection between Kilmarnock Cricket and Football Club and Kilmarnock F.C.?
Yes. The Kilmarnock Cricket Club was founded in 1852 and it was cricketers, along with students from Kilmarnock Academy, who founded the football club. John Dickie, secretary of KCC was an original committee member of KFC. It wasn't just KCC either. The first secretary of KFC - and the man generally credited as the club's founding father - was John Wallace who was also secretary of Kilmarnock Shaw CC (as well as the Young Men's Literary Association - he was a busy lad for a 19-year-old).

The football club even played at the cricket club's ground in 1876 but when the cricketers tried to put up the rent so that cricket could be played rent-free, there was a split, with KFC returning to their previous ground while a new club was formed, playing at the cricket ground, Holm Quarry, under the name Kilmarnock Cricket & Football Club. Killie protested about this name and it was changed after a season to Kilmarnock Athletic. They were a powerful team for some time, reaching the Scottish Cup semi-finals twice. Killie's ascendancy in the Ayrshire Cup from the mid-1880s onwards saw Athletic wither on the vine and despite attempts to resuscitate the club, they were unsuccessful. They finished joint second with Killie in the Ayrshire combination in 1894-95 but the final nails in their coffin came with Killie's election to the SFL that year and Athletic's dedication to amateurism. They reached the Scottish Cup proper in 1897-98, losing to Ayr Parkhouse, were beaten by Irvine in the Qualifying Cup the next season and scratched from their Qualifying Cup tie v Stevenston Thistle in 1899-1900, in a match scheduled to be played two weeks after Killie made their 1st Division debut. After that, nothing.

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Re: Any info on Thistle?

Post by BMCCOLL » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:20 pm

Great topic, people. I always had an inkling that the late 1860s/early 1870s club was different from the later SFL one, but didn't have enough facts at hand to help make the distinction. I'll make the relevant amendments to the entries in the Directory.
http://scottish-football-historical-archive.co.nf

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