Jim Fairlie offered a very complimentary “great column this week” when referring to a BwB piece from December 16.
This was the article debating who was the oldest junior football club in Scotland.
Many from this part of Scotland reckoned East Craigie could be the oldest but I offered Kirkintilloch Rob Roy as being one year older than the Shipbuilders, the west coast side being founded in 1879.
Jim, however, went a further one year back, and offered Larkhall Thistle (1878). Prompted by Jim, I checked out their Wikipedia site and, sure enough, they claim they “are Scotland’s oldest Junior Football Club”.
I then received an email from the Kirkintilloch Rob Roy historian Ian Fyffe.
“Re your recent article on Dundee East Craigie, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy were founded in 1878,” opened Ian.
“Rob Roy were formed by a group of young men from the Eastside district of Kirkintilloch and was named after a by-then defunct Perthshire Curling Club.
“Their first listed ground was Smillies Pond (aka Coxdale Park), which was used for season 1878-79.
“Using my junior records, I can now confirm Vale of Clyde, from the east end of Glasgow, have the distinction of being the oldest junior side still in existence in Scotland.
“They were founded in 1873, 15 years before Celtic.
“I make the three oldest clubs still playing junior football as Vale Of Clyde (1873), Larkhall Thistle (1878) and Kirkintilloch (1878).”
Ian, who was brought up in Fintry, Dundee, but has spent the last 30 years in the west coast, said he used to watch Elmwood at Midmill Park many years ago when Bert Nolan was the manager.
He moved to the west of Scotland when promoted by the Post Office to work in Glasgow HPO 30 years ago.
He continued: “I lived in Dens Road, a free-kick’s length away from Dens Park, and represented the area as a district councillor.
“All my football was played in the Angus, Midlands and Half Holiday Leagues.
“My long involvement with the Rabs was due to them being my local team and my new colleagues were ardent supporters.
“Now retired — and enjoying retirement — I’m still a member of the Rob Roy committee and, of course, the club webmaster.”
Another regular contributor to this column does not reckon it is all cut and dried.
“Before Kirkintilloch Rob Roy can claim bragging rights to Scotland’s oldest junior club, they have a conflict to resolve,” said Canadian ex-pat Rob Boag.
“On their own website, it states that Kirkintilloch Rob Roy were formed in 1878, but, in the SJFA records, the Rabs were formed in 1884 — which date is it?
“I suggest that, until the date conflict is resolved, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy can claim to be only one of a number of Scotland’s oldest junior clubs.
“There are other clubs established or formed prior to 1880.
“The ‘Tin Pail’ — Vale of Clyde — in 1873, Arniston Rangers in 1878, Larkhall Thistle in 1878, all dates confirmed in the SJFA records.
“I don’t know if these clubs have an unbroken tenure. Larkhall Thistle must, as they have given East Craigie a bodyswerve and proclaimed to the world on their website that they are ‘Scotland’s Oldest Junior Club’.”
Rob continued: “Apart from bragging rights, what intrigues me about the history of junior football is the SJFA was formed in 1886 and created a body of work called ‘Constitution and Rules’.
“Before that formation of the SJFA, who was it that made the rules for the game?
“When a farmer gave the Craigie lads — they wore their shinpads like cricketers — a field to convert into a pitch, who came up with the rectangle measurements for a pitch, and the length between the goalposts?
“Were the rules in Dundee the same as those on the west coast before 1886?
“Hopefully, BwB may unearth some more insightful clues in East Craigie’s past history of our game.”
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