Queen's Park opened season 1876/77 with their Amateur Sports at Hampden Park. The 5,000 or so spectators were able to make use of the new grandstand which could accommodate around 1,000 persons. The event was a success but the programme was so long that darkness set in before it could be completed.
Before the actual football season started, the sad news was received that James Smith, one of the founders of Queen's Park and one of the club's most notable players, had died at his brother's house in Elgin on 20 September. He had been recuperating there after suffering sunstroke in London, where he had been living for several years.
Queen's Park's first match of the season was a Scottish Cup tie with Sandyford at Hampden Park on Saturday 30 September. Queen's won 7-0 but the scorers are not known.
On the following Saturday, Notts County made a return visit to Hampden Park. The crowd, though over 6,000, was less than two years previously as some saw the result as a foregone conclusion. County defended doggedly for 24 minutes but, once Queen's opened the scoring, the result was never in doubt and Queen's Park recorded a 5-1 victory. Willie Mackinnon scored goal number two and Jimmy Weir got numbers four and five. The scorers of goals number one and three are less clear but they seem likely to have been players listed as A L Senior and A C Cochrane. The Notts goal came when Harry McNeil knocked the ball past his own goalkeeper, much to the amusement of the crowd.
In a match report in the following month, the Glasgow Herald commented - "It should be stated that 'A C Cochrane' and 'A L Senior' are, politely speaking, noms de guerre, or what are less politely known as 'aliases'. There may have been satisfactory reasons in this case, but the system is a bad one, as it opens the door to a lot personation, and imports an unworthy air of secrecy to an open and manly game."
"A C Cochrane" was Tom Highet. "A L Senior" was almost certainly Angus McKinnon, who had missed the whole of the previous season due to illness. Indeed, a couple of newspaper reports actually referred to him as A McKinnon. Possibly, he used the pseudonym "Senior" to differentiate himself from his teammate Willie or Billy Mackinnon. Both were generally referred to as M'Kinnon in the newspapers of the day. Willie's surname was given as McKinnon on his birth certificate but he preferred to use Mackinnon. The exact spelling of Angus' surname is unclear and I have chosen to use McKinnon.
Angus McKinnon only played half the season and never turned out for Queen's Park again. It is known that he died in Canada in 1880 but it is not clear when he emigrated.
Queen's Park's next game on Saturday 14 October resulted in a 3-0 win over Clydesdale at Hampden Park, with the goals coming from "A Cochrane", Charles Campbell and an own goal. On both of the following Saturdays, Queen's recorded 7-0 wins. First of all, Eastern were defeated at Barrowfield Park, with goals from Tod (2), Hillcoat (2), "Senior" (2) and McNeil. The second game was a Scottish Cup second round tie against Caledonian at Kelvinbridge. Around 2,500 fans saw Queen's Park achieve a bigger win than expected. "Senior" got three goals in the first half. The scorers of the four second half goals are not known.
On Saturday 4 November 1876, Queen's Park renewed their rivalry with Wanderers at the Oval in London. Queen's recorded a resounding 6-0 victory, with goals from "Senior", Willie Mackinnon (2), "Cochrane" and Jimmy Weir (2). The Sportsman reported that Queen's Park "were undoubtedly superior to their opponents at every point of the game. Weir's dribbling was the best we have ever seen, and he was carried to the pavilion in triumph at the close." The Queen's Park team was - J Dickson, goal; J J Taylor and R W Neill, backs; C Campbell and J Phillips, half-backs; J B Weir, W Mackinnon, H McNeil, "A C Cochrane", "A L Senior" and T Tod. Supporters back in Glasgow were in a state of excitement on the Saturday evening waiting for the score. When the result did eventually come through, it was better than anyone could have expected.
Queen's Park had been due to meet Arthurlie in the Scottish Cup on Saturday 11 November but the tie was postponed due to snow. The game took place at Hampden Park on the following Saturday and Queen's won 7-0. The scorers of five of the goals were James Phillips, Jimmy Weir (2) and Willie Mackinnon (2). It is unclear whether the fourth goal was scored by Weir or Tom Lawrie and the scorer of the fifth goal is not known.
On Saturday 25 November, Queen's Park met Rangers at Kinning Park. Rangers had switched from Burnbank to Kinning Park after Clydesdale moved to their new ground at Titwood. The 2,000 spectators saw a closer game than expected. Queen's won 1-0 with a Gillespie own goal just before half-time. Rangers disputed the score, claiming hand ball, but the referee gave a goal.
On Saturday 2 December, Queen's Park were back on Scottish Cup duty, with Northern the visitors to Hampden Park, and had a comfortable 4-0 victory. Queen's opened the scoring shortly after kick-off and got a second 20 minutes into the second half through an Andrew Hillcoat header. Two further goals were scored but the scorers are not known.
On the following Saturday, Cambridge University attracted a crowd of 7,000 to Hampden Park. Queen's took the lead in 25 minutes through a Roughton own goal. Tom Highet got a second from a Campbell corner kick, and "Senior" got a third before half-time. There was no further scoring and Queen's Park ran out 3-0 winners.
On Saturday 16 December, Queen's Park defeated Dumbreck 4-0 at Hampden Park. Queen's scored three goals with the wind at their backs in the first half - the first from a scrimmage in front of goal, the second by Tom Lawrie, and the third from a corner kick. Queen's played most of the second half without Lawrie, who had suffered an injury, but succeeded in scoring a further goal through Harry McNeil.
The draw for the third round of the English FA Cup took place on 20 December. After having received byes in the first two rounds, Queen's Park were drawn against Oxford University.
The Evening Times of 26 December reproduced an item that had appeared in the Toronto Globe - "The success of the Queen's Park - though the oldest club in Scotland, still a club of recent date - should serve as an inducement for our association clubs to study to reduce their game to a science. The Queen's Park men are not superior in physique and natural qualification to those of any club playing in Toronto. Constant practice and study alone have raised them a head and shoulders above their confreres."
On Saturday 30 December 1876, Queen's Park were involved in one of the most controversial games in the history of Scottish football when they entertained Vale of Leven in the fifth round or quarter-final of the Scottish Cup. There was heavy rain throughout and the pitch was a quagmire. Despite the terrible conditions, about 2,000 spectators turned up. Queen's took the lead after about 20 minutes with an own goal and had the better of things up to half-time. In the second half, Queen's Park faced the wind and, after eight minutes, Vale of Leven equalised through John Baird. Queen's claimed that there had been hand ball in the build-up to the goal. The umpires could not agree but the referee gave the goal. Vale were now the stronger side and got a second through Baird. Queen's claimed that the Vale goalkeeper had been behind his goal when he saved a Weir shot. (There were no marked goal lines in those days.) The claim fell on deaf ears and Vale ran out 2-1 winners.
Alexandria Station was besieged when the train carrying the Vale of Leven team arrived at 10 o'clock. The players were carried shoulder high amid the cheers of the crowd.
On the Monday after the match, a letter about the match was published in the North British Daily Mail. The writer, Humphrey Clinker, said that the Vale players came onto the pitch before the game and "took a few turns about, as football players usually do." He added that they then left the pitch, retired to the east end of the pavilion and reappeared shortly afterwards. He stated that there were numerous slips, falls and miskicks by Queen's Park during the game but the Vale men managed to keep their feet very securely. He maintained that "spike holes were seen and examined by several competent enough to be judge of that."
The Queen's Park president and secretary then travelled to Alexandria and, in the company of the president of Vale of Leven, visited the homes of the Vale players to check their boots. No spikes were found but Queen's maintained their view that there had been spike marks on the pitch. On Monday 5 February, the North British Daily Mail printed a letter from the president of Vale of Leven. He maintained that the "spike marks" had been made by umbrellas and walking sticks. That seemed to be the end of the debate but the controversy fuelled an intense rivalry between the two clubs.
On Saturday 6 January 1877, Queen's Park beat Clydesdale 1-0 at Titwood Park with a disputed goal. The Glasgow Herald reported that Queen's had been without the services of Tom Highet, who was thought to have decided to retire from football.
The Queen's Park first eleven would not return to action until April and the Second Eleven took centre stage in the following three weeks. On Saturday 20 January, Crosshill's first team were beaten 3-0 at Kilmailing Park. Then, on the following Saturday, Eastern's second eleven were defeated 2-0 at Barrowfield Park. This match was played under Sheffield Association rules to prepare the Queen's Park side for their trip to Birmingham on the following weekend. The Second Eleven's excursion to England proved successful with a 4-3 win over Calthorpe before a "large attendance of spectators".
On Saturday 10 February, Glasgow met Sheffield at Hampden Park and recorded a 1-0 victory. Robert "Bob" Neill, Charles Campbell, James Phillips, Jimmy Weir, Harry McNeil, Willie Mackinnon and Tom Highet all featured in the Glasgow side. Tom Highet had not retired after all.
The next game involving Queen's Park players was the England v Scotland match at the Kennington Oval on Saturday 3 March. Robert Neill, Charles Campbell, James Phillips and Willie Mackinnon played in the Scottish team that won 3-1. Two days after the England game, Scotland beat Wales 2-0 in Wrexham. Bob Neill, Charles Campbell, James Phillips and Harry McNeil featured in the match. Charles "Charlie" Campbell scored Scotland's first goal.
The Glasgow representative side was back in action on Saturday 24 March in a charity match against Scotch Counties at Hampden Park. A crowd of 4,000 saw Glasgow win 2-0. Neill, Campbell, Highet, Mackinnon and McNeil played for Glasgow. The proceeds of £130 went to the Home for Incurables.
On the following Saturday, Queen's Park staged a charity match for the benefit of the widow and family of Sergeant Taylor who had been fatally injured in a disastrous fire in Crosshill. There was "a numerous assemblage of spectators" and about £16 was handed over to the fund. The second eleven forwards/first eleven backs beat the first eleven forwards/second eleven backs 4-3.
On Saturday 14 April 1877, Queen's Park returned to first team action and beat Hamilton FC 3-0 at South Avenue in Hamilton. The scorers are not know.
A committee of influential Glasgow businessmen had raised funds for a new cup competition, with the proceeds to be given to a charitable project. Queen's Park were invited to select their opponents to play for the handsome trophy - the Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup. Queen's opted for near neighbours 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteers. They were then asked by the Charity Committee if they would be willing to play a further match against Vale of Leven if they beat the Volunteers. This was agreed.
The Charity Cup match with 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteers took place at Hampden Park on Saturday 21 April 1877. Despite the weather being very wet, there was a good turnout of spectators. Queen's won 3-0 with goals from Harry McNeil (2) and Jimmy Weir.
The winner of the Queen's Park v 3rd LRV match had been due to play Vale of Leven on Saturday 28 April in the Charity Cup Final. However, Vale had declined to take part "most reluctantly". They were unhappy at the reception they had received from the Glasgow crowd at the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers in the previous month.
Rangers stepped in to replace Vale of Leven in the Charity Cup Final. There were around 11,000 spectators inside or outside Hampden Park, including the Lord Provosts of Glasgow, Govan and Govanhill. Queen's Park won 4-0, with goals from Jimmy Weir (2), Charles Campbell and Andrew Hillcoat. All the goals were scored in the first half. The Queen's Park team was - J Dickson; J Taylor (captain) and R W Neill; C Campbell and J Phillips; T C Highet, F Tod, A B Hillcoat, T Lawrie, W Mackinnon and H McNeil. The Lord Provost of Glasgow presented the cup and gold badges (medals) to the Queen's Park team. In the evening, the teams were entertained in Mr Ancell's Restaurant in Glassford Street. The Charity Cup was filled with wine and handed round the company.
On Saturday 5 May, a Glasgow side played a match against an Ayrshire Clubs' select team at Holm Quarry in Kilmarnock in aid of the Kilmarnock Burns Statue Fund. Glasgow won 4-0. Joe Taylor, Bob Neill, Charlie Campbell, James Phillips, Jimmy Weir, Willie Mackinnon, Harry McNeil and Tom Highet played for Glasgow.
At the Annual General Meeting at the end of the season, the Queen's Park secretary said that the first team had played 16 games with one lost (66 goals for and 3 against), while the second eleven had played 14 matches - won 11, drawn 2, lost 1 (44 goals for, 13 against).
30/09/1876 Queen's Park 7 Sandyford 0 - Scottish Cup
07/10/1876 Queen's Park 5 Notts County 1
14/10/1876 Queen's Park 3 Clydesdale 0
21/10/1876 Eastern 0 Queen's Park 7
28/10/1876 Caledonian 0 Queen's Park 7 - Scottish Cup
04/11/1876 Wanderers (London) 0 Queen's Park 6
18/11/1876 Queen's Park 7 Arthurlie 0 - Scottish Cup
25/11/1876 Rangers 0 Queen's Park 1
02/12/1876 Queen's Park 4 Northern 0 - Scottish Cup
09/12/1876 Queen's Park 3 Cambridge University 0
16/12/1876 Queen's Park 4 Dumbreck 0
30/12/1876 Queen's Park 1 Vale of Leven 2 - Scottish Cup
06/01/1877 Clydesdale 0 Queen's Park 1
14/04/1877 Hamilton FC 0 Queen's Park 3
21/04/1877 Queen's Park 3 3rd LRV 0 - Charity Cup
28/04/1877 Queen's Park 4 Rangers 0 - Charity Cup Final
14/10/1876 Second Clydesdale 0 Second QP 3 (or 0-2)
28/10/1876 Second QP 4 Second Caledonian 0
04/11/1876 Mauchline 2 Second QP 2
18/11/1876 Second 3rd Lanark Rifle Volunteers 1 Second QP 3
25/11/1876 Second QP 2 Second Rangers 1
16/12/1876 Shotts 1 Second QP 3
06/01/1877 Second QP 5 Second Clydesdale 0
20/01/1877 Crosshill 0 Second QP 3
27/01/1877 Second Eastern 0 Second QP 2
03/02/1877 Calthorpe (Birmingham) 3 Second QP 4
03/03/1877 Second QP 1 Crosshill 1
10/03/1877 Mauchline 4 Second QP 1
17/03/1877 Second QP 8 Shotts 0
10/02/1877 Glasgow 1 Sheffield 0
03/03/1877 England 1 Scotland 3
05/03/1877 Wales 0 Scotland 2
24/03/1877 Glasgow 2 Scotch Counties 0