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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

Falkirk District Works Cup 1898

There have been many football competitions in Scotland from the international to the ultra-local, the best overall coverage of these competitions is on the Scottish Football Historical Archive. Research into these cups is ongoing, and in many places patchy is about the best compliment that can be paid. This is not to cast aspersions upon the many researchers and local historians beavering away at the coalface of Scottish Football History, the fact is that most of the games were simply not reported, and even when they were they were not reported adequately.

Which brings me to the latest obscure competition that I have been looking into, the rather clumsily titled Falkirk & District Junior Works Cup [I think]. Like I said coverage was patchy, it was reported that a Falkirk Works Junior Association had been formed in order to have a competition between the major companies in the district. The Falkirk Herald reported that the new FA was to be affiliated to the Falkirk & District Junior FA and the Competition would be played to their rules.

This brings up many unanswerable questions: since the Falkirk Junior FA was affiliated to the Stirlingshire Junior FA and therefore in turn also affliated to the Scottish Junior FA, were the players not cup tied by the tail-end of the season, or were they given an exemption, or did the teams only use players not already with the Junior Clubs of the District?

Like I said, this is completely unaswerable from this remove, since there were no reports as such, most of the games were only mentioned in passing in the Junior part of the 'Football Intelligence' columns [read 'Gossip columns'] of the local papers. I am not even completely sure that I have been able to find the complete competition since none of the draws were reported, however the matches that I have found do not bring up any glaring problems to what I believe the basic structure of the Cup was, though there is the possibility that some of the games here may have been replays of previous unreported matches.

First Round

Apr 12    Falkirk Foundry             3      Larbert Foundry             3
Apr 19    Abbots Foundry              5      Springfield Foundry         0
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

There is clearly something missing from this round, most probably a replay for the Falkirk Foundry v Larbert Foundry match, however it is also possible that Larbert Foundry withdrew or were thrown out for an infringement, either way only Falkirk Foundry made it through to the next round.
I presume that Carron Foundry & Castlelaurie Foundry were given byes, however there is the possibility that they played [and won] matches against two [as yet] unknown opponents.

Semi-Finals

May 11    Carron Foundry              5      Abbots Foundry              6
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]
May 16    Falkirk Foundry             0      Castlelaurie Foundry        0

May 23    Falkirk Foundry             3      Castlelaurie Foundry        4
     Replay, Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

Slight clarification needed here, the first two of these matches were referred to as Second Round matches, it was only in the replay that the papers stated Semi-Final, but it seems most likely that was just poor word choice.

Final

Jun 6     Abbots Foundry              3      Castlelaurie Foundry        2
     Played at Merchiston Park, Bainsford [ESFC]

One last thing to touch upon, of the six matches I can trace, four were reported to have taken place at Merchiston Park, for the other two there was no mention of the ground, I think it was quite likely that all the matches were played at Merchiston Park, the fact that none of the known matches took place on the same date gives this some traction, but I doubt if that will ever become clear, or will ever be relevant.

Falkirk FC Team Pic Date Unknown

I have very little to go on with this picture


I can tell you that the chap three in from the left IS a young Jock Drummond, and that Falkirk FC are displaying Two Cups. This can only mean that this photo was taken during the era of Jock Drummond - [1886/87-1892/93] and that Falkirk only held two cups in that period between the end of 1889/90 and the end of 1890/91, so it must have been about then.

Otherwise I do not have a clue as to who the rest of the players are!

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]