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Old-Fashioned Lemonade

When the senior Scottish football season kicks off on Saturday (4 August 2007) you can be certain that unlike a century ago no pigeon fanciers will be turning up with three or four birds in order to get the match results passed to their home town or to the newspapers. In the days of mobile phones, text messaging, the world-wide-web and every kick of the ball on BBC Radio Scotland results are now passed on very quickly indeed. It is 117 years since the very first season of the Scottish Football League (SFL) kicked off with four matches on 16 August 1890.

Only four of the clubs that took part that day are still in existence – Celtic, Dumbarton, Rangers and Hearts. The match outcomes which awaited pigeon delivery were – Rangers 5 Hearts 2 in front of 4,000; Celtic 1 Renton 4 with a crowd of 10,000; Cambuslang 8 Vale of Leven 2; and the only drawn game 1-1 between Dumbarton and Cowlairs. Although there had been a National Trophy to play for in Scotland since 1873, the Scottish Cup (the oldest such trophy in the world) and local cup games were played it was agreed that clubs needed regular fixtures. Therefore on 30 April 1890, eleven clubs agreed to set up the Scottish Football League (SFL) – Abercorn, Celtic, Cowlairs, Cambuslang, Dumbarton, Hearts, Rangers, St Mirren, Renton, Third Lanark and Vale of Leven, It proved to be an exciting first season in all sorts of way. After only five games Renton were expelled by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and had to be thrown out of the league, Celtic and Cowlairs both had four points deducted for infringements and at the end of the season both Dumbarton and Rangers were tied at the top of the league with 29 points apiece. A 2-2 play-off followed and then they were declared joint Champions and each held the league trophy for six months. The first and only time this has happened.  A second division rapidly followed, including Jim Lynch’s team Dundee, and league football was very much launched. Over the 117 years of the League’s existence, clubs have come and gone, indeed the SFL have survived a major loss when the top Scottish clubs broke-away to form their own Scottish Premier League. They also have been threatened with a second break-away to form an SPL 2 but this will probably remain on the back-burner as the SFL has just announced a major new sponsor for its 30 clubs in the form of IRN-Bru, Scotland’s favourite soft drink and according to some the best cure for a hangover! The £3 million sponsorship over three years should prove very welcome to every club treasurer and with every one of the three leagues being hotly contested (unlike the Premier League which at the moment is a toss-up between a Glasgow club in green and one in blue) crowds will hopefully be drawn back to our National game in large numbers. Season 2007/08 could go down as one to remember for the First, Second and Third Divisions and their fans.

We cannot give you the recipe for Barr’s bestselling IRN BRU (that’s a secret!) but hopefully with better weather during August we can offer Old-fashioned Lemonade as a refreshing thirst quencher.  

Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Ingredients:  6 lemons; 1 cup white sugar; 6 cups cold water

Method: Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. In a gallon pitcher 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and 6 cups of cold water. Stir. Adjust water to taste. Chill and serve over ice.

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