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john_meffen

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Brief description

Ich heiße John Meffen - Part Time Historian/Researcher, blogger, work in online marketing, but rarely blog about it here: I have worked for Equator in Glesga and then for Caliber Interactive in Embra, but prefer to write a blog about the history of Falkirk Football Club in Fa'kirk. You can contact me through John Meffen [me!] on Google+

john_meffen Edinburgh restaurants

Official website address

http://www.caliberi.com/

Personal website address

http://falkirkfchistorian.blogspot.com/

Company / Institution

Equator, Glasgow

Main Skills

OCD like will to research

Falkirk Football Historian

So close yet so far

When I research Falkirk players, sometimes the things I find are tantalisingly close to getting some facts. However, names are one thing, the ancestry [and even the government websites, all hide behind paywalls], we have already paid for our records to be stored, and made public.

I found this statement on a website about Central Scottish mining accidents

"13 December 1933

Miner Electrocuted In Fife Pit - Francis Kane (19), residing at 170 Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, met with his death by electrocution while employed in the Lochgelly splint seam of the Lady Veronica pit, Blairhall Colliery, Fife, yesterday forenoon. His body was found lying near some electrical machinery, and efforts to restore respiration by the colliery ambulance staff, using the oxygen apparatus were unavailing. Kane was a prominent member of the Blairhall Junior Football Club. His services recently had been inquired after by several senior clubs. His father, Edward Kane, is an old Cowdenbeath and Falkirk player." [Scotsman 14 December 1933]

I need to go look at better sources to see if this was also the home of Ed Kane ... but may have to wait until 2031 for the censuses to catch up.

When is a Bairn a Bairn?

Now I have always been a bit of a purist when it comes to 'Bairns' [that is people from Falkirk for the rest of the World] but I was surprised to be outdone by the correspondent of the Falkirk Mail in 1893 about this.

Falkirk Mail Feb 18th 1893

"It may interest some of our readers to know that of the eleven players who compose the Falkirk team, eight of them are "bairns". The other three belong to the shire - McGregor hailing from Slamannan, Lees from California and Smith from Carronshore. It is a long while since so many "bairns" figured in the Falkirk first eleven. and the fact is worth noticing."
I am not the first "bairn" who was parochial in his outlook, and glad that I am not as parochial as he was!

I personally would never include Slamannan or California as Falkirk, but Carronshore is a grey area, but now I know now that historical precedent says they are not!

Alex Stark?

This very morning I got an e-mail from Gavin Bertram from New Zealand about a photo he had found in New Zealand which might be from the marriage of Falkirk's very own legend Alex Stark.

Now some provisos, The person who played for Falkirk FC may not have been the only Alex Stark in Christchurch, New Zealand at this point and I have no pictures of Alex Stark so cannot compare this picture with anything else.

All this understood, this might be the first time for more than a Century that Falkirk fans can look upon possibly their best ever players and perhaps know who it is.

From the [Chrischurch] Weekly Press - January 1899.


I really hope this is the great Alex Stark [formerly of Kerse Lane, Falkirk]

Alas Three O'Clock Saturday Afternoon


Fixture congestion! Avoiding clashes with other matches! We have all become enured to football matches being played at random times times [usually at the behest of the broadcasters] instead of what was some would have us believe happened back in the good old days, when all the clubs across the country kicked off at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, but of course, like everything else the pundits are again talking rubbish!

Football matches have always kicked off when it was most convenient to the sides playing, and I found a match which I found rather interesting [well to me anyway]: A match between the Lawyers' Clerks and the Press Clerks of Falkirk in April 1896 which kicked off at 7 o'clock of a Wednesday morning. Of course it makes sense when you think about it ... The match was played on one of the few parts of central Falkirk where a proper game of Football could be played: Brockville Park, the evenings were taken up with Charity Cup or Benefit matches, and the Clerks would have to work from about 9 to 5 during the day, so morning would be the best time for the match.


However it still seems a bit weird, imagine a lawyer's clerk turning up at 9:00 in the morning having only finished a game of football about 15 minutes earlier, it certainly puts into perspective those office workers who cycle into work before showering and taking their place at their desk. Of course it is possible that the players were allowed to come in an hour or so late, in order to go home and bathe [I can almost guarantee you that none of them had showers in 1896] before turning up at work, but it is still a bit bizarre.

The next time that your club is asked to play a match on a Sunday at 7:00 in the evening, just think before you say that the World has gone mad: Football matches have been going on at strange times for over a century!

Bury v Falkirk - 19th Dec 1896


Not one of the most illustrious notes in the history of Falkirk Football Club, but still a match worthy of noting was Falkirk's 0-9 crushing at the hands of Bury at Gigg Lane in December 1896, notable because it was Falkirk FC's first match outside of Scotland. Of course the club were out of their depth, Bury were a serious force in the English League, whilst Falkirk were a middling team in the Scottish Combination [a league made partly of provincial sides and partly of City Clubs' reserve sides].


The result looks a bit embarrassing at first glance, but the gulf in the teams probably was about that size. Plus there were other things to take into account, for example there were significant differences between the laws in Scotland & England and this game would have been under laws that Falkirk had never played under before. And it must be said this was a bit of a makeshift Falkirk side [for example David Robertson [the Albion Rovers RB playing because his brother was at Bury and he was visiting]].



There is little doubt that John Pray had something to do with this match taking place, as the then Bury centre-half was a Falkirk lad and had risen to prominence in the centre of the Falkirk Half-Back line before going down south by the even back then circuitous route by way of Govan: there is nothing new in Scottish Football.


However, the thing I like most about this is the way the team never went straight to Bury on the train, and instead stopped by way of Pendleton [birthplace of John Simpson] to visit the Scotia Foundry, where there were many a Falkirk Bairn [and quite a few Bainsford folk too], this link between Falkirk/Bainsford & Pendleton has largely been overlooked now that the steel & iron is dead in both communities, but back then was so pronounced that it was not unknown for the Falkirk Herald to carry reports of inter-foundry matches from Pendleton depending upon the amount of locals involved.