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History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867 - 1917
Chapter XXVII.—Queen's Park and Professionalism

That the playing strength of the club has not of recent years been maintained with the old success against the clubs now employing professionals, is in no sense due to deterioration in its amateur players, who, individually and collectively, possess the enthusiasm which has enabled them to make a bold fight on many fields, to uphold the flag they so dearly love. On many occasions the Queen's Park club has got together teams of first-class merit, only to find that the best men, the very pivots of the whole combination, have been enticed from their allegiance by the professional organisations, and have joined the professional ranks. One must not be too hard on these players. Their circumstances may have compelled them to do so. Cases are on record where men needed the money to advance them in the careers and professions they had chosen, and the means came to hand to pay university and other fees, while at the same time the players attended to their ordinary business. Others again got a start in life, and have attained great success. Still, these withdrawals from the club caused serious inconvenience, and as it continued from season to season, until it assumed a heart-breaking intensity, the Scottish League was at length moved to interfere, and passed a law that no registered amateur player could be transferred to another club during the playing season. This gave the Queen's Park a certain hold on a player. At the end of a season, the professional clubs became busy in making good their losses from transfers. Then the amateur players were tempted, and fell, and so the practice goes on. It were useless to fight against it, so long as men can thus be bought, and the clubs have the gold with which to purchase their services. Scotland fought long and bravely against the introduction of the paid player. In the early days of "veiled professionalism"—which had its beginning in the realisation of the English clubs of their manifest inferiority to the Scots, and who sought to perfect their methods by introducing, for a consideration, Scottish players to join their ranks, and initiate them into the mysteries of the style of play which had made Scotland so immeasurably superior to their neighbours south of the Border—Scotland as a whole suffered severely by defections, until at last the ruling bodies in both countries were up in arms against the danger to the sport which was sure to follow. Scotland was being drained, and England fertilised. The old spirit of amateurism was being insidiously undermined, men taught deception, and even club officials, whose rectitude of principle in ordinary life was above reproach, did not hesitate to stealthily resort to underhand tricks in the interests of their clubs, knowing well they were doing what was wrong. Lancashire was the chief seat of the evil. Outside this area the English clubs, mostly amateur—the vast majority of the whole—took alarm, knowing their chances of winning the national cup were slowly but surely departing. The Football Association instituted committees of inquiry, who failed to get at the seat of the canker, which was eating its authority away. The Scots crowded every football team in Lancashire, and in one particular case only a single Englishman was included in the team, who was said to have felt lonely. Blackburn Olympic, in 1883, sent the players to Blackpool to train for their cup tie with Old Etonians. Blackburn Rovers and Darwin, who were to meet in the final tie for the Lancashire Cup, did ditto, the former going to Morecambe and the latter to Blackpool. It is not surprising the other English clubs took alarm. It were useless to detail the various steps taken to crush the evil by the English Association, without avail, until finally, in July, 1885, the football professional received official recognition in England. The Scottish Football Association, whose clubs were heavy sufferers from such doings, put forth a bold effort to stem the tide of the advancing horde. Its clubs and players were peremptorily forbidden to play against professionals, but the evil slipped in at home, despite all vigilance.

The Association even went so far as to refuse to allow Dr. John Smith, a Queen's Park player, to assist the Corinthians—a band of the purest amateurs—in the annual New Year match in 1889, at Hampden Park, because that player had not received the permission of the Scottish Football Association to play with an English club, nor would Scotland play the annual International with England were professionals to be included in the latter team. From this position it subsequently resiled. Scotland was obdurate, and continued its battle for amateurism, no matter what policy England might adopt. Mr. M'Killop, president of the Scottish Football Association, in 1884, laboured indefatigably to suppress professionalism. A committee of nine was appointed to investigate the question. Two cases were proved, and the players were suspended for two years, and the club, Heart of Midlothian, expelled from the Association, but a month afterwards readmitted, and the sentence on one of the players rescinded. A list was made of players who had crossed the Border, and the extent to which the evil had grown can be estimated when it is stated that sixty-eight Scotsmen appeared on it, who were prohibited from playing in Scotland without the special permission of the committee. There was no Queen's Park player in that list. In 1885 the Association passed a by-law prohibiting players under its jurisdiction playing with or against professionals or suspended Scottish players. This by-law lasted for seven months, and nearly brought about a deadlock between England and Scotland.

At a meeting of the Professional Committee of the Scottish Football Association, October, 1885, Mr. M'Killop gave an account of his interview at Liverpool with Mr. Hunter, of Wales. The outcome of the interview was the drafting of the following resolution: "The three International Associations—Wales, Ireland, and Scotland—deplore that the English Association has found it necessary to legalise professionalism; but, as they have considered it necessary, they (the three Associations) will go further, and divide the clubs into two sections, one for amateurs and one for professionals, and, if possible, provide two cup competitions; and, as these Associations will only play amateurs themselves, they must ask the English Association, in choosing their International teams, to select only amateurs. The Irish Association joined the other two in this recommendation to the Football Association,- declining at the same time to interfere with England in the management of its clubs, yet to urge on England the separation of the amateur from the professional. Later the Irish Association stepped into the breach with a suggestion that an International Conference be held to discuss the matter in a friendly way, with the following proposals as a basis of settlement:—

1. To define what is a professional.

2. To decide if all National Associations should adopt professionalism.

3. If not, shall clubs be allowed to play with, or against, professionals.

4. In the event of the conference not being able to arrive at a satisfactory solution of Nos. 2 and 3, to adopt meantime an arrangement whereby International and Inter-Association matches can be played.

5. To consider also the advisability of holding an annual conference, say in August, to be called by each of the Associations in turn, to discuss laws of the game, status of players, and any other matters of importance affecting the game.

The conference was held at Liverpool on 23rd February, 1886. England did not attend, but the findings were recommended to her for adoption. Scotland's delegates were Messrs. M'Killop (Cartvale) and R. Browne (Queen's Park). Some of the suggestions did not appeal to either Scotland or England. Ultimately, however, England accepted most of the proposals, and Scotland withdrew her refusal to meet professionals in International matches. One important point settled at this conference was, "That in International matches only those players born in the country they represent shall be eligible to play."

The Football Association then passed a most stringent rule, which was unanimously accepted by all four Associations, to the effect that a professional of any nationality cannot play for any club in either cup tie or friendly game, unless he has been resident in the locality for two years. This was satisfactory to Scotland, as it restricted exportation, and the Association proceeded to reinstate players under the professional ban, who had returned to Scotland. In this year, June, 1886, the International Board was established at a meeting held in London, at which Messrs. A. M'A. Kennedy (Dumbarton) and R. Browne (Queen's Park) represented Scotland. In 1887 the Association was of opinion that the legalisation of professionalism would ultimately ruin the game, and that Scotland must remain amateur. It believed veiled professionalism did exist in many of the clubs under the Jurisdiction of the Scottish Football Association, and the subcommittee of nine were given full powers to investigate, and decide, on all matters pertaining to professionalism. The financial books of a number of clubs, forty-five in all, were called up and examined, and it is exceedingly gratifying to state, a very large percentage of the clubs' books was found to be in good order. Players and officials were examined, and in some cases suspensions inflicted, and recommendations made for future guidance. The slightest appearance of professionalism was to be dealt with in the most stringent manner. The examination of the books went to prove professionalism did not exist in Scotland. The books of the Queen's Park were found, as was to be expected, in perfect order. Three cases of specially written up books were met with—Gowlairs, Glasgow Hibernians, and Edinburgh Hibernians. The first named was suspended, and the two Hibernians became defunct of their own accord. All, with the solitary, exception of the Queen's Park, had no adequate check or record of stand money, no vouchers, and payments for lost time and railway fares carelessly done. At an International Board meeting held in Glasgow in June, 1887, complete similarity of rules was established between England and Scotland.

The Association in 1889 devoted much time to the subject, and no effort was spared to probe, and examine, professionalism in all its aspects. No fewer than forty-six players were suspended from one to eighteen months, while twenty-one were granted permission to play under the jurisdiction of the Association. Queen of the South Wanderers were expelled for a flagrant case of professionalism, and twenty-three members of its committee shared a similar fate. The serious drain upon Scottish clubs by English professional organisations caused vast inconvenience, and, after friendly overtures, England suggested a conference for the interchange of views. The meeting was held on 7th March, 1889, at Derby, and was attended by Messrs. C. Campbell (Queen's Park), T. R. Park (Cambuslang), J. M. Campbell (Pollokshaws), and R. F. Harrison (Ayrshire Association), on behalf of Scotland, when two suggestions were placed before England, namely: (1) Players to be registered for four months before being eligible to play, and no registration in the close season. (2) Debar any player who has played in Scotland after 1st September from playing for any English club. Mr. M'Dowall, secretary, Scottish Football Association, in his Annual Report of 1890, states: "There is an almost unanimous desire amongst Scottish clubs to remain amateur, and to keep the game free from professionalism." Professionalism was proved against the St. Bernard club in 1890, followed by suspension for six weeks. The club changed its name to "Edinburgh Saints." Renton arranged a match with the "Saints," and, despite the decision of the Association that the St. Bernard and "Saints" were one and the same, played the match, with the result that both clubs were expelled from the Association. Renton raised an action against the Association in the Court of Session for its " patrimonial " rights. After a preliminary plea had been decided against the Association on appeal, a very heavy proof on the merits of the case was fixed for July, 1890 ; but as this would entail an enormous outlay, from which the Association could gain nothing, a compromise was effected, and Renton readmitted to the Association. The annual general meeting in May, 1891, on the motion of Mr. J. A. D. M'Lean (Ayr), gave an amnesty to all professional players who might return, or will return, to Scotland before 2nd August, and many suspensions were revoked—one hundred and fifteen players taking advantage of the amnesty, and twenty-two registered professionals making application for reinstatement. In the following summer seventy-four more players, and sixteen professionals, were pardoned. At the annual meeting of the Scottish Football Association a sub-committee was appointed, at the instance of Dumbarton Football Club, to call attention to the present state of football in Scotland. This sub-committee recommended the legalisation of professionalism. They had come to the conclusion that professionalism was rampant in Scotland. The present laws were unworkable. It seemed to them better that professionalism should exist in an open and honest manner, and under severe regulations, as under these regulations some of the present, evils would be obviated or minimised, and legalisation would prevent the migration of players. The proposal,. " Players shall be either amateur or professional," came before a special general meeting in March, 1892, when "no-professionalism " was carried by 71 votes to 54. Again, at the annual meeting in May, 1892, "amateurism" was carried against " professionalism," which latter was proposed by Celtic Football Club, by 104 votes to 78. However, Celtic brought the matter up again at the annual meeting in May,. 1893, and they won the case for the paid player. In 1893-94 there were 50 clubs employing 560 players, and in 1894-95 83 clubs had registered 793 players. From English to Scottish clubs 23 players were transferred. At the beginning of the season 44 professionals were reinstated as amateurs. Scotland had now officially recognised professionalism.

All this legislative turmoil was of absorbing interest to the Queen's Park, which never ceased to struggle to maintain Scotland as an amateur nation. Its representatives at the annual general meetings of the Scottish Football Association, and on the council of that body, received their instructions, after the club's committee had carefully considered the pros and cons of each legislative proposal bearing on the interesting question of professionalism, which was to be debated by the Association in council or general meeting. The club was fully alive to the consequences, not so much to its members as to the sport, and the committee were not alone in the opinion that professionalism would ruin the sport, and have a serious effect upon the Queen's Park as an amateur club. Certainly professionalism has not ruined the game, though it made the path of Queen's Park more difficult to tread, and caused it much anxiety and alarm. When the professional agitation was at its height, the Scottish Association in 1889 placed a ban on players under its jurisdiction playing for English or Irish clubs, or under another jurisdiction, without permission. W. Arnott was roaming about the North of Ireland in 1892. He obtained permission to play for Linfield Athletic at Belfast, and also for the same club against Aston Villa, in March of that year. Thomas S. Waddell, the clever Queen's Park forward, had to get permission to play for Corinthians in London, 18th April, 1892 ; and there are other instances. It may not be generally known that Mr. Waddell married a daughter of Mr. Mungo Ritchie, who, in 1867, was the first president of the Queen's Park. W. Hay, an old Ranger, living in London, and playing for London Caledonians, applied for, and was granted, permission to play for Rangers at Glasgow during the Easter holidays, 1892.

This prolonged struggle was carried on by the Association with great determination, but circumstances proved too much for it. After all it were better so, as professionalism had come to stay, and in England, under severe control, had on the whole been successful. The Lancashire professional clubs once made a brazen attempt to capture the control of the Football Association by packing an annual meeting, but fortunately failed. Many thought professionalism would kill Association football. It has had quite a contrary effect, judging by the enormous crowds which at the present day patronise important football matches. But the amateur clubs are gone, save one.

The recognition of professionalism left the Queen's Park in a position of splendid isolation. It was the only club of standing in Scotland flying the amateur flag. Its determination to remain amateur was the more fixed under the new state of affairs. It pursued the game for the love of it. The club existed for "the amusement and recreation of its members," and the sordid principle of paying its players never for a moment was entertained by it. The club, organised in an amateur spirit, must remain so to the end of the chapter. Many and repeated suggestions were placed before it to abandon this attitude, even partially, and to employ professionals the same as the other leading clubs. It was pointed out its very existence was at stake. In no game, or sport, can amateurs hold their own against professionals, and it would prove an utter impossibility for the club to compete under such circumstances against paid players, on equal terms, with any hope of success. The professional devoted his whole time to the business, was trained under strict discipline, and his income depended altogether on his own ability. The amateur got fit in his spare time, his own private business being his first concern, and his ability brought him no profit, except public applause. Who will not say that the Queen's Park has surprised even its own members in its Scottish League games? The club may not reach each season a very high position on the League list. It is not expected of it. It is respected by every club in the League, as opponents to be feared, because the players frequently rise to a high standard, and spring a mine on their assailants, often as unexpected as it is brilliant. Consistency of form is not assured from amateur players. Their standard cannot equal that of the professionals, and were the Queen's Park enabled to retain its players in a body for more than one season, it might rise to the highest flights. Such is not the case, however. Hence the uncertainty of farm; yet hope springs eternal in the human breast, and some day this feeling, and esprit de corps, may bring to Hampden Park more satisfactory results.

It is quite correct that the Queen's Park abandoned its hostility to professionalism in the early part of 1892, as instructions were given to its representatives to the special general meeting of the Scottish Association in that year, after discussing the agenda of the meeting in committee, that, while the representatives were allowed a free hand, the feeling of the committee was in favour of the proposed legalisation of professionalism; and similar instructions were given to their representatives in May, 1893, when professionalism was finally legalised. Yet in January, 1893, the committee, in answer to a request from Mr. J. H. M'Laughlin (Celtic) to sign a requisition to the Scottish Football Association re the legalisation of professionalism, refused their consent.

While Queen's Park amateurism compelled the members, in the springtime of their career, to have dealings in no shape or form with professionalism, even going so far then as to debar professional runners from being introduced by members, or using the ground for training purposes, yet their repugnance to the class had so far become softened in the course of time that an application from Paddy Cannon, the famous long-distance "ped," for the use of Hampden Park, on a record-breaking excursion, in the New-Year week of 1889, was readily granted. Cannon had made records on the Recreation Ground of the Glasgow Exhibition, in the summer of 1888, which stamped him as a man above the ordinary. No doubt the club took this into account in giving him the use of the Hampden track.

One point the club was particular on—namely, its amateurism. This it safeguarded in every way. It came to its notice that the name of the club had been posted on public bills as competitors in a five-a-side football competition in connection with the 3rd L.R.V. Athletic Club, whose sports were open to mixed competitors. The athletic club was at once informed, in July, 1894, that the Queen's Park had never agreed to play in the tournament, and had no intention of doing so. A contradiction was inserted in all the dailies and weekly athletic papers.

In February, 1895, the secretary was instructed to examine the membership roll, and write to any members who had signed a professional form, requesting them to send in their resignations as members of the club, as it was contrary to the constitution of the club that any of the members should be professional. The result of the examination of the roll was, that two members had signed professional forms, and both gentlemen were asked to resign. No reply came from the one, and the other refused to resign, and in consequence both names were removed from the club roll.

A lawyer's letter was received by the club, threatening legal proceedings, and questioning the right of the club to deal with the latter player so drastically. At the player's instance a special general meeting was called to consider the matter, and the action of the committee was confirmed by forty-six votes to seven, the argument that a professional could not play for the club, if required, carrying great weight. Nothing further was heard of the threatened action at law. However, at the annual general meeting in 1895, a new rule was introduced, which placed the position of the club in regard to such professionals on a sound footing. Between 1895 and 1897 six players were removed from the roll for signing professional forms for other clubs, none of the players being of outstanding merit. In every case in subsequent years, if a player intending to become a professional did not himself resign, his name was removed from the roll. Sad to relate, far too many Queen's Park players abandoned their amateurism and signed League professional forms, much to the inconvenience of the club, as usually only the best players were in demand under League auspices.

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