Season 1872/73

In 1872, National or Athletic Games were held in towns and villages all over Scotland and Queen’s Park decided to organise their own Sports.  The Sports began on Tuesday 30 July and continued every Thursday and Tuesday until Tuesday 13 August.  The competition was open to all football and cricket clubs in Queen’s Park and district but the only outside entries came from the Granville Cricket Club.  Despite this modest beginning, the Queen’s Park Sports were to go on to become one of Scotland’s leading athletics events.

Queen’s Park began their new football season with a 10-a-side game against Airdrie at the Queen’s Park Recreation Ground on the evening of Wednesday 28 August 1872.  Queen’s won 6-0 with goals from James Thomson, William Ker (2), Jamie Weir and Billy McKinnon (2).

This match in late August 1872 was the third and last recorded fixture between Queen’s Park and Airdrie FC.  However, The Book of Airdrie, published in 1954, states that “Queen’s Park were frequent visitors to Airdrie in those days for friendly games, at the end of which pies and porter were supplied for the refreshment of the players”.  It could be that there is some truth in this.

Although the fixture list was fuller, there were not games every Saturday.  Indeed, the next match was not until Saturday 19 October when Queen’s beat Granville 4-0 in the Queen’s Park, with goals from Robert Leckie, one of the Wotherspoons and Alex Rhind (2).  Vale of Leven were the next side to visit the Recreation Ground on 21 December.  Queen’s won 3-0 with goals from Jamie Weir (2) and Alex Rhind.

A return match with the Vale took place on Saturday 11 January when Queen’s Park opened Vale’s first home ground – Cameron’s Park in Alexandria.  The North British Daily Mail reported that “There was a large assemblage of spectators – the entire parish seemingly turned out to witness the play”.  A well-contested match ended 0-0.

On Saturday 25 January 1873, Queen’s Park were scheduled to play Granville and the Second Eleven should have been at East Kilbride.  It appears that neither match took place, presumably because of bad weather.

A third encounter with the Vale of Leven came off in the Queen’s Park on Saturday 15 February.  Queen’s dominated throughout but could not score and the match finished goalless.  Queen’s pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages and “The excitement among the 600 spectators during these few minutes was so keen that they surged five or six yards within the line of flags on both sides, sorely hampering wing players and spoiling the play” (North British Daily Mail).

The Second Eleven did not return to action until 22 February when they won 1-0 away to East Kilbride on a pitch that resembled a ploughed field.  The home goal led a charmed life and the Queen’s Park defence was never threatened.  The North British Daily Mail commented that the Queen’s goalkeeper Macmurray “who at the immediate risk of being frozen to the spot, nobly refused to leave his post, but, like the vaunted Pompeian sentinel of old, sacrificed self to duty and nearly necessitated R.I.P.”.

On Saturday 1 March, Queen’s Park met Vale of Leven yet again – this time in Alexandria.  The match excited immense interest in the district and no fewer than 1,500 spectators were present.  Queen’s won 1-0, despite playing a man short. 

There were over 1,000 spectators in attendance at Hampden Park for the last match of the season on 5 April 1873 when Queen’s Park beat Glasgow Wanderers 1-0.  Robert Gardner, who normally kept goal, scored the only goal of the game.

Any reference to season 1872/73 would, of course, be incomplete without mention of Queen’s Park’s role in staging the first ever official international football match.  Queen’s proposed to Charles Alcock, Honorary Secretary of the Football Association, that one of two England v Scotland matches planned for each season be played north of the border.  Alcock agreed, with certain conditions, and Queen’s Park, with little money in the bank and no ground of their own, assumed responsibility for staging the match.

Match ticket
The match took place on Saturday 30 November 1872 in the Burgh of Partick at Hamilton Crescent, the home of the West of Scotland cricket and rugby teams, and was a great success.  The Scotland side, wearing the dark blue of Queen’s Park, were very much second favourites but battled determinedly to achieve a notable scoreless draw.

The Scots team was – R Gardner (captain), goal; W Ker and J Taylor, backs; J J Thomson and J Smith, half-backs; R Smith, R Leckie, A Rhind, W McKinnon, J B Weir, and D Wotherspoon, forwards.

All eleven players came from Queen’s Park but it had not been the intention to exclude players from other clubs.  Significant efforts had been made to widen the pool of players from which the team would be selected.  As early as March 1872, The Scotsman published a letter from Queen’s Park inviting players in Edinburgh to express an interest in taking part in the following season’s Scotland v England match.  A further letter from the Hon Secretary of Queen’s Park was printed in The Scotsman inviting players wishing to take part in the forthcoming Scotland v England match to send him their names. 

Two weeks before the International, a trial match took place in the Queen’s Park.  Players from the Glasgow Academicals and West of Scotland rugby rules sides had been expected to attend but only Accies’ players turned up.  One of these players, Thomas Chalmers, who went on to become a famous rugby international, was said to have proved a splendid goalkeeper.  However, none of the rugby men eventually took to the field against England, possibly because the inter-district rugby match between Glasgow and Edinburgh clashed with the second trial match on the following Saturday.  

While the Wanderers versus Queen’s Park match earlier in the year had created an increased interest in the Association game, the Scotland v England match resulted in a real upsurge in the number of people playing the game and spectating at matches.

On Saturday 8 March 1873, the Scots took on England again, this time at the Kennington Oval in London.  Three players from English clubs were included in the Scotland line-up and this seemed to upset the balance of the side.  The Queen’s Park players who featured in a 4-2 defeat were Robert Gardner, William Ker, Joe Taylor, Robert Smith, David Wotherspoon, James Thomson and Billy McKinnon.  The scorer of Scotland’s second goal, William Gibb, was described as being a member of both Queen’s Park and Clydesdale.  It is unclear which was his principal club at the time.

Queen’s Park had again entered the FA Cup competition and, as in the previous season, had been freed from competition until the last two drawings, i.e. the semi-finals.  Queen’s were drawn against Oxford University in the semi-finals.  The match was to be played on the Monday after the England v Scotland match but Oxford could not play on that date.  Queen’s scratched from the competition, even though they were entitled to claim the tie.

Football really took off in Scotland in season 1872/73 but not everyone was impressed by the new game.  A report in The Scotsman read “As compared with the Rugby game, the Association one is remarkably tame, all the excitement connected with running, dropping, charging, and place-kicking, being conspicuous by its absence, and unless some considerable changing were taking place in the Association style of play, there was very little chance of the leading Scotch clubs leaving their first love – i.e. the Rugby code”.


Results 1872/73

First Team
28/08/1872 Queen’s Park 6 Airdrie 0
19/10/1872 Queen’s Park 4 Granville 0
21/12/1872 Queen’s Park 3 Vale of Leven 0
11/01/1873 Vale of Leven 0 Queen’s Park 0
15/02/1873 Queen’s Park 0 Vale of Leven 0
01/03/1873 Vale of Leven 0 Queen’s Park 1
05/04/1873 Queen’s Park 1 Glasgow Wanderers 0

Second Team
22/02/1873 East Kilbride 0 Second QP 1

Representative Matches
30/11/1872 Scotland 0 England 0
08/03/1873 England 4 Scotland 2

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