Having taken up football with enthusiasm, and finding in
it amusement as satisfying to the mind as it was healthful to the body, the
pursuit of the pastime among themselves appears to have rather palled on the
members. They sought around for opponents, without much success, for a
period after the formation of the club in 1867. The kicking of the ball
about a public park was not confined to themselves; the amusement—it could
scarcely be styled a pastime in the 'sixties—was pursued on Glasgow Green
also, but not in an organised form. It was known that quite a number of good
clubs existed in the South of England, who played periodically against each
other, but none at home. The Queen's Park players had established a code of
rules, yet had no clubs playing rules of any kind to test their mettle
against. They were anxious to spread the gospel. They did not stop at the
wishing stage, and they soon proceeded to put their desires into practical
shape. Scotland had at the time a very few Rugby clubs—two or three in the
Edinburgh district, with Glasgow Academicals in Glasgow, founded 1865, and
West of Scotland a year or so later. The solitary representative of the
Association code was therefore the Queen's Park. Hence its title, the
"premier" or "senior club." It did not then think of adopting Rugby rules to
find engagements, though at a later stage in its career the members put
themselves in a position to play a Rugby club rather than go without a game,
as will be seen further on. It was, however, found that there were in
existence other clubs in exactly the same position as the Queen's Park—on
the lookout for opponents. Shortly after the "Rules for the Field," drawn up
by the Queen's Park, had been put into shipshape in fact, on 29th July,
1868—two challenges were received by the secretary, the one from the Ayr
Football Club, and the other from the Thistle Football Club, which latter
had its headquarters on Glasgow Green. It was not found practicable to go to
Ayr, considering the distance, and the impossibility of getting cheap
railway accommodation on an ordinary Saturday to suit the hours that would
be involved by such a trip, and it was not desirable the members should
incur the extra expense. The players would have to pay their own fares, as
the club had no funds as yet for the purpose, their whole source of income
coming then from 2s. 6d. entry money and 2s. subscription, these fees having
just been increased from 1s. and 6d. respectively. Besides, there was a
difficulty in getting the requisite number of good players, it being the
holiday season. Therefore the match with Ayr had to be declined, but holding
out the hope that in the course of a month or so, a match might be arranged.
However, as it was found impossible to come to a satisfactory arrangement,
the matter dropped meantime. No such difficulties arose in connection with
the Thistle club, as the game was to be played on the South Side Park. So
far as can be ascertained, this was the first match the Queen's Park played
against an organised opponent. The history of the Thistle cannot now be so
readily traced, as that of the Queen's Park. Another Thistle began its
career on Glasgow Green, which was also the first home of the Rangers, and
migrated in 1875 to Dalmarnock Road ; but these Thistles had no connection
whatever. An entry in the Queen's Park minutes states the Thistle played in
1868 . was defunct in 1873. It is improbable, phoenix-like, the second
Thistle arose from the ashes of the other. Old members of the second Thistle
possess no knowledge of the first Thistle, and both played on the Green. It
is also stated the first Thistle merged in the Eastern. The Queen's Park was
successful in their first game by " two goals within an hour." The length of
a game in those days was by mutual agreement between the two captains, and
has extended to two hours, and even longer. The number a side might be
anything up to twenty, according to the then Rugby standards. A match had
also been arranged with Hamilton Gymnasium, which was to have been played on
the Recreation Ground on 29th August, 1869, but that match did not take
place, the Hamilton side not making an appearance, as they could not at the
time muster twenty good men, fixing, however, Thursday, 10th December, 1869,
as a suitable date for them, as they would by that time be able to select
the required number. It was decided to drop this game also in the meantime.
Still, home and return games were played with this club in 1869. The club
had in 1869 forty paying members on the roll. Only one club match had so far
been played, a point which so impressed itself upon the members that a
discussion took place in April, 1869, as to the possibility of
getting on a few matches with other clubs " to stimulate and rouse the
general stamina of the club," and the secretary was empowered to communicate
with the Hamilton Football Club anent a match, and to inquire into, and see,
whether there existed a football club in Greenock, and another in
Motherwell, and, if found suitable, to challenge both. The match with the
Hamilton club (fifteen a side) duly took place at Hamilton, being the second
club game played by the Queen's Park, and the first game away from home, or
"foreign," as it was then styled. It was played on 29th May, 1869. The
public and press took little interest in the new sport at this early period.
There were no special reports, comments, and notes on the game ; no gates,
few spectators, though there was no charge for admission to the public parks
of the districts where football existed. However, the following brief report
of this match appeared in the " Glasgow Herald " of 2nd June, 1869 :—
HAMILTON GYMNASIUM versus QUEEN'S PARK
A match was played between the above clubs on the ground
of the former on Saturday, the 29th ult., when the latter were the winners
by four goals and nine touches down.
That is all. What a contrast to the columns devoted
nowadays to any important match, and the pages of criticism on the doings in
the football field on any Saturday afternoon ! No record is left of the
teams on either side. However, the club poet, Mr. H. N. Smith (of Messrs.
Smith & Wellstood), later a president of the Queen's Park, has described the
match in glowing stanzas, extending to twenty-one verses, all in praise of
the senior club. Most of these are worth quoting, as showing the ability of
the composer and the manner in which he expressed his enthusiasm. This
contribution is valuable, as it gives an indication of the rules observed,
and the style of play at that period, which are interesting, and give a
general idea of the conditions under which Association football was played
in those early times. for instance, the ball could be "fisted" but not
Mr. William Dalziel, chairman of the Hamilton Academical
Football Club, in August, 1916, thoughtfully presented to the Queen's Park
Club a framed printed copy of the poem, believed to have been written by Mr.
H. N. Smith in commemoration of the victory of Queen's Park over the
Hamilton Gymnasium Club in May, 1869, at Hamilton, which poem was referred
to in the minutes of a meeting of committee, 8th July, 1869. The print,
which is now in the board room at Hampden Park, was believed to have been
the only one in existence, but another copy has been found among the papers
of the late Mr. John Smith, one of the three brothers Smith. No wonder the
committee tendered to Mr. Dalziel an expression of their heartfelt thanks
for presenting the club with such a historical document, and they marked
their appreciation of his kindness by sending him a complimentary membership
ticket. The following verses specially relate to the football and players:—
QUEEN'S PARK v. HAMILTON GYMNASIUM 29th May, 1869
(See "Glasgow Herald," 2nd June, 1869)
The men are picked—the ball is kicked,
High in the air it hounds;
O'er many a head the ball is sped;
The sides well plac'd, the men well led,
Are fierce and fleet as hounds;
And ere the ball can reach the ground
'Tis caught and kick'd with a rebound.
Helter-skelter on they pelter;
In seeming rage they strive,
Slipping, stumbling, often tumbling,
But there is no time for grumbling—
"Keep aye the game alive."
The ball slips close the goal-post by—
"Touch! touch! quick, touch it!" both sides cry.
And now with race of quickest pace
They run the ball to touch,
For should it roll without the goal,
Passing by but one inch the pole,
To "tip" it may be much.
Runs "Hamilton" his own to save,
But "Queen's Park" first the "touch down" gave.
Short was the shout amid the rout;
The "touch down" soon may be
Annul'd in whole by the first "goal,"
So off again the ball does roll,
Kick'd from the goal line "free."
But soon again 'tis hurled back
With fist and hand, with kick and whack.
Kick at the ball or not at all,
No pushing with the hand,
Tripping, holding, quar'ling, scolding
(Two umpires council holding
The play close watching stand);
No nails or spikes or plated boot,
The game is won by sleight of foot.
Strike if you list with hand or fist
The ball, but not the man!
No player hold, however bold,
But with your shoulder, you are told,
Divert him if you can;
Lift or carry, lead they to ill—
Football's the game, and won by skill.
The ball ne'er pass, though in a mass,
The players pressing round;
Nor throw the ball, but, fair to all,
If you can't kick it, let it fall
Among them on the ground;
The manly sport none ever rue
Who tug-and-Rugby rules eschew.
When the hall grounds beyond the bounds,
With hand throw it straight in,
And to be right let it alight
Before you ply your skill and might,
Or fool's goal you may win!
And if by your own hand 'tis thrown,
Till others touch it leave 't alone.
The air resounds with shouts and rounds
Of cheers, as to and fro
The ball right oft is sent aloft,
And caps and cowls are sometimes doff'd
In triumph at a blow
Which sends it to the goal-post near
Or checks it in its strong career.
Faster the blows—loud clamour grows
From shouts and calls and cheers.
Run, Leckie, run! Watty, well done!
Mind, mind the goal!
Hale, no, not won! Kick, Grant! Now, Guy!
There, Spiers ! Smith! Davie!
Hetherington, quick, quick!
Bravo! Bravo! A right good kick.
Loud the acclaim that ends the game;
The Queen's Park men have won!
So well they wrought, so well was fought,
And not too cheaply victory bought—
Right well in sooth 'twas done!
The laurel they may proudly wear
Which from that field of fight they bear.
—Printed for the Queen's Park Football Club, Glasgow.
Note.—This is not printed in the "Herald " of 2nd June. The report of the
match only appears.
So enthusiastic was the club over its victory that it was
agreed to have the effusion printed and circulated among the members, and
also to send copies to the Hamilton club, "in order to stimulate and rouse
them to better action in future," and for their entertainment and
edification. Some of the Queen's Park players referred to were R. Leckie,
David Wotherspoon, J. G. Grant, Robert Hetherington, | Andrew Spiers, and R.
Smith, all of whom afterwards took a prominent part in the working of the
club, Messrs. Grant and Spiers rising to the presidential chair, which they
each occupied for two seasons. "Watty" is believed to be the late ex-Bailie
Walter Wilson. Mr. Archibald Laidlaw, who played for Hamilton on this
occasion, died recently. He lived in retirement not a stone's-throw from
newest Hampden. Mr. James Mackie (Town Chamberlain), ex-Bailie Small, and
Honorary Sheriff James Cassells, old members of the Gymnasium club, are all
of opinion the younger lot linked up with Hamilton Academicals, which school
was under the then rector, the late Mr. Blacklock.
The fourth game played by the club was against Airdrie
Football Club, who were met on 23rd June, 1870 (14 a side). This resulted in
favour of the Queen's Park by four goals to none. A much more extended
report of this game than that of the Hamilton match appeared in the "North
British Daily Mail" of Monday, 27th
June, 1870. The game, it will be observed, was played
under the " London Association Rules," the same as had been revised and
edited by the Queen's Park in the first year of its formation. It may be
stated, the rules drawn up by the Football Association in 1863, when that
body was first instituted, were actually styled the "London Football
Association Rules." The report runs:—
QUEEN'S PARK AND AIRDRIE
An exciting match (14 a side) was played on Thursday
night between the above clubs on the South Side Park Recreation Grounds, and
was the object of much interest to a large and respectable assembly of
spectators. The game was played according to the London Association rules,
the same as regulated the great International match between England! and
Scotland, played in London, and the. consequent absence of all hacking,
tripping, and other unnecessary violence was satisfactorily apparent. The
match of Thursday was keenly, although certainly not closely, contested, as
the superiority of the Queen's Park was evident from the beginning. This
club, we understand, has not yet in the various matches it has played lost a
single goal, or even a " touch down," and on this occasion, in the space of
one and a half hours, succeeded in placing lour goals to its credit against
nothing on the part of the Airdrie club, notwithstanding that the latter
played with much ability and determination. The spirit with which the
contest was kept up was only equalled by the good temper exhibited
throughout on both sides, and sometimes under sufficiently trying
The goals were taken by J. Carson, W. Wotherspoon, J.
Broadfoot, and J. Smith.
The following matches were also decided in 1870:—
Drummond Football Club played the Queen's Park on
Saturday, 9th July, 1870 (16 a side), Queen's Park winning by one goal and
one touch—goal taken by D. N. Wotherspoon, and touch by Robert Smith.
Airdrie Football Club (return), at Airdrie, on Tuesday,
20th September, 1870 (10 a side). Queen's Park scored three touches down—one
taken by J. Smith and two by D. Wotherspoon.
Hamilton Gymnasium, at Hamilton (15 a side), on Saturday,
24th September, 1870, Queen's Park winning by four goals to none—goals taken
respectively by W. Keay, J. Wotherspoon, R. Fawns, and D. N. Wotherspoon.
Hamilton Gymnasium (return), 19th October, 1870, at
Langside. Queen's Park won by three goals to none—two goals taken by W. Keay,
and one by James K. Little.
A paper hunt took place on Saturday, 15th October, in
which sixteen of the members took part, and ran a course of about eight
miles, the shortest time being 54 minutes, and the average 58½
minutes. Particulars of the hunt appeared in the "Glasgow Herald" of 18th
Very little information can now be obtained relative to
the old Airdrie club. It survived long enough to be a member of the Scottish
Association, formed in 1873. Its own birth was in 1868, a year after the
Queen's Park, and it was the first provincial club to adopt the new game. It
played on the old Public Park, now run through by the Caledonian Railway,
and built over with dwelling-houses. It is asserted that Airdrie invented
the wooden cross-bar to take the place of the tape, or rope, which
originally marked the height of the goal-posts. This is hardly correct,
however, as the Sheffield Association used a bar in 1867. The " Hammer
Drivers," as Airdrie were styled, were an Irish organisation, and their
ground was at Coatdyke, adjoining Sir John Wilson's residence, now also
entirely built over, and the last place anyone would associate with a
football field. The club died in the early "'80's," leaving the field to
Excelsior, now Airdrieonians.
The Drummond club consisted for the most part of a number
of Perthshire youths, who had found their way to that Mecca of all
Highlanders, the County of the City of Glasgow, whose streets are believed
to be paved with gold. Many have found it so, and are our merchant princes
of to-day. The Drummond club played under the colours of Drummond Castle,
caps in Drummond tartan, the castle, it is said, being then tenanted by Sir
Willoughby D'Eresby. They had their headquarters on Glasgow Green. Their
existence was brief, as, apart from their connection with the Queen's Park,
little is known of them. They played a roughish game; tripping and charging
were their strong points. Against the former the Queen's Park entered a
stipulation that it was not to be. Drummond turned up two short, and two
pupils from the Deaf and Dumb Institution assisted them.
It will be seen very few football matches could be
arranged, indeed as late as season 1871-72 the club played only three
games—against Granville, Southern, and the famous English Cup tie on 4th
March, 1872, against the Wanderers in London, which ended in a draw—no
goals. The club, however, never neglected practice, and this practice was
indulged in systematically. Sides were arranged— North v. South of Eglinton
Toll, Reds v. Blues, Light v. Heavy Weights, President's Team v. J. Smith's
Team (a series of six games), and Clerks v. The Field, etc. In these games
the dribbling and passing, which raised the Scottish game to the level of a
fine art, were developed. Dribbling was a characteristic of English play,
and it was not until very much later that the Southerners came to see that
the principles laid clown in the Queen's Park method of transference of the
ball, accompanied by strong backing up, were those which got the most out of
a team. Combination was the chief characteristic of the Queen's Park play.
These essentials struck Mr. C. W. Alcock, and in one of his earlier Football
Annuals formed the keynote for a eulogium on Scottish players, accompanied
by earnest dissertations advocating the immediate adoption by English
players of the methods which had brought the game to such a high state of
proficiency north of the Tweed. Nor did these exhortations fall on deaf
ears, as was proved in the great International match at Partick, in
November, 1872, and in the game in London, when the Wanderers gained the
honour of being the first club to defeat the Queen's Park, on 5th February,
1876, after eight years of an unbroken series of victories.
In July, 1869, negotiations were reopened with the Ayr
club, and that club was challenged to fix a date suitable to the Queen's
Park members, but no game in that season was arranged, nor is there a record
that Queen's Park ever played the Ayr club of that day. Airdrie challenged
the Queen's Park to a match at Langside, to be played on 22nd June, 1871,
which challenge was duly accepted; but on perusal of a copy of the rules,
forwarded to Airdrie, they discovered that "hands" were altogether
disallowed, and they therefore declined to play unless that rule were
deleted. The Queen's Park stuck to its rules, and
there was no game. The Granville club was met on 7th October, 1871, and the
game ended in favour of Queen's Park by one goal and two touches to nothing.
Six Queen's Park men played for the Granville. The Second Eleven had only
just been instituted, with the subsequently famous W. M'Kinnon as captain,
and they played their first match against the Southern Football Club, and
this too was a victory, by two goals to none. This match was "looked forward
to somewhat anxiously, but the honour of the club was well maintained." On
3rd April, 1872, the Granville club was again played, the game ending in a
draw ; and the Second Eleven played East Kilbride, winning by a goal to
nothing. Airdrie were the opponents on 28th August, 1872, Queen's Park being
again victorious by the big majority of six goals to none.
Mr. Gardner, the captain, reported to the annual general
meeting in April, 1872—at which, by the way, twenty-six members out of a
total of sixty-five on the roll were present— that, notwithstanding the
increase of the subscription from two shillings to five shillings, the club,
so far as membership was concerned, was flourishing like a green bay tree—
an evidence of the advancing popularity of the game and of the growing
favour of the Queen's Park Club. The fresh blood was mostly of that vigorous
and healthy character which made the backbone of such clubs, and several of
last season's additions were amongst the first players, and many others were
showing signs of rapidly rising in the ranks. For numbers, vigour, and
enthusiasm, the club was perhaps never in a better state. The only thing he
regretted was the absence of matches with other clubs to test the "metal" of
the Queen's Park. In lieu of these, a series of six games, President v.
Captain, was played to maintain the interest of the players, develop
science, and cultivate style. The followers of the captain, Mr. James Smith,
who had just left for London, were victorious by one or two touches, so that
" touches " were still counted in 1872 in club games.
The year 1872 was a fateful year in the history of the
club. In that year the Queen's Park drew with the Wanderers in an English
Gup tie, and opposed the strength of England in the first real International
ever played between the two nations, and from these two matches sprang the
nationalisation of, and enthusiasm for, Association football. The enthusiasm
aroused in both England and Scotland passes belief, and these two games
proved to be the main factors in the rapid spread of the sport in both
centres. Vale of Leven, Dumbarton, and Glasgow P>.angers were all formed in
that year, and, through their contests with the Queen's Park, and each
other, took at once foremost places in Scottish football. The Vale were at
first disposed to adopt Rugby rules. They also played shinty to some
purpose. A deputation from the Queen's Park went to Alexandria to lay before
the neophytes the higher perfection of the Association code, with such good
results, that the Vale abandoned the Rugby idea. Strong rivals the two clubs
became afterwards, yet though the strenuousness of their combats brought
about occasional estrangement, after a brief interval their friendship was
re-established, and the past forgotten. Rivals they always were, but none
the less good friends. But this leans more to a later period in the history
of the club. It is recorded in season 1872-73 that the captain, Mr. Gardner,
reported that since the last annual meeting the club had played seven First
Eleven matches and two Second Eleven and "foreign" matches, meaning from
home. The First Eleven drew three matches, one with Granville and two with
Vale of Leven, taking one goal and three goals from the Vale in two other
matches, four goals from Granville, and six goals from Airdrie. The Second
Eleven played East Kilbride twice, winning one by a goal to none and drawing
the other game—0-0. The fame of the club had crossed the Border, and some
correspondence passed in 1872 with Leeds club, and the Sheffield
Association, which latter wanted home-and-home engagements. This was
declined for a. season. As the Scottish Association was formed in 1873, the
Sheffield match was handed over to the new body, and became an important
Inter-Association game, and was always looked forward to with the greatest
interest in both cities. It was soon transferred to the care of the Glasgow
Association, and became an Inter-City match.
The Queen's Park members were ever greatly daring, and no
matter what they undertook they always pushed to a satisfactory conclusion.
No obstacles were allowed to stand in the way. When they, at their annual
meeting in April, 1869, decided to challenge the Glasgow Academical Rugby
Club to play them a match under Rugby rules, and twenty men a side, in their
ardent pursuit for opponents at that early stage in their career, they were
met by a refusal on the ground of difference of rules, and want of time (it
was as late as October that the reply to the challenge was received). Not to
be outdone, however, Mr. Klinger moved, and Mr. Wotherspoon seconded, that
the refusal be accepted at present, although unsatisfactory, and, to prevent
the same thing happening again, that the secretary write to Mr.. Lilywhite
for a copy of the Rugby rules, and, if found suitable, after passing through
the committee, and with the sanction of an extraordinary general meeting of
the club, to adopt them along with the Association rules, so that they might
be able to play the Academicals in accordance with any rules they may name.
The rules came duly to hand, and Messrs. Gardner, Klinger, and Wotherspoon
were appointed as a special sub-committee to revise the Rugby rules, and lay
the result before the next committee meeting. The result of the handiwork of
the sub-committee was considered afterwards, and certain rules omitted as
being applicable to the Rugby school grounds. The rules, as amended, were
adopted meantime as interim rules, with the said exceptions. The
extraordinary general meeting had a warm discussion over the rules, and the
matter was " thoroughly ventilated." The division of opinion was great.
Ultimately a motion by Mr. D. N. Wotherspoon, seconded by Mr. Lewis Black, "
That the Rugby rules as read be adopted, to be played between the beginning
of October and end of March," was carried by a large majority, against an
amendment, by Mr. H. N. Smith, "That the club still adhere to the
Association rules, without the addition of the Rugby code." The pluck of the
Queen's Park in thus placing themselves in a position to play under both
codes does not appear to have been rewarded, as there is no record of any
game having been played against a club under Rugby rules. As late as May,
1872, correspondence which had taken place during the previous season with
several Scottish Rugby and Association clubs was read and approved, but, so
far as the former are concerned, without result. At this period there had.
been called into being such combinations as Vale of Leven, Dumbarton,
Renton, and Alclutha, in Dumbartonshire; Clydesdale, Rangers, 3rd L.R.V.,
and Thistle, in Glasgow ; Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire ; and Airdrie, founded in
1868 (not to be confounded with Airdrieonians, who were established in
1877), in Lanarkshire. All these clubs were in existence in 1872, and in the
following season, with the creation of the Scottish Football Association,
many others arose, so that the Queen's Park, from 1872-73 onwards, had no
further difficulty in finding opponents worthy of its consideration.
Hamilton Academicals do not come into the picture until 1875. Hamilton
Gymnasium disappears, having played its part as a pioneer of the Association
game. The earliest Edinburgh club was Thistle, founded 1874, then Heart of
Midlothian and Hibernian, both 1875. The Queen's Park played a missionary
game in Edinburgh to popularise the sport there, 27th December, 1873, on the
new ground of the Royal High School (P.P.) Club, at Bonnington. Two teams
were taken through, mostly composed of Queen's Park players. This invasion
of a Rugby stronghold was arranged by Mr. A. Rae, Queen's Park, then also
secretary of the Scottish Association. The result became soon apparent, as
the Edinburgh Association was formed in 1874.
The paper chase alluded to above took place on Saturday,
15th October, 1870, and the following racy report of it appeared in the
"Glasgow Herald" of 18th October, 1870, probably written by Mr. H. N. Smith,
a president of the club, poet laureate and press reporter to the Queen's
The Queen's Park Football Club had a grand meet on
Saturday afternoon in the Queen's Park, where, as a fitting opening of their
winter season, they started a pair of fine hares of the genus homo,
not lepus, and indulged in a most spirited hunt over hill and dale,
through bush and river, in the picturesque neighbourhood of Lang-side and
adjoining country. The "gone away" was sounded at 4.30 precisely, and after
ten minutes "law" seven couples of "hounds" were "cast off" in pursuit, and
were speedily in the trail of the game, which they followed up closely
through all its characteristic doublings over a course of some eight miles.
The run was over ground of an unusually heavy and hilly character, well
calculated to put the endurance of the pack to its severest test. Though
seldom at "fault," they, however, barely succeeded in getting within sight,
the " leverets " reaching their "form" in perfect safety—the one in 55
minutes, the other in 63. The leader of the harriers reached home in 54
minutes, the average of the run being 58½ minutes,
with little, if any, indication of distress. The novel sport was of quite an
exciting and interesting character, not only to the "field" but to many
wondering and other spectators throughout the whole course.
The Queen's Park would, therefore, appear to have been
the pioneer also in the sport of paper chasing.