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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

Clubs from Falkirk District - Comely Park

Now, first things first, I do not come to this from a completely unbiased position, as a febrile youth I attended Comely Park Primary School, so I was brought up in the same part of Falkirk in which this team played, so I have a wee bit of affection for them.

One of myriad short lived senior football clubs from the 1880s Comely Park were one of the few clubs that played South of the High Street in the town. It is unclear exactly where they played their matches, apart from the vague 'within the policies of Comely Park House'. This is a large area, and in the 1880s much of it was not as built up as it now, but two places stick out, there was a patch of ground, modern Cochrane Street which developed into the current Bowling Club, and which was later used by several Junior Clubs, and there was a football ground later used by Falkirk Amateurs which was on the area of land roughly occupied by the car park directly East of Kemper Avenue [as an aside Kemper is the local dialect spelling of Quimper, France [oh I read far too much]], I tend to go for the second, but this is mainly because in one match Comely Park advertised "Entrance via Burnfoot Lane". Again things have to be contextualised, nowadays there is a large area [now a carpark] on Williamson Street, but back then Williamson Street was all tenaments, so it had to be further out. It is possible that you could access modern Cochrane Street from Burnfoot Lane before St Crispins Avenue was built, but to me the fact that Burnfoot Lane veers to the East makes me think it is more likely that they played on what was to become Tannery Park, but this is all conjecture.

Falkirk FC used Comely Park like a nursery club, much in the way they would later do with Falkirk Amateurs, and the overlap does not end there. The Gillespie brothers were as steeped in Comely Park and in Falkirk Amateurs as they ever were with Falkirk FC [there is an inkling in my mind that they may have been instigators of both clubs] - Alex & William played for Comely Park, Robert & George played for Falkirk Amateurs, John played for both. so what is known is that there was a lot of overlap with players between Falkirk & Comely Park. However it must be noted that Falkirk never took the club seriously only sending the second XI to play them.

One of the problems which football clubs in Falkirk have faced is that Falkirk FC simply got there first, so have been on the losing end of a circle of diminishing returns, fewer fans than the bigger clubs mean smaller gates, smaller gates means a smaller kitty for upkeep of ground, shabbier grounds means fewer good players wish to turn out for them, meaning it is made difficult to get good results, meaning the fickle fanbase are less likely to turn out, and it starts again [remember, Comely Park spent their entire time during the amateur era, but even then financial constraints mattered, if not for players' wages].

It was an interesting experiment, and although I love the fact my football club so simple that it is the name of my town, I occasionally hanker to support a club with a slightly exotic name, something local, something from left-field [something every ESFC fan must get when they rage at stupid reporters from South of the Border who lazily assume that they are from Stirling], but as I said, Falkirk FC got there first, besides if I were to support a team on the basis of name alone I would be a Tayavalla fan, even though I am not [and would never wish to be] from Tamfourhill.

All in all, Comely Park existed, they never shook anything up, they barely got recognition within Falkirk, never mind the wider world, but the chaps who turned out for them tried their hardest, and it was hardly their fault that those which showed any promise were pilfered by either Falkirk or East Stirlingshire, or even by Grahamston FC, the sad fact is that even by the 1880s football was so commercialised that a small, locally based football team could not survive [never mind compete] even at a local level before the advent of junior football, and I will point again to those of us knowledgable of Falkirk of the historical dearth of football South of the High Street.

Known Matches played by Comely Park FC



Sat Nov  3rd 1883 v Grahamston                (H)   4-1        Friendly
Sat Nov 17th 1883 v Tayavalla 2nd XI          (H)   2-1        Friendly
Sat Dec  1st 1883 v East Stirlingshire 3rd XI (H)   0-2        Friendly
Sat Feb  9th 1884 v East Stirlingshire        (H)   1-9        Stirlingshire 1st Rd
Sat May 17th 1884 v Carron                    (A)   3-3        Friendly
Sat Oct 18th 1884 v Strathblane               (A)   withdrew   Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Nov 15th 1884 v Laurieston                (A)   2-2        Friendly
Sat Mar 28th 1885 v Grangemouth               (A)   0-3        Friendly
Sat May 16th 1885 v Laurieston                (H)   2-3        Friendly
Sat Jun  4th 1885 v Grangemouth               (H)  11-1        Friendly *
Sat Sep 19th 1885 v Falkirk 2nd XI            (A)   1-8        Friendly
Sat Sep 26th 1885 v Stirling Olympic          (H)   7-0        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Oct 17th 1885 v Falkirk Cricket Club      (H)   3-1        Friendly
Sat Nov  7th 1885 v Laurieston                (A)   1-1        Friendly
Sat Nov 21st 1885 v Campsie Central           (H)   1-1        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd
Sat Nov 28th 1885 v Campsie Central           (A)   3-6        Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd Replay
Sat Dec  5th 1885 v Laurieston                (H)   0-5        Friendly
Sat Dec 19th 1885 v Falkirk Harp              (A)   1-1        Friendly
Sat Dec 26th 1885 v Camelon 2nd XI            (H)   3-1        Friendly
Sat Jan  9th 1886 v Falkirk 2nd XI            (H)   3-0        Friendly
Sat Mar  6th 1886 v Black Watch               (H)   2-1        Friendly
Sat Mar 20th 1886 v Falkirk Harp              (H)   6-3        Friendly
Sat Apr  3rd 1886 v East Stirlingshire 2nd XI (H)   2-1        Friendly
Thu May  6th 1886 v East Stirlingshire 2nd XI (A)   1-2        Friendly
Sat May  8th 1886 v Falkirk                   (A)   1-4        Falkirk District Charity Cup Semi-Final
Sat May 22nd 1886 v Partick Thistle           (H)   4-5        Benefit * #
Sat Sep 25th 1886 v Grangemouth               (H)   withdrew   Stirlingshire Cup 1st Rd

* Comely Park played on these occasions with the explicit assistance of players from other clubs [mainly Falkirk FC]
# Benefit for the funds of Comely Park FC

NB - I have found several matches by Falkirk FC which were not reported in the Local press, so there is the massive possibility that Comely Park played more matches about which I have no clue, and no real way of knowing.

East Stirlingshire 1890/91


Sterling work [or luck] by the folk over there at 'Shire Towers in coming across a long lost picture of one of the mighty Zebra teams from the 19th Century, especially for me as it includes two former Falkirk players [Michael Harley & John Mercer] of whom I had no pictures, my only surprise was there were only two players that played for both teams in the picture [Michael's wee brother Tom was with the ES for example]. During this era, I doubt if I have ever come across a team pic from either club that did not have at least one player who had played for both teams.

NB - After posting this, I noticed the picture also included Harry Reid [who played in 4 friendlies for Falkirk FC, so I am slightly happier].


However the best [and often most annoying] thing about images of football players is their strips. Until you look at it closely few things are obvious. Then look at Johnnie Mercer ..... The only thing that gives him away as a goalkeeper is a slight variance in the collar of his shirt. Then look at their shorts, never mind that they are knee-length, that is just fashion, the first thing that struck me is that they all have pockets!! Of course, there would be no major dealers in football strips, so apart from the shirts, the players would doubtless be wearing converted workwear. The third part of the strip which to me was conspicuous, is striking by its absence. Apart from a couple of players, and then only just, I cannot see a pair of socks: stockings made up part of the club colours which were listed in the SFA Annuals of the time! Never mind the fact that it is now against the laws to wear shin-pads over the socks.

Finally, a couple of little things for the purists, the fad for wearing caps was ebbing away, apart from Archie Ritchie rightly showing off his newly earned Scotland Cap, only Kadie is wearing a cap, yet several could have worn their Stirlingshire caps. There is no club insignia anywhere, in fact apart from things that only a fan or a historian could have known, there is no way of knowing which club it is and when it was taken! Finally, who is the Captain? I am guessing David Alexander, not because he is front and centre [he was a Centre-Forward after all] but because of his proximity to the ball, but that is still just a guess.

Read more over at the official East Stirlingshire Website.

A Whole New Country

OMG, can I say that again, OMG

Cate Dickinson-Byrne just got in touch with me about her Grandfather "James Robertson" who was a legendary Falkirk Centre-Forward from 1910 to 1914 [and from that point continued to play for Falkirk, but you have to admit world politics got in the way of Falkirk's selection policy]

Anyway, Cate tells me that James signed up again in 1939, which means I might have to make a new page about Falkirk players who served in both wars [but I suspect there might only be one chap] I give to you, all you who sadly forgot him James Robertson


James Robertson
b 15th March, 1885,Alexandria, Dunbartonshire

d 26th April 1968, London, Middlesex
Debut – Saturday February 18th1911 v Clyde (H) Scottish League Division 1
Positions – Centre-Forward
Club Honours – Scottish Cup W 1912/13, North-Eastern CupW 1911/12, RU 1910/11, Dunedin Cup W 1913/14, Dewar Shield W 1913/14, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1913/14, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1912/13, 1913/14
Falkirk Leading League Goalscorer1911/12 [12], 1912/13 [12], 1913/14 [21], 1914/15 [11]
Scottish League Division 1 Matches/Goals [160/75]
Scottish Cup Matches/Goals [11/2]
Scottish Victory Cup Matches/Goals [2/-]
Minor League Matches/Goals [1/1]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [26/20]
Scored [2] on his League Debut
Hat-Tricks – 1 [Division 1 [1]]
Known Career – Vale of Leven [1904/05], Distillery, Blackburn Rovers [1905/06-1907/08], Brighton & Hove Albion [1908/09], Vale of Leven [1909/10-1910/11], Falkirk [1910/11-1918/19], Dunfermline Athletic [1915/16], Vale of Leven [1918/19-1920/21], Dumbarton Harp
Played for Home-Scots v Anglo-Scots, Scottish International Trial at Glasgow, 18thMarch 1913
Awarded the Croix de Guerre in February 1918, Awarded the Military Medal in December 1918
Possibly one of Falkirk FC's best ever 'signings', coming as part of Jock Simpson's transfer to Blackburn Rovers, Jimmy Robertson went on to score over 100 goals in all matches for the club
Height - 5 ft 8 in: Weight 13 st 0 lbs [1913]


Junior Hell - Heather Rangers 1897/98

Although I mainly concentrate on Senior Football in Falkirk District, as a sideline I do note down all football in the town & its suburbs. So I have reems & reems of results from all manner of 'clubs' from proper Junior clubs down to scratch XIs representing anything from streets to the various Co-Operative Societies. And this is where it Hell. To this day I do not fully 'get' Junior Football: Dunipace Juniors play in the West Region; Camelon Juniors play in the East Region; Falkirk Juniors [who actually play in Grangemouth further East than Camelon] play in the Central. On top of this there are all manner of bizarrely named cups which seem to go on until the week before the next season.

Excuse my ignorance, I was just not brought up following the Junior game. But in my researches this week into the 1897/98 season and trying to put together an idea of the local Junior teams & Competitions has given me an inkling into why Junior football is so byzantyne. One club: Heather Rangers of Stenhousemuir.

In 1897/98 Heather Rangers competed in the Scottish Junior Cup, the stirlingshire Junior Cup, the Falkirk District Junior Cup, The Falkirk District Junior League, the Falkirk Cottage Hospitals' Junior Shield, the Stirling District Junior Cup & the Stirling District Junior League [nb - The Stirling District Junior Cup was two legged, and both the Stirling District Junior competitions did not start until after Christmas].

Now, you will obviously be shocked that they did not fulfill their fixtures [some of the cup matches having to be played in the next season], but this is a bugbear of mine, very little is known of these competitions, and even though some of us are trying to record them, so little was published that it is nearly impossible from this remove. And another, will Stenhousemuir make up its mind as to whether it is in Falkirk District or Stirling District.

Known Matches by Heather Rangers in 1897/98

Aug 21 Airth Castle Rangers 3 Heather Rangers 1 Friendly
Sep 4 Forth Rangers 0 Heather Rangers 1 Falkirk District Junior League
Sep 11 Heather Rangers 1 Falkirk Hawthorn 2 Falkirk District Junior League
Sep 18 Heather Rangers 5 Forth Rangers 3 League?
Sep 25 Heather Rangers 5 Falkirk Excelsior 1 Scottish Junior Cup 1st Rd
Oct 2 Gairdoch Junior - Heather Rangers - Falkirk District Junior League [Heather did not turn up]
Oct 9 Heather Rangers 5 Falkirk Excelsior 4 Falkirk District Junior Cup 2nd Rd
Oct 16 Heather Rangers 2 Slamannan Swifts 3 Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd [protest]
Oct 23 Gairdoch Juniors 2 Heather Rangers 0 Hospitals Shield?
Oct 30 Artizan Thistle 2 Heather Rangers 1 Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Rd
Nov 6 Heather Rangers 3 Slamannan Swifts 3 Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd
Nov 20 Slamannan Swifts 6 Heather Rangers 2 Stirlingshire Junior Cup 1st Rd Rep
Nov 27 Forth Rangers 2 Heather Rangers 1 Falkirk District Junior Cup Semi @Merch
Dec 18 Gairdoch Juniors 3 Heather Rangers 2 Falkirk District Junior League
Dec 25 Heather Rangers 3 Larbert Broomage Albion 2 Friendly
Jan 15 Longcroft Thistle 1 Heather Rangers 2 Stirling District Junior Cup 1st Rd 1st Leg
Jan 22 Heather Rangers 4 Longcroft Thistle 1 Stirling District Junior Cup 1st Rd 2nd Leg
Jan 29 Heather Rangers 3 Falkirk Excelsior 3 Falkirk District Junior League
Feb 5 Heather Rangers 7 Rising Star 1 Falkirk District Junior League
Feb 19 Heather Rangers 3 St Ninians Thistle 2 Stirling District Junior Cup 2nd Rd 1st Leg
Feb 26 St Ninians Thistle 2 Heather Rangers 1 Stirling District Junior Cup Aband
Mar 5 Tillicoultry Victoria 2 Heather Rangers 2 Friendly
Mar 19 St Ninians Thistle 1 Heather Rangers 4 Stirling District Junior Cup 2nd Rd 2nd Leg
Apr 2 Heather Rangers 0 Bannockburn 2 Stirling District Junior Cup Semi 1st Leg
Apr 9 Bannockburn 5 Heather Rangers 2 Stirling District Junior Cup Semi 2nd Leg
May 7 Rising Star 1 Heather Rangers 1 Falkirk District Junior League
May 14 Falkirk Excelsior 0 Heather Rangers 1 Falkirk District Junior League

I have to add to this that the Falkirk Herald did not publish every football result, it was dependant upon the club sending in match reports/results. I know this as they occasionally published the Falkirk District Junior League Table and the table did not tally with the published matches, but I can only go on what was reported.

Football & Alcohol - James Tennant


The victorians were weird people, well some of them were anyway. If you read enough into it their morals were generally projected upon the working classes in a "do as I say; not as I do" sort of way. Temperance movements abounded, whilst at the same time "Gentlemen's Clubs" existed within which all manner of lasciviousness occurred beyond the prying eyes of the common or garden pleb, and handily beyond the reach of the licensing laws placed upon the Public House.

These victorian values even stretched their long arms into the realms of football [Dunipace FC, were literally formed as Dunipace Temperance Association Football Club], this was brought to mind when I came across this interesting case brought before the Falkirk Burgh Police Court on Tuesday 25th of September 1897 involving Falkirk FC's Centre-Forward of the time: James 'Midgy' Tennant.


My antipathy towards the police, plus the fact that Tennant scored more than a hundred goals for my beloved football club makes me want to side with 'midgy' ... however ... in an extract from the same paper, another Falkirk FC player Bobby Fearns pleaded guilty to the charges, also James Tennant once signed professional forms for East Stirlingshire, claiming it was a mistake as he was drunk out of his head when he did it. Hmmmm.


Still, when he was playing for Falkirk, he was good.

James 'Midgy' Tennant

b c1872, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
d 25th September 1926, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Debut – Saturday January 10th 1891 v Battlefield (H) Friendly

Positions – Centre-Forward, Inside-Right, Inside-Left

Representative Honours – Stirlingshire v Forfarshire 1894/95

Club Honours – Midland League W 1894/95, RU 1895/96, Stirlingshire Cup W 1894/95, 1895/96, RU 1891/92, 1897/98, Falkirk District Charity Cup W 1891/92, 1893/94, RU 1894/95, Falkirk Infirmary Shield W 1891/92, 1892/93, 1893/94, RU 1895/96

Scottish Cup Matches /Goals [7/4]
Scottish Qualifying Cup Matches /Goals [8/4]
Minor League Matches/Goals [73/33]
Minor Cup Matches/Goals [43/21]
Other Matches/Goals [87/45]

Hat-Tricks – 6 [Midland League [1] Stirlingshire Cup [2] Other [3]]

Known Career – Burnhouse, Falkirk Athletic, Falkirk [1890/91-1897/98], Camelon [1898/99]

NB - he was called Midgy due to his alledged rotundity .....