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History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867 - 1917
Chapter XXVIII.—The Corinthians and Other New Year Games


An outstanding bright spot in the history of the Queen's Park is the annual New Years match against the Corinthians, a band of amateurs—and such amateurs !—a brilliant galaxy of talent, all men who have gained high honours in the game, and whose sole aim and ambition were to bring out all that is good and healthy in a pastime they followed for the love of it. Similar sentiments have always actuated the Queen's Park since its very foundation, its ambition being to keep the game unsullied, and its own reputation as pure and clean as the driven snow, and with success. It here met with kindred spirits. It will be proved in many parts of the history as here detailed, that the name of the club is even at the present day a household word for all that is chivalrous, clean, upright, and true in the civilised world of sport. That is a testimony which cannot be controverted. Finding, therefore, a body of players, banded together with the same principles and purpose as its own, whose dislike to professionalism was as pronounced, and who saw a new order of things gradually crushing out the amateur, the club had at hand here the means of propagating the gospel, and at the same time meeting on the field gentlemen like those of the Queen's Park, incapable of a movement calculated to bring the sport into disrepute, whose desire to win was as keen, and who gave and took hard knocks in the course of a game with an easy grace, and an apologetic smile on the lips, if, in thought even, offence had been given. The players could be met afterwards at the social board, and be delighted to congratulate a victorious opponent, with a free heart and candid mind, without an arricre pensee, just as joyfully as if they had been the successful party themselves. That is sport, that is amateurism, that is the manner in which all games should be conducted, but unfortunately such is not always the case, and the introduction of the paid player has, to a. large extent, killed that feeling in Association football. The Corinthians were drawn from the flower of English amateur football. The real object of Mr. N. L. Jackson, the founder of the Corinthians, in getting together a club of this kind, was to give good players—while not entering for any cup and similar competitions—more frequent opportunities of playing together, as the want of combination was strikingly apparent in English International teams, as compared with those that represented Scotland. The English players rarely-played together, and knew nothing of each other's styles of play until they learned these essentials on the actual battlefield of the day. Mr. N. L. Jackson, who at the time was honorary assistant secretary to the English Association, and who subsequently took a pronounced part in different, amateur sports, being editor of "Pastime," a very successful weekly in the 'eighties, was the life and soul of the Corinthian-organisation. "Pa" Jackson, as he was affectionately styled by the team, was each New Year a welcome figure on the Hampden slopes, at all matches played there between the clubs. An enthusiast, his geniality raised for him great popularity on both sides of the Tweed; and in amateur circles, he was really the "Pa" of sport, directing the feeble footsteps of seekers after truth, to the light of knowledge and rectitude of principle, which latter was the dominating feature of his existence. A player himself, he understood the game—he was originally a member of the Finchley Club —and his own personality thrown in, he kept the Corinthians together for over twenty-two years. Founded towards the end of the season 1881-82, the match tours were undertaken mostly during the Christinas and Easter holidays. Consequently very few games were played in a season, and all were of importance. While no rule existed on the subject, the Corinthians had an unwritten law, requiring a public school or university qualification for their members. There have been exceptions to this rule, but not many. The best men of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and the great public schools, together with the highest amateur talent of any nationality, formed a collective assembly of football talent, which has proved its ability against even the best professional combinations on many fields. Several Queen's Park players were admitted to membership, at different periods, including Dr. John Smith, Walter Arnott, Charles Campbell, David S. Allan, W. Sellar, John Holm, J. A. Lambie, and Andrew Watson. The club came to the front in season 1884-85, by their sensational defeat of Blackburn Rovers, at Blackburn, then admittedly the best team in the United Kingdom, for the Rovers had defeated Queen's Park that season in the final for the English Cup, and had passed throughout the season without a reverse, until the Corinthians fell upon and crushed the Blackburnites to the tune of eight goals to one. The Rovers had their full team. In the victorious team were two Queen's Park players, Dr. John Smith, who captained the eleven, playing centre forward, and Andrew Watson, right back.

The raison d'etre of instituting such a club soon told in the International matches of England. During the nine years prior to 1884-85 England had only one victory to her credit against Scotland. During the succeeding nine years there were forty-four Corinthians in the English teams, during which interval four games were won, two lost, and three drawn. This is a very serious difference, and goes to establish Mr. N. L. Jackson's contention, that combination and playing together, are most important factors on the road to success in football, whether the games be club or representative. In 1884 the English team against Wales was composed entirely of Corinthians, who won by five goals to one. In the International of 1886, played in Scotland, the English team consisted of nine Corinthians and two Blackburn Rovers, the game ending in a draw, on a sodden ground.

All these facts regarding the Corinthians are given, in order that it may be thoroughly understood what the Queen's Park was up against when it, on 1st January, 1886, played the first of a long series of games against such a strong—nay, powerful—body as the Corinthians were in their day, and there is no reason to assume that the Corinthians of to-day are one whit inferior to the players in this first match, as the greatest care is always taken in choosing the team for the few. matches played each season. The Corinthians are international in strength even now, that all the best League clubs in England and Scotland (except Queen's Park) have been professional for many years. This factor must be taken into account in scanning the list of the results of the games Played between the Queen's Park and Corinthians, both at Hampden Park and in England at various places, as the Corinthians, being a nomadic club, had no private ground of their own, and, indeed, no subscription or entrance fee. They played matches on a share of the gate system, which enabled them to pay all expenses without profit. The annual contest really amounted to a sort of amateur International championship, season by season, between the two great amateur organisations north and south of the Border—two games being played each year almost without exception, sometimes three. The success, or want of it, of the Queen's Park in these contests must therefore be gauged only after taking into consideration the above points. On the whole, the Scots must be considered, especially in the early history of the match, to have done well. A private club had to oppose a picked combination. Annually, the game excited the greatest interest in Glasgow football circles, and Hampden Park rarely, during a season, at a private game, contained such a crowd as assisted at this football treat; no, not even after Celtic and Rangers arranged an annual League match for the same date. Home-and-home matches were the rule ; on two or three occasions only one game was played. Intercourse ceased after 23rd February, 1907, owing to a political difference between the English Association and. the club, which has since been happily settled. No games were played between these old friends, but the friendship was renewed on 1st January, 1920, when it was demonstrated the interest in the match had in no wise abated.

The full list of the forty-five matches played is herewith appended:—

Eight of the Queen's Park victories were won at Hampden Park, and five away. A considerable discrepancy exists between the earlier results, so far as the club is concerned, and those of later date. Take, for instance, the first twenty-seven results. Of these the Queen's Park have won twelve, lost ten, while five were drawn. The contrast is pronounced in the succeeding sixteen games, the values being from 1899 until 1907—won one (in 1905, at Hampden Park), lost thirteen, and two drawn. That is to say, this one Scottish club, at the time the Corinthians were in the zenith of their fame, during a period of thirteen years, held their own against this powerful organisation, and a bit more. However, since so many inroads have been made in the ranks of the Queen's Park from year to year—the club, even at this very date, being little better than a training school for the League clubs—the results have not been so satisfactory. The spirit of purity in the sport still exists on both sides, and was again paramount when the friendly relations were resumed after the war.

Another instance of consideration for others, which has ever been a characteristic of the Queen's Park, is evidenced in the sympathy extended towards the Corinthians over the sad death of Mr. II. M. Walters, brother of the more famous Pair of International and Corinthian backs, P. M. and A. M.. Walters. In a minute of a committee meeting on 28th November, 1890, it is recorded :—

Reference was made to the sad death of Mr. H. M. Walters, resulting from an accident on the football field, and, considering the close and friendly intercourse that had so long existed between our club and Messrs. P. M. and A. M. Walters and the Corinthian club, it was moved that we send a wreath to the funeral, and a letter of condolence, extending our sympathy to the members of the family in their sad bereavement.

A nice and thoughtful tribute to a fallen comrade.

The Corinthian dinner was always a function to which the members of both clubs looked forward with pleasurable anticipation. Every New Year the Corinthians and friends were royally entertained, and old acquaintanceship renewed, and battles fought over again. However, as New Year's Day, 1903, approached—Mr. N. L. Jackson having given up the helm, and the Queen's Park retrenching its expenditure, all available funds being required for the new ground—it was thought advisable not to give the customary complimentary dinner to the Corinthians on this occasion. Moreover, since the advent of professionalism, these, and similar entertainments, had been generally abandoned. The secretary was instructed to write to the new secretary of the Corinthians, and obtain his views on the question. He was evidently of the same opinion as the Queen's Park, as both clubs ceased entertaining each other from that date.

Some differences of opinion as to the terms agreed upon arose between Mr. Morton, match secretary of the Queen's Park, and Mr. N. L. Jackson, the "Pa" of the Corinthians, after the match played at Hampden on New Year's Day, 1887. Mr. Morton stated that the arrangement was home-and-liome matches, each club to receive the whole drawings at their respective grounds. Mr. Jackson held, however, that the agreement was half net gate, with a guarantee of 50, as in the previous season, when the Corinthians first came to Hampden Park. The correspondence between the parties did not bear out Mr. Jackson's contention, and he was written to to that effect. Mr. Jackson was too good a financier to give way; so the Queen's Park, rather than bring about a deadlock, agreed to Mr. Jackson's view of the case. It was a bad bargain for the Queen's Park, as there is no comparison between the gates in Glasgow and in London. Here the visit of the Corinthians at the New Year is a gala day ; in the big metropolis, it is just an ordinary fixture.

In 1894 the question of terms came up again with Mr. N. L. Jackson, and an alteration was made, each club to deduct twenty-five per cent. for expenses from the gross proceeds, with a guarantee of 50. This was considered satisfactory by the Queen's Park. All the same, considering the gates at both ends, in London and Glasgow, the balance of advantage was always in favour of the Corinthians—a fact which was never lost sight of by that strongly amateur combination. In July, 1895, a further amendment in terms had to be conceded, as the Oval was no longer available for the Corinthians, whose matches in future would have to be played on the Queen's Club ground. A lump sum of 75 was to be paid to the visiting club, the remainder to be retained by the ground club, which arrangement was quite acceptable to the Queen's Park. Mr. Jackson lay quiescent until August, 1897, when he came to the front again with increased terms—namely, 75 guarantee, and half everything net over 150, which did not suit the Queen's Park, as the Corinthians had no ground to keep up, merely getting the use of the Queen's Club ground, and under easier terms than before. However, Mr. Jackson amended his terms to half-share of all receipts of gates and stands over 150, after paying expenses, which terms were accepted. It was still a good bargain for the amateur Corinthians. In 1903 it became the turn of the Queen's Park to suggest fresh terms—namely, 100 guarantee in a lump sum, instead of 75, and half over 150, to which the Corinthians agreed.

The friendly series of matches played for so many years between Queen's Park and Corinthians came to an abrupt termination in season 1907-08, as in August, 1907, it was reported to the committee that the Corinthian Football Club, having joined the recently-formed Amateur Football Association, were, in terms of the recent resolution of the Football Association, prohibited, along with other clubs belonging to the new body, from proceeding further with its organisation, and were consequently not entitled to compete against clubs members of the Football Association. In terms of the international agreement between the English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh Associations, each Association was bound to recognise the prohibitions and suspensions of clubs and individuals by other National Associations. Consequently the Scottish Association would be called upon to recognise the suspension of the Corinthians by the Football Association, and thus prevent that club playing in Scotland against Queen's Park, or any other club, so long as this interdict lasted. So the New Year game was in jeopardy. The Queen's Park approached the Scottish Football Association on the subject, but that body had no alternative but to uphold the authority of the English Association, as it would expect, in a similar case, its own decisions to meet with the support of all kindred associations. Each National Association has absolute jurisdiction in its own territory. It was with the greatest regret that the Queen's Park saw these interesting matches disappear from its annual programme of home-and-home engagements, more particularly the New Year's Day game, which for so many years had been a sort of international amateur festival, at which congregated many patrons of football who had never taken kindly to modern professional football, and who were stimulated in their old-fashioned belief that, as played by such amateurs, all of the highest standing, possessed of gentlemanly instincts, no game equalled in interest that between the old Queen's Park and the Corinthians on New Year's Day.

The amateur clubs in England, not being satisfied their interests were being properly looked after by the Football Association, now largely tinged with the professional element, thought they should have an Association of their own, independent of the control of the parent body. The Football Association, true to its claim to be the supreme authority in England—its larger claim to supremacy over all Association football in every country had to be abandoned —at once put its veto on the new Association, which, after a valiant effort to kick against the pricks, ignoring the Football Association and all its ways for a time, found the handicap too severe, and ceased to persevere. As for the Corinthians, they laid aside the panoply of war, and became moribund. Still, the Amateur Football Association was a real live entity for a time, but its field of action was necessarily limited, as matches could only be arranged in its own sphere.

The only resource left for the Queen's Park was to look about for a suitable amateur combination to fill the shoes of the Corinthians on New Year's Day, 1908, and the match committee were instructed to go into the matter at once. Applications from various clubs, offering to take the place of the Corinthians, were received, and the Bohemians Football Club, of Dublin, were fixed upon, the terms being a guarantee of 75, which the club were prepared to supplement, should the gate prove satisfactory. The Bohemians were also to be entertained "in a small way." However, it was later decided to treat the Bohemians in the same hospitable manner as the Corinthians were entertained— namely, to dinner—and the guarantee was increased to 100. When New Year's Day, 1909, was approaching, the club entered into negotiations with Northern Nomads, a strong amateur combination, to form the opposition at Hampden Park on the opening day of the year. The Nomads received a guarantee of 75, which terms were accepted. They were also to be dined in the usual way. As the match had proved an attraction, and had been financially successful, the Queen's Park forwarded a cheque for 100 to the Northern Nomads, which no doubt was thankfully received, as such an increase in their guarantee was not expected. Northern Nomads gratefully acknowledged the generous action of the club in allotting to them a larger amount than their guarantee. Both the Northern Nomads and Bohemians (Dublin) were anxious to enjoy the hospitality of the Queen's Park, New Year's Day, 1910, which fell on a Saturday, a day consecrated to the Scottish League, of which the Queen's Park was now a member. The secretary was instructed to intimate to the Scottish League that the Queen's Park were in negotiation for a friendly match on 1st January, and were prepared to play their League fixture on Monday, 3rd January, if desired, in lieu of 1st January, and requesting to be kept free for the Spring Holiday, reminding the secretary of the League to arrange, if possible, the "away" match with Aberdeen for the Glasgow Autumn Holiday. That was in June, 1909. This was the beginning of much trouble. The request of the club was refused by the League, on the ground that, if the Queen's Park did not play a League match on Saturday, 1st January, it would leave one of the clubs without a League fixture, which none of the clubs would agree to. The committee strongly protested against any such interference by the League now. The protest was of no avail. The League had arranged a full programme for Monday, 3rd January, that day being a holiday also. The League opponents of the Queen's Park, however, on 3rd January had arranged another match for the Monday, and so set free the club. An appeal was made by Queen's Park to the First Division of the League to cancel the fixture with Partick Thistle for New Year's Day. When Queen's Park joined the League in 1900, it had* been expressly stipulated that their New Year's Day match would not be interfered with. Nevertheless the League Committee insisted that League fixtures were to be carried out as published, and the appeal was refused. However, at the instance of Mr. Alex. MacFarlane (Port-Glasgow Athletic Football Club), the following resolution was passed by the League Committee :—

That while the committee reserve the right to ask clubs to play League games on such holidays as they may think proper, in the special circumstances of the Queen's Park Football Club, it shall be recognised that that club shall be free to play a game against amateur opposition on New Year's Day, except when that day falls on a Saturday.

An effort to come to an arrangement with Partick Thistle re New Year's Day failed, notwithstanding that club was unable to play the League game with Queen's Park, 21st August, as their new ground was not yet ready. Queen's Park decided to play Partick Thistle on 1st January, and Northern Nomads on Monday, 3rd January, 1910, on the usual terms, dinner included, and the Nomads were permitted to meet Heart of Midlothian, in Edinburgh, on 4th January. It is worth mentioning that the drawings from the match against Nomads amounted to 413, and the Queen's Park gave the visiting club 100, instead of the 75 guarantee. Northern Nomads again filled the bill, 2nd January, 1911, having been preferred to Clapton, who had been played in London, 28th March, 1910, and wished to visit Glasgow. It was proposed to send an English amateur team to the Continent during the New Year Holidays, but the Nomads were not seriously affected, and provided so good a team that the game ended in a draw—1-1. They were again treated in the usual liberal manner. Once more Northern Nomads and Clapton were competitors for New Year's Day, 1912, but the former, being the more experienced footballers, and likely to afford better opposition, were again preferred, after submitting their probable team. So they again occupied the post of honour, 1st January, 1912, and, in addition to being entertained to a banquet, they were indulged with a visit to a theatre. These Nomads had proved an attraction equal to that furnished by the Corinthians, with this difference, that the latter were looked upon as an institution, while the former were considered a stop-gap until such times as the Corinthians were in a position to resume. The Nomads became so popular that they reappeared at Hampden Park, 1st January, 1913, and suffered defeat there by 4-1. As there was a prospect of the differences between the Football Association and the English Amateur Association being arranged, prior to New Year's Day, 1914, the Queen's Park were not in any hurry to fix with Northern Nomads for that date, and delayed consideration of the Nomads' application for a month. The Football Association discussed the English Amateur Association difficulty on 1st December, 1913, when a solution of the trouble was found. As there was little time left now to arrange a match for New Year's Day, the Queen's Park had to come to a decision at once. The match committee were instructed to fix with the Corinthians, if at all possible, and if not, to arrange with the team of English Wanderers. Ultimately, as the major question of the position of Corinthians was not yet settled in England, this band of amateurs was invited to Hampden Park, New Year's Day, 1914. When arrangements came to be made for 1st January, 1915, naturally the reappearance of the Corinthians was the first consideration of the club ; but the war had now broken out, and the Corinthians, owing to many of their members having volunteered for service, had to decline, and the Queen's Park had again to fall back on the English Wanderers, who for the second time gave a finished display of football, and had the honour of defeating Queen's Park on both occasions—in 1914 by 3-0, and in 1915 by 1-0. During the following four years this amateur New Year match lapsed, owing to the Great War. The date, sacred for so many years to the promulgation of the amateur cult, now only a relic of former days, was, fro tern., occupied by a Scottish League match, Ayr United usually occupying the place of those great English combinations, whose visits to Glasgow were so highly appreciated by the public, and desired by the Queen's Park.

The series of New Year Day games with English clubs— a tit-bit for Hampden habitues in the holiday season—had its commencement 1st January, 1881, when Old Etonians, then a very powerful organisation, made their one and only appearance on the Hampden slopes of that day. Their reception was perhaps warmer than they anticipated, as they lost by 4-0. They were followed on 2nd January, 1882, by Old Carthusians, another band of amateurs, who were Perhaps at that period on the decline. They once bore a high standing in English football. They put up a poor fight, Queen's Park winning by 8-0. Then the Swifts came on the scene for a couple of years, visiting Hampden Park, 1st January, 1883, and demonstrating their ability by snatching victory from the Scots by 2-1. 1st January, 1884, saw Queen's Park homeless, second Hampden being in preparation, so Swifts were accommodated at Titwood Park, the temporary quarters of the Queen's Park. The London Swifts were the first English club to defeat the Queen's Park on Scottish soil, which they did on New Year's Day, 1883, on Old Hampden Park. At that time the Wanderers alone of English combinations could boast of being the masters of the Queen's Park. Andrew Watson, who had recently joined the Swifts, played against the Queen's Park. The other members of the team were drawn from Royal Engineers, Old Etonians, Pilgrims, etc., all legitimate members of the Swifts. The Queen's Park eleven was not a strong one, and suffered defeat accordingly. When the Swifts appeared at Titwood, 1st January, 1884, that reverse was amply avenged, Queen's Park gaining a pronounced victory by 5-1. The victors were out in full force : A. Rowan; W. Arnott and A. H. Holm ; G. Campbell and J. J. Gow; E. Eraser, W. Anderson, Dr. Smith, W. Harrower, D. S. Allan, and R. W. Christie. The Swifts were again supported by A. Watson. Aston Villa formed the opposition at second Hampden Park, now in occupation by the club, 1st January, 1885, almost a year after the great defeat of the "Villans" (6-1), in the English Cup tie between the same clubs, at Titwood, 19th January, 1884. The New Year game showed Aston Villa in a much more favourable light. Though worsted by 4-3, they played much better football, having evidently been over-weighted in the tie by the importance of the occasion. There was a game in between the above matches at Birmingham, 8th November, 1884, which Villa won by 2-1. Then came the Corinthian series, which remained unbroken until that club came into conflict with the Football Association over the formation of an English Amateur Football Association.

When the Queen's Park began their series of New Year's Day matches with Old Etonians in 1881, the club had been previously in negotiation with the London Swifts. The Londoners would have been played, were their demands more moderate and their habits less luxurious. They demanded Pullman return fares between London and Glasgow. This was rather too much for the careful Queen's Park, who respectfully declined to encourage these Sybarites in their ideas of comfort at other people's expense. However, after a couple of years' consideration, the Swifts seem to have been glad to accept the usual terms, and appeared at Hampden Park on New Year's Day in 1883, and at Titwood, 1884, the Old Carthusians getting the honour in 1882. The Queen's Park did not indulge their players, as a rule, with first-class fares, much less Pullman sleeping berths. There was an occasion in the early 'seventies, when the team was to visit Notts to play the first return match with that club in March, 1875, that "seven gentlemen going from Glasgow were to travel second class," and the five who were in the International team, and went from London to Nottingham, should travel second class from the lace town home. Again, when the team went to London to play that fatal match, 5th February, 1876, against the Wanderers, " those who could not take advantage of the reduced rate should be allowed first-class fare." In the same month the Second Eleven captain reported he had " concluded negotiations for a match with Dundee Association club (their first provincial engagement), and it was unanimously agreed to defray the expenses of his eleven, and umpire, from Friday to Saturday evening, paying first-class fares for the journey." All clubs visiting Dundee now travel there and back third class on the same day, except in an important cup-tie game, when the team travels to Juteopolis the night before. Indeed, some clubs, on such occasions, regale the players at a neighbouring coast resort during the whole of the preceding week.


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