In The Beginning

In the 1860s, the Glasgow conurbation was expanding rapidly.  The suburban burghs to the south of the city boundary, such as Queen’s Park and Strathbungo, were populated in the main by people who were not native Glaswegians.  Often they were young men, with a good standard of education, who had come to the city to seek their fortune.

Sporting activity in the 1860s was very different than it is today.  Probably, the most popular pastimes were quoits and draughts.  Cricket was played in the summer and two rugby teams – Glasgow Academicals and West of Scotland – had been established in the city in 1865.  However, the only sport involving any great degree of physical activity which took place on a widespread basis was what was termed National Games, a sort of combination of modern-day track and field athletics and the athletic events associated with Highland Games.

This was the background that led to a group of young men from the North of Scotland gathering together to practise track and field events such as hammer-throwing, running, pole-vaulting and tossing the caber.  It is not clear how they all met.  Some of them, possibly most of them, would have known each another before coming to Glasgow.  Founder members James Grant and Lewis Black, for example, had connections with the fishing village of Portnockie on the Moray Firth and probably also had family connections.  All that is known about where they practised initially is what appears in Richard Robinson’s comprehensive history of Queen’s Park’s first 50 years, published in 1922.  According to Robinson, the young men practised on an empty piece of land near Lorne Terrace in Pollokshields.  Lorne Terrace is at the junction of Nithsdale Road and Darnley Street.

The piece of ground used by the young sportsmen was to be developed so they had to find a new place to train.  The location they selected was the Queen’s Park Recreation Ground at the eastern end of Queen’s Park, or as it was often known the South-side Park.  It is believed that the spot they used was around the site of the new Victoria Infirmary building, in front of the Deaf and Dumb Institution which is now an apartment block.  (At a later stage, the fledgling Queen’s Park club kept their goal posts, flags etc in the Deaf and Dumb Institution.)  Once they became established in the Queen’s Park, the group was augmented by young athletes from other parts of Scotland, such as Ayrshire and, indeed, Glasgow itself.

Deaf & Dumb Institution
Deaf and Dumb Institution
Football had been played in Scotland for many centuries but not to any standard set of rules.  As the young men practised their athletics, they observed lads from a local branch of the YMCA playing their version of football.  The young men were intrigued by this and decided to start playing football themselves, in addition to their athletic pursuits.  They contributed 6d (2½p) a head to purchase a ball.  After what was probably a short period of time, they arranged a meeting to form a football club.  The meeting took place at 3 Eglinton Terrace on Tuesday 9 July 1867.  Eglinton Terrace was located at the southern end of of Victoria Road, only yards from the main gates of Queen’s Park.  Richard Robinson wrote that the meeting took place at "White's", which would presumably have been an eating place or public house.  However, the Glasgow Directories for 1866/67 and 1867/68 list 3 Eglinton Terrace as the private residence of John Murdoch, a Glasgow bookseller.  The neighbouring addresses, numbers 2 and 4 Eglinton Terrace, were occupied by a bookmaker (a maker of books rather than a turf accountant) and a doctor.  There is no mention of a "White's".

29 -year-old Mungo Ritchie, a native of Ardbennie near Crieff in Perthshire, was appointed President of the new club.  There was considerable debate over the choice of name for the club.  As the majority of the members came from the North of Scotland, names reflecting that fact were proposed.  However, James Grant suggested Queen’s Park and this was adopted.

The Secretary William Klingner, a 19-year-old lad from Aberdeenshire, was asked to source a set of rules for football and he wrote off to Cassell’s Family Paper and Sporting Life.  A copy of the Association Rules duly arrived from the famous cricketer James Lillywhite who had a sports shop in London.  These were adopted to form the new club’s “Rules of the Field”.  Under these rules, limited use of the hands was permitted.  The ball could be fisted but not thrown and a fair catch could be taken and the ball kicked from the mark.  (This approach remains to this day in Australian Rules football.)  In addition, if the ball crossed the goal-line wide of the goal, touches (touchdowns) counted.

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