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History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867 - 1917
Chapter XXXI.—Queen's Park and Scottish League

The Queen's Park did not favour the introduction of the Scottish League into the comity of sport. The feeling which was predominant in its mind was, that a combination of this kind must have in course of time a prejudicial effect upon amateur clubs, and, in fact, would obliterate the smaller, and less powerful clubs, from the scene altogether. Its own position might prove not too secure, as a league of clubs, pledged to play matches only amongst themselves, with vacant dates not required for League purposes at the disposal of other clubs, who must have a certain drawing capacity before their application for a fixture could be entertained, was a danger. From the League point of view, a compelling force was a necessity, in order to provide the absolute certainty of first-class fixtures, and to see these duly fulfilled. All the leading clubs, and among them the Queen's Park, felt the inconvenience of being compelled to play minor clubs, who had no real chance of winning, and who formed no attraction to the public ; moreover, the cup ties caused many important games to be put off, with no opportunity of renewing them. As the season approaches, every match secretary is ambitious to present a full and taking card to his members. Clubs cannot exist without money, and balances at the end of a season were meagre, and often insufficient. The recognition of professionalism made matters worse financially for the clubs who adopted it. Players had to be Paid, and the greater the ability of the player the more he expected for his services, and the greater the competition to secure him. Scottish clubs had to compete with English professional clubs for players, and in order to do so successfully they must have the wherewithal to bring success in a deal. the best players must be kept at home at all hazards. A high standard of play had to be provided, and this was only Possible by all the competing clubs in the League combination being of an equal merit, or nearly so. Inviolability of fixtures was the chief desideratum. That guaranteed, the competition ought to be keener, and consequently the interest of the public would be maintained. The greatest crowds would follow the most successful club. That in itself is not objectionable, were it not that it tended to crush the weaker clubs out of existence, who prospered by the measure of success they were able to obtain when opposed to clubs of a higher standing. In this way many of the clubs, now figuring well in League circles, first found an opening, and sprang into healthy vitality. The League system, introduced in Scotland in 1890, seriously reduced the number of clubs on the roll of the Scottish Association. The League clubs monopolised fixtures, and those outside that body were compelled to play among themselves, as the First and Second Divisions of the Scottish League contained all that was good in Association football north of the Tweed, with perhaps the exception of the Queen's Park, which stood out for amateurism at considerable cost to itself. It was fighting for a principle. Professionalism appealed to its members in no way. The League system was originated in the brain of the late Mr. W. M'Gregor, a Birmingham Scot, who founded a League of clubs in the North and Midlands of England in 1888, which proved such a success, for the reasons given above, that a Scottish League was bound to follow at no very distant date. Selfish or unselfish, the principle, by its increased power of fascinating the public in Scotland after its adoption here, made the sport even more popular than it had ever been. It is an open question whether it provided a higher class of play. The clubs are out to win ; they must win, or they drop in the football scale, and to fall in status means annihilation and oblivion. The competition has to be close, else interest flags. The League cannot afford to retain fallen stars, and this is provided for in the rules, the two bottom clubs having to retire from the annual meeting, and they take no part in the selection of clubs to take their places for the new season, should it be so decided. The retiring clubs are eligible for re-election to the vacant places, which are filled by the other clubs selecting two clubs from the two bottom clubs of the First Division and the two top clubs of the Second Division, or any other club they care to choose. The unsuccessful clubs are considered members of the Second Division for the ensuing season. The clause, "any other club they care to choose," appears to have been formulated in the interests of Queen's Park, which has been retained in the First Division annually by a process of special selection. There is now no Second League.

Many people suppose that League paid players followed no other employment than football during the war. That is a mistaken impression, as the following temporary rule clearly proves :—

In any football in which any club in membership of the League may take part, no player shall be engaged therein, unless such player is regularly and continuously employed throughout the week, during the term of engagement, in work other than football, or in connection with football, and no club shall allow its interests to interfere with the work of players engaged on Government work.

Further, clubs must report players who do not work, and wages shall not be paid to any player for any week during which he has been continuously employed.

The following clubs formed the Scottish League when that body was introduced to football in April, 1890 : Rangers, Celtic, Dumbarton, Cambuslang, 3rd Lanark, Heart of Midlothian, St. Mirren, Abercorn, Vale of Leven, Cowlairs, and Renton. The last named was expelled from football by the Scottish Football Association, 25th September, 1890, for playing against the "Edinburgh Saints," another name for St. Bernard, who had been suspended for six weeks on a charge of professionalism. Their name, therefore, does not appear as one of the first competitors in the Scottish League, which first, therefore, consisted of ten clubs. Renton was reinstated, and played in the League the following season.

In March, 1890, the first whisperings of a Scottish League came to the Queen's Park through a letter to the match secretary, Mr. MTavish, inviting him to attend a meeting for the purpose of considering the formation of a League. As the letter gave no particulars, Mr. M'Tavish declined to attend. The Scottish League became a reality, April, 1890. In June, 1890, the dawn of the troubles approaching loomed on the horizon of the Queen's Park, as the match secretary had to report he had no application for home-and-home matches from 3rd Lanark, Rangers, Vale of Leven, or Dumbarton. It was agreed to write to those four clubs—but not to Celtic, who were prime movers for the League system— in regard to the usual fixtures, so that the onus of refusing might rest with them. Replies were duly received from the above clubs, expressing their regret that, owing to the League matches, they could not arrange the usual fixtures. Notwithstanding, the Rangers asked the Queen's Park to take part in a football competition on the opening of Ibrox Park for the season, which invitation was declined. There was, of course, no ill-feeling m the matter, as the Rangers invited the Queen's Park to send a representative to their club supper, which was accepted, and Mr. W. H. Berry attended the social board. The committee, anxious to meet the needs of their patrons, took time by the forelock, and proceeded, in May, 1891, to compile a programme for next season. Matches were arranged with Everton, Corinthians, Canadians, Notts Forest, Sunderland, and Preston North End —the majority at home, and a couple away. They had still Battlefield, Kilmarnock, St. Bernard, Hamilton Academicals, Leith Athletic, Falkirk, Thistle, Northern, and Airdrieonians. These, together with the Scottish and Glasgow Cup ties, made up a full programme. Nor did the club suffer financially, as the drawings for that season amounted to the sum of 3,201—and no "veiled" professionals to pay. The League always gave pride of place to cup ties, fulfilling these engagements, even though they clashed with League fixtures. There is no match so profitable as a cup tie, and behind it are the honour and glory of winning the cup—a bait which no club can resist. The formation of the Scottish Alliance in 1894 raised up another difficulty before the Queen's Park, in the matter of providing fixtures, as the Alliance contained the majority of the Scottish clubs above named, who, in the following year—1895—became the Second Division of the Scottish League, though under separate management until 1899, when the two divisions joined forces. The junior division, considering they should have a larger say in the management of the League than the seniors were disposed to give them, proposed that the League should be governed by a committee consisting of a representative from each club in both divisions. This motion was carried, with the assistance of Rangers and Heart of Midlothian. A special meeting, on the requisition of eight clubs, was convened for the purpose of providing that the rules be altered to permit each division managing its own affairs. The vote, taken by ballot, resulted in the defeat of this motion. The matter had now reached a critical stage. Then the First Division clubs, who were determined the Second Division should not have any say in the control of the First Division affairs, resolved to either have the League reconstituted, or to form a new League. All was not harmony in the First Division itself. At the time of this dispute between the senior and junior branches of the League, the question of the Queen's Park joining the League had not arisen. Rangers and Heart of Midlothian were so much in sympathy with the junior League that the other clubs threatened to reconstitute the League without them, unless they fell in with their proposals. The defection of these clubs would have presented a serious difficulty, as both were strong elements in Scottish football. Mr. Arthur Geake, of the Queen's Park, meeting some of his League friends in town, the situation was laid before him, and they suggested that the Queen's Park should reconsider its attitude towards the League. He offered to act as negotiator, and interview the Hearts and Rangers, with the object of inducing them not to proceed to extremities, but his offer was not accepted. Mr. Geake laid the matter before his committee, and the team and the players were unanimous for the project, as they were anxious to meet opponents more worthy of their steel. Mr. Geake's answer to the suggestion was that the Queen's Park were now willing and anxious to join—a decision come to by the committee, 11th May, 1900. On this being intimated to the First Division clubs, they unanimously agreed to the inclusion of the Queen's Park, and to support a motion to alter the constitution of the League, so as to provide for each division managing its own affairs, the First Division taking charge of all business affecting the League as a whole. A special meeting was held on 1st August, 1900, at which this arrangement was agreed to. The ultimatum given to the junior section had the desired effect, and the Second Division fell in with the views of the seniors, the following arrangement being arrived at:-—

All questions between clubs, and clubs and players, are dealt with by a sub-committee consisting of the president and four members of the First Division committee, and, in addition, the First Division committee manage generally all business affecting the League as a whole. All disputes between the First and Second Divisions are considered by a joint committee of the two sections, in which the majority shall consist of First Division representatives.

This little difference of opinion thus led to the introduction of the Queen's Park to League football, as the League was of opinion that the accession of the Queen's Park would strengthen the First Division. It was the only club of standing in Scotland outside its influence. Thus the Queen's Park became a member of the Scottish League in season 1900-01, after holding out against the principle for a period of ten years. The League now consisted of eleven clubs. The club was not driven into the League by any desire to make money, as the balance sheet presented to the annual meeting in 1900 proves. It had 4,550 on deposit receipt, and over 200 cash in bank.

The Queen's Park, during its early connection with the League, suffered in its playing strength, through other League clubs inducing its players to obtain their transfers in mid-season, whereby the team was demoralised, and its usefulness destroyed. The League, recognising that this was unfair, brought in a rule, which gave Queen's Park immunity for the full season from poaching of this kind. The rule reads:— An amateur player shall, by signing a League form, be bound to the end of the season to the League club for which he signs, and shall not be transferred to another League club without the consent of his club or the League committee. An amateur player already registered for any club may be registered by that club, on and after 1st April, in each year for the following season. An amateur player shall not be placed on the list of players retained by any club, as alt 30th April in any year, unless he has been registered on or before that date for the following season.

While a professional player may be put on the retained list by his club, and a price fixed for his transfer to another club, the amateur, unless registered before the close of the old season, is a free agent.

A further concession was made to the Queen's Park by the League in March, 1918. Owing to the uncertainty of the future of football, because of the war, it was agreed that no players be registered for season 1918-19 until 22nd July, 1918, by any club ; but the Queen's Park were, a month later, allowed to register their amateurs as from 30th April.

The League gave these concessions to the Queen's Park as a matter of justice, recognising it was unfair to withdraw amateurs to professionalism in mid-season. The effect on the club was immense, and its power of competing on comparatively equal terms with the other clubs thereby increased. With the advent of the club within the cosmos of the League, naturally professionalism told its tale, and the Queen's Park, which, since its institution, always had to its credit at the end of a season a majority in goals and matches won, at once lost that standard, and found itself in a minority in both instances—not quite so bad at the beginning, but seriously so as the years advanced, its position on the League table being perilously near the bottom, and on four occasions absolute last. Still, the League never contemplated placing on the club the indignity of relegating it to the Second Division, for reasons already explained. That would have been a very serious step indeed, and might have meant the annihilation of the club, as in these latter days there are no clubs of strength outside the League, and even those in the Second Division, now Western League, have no great drawing power, certainly less than many Junior clubs, members of the Scottish Junior Association, whose cup tie and international games, are well supported and well contested. Nevertheless, notwithstanding its lowly position in the League, the financial aspect of the question proved highly satisfactory, and the help given by the League in the retention of players by the club, enabled the team to put up stubborn fights against all comers. The club had not fallen on degenerate days. It met with the fate which, in all branches of sport, attends the amateur when pitted against the pro. Its position might have proved disheartening to the managers of the club, as it was to many of the members, who voiced their dissatisfaction against the match committee, to no purpose, as all was being done that was possible, to tune up the team to concert pitch. After many years of more apparent than real inferiority, a better time arrived, as the number of drawn games each season clearly indicates that competition was close, and the amateur capable of extending his professional brother. Season 1917-18 gave heart to the club and its supporters, as never before since joining the League in 1900 have the results been so satisfactory ; especially towards the close of that season, when victory followed victory, and the club for the first time in its League history had a majority of goals—true, it was only a bare majority, 64 goals to 63—and never before has it occupied such a high Position in the League table, standing seventh in a competition confined to eighteen clubs, extracting 34 points out of a maximum of 68, or an average of one point per match. Rangers won the championship of the League for the ninth time in that season, with 56 points, or one more than Celtic, so that, on the whole, the Queen's Park may be said to have done well, considering the nature of the opposition.

The Queen's Park, though never taking a prominent position on the League table, and sometimes indeed a very humble one, has always been retained in the "upper circle." It has a large following, and its battles with the other League clubs are watched with the keenest interest. It is one of the best drawing clubs in the League, and, though its position may be low at the end of the season, its defeats are often sustained by a very narrow majority of goals. To say that ii has more drawn games to its credit than any other League club is only to speak the truth. In season 1908-09 it had no fewer than thirteen such results, in 1911-12 ten, in 1903-04 and 1913-14 nine each, and in 1904-05 eight. As wins count two points each, and draws one, such results are not quite satisfactory.

The unsatisfactory position of the club in the Scottish League competition was a matter of much concern to the Queen's Park members, both from a playing point of view, and the fear of losing prestige. A strong effort was made to discover wherein the weakness lay. A general expression of opinion was given by a number of the committee early in season 1905-06, and the hope was expressed, that a pronounced improvement in the playing position of the club would very soon be manifested, as the match committee were giving the subject their most serious consideration. Some members clamoured for the match committee to resign. This committee were fully alive to the necessities of the case, and endeavoured, on all occasions, to make the best use of the material at their disposal. Some daring spirits even went the length of moving that the match committee be dismissed, but met with no support. Even as late as October, 1912, a vote of censure was moved on the match committee for not always playing the best team at their disposal, and also placing certain men out of their positions, but confidence in the committee was expressed by an overwhelming majority. The match committee were justified in making experiments, as it was only in this way the best could be obtained from the team. Season 1912-13 did not turn out satisfactory, only six matches being won, three drawn, and twenty-eight lost— goals won, 41; lost, 95. A vast improvement was manifested in the following season, double the number of games being won—namely, twelve. The worst season in its history as a League club was 1914-15, when out of forty games played four only were won, six drawn, and thirty lost—goals won, 37 ; lost, 91. It was the first year of the war, and so strong was the anxiety of the players to show their loyalty, by promptly volunteering for service, that the playing strength was seriously weakened ; yet the club made no complaint.

Travelling facilities became a very serious question for the League clubs, and the rigid conditions of players in employment, especially on munition work, compelled the committee of the League to consider what steps should be taken to reduce travelling to a minimum. Mr. Tom Robertson (Queen's Park) reported to his committee that at the annual general meeting of the Scottish League, held 18th June, 1917, it had been proposed that Aberdeen, Dundee, and Raith Rovers (Kirkcaldy) clubs, should be asked to refrain from taking part in the competition in season 1917-18, owing to the lack of travelling facilities to these places. The Queen's Park agreed to fall into line with the other League clubs should any opposition be offered to the proposal by the three clubs. The League then consisted of twenty clubs. It was decided to reduce these to eighteen, Clydebank, the best team near Glasgow, being taken in, and Aberdeen, Dundee, and Raith Rovers going out, the oncost charges of the trio being made good by a levy of five per cent. on the gate drawings of the other clubs. Some minor financial details were arranged for the three absentees, and the League competition was carried on temporarily, with much less trouble to all concerned, except, of course, the north-eastern clubs, whose position was for the time precarious.

Mr. Arthur Geake occupied the presidential chair of the Scottish League on two occasions, in 1904-05 and 1905-06. He represented the Queen's Park on the League council from 1900 until 1914, when he was succeeded by Mr. Tom Robertson. The position is one which requires great tact, and this Mr. Geake and Mr. Robertson possessed to an eminent degree. Roth have worked harmoniously with the representatives of the other clubs, and secured many reforms at the instance of their club, which the League willingly conceded to safeguard amateur players, and ensure their retention for at least a season. Mr. Tom Robertson was President of the League in 1919-20 and 1920-21.

The Scottish League soared high in its youth, desiring to play an International against the English League in 1892, the year before professionalism was recognised by the Scottish Association. The Football Association, before granting its permission for this match, consulted the Scottish Football Association in March, 1892, as to whether it had any objection to offer against such a game. The Scottish Football Association replied, it saw no reason why an International of the kind should take place. The League International was in consequence not played that season. With the recognition of professionalism the outlook changed, and the first League International was decided in 1893, and became afterwards one of the most important fixtures of the year, second only to the Association International between Scotland and England.

Immediately the Scottish League had been established in 1890, the clubs left out in the cold conceived the idea of founding a body of a somewhat similar nature, which was dubbed the Scottish Alliance. The Northern Football Club took a leading part in this movement, and a letter from the secretary of that club was received by the Queen's Park in March, 1890, inviting it to attend a meeting about to be held to consider the matter. As the committee of the Queen's Park did not meet until after the proposed meeting had been field, it was decided to do nothing, as whatever business had been transacted was now an established fact. Nor did the club afterwards join the Alliance, which subsequently resolved itself into the Second Division of the Scottish League.

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