Having outlined the various stages, practical and legislative, through which the Rugby game has passed, I shall now endeavour to place events and players in chronological setting. As a preliminary, some reference to the conditions under which the game was played is due. The Edinburgh of the 'sixties and 'seventies was not the Edinburgh of to-day. Imagine, if you can, a Saturday afternoon in winter without a football match of any description in the city!
What the people did with themselves is a social question outwith the scope of these articles. A few of them occasionally played football, as I am endeavouring to show, and for the rest the population of the city only numbered somewhere about 190,000. Merchiston Castle was in the country, and Craigmount lay on the southern outskirts of the city. Pinkie was far afield, and not only so, but the citizens of the time would more readily associate the scene with an historic battlefield than with a football ground.
When the Academy came into possession of the field at Raeburn Place, the builders were beginning to erect Fettes College. Holyrood ground, gifted by King Edward when Prince of Wales, was within reasonable walking distance—a term which then implied rather more than it does now. Lord Kingsburgh, who was an Academical of Academicals and who attended the matches at Raeburn Place almost up to the last, records the great glee there was amongst the Academy boys when the field was acquired in 1853. 'We had not much luxury,' he says: 'a small loft over an outhouse, approached by a wooden ladder, was our only pavilion. We had no basins and no lockers, and we used to sit and chat till it was dark enough to go home without observation.' The location of Myreside was described as 'near Edinburgh' when the Watsonians entered into possession.
The period almost up to 1870 is enshrouded in mist, records are meagre, and altogether the impression conveyed is that the players must often have struggled against circumstances that were not encouraging. Indeed, it is wonderful that the game survived at all. Ground equipment and conveniences for players were most primitive. Few of the fields were good, and some of the clubs had no fields at all. It was no uncommon experience for a team to appear on the ground minus several players.
When the Edinburgh Academicals visited St. Andrews in February 1871, they arrived five men short, and the Academicals were at that time the leading club of the day. Teams had constantly to be completed by a section of 'given men.' That old term has long since become obsolete, but at one time it was in common use in the phraseology of the game. School teams frequently contained a complement of old boys. Thus in the Academy-Loretto match of 1871, Loretto played four Lorettonians—'given men.'
In an announcement of the opening of the season of 1870, it is said of the Glasgow Academicals : ' This rising young club have not only arranged two matches with the Merchistonians and two with the West of Scotland, but intend to play the Liverpool and Manchester clubs in England, and will meet St. Andrews University on the Edinburgh Academy ground at Raeburn Place during the season.' They did go to England, and won one and drew the other of their matches.
At that time, and for a number of years later, there was a close connection between the Glasgow Academicals and the Merchistonians. The early Academicals included a strong Merchiston contingent — A. Thew, J. E. Junor, J. W. Arthur, A. G. Colville, and the brothers Cross—in their more important matches. By and by the two were merged, and as a regular playing team the Merchistonians disappeared. In the Merchiston connection the brothers Roland, who were Merchistonians, raised a team about 1870, and under the designation of ' Rolands' Rooms' played a number of matches.
Walter Roland was a good football player, but gained a higher reputation as wicket-keeper in the Dalkeith cricket team of the Craig brothers. Ernest Roland, the youngest of the brothers, played against England in 1884, the year of the ' Dispute.' Presumably the 'Rooms' were Rolands' Fencing and Gymnastic Academy, off Queen Street, Edinburgh, and the team were composed of the men who gathered there.
The descriptions of the matches of that period were neither long nor lucid. Of a Merchistonian match we read: 'W. Roland made some fine winding runs.' 'There was no hacking, but a number of heavy spills were taken good-humouredly.' 'The Wanderers were three or four short'—an indefinite description of a not unusual occurrence at the time. Playing for the Wanderers against the Royal High School, we are told that ' R. W. Irvine was conspicuous for his dash and there was much fine dribbling,' and that in an Academy - Loretto match, 'Mr. Balfour, with his usual precision, kicked two goals.' That was characteristic of 'L. M.' as we knew him in later years.
In the Craigmount-Wanderers (fifteen a side) match of 1870, C. W. Cathcart (Loretto) and R. W. Irvine (Edinburgh Academicals) played for the Wanderers. Both no doubt played well, but the only player singled out for special mention was Mr. Webster, who 'wriggled in most praiseworthy manner' for the Wanderers. The Institution, under J. H. L. M'Farlane, played the Royal High School under Angus Buchanan. Both teams included present and past pupils.
The Edinburgh Academicals - Merchistonian match of that season is interesting by reason of the number of prominent players engaged. The Academicals included the Hon. F. J. Moncreiff, the first Scottish International captain, R. W. Irvine, T. R. Marshall, J. F. Finlay, E. M. Bannerman, W. Marshall, J. A. W. Mein, and L. M. Balfour, all subsequent International men; and among the Merchistonians were the International players, T. Ritchie, M. Cross, with the Roland brothers, and Hall Blyth, one of the promoters of the first match with England, and who would have played in that game but for a physical ailment which incapacitated him for the time being. L. M. Balfour was still at school, but T. R. Marshall had left. M. Cross was captain of Merchiston school team in the same year.
Angus Buchanan, although shown in most records as an Edinburgh University player, had only the same casual connection with University football as those outside players who in recent years have augmented the playing strength of Edinburgh in the English and Irish inter-University engagements. In 1871, when J. H. L. M'Farlane, who helped to found the Institution (F.P.) Club, was captain, the Edinburgh University team for their match with Glasgow University included Angus Buchanan (Royal High School), the brothers Cathcart (Loretto), along with three leading Academical players, R. W. Irvine, J. F. Finlay, and J. A. W. Mein. History therefore repeats itself in the modern composite Edinburgh University teams.
Although the number of clubs was small, and matches were not numerous, many of the players, especially those of reputation, obtained a good deal of football. When a team arrived short, and from the limited membership it was not always easy to muster a full complement, especially when playing twenty a side, the 'given men' were in demand. On many occasions it was agreed to play fifteen a side, and that long before the reduced number became officially recognised as the standard.
Season 1871-72 was a bad one for the Edinburgh Academicals, who, having avoided defeat for seven years, were beaten at Raeburn Place by the West of Scotland by a goal and a try to three tries, and later lost at St. Andrews in a very unsatisfactory match in which, owing to the irregularities of their opponents, the Academicals left the field. The match was fifteen a side, and is the game referred to when the Academicals arrived five men short.
J. W. Arthur and T. Chalmers, Scotland's first great full-back, were in the Glasgow Academical team which met St. Andrews University at Raeburn Place that year. The St. Andrews side included P. Anton, who became a prominent personality in early Scottish Rugby, and whose opinions on the 1873 International, in which he played, are reproduced in their appropriate connection.
Finally, as an indication of the general conditions in the year of the first International, the following extract from a newspaper resume of the season's work will help to make the position more clear:
'The leading club, the Edinburgh Academicals, played five matches, lost two, and won three.'
'Edinburgh Academy beat Loretto and drew with Merchiston. Both opponents of the Academy included some former pupils.'
'Edinburgh University, who depended upon members of other clubs, beat the Royal High School, Loretto (with eight "given men"), Craigmount, and Merchistonians, and lost to Glasgow University. J. H. L. M'Farlane scored 8 of the University's 17 tries.'
'The Royal High School, one of the youngest clubs in the district, played six matches, lost three, won two, and drew one.'
'The West of Scotland played five matches, lost two, drew two, and won one.'
'The Glasgow Academicals, who promise to become one of the strongest as well as most enterprising clubs, played seven matches, beat the West of Scotland twice, drew with St. Andrews University, lost and drew with the Merchistonians, drew with Liverpool and beat Manchester. It is hoped the Edinburgh and Glasgow Academicals will arrange a match for next season.'
This then was the state of the game in the country when the challenge to England was issued. I think we may all raise our hats in recognition of the courage of these early Scots.
In January 1872, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Academicals met in the first of the series, which still continues, and which, almost from its inception, was regarded as the great club match of the season. From that day till the present, it is tolerably safe to say that a greater number of International players have participated in inter-Academical matches than in any other club combination that could be named.
That first match between the clubs was played at Burnbank, and resulted in a scoreless draw. It is recorded that ' the play was really fine.' L. M. Balfour and J. Dunlop narrowly missed scoring from drops at goal.
The teams were :
Edinburgh Academicals —T. R. Marshall (captain), L. M. Balfour, J. F. Finlay, R. W. Irvine, J. A. W. Mein, D. R. Irvine, J. A. Ross, W. Blackwood, D. Robertson, R. G. Dunlop, T. A. Bell, A. B. Finlay, T. W. Lang, R. E. Wood, and C. K. S. Moncreiff.
Glasgow Academicals — J. W. Arthur (captain), T. Chalmers, W. D. Brown, W. Cross, T. A. Drew, C T. Sloan, D. Drew, J. K. Tod, H. W. Allan, G. R. Fleming, J. K. Brown, C. C. Bruce, W. Harvey, J. Paterson, and W. Brown.
The match was fifteen a side, and it will be observed that quite that number of International players took part. The Merchistonian-Glasgow Academical connection, previously referred to, is also noticeable.
In the spring of 1872, J. M. Cotterill, of cricket renown, was playing in a Wanderers team which beat the Merchistonians, and in an important match in Glasgow the Royal High School drew with the Glasgow Academicals. The 'School' team included A. Buchanan, G. Rayner, A. G. Petrie, and A. Wood, and we find J. S. Carrick making one of his early appearances for the Academicals. Carrick ultimately succeeded T. Chalmers as a pillar of the Scottish team at full-back. A very active player, Carrick had a huge and lofty punt and was a defender of whom it was said that the only player who ever got past him in a fair field was Ninian Finlay.
We have the Collegiate playing in 1872, and also Blairlodge under the captaincy of Le Messurier.
In club football up to the end of 1871, the Edinburgh Academical ascendancy had hardly been challenged. For a few seasons they showed signs of falling back, and, coincident with their decline, began the rise of the Glasgow Academical-Merchistonian combination. None of the others so stoutly assailed the positions of the two Academical clubs as did the Royal High School. In 1871 the 'School' were recognised as a rising young team. The following year, when the Glasgow Academical side contained W. Cross, J. W. Arthur, A. Drew, J. S. Carrick, T. Chalmers, and J. K. Tod—all International men—-Angus Buchanan's team accomplished a notable achievement by drawing with the Academicals at Burnbank. Three of Buchanan's principal supporters on that occasion were A. Gordon Petrie, A. Wood, and G. Rayner, two of whom were International forwards in the following year.
In January of season 1873-74 Edinburgh University beat the Royal High School at Bonnington in a match which is memorable as the last appearance in football of J. H. L. M'Farlane, whose tragic death a month later created a deep impression in Scottish Rugby circles. M'Farlane, in the course of a run, stopped suddenly and dislocated a knee. While under treatment he developed rheumatic fever, aggravated by heart and chest complications, and did not recover. Having some time previously obtained his degree, Dr. M'Farlane had been acting as one of the resident assistants in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. His funeral was attended by a large number of the leading Rugby men of the day, and by five hundred Edinburgh University students.
The defeat in question was the first the 'School' had sustained in local football for two years. Their team included A. Buchanan, A. G. Petrie, A. Wood, Rayner, Robertson, Knott, Brewis, and Nat Watt. That selection shows that the 'School' were a strong side. Besides J. H. L. M'Farlane, the University included J. M. Cotterill, A. K. Stewart, and also J. Reid, who played most of his football with the Wanderers.
J. Reid was an elder brother of the Edinburgh Academy boys, A. P. and Charles Reid, and in physique bore a strong resemblance to C. Reid.
J. H. L. M'Farlane was succeeded in the captaincy of Edinburgh University by A. K. Stewart, a fine ' quarter,' who filled M'Farlane's place with distinction in the International at Kennington Oval that season.
Angus Buchanan was the first Royal High School International player. He was the leader of the early-day High School football, an 'indefatigable leader ' indeed, in the phraseology of the time. In one of the matches of that period it is particularly recorded that the High School team were weakened by the absence of Mark Sanderson. Mr. Sanderson, now over fourscore years of age, still maintains his connection with Royal High School football and is occasionally present at the matches. If not the sole survivor of the introduction of the game, he must be one of the few patriarchs of Rugby who are alive. The Sanderson family have played a notable part in High School sport. George and Fred Sanderson will be remembered by the older generation as first-class cricketers in the Royal High School eleven. G. A. Sanderson, of A third branch, played in all the Internationals as a forward in 1907.
To the Royal High School belongs the record of the first score against England, and when Angus Buchanan obtained his try at Raeburn Place he was the first player to score in International football. J. H. L. M'Farlane was the first Edinburgh Institution International player.
The 'School,' whose ground was then at Bonnington, whence a little later they removed to a field to the south of the Meadows in the Warrender district, played another great game with the Glasgow Academicals. The Edinburgh Academicals, who were fast recovering their old position, beat the Royal High School in the later weeks of season 1873-74 at Bonnington.
The club event of the season, the Edinburgh and. Glasgow Academical match in February, resulted in a draw. T. R. Marshall, R. W. and D. R. Irvine, R. Duncan, G. Q. Paterson, R. Mac-nair, A. Finlay, J. A. W. Mein, and the two schoolboys, J. H. S. Graham and Ninian Finlay, were in the Edinburgh side, and T. Chalmers, W. D. Brown, D. H. Watson, J. W. Arthur, J. K. and J. S. Tod, G. Heron, and G. R. Fleming played for the Glasgow team. That joint representation explained in a measure the popular opinion that the two clubs embodied the Scottish International team. The conclusion may have been a trifle overdrawn, but there is no question that the Academicals of Edinburgh and Glasgow constituted the main pillars of Scottish football of that time.
That season the Edinburgh Academicals renewed their fixture with the Merchistonians after a three years' interval. The function took the form of a reunion with a match played under the old rules and a dinner in Merchiston Castle. The composition of the teams is interesting in itself. Among the Academicals were the brothers W, and J. R. Blackwood, A. and T. A. Bell, R. W. Irvine, D. R. Irvine, R. Macnair, G. Q. Paterson, J. H. S. Graham, and the entire Finlay brotherhood, James, Tom, Alexander, Gardine, and Ninian. Some of the Merchistonians were Malcolm Cross, William Cross, B. Hall Blyth, W. and G. Roland, A. Arthur, and W. Speed. Time has made its ravages on that company, but I dare say those who remain will remember the occasion well.
The Edinburgh Institution (F.P.) Club, formed late in 1871 or 1872, experienced a difficulty at the outset in getting players. Old Institution boys were fairly plentiful, but were already in membership with other clubs. J. H. L. M'Farlane, for example, was the captain of Edinburgh University, and Nat Brewis was playing with the Royal High School.
R. M. Neill, the father of two prominent later-day Edinburgh Academicals, and who still attends Raeburn Place, was at that time playing for the Wanderers, but he was one of those who assisted in founding the Institution Club. Under the leadership of J. J. Deuchar the team struggled along, and gradually worked upwards. A few years later Nat Brewis assumed the captaincy, and within ten years of their start the club had reached the highest pinnacle in club football in Scotland, and had wrested the championship from the Edinburgh Academicals.
The Watsonians started about the same time as the Institution, but their path to the summit was a longer and steeper one, and it was not until R. M. M. Roddick's and H. T. O. Leggatt's time —nearer twenty than ten years from the club's formation—that the Watsonians won their first championship. They had good teams and good players, notably J. Tod, their first Internationalist, long before that, but they were not quite good enough as a team to reach the supreme position.
In season 1874-75 the Institution, then under Nat Brewis, were aspiring to recognition among the front rank of the clubs, though the membership was still low. They got a bad beating from the Edinburgh Academicals in October of that season. Ninian Finlay got one of the three tries scored by the Academicals and dropped a couple of goals, which was not by any means an unusual feat for him.
Real compensation and gratification came to the Institution a little later, when, to general surprise, they beat the Wanderers, but they were progressing, and even a two goals beating by the Warriston in one of the concluding matches of the season did not diminish their enthusiasm nor check their aspirations. Want of players was still their principal drawback. Like R. M. Neill, many Institution players were attached to other clubs.
Frequently R. M. Neill and J. M. Cotterill played together at 'quarter' in the early Wanderers team, and as a coincidence it may be mentioned that in later times their sons, R. M. Neill and D. Cotterill, were associated in the same position for the Edinburgh Academicals.
With great diffidence, and fears of intrusion on a touching memory, I venture to add that the fathers are still with us, but the boys are not.
An informative situation may be traced in a series of events in which the Watsonians drew at Bainfield with St. George, who had previously beaten Stewart's College (F.P.).
Season 1874-75 saw the West of Scotland in exceeding prosperity, with a largely increased membership and a strong playing team, including the brothers M'Clure and W. H. Kidston. The 'West' drew with the Glasgow Academicals and promoted a strong public attraction in a match at Partick with a Liverpool club fifteen, which included J. R. Hay Gordon, an Edinburgh Academical, who at a subsequent date played 'quarter' for Scotland. The same season A. N. Hornby, the Lancashire cricketer and International full-back, brought the Manchester team to Glasgow, where they were beaten by the Academicals. Manchester and Liverpool were at that time the two great strongholds of the game in the North of England.
The Glasgow Academicals were still a powerful team, but had to lower their flag to the Edinburgh Academicals, who in the first match between the pair scored a try to nothing, and in the second won by a goal dropped by Ninian Finlay to a try. R. W. Irvine was then captain of the Edinburgh Academicals, and led a very fine team, especially when reinforced by the best of the Academy boys. They were altogether too strong for most of the local clubs, so much so that in a game with the Wanderers a friend wagered ' Bulldog ' a pound to a shilling he would not drop a goal. Now Irvine had never tried and was not expected to drop goals, but he led his forwards in his usual strenuous manner, and whether there were some of the others in the plot and helping him I cannot say, but he found his opportunity, took it, and won his bet.
St. Andrews University had lost some of their earlier prominence. There were minor teams in Perth and Dundee, and the Paisley club, that played their first match in Edinburgh in 1873 and drew with the Institution, were reckoned to be a fairly good side.
Rugby had been started on the Borders after the first Scottish victory over England. There were clubs at Langholm and Hawick and a combination of Galashiels and Melrose playing at Galashiels in the early 'seventies, but it was some years later before the Border teams participated in the general rota of club football.
In the first match between Hawick, or Hawick and Wilton as the club was then called, and Langholm, which was played at Hawick, neither side were very sure about the rules. Langholm, supported by the regulations governing a hybrid game then in vogue at Carlisle, contended that a goal could only be scored by the ball passing under the bar. The Hawick men felt certain that the ball must pass over the bar for a Rugby goal. The difference, however, was regarded as too trifling to be of serious consequence, and the players, concerning themselves very little about goals, proceeded with the game and found in it a lusty sport admirably suited to the Border temperament.
The development of Rugby during that period is exemplified in the publication in London of a paper, The Goal, which was devoted to football news. In one of its issues the editor was much concerned about the roughness of the Scots in their club matches, not so much on account of the methods of play as of the effects, which were causing an inconvenient shortage of players.
From the autumn of 1876 to the spring of 1880 more club football was played in Scotland than during any previous period of similar duration. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Academical rivalry still produced the most important events, but early in that term the monopoly threatened to be disturbed by the Wanderers, and later by Edinburgh Institution (F.P.).
The 1876-77 team of the Wanderers was one of the strongest the club ever had. J. Reid led a particularly heavy set of forwards, including C. Villars, H. Hawkins, Arthur Budd, and some other weighty members. J. Montgomerie, a virile type of player, was at half-back, and E. J. Pocock joined the club that season. Budd and Pocock were Englishmen, who troubled Scotland a great deal, each in his own way. Budd played for England later, but I am perfectly sure that had he been eligible for Scotland he never would have been selected or even have been in the running. He and Mr. Rowland Hill made themselves very prominent in their antagonism to Scotland in the years of the Dispute, and in that connection the two names were seldom mentioned on this side of the Tweed except as a co-partnery antagonistic to all things Scottish. And with all his English fervour, Mr. Hill was an Irishman.
Pocock played quarter. He was another of the 'Quinty' Paterson type. Very quick, he scored a lot of tries for the Wanderers. What the Scottish Union overlooked when they selected him for the 1877 International, and they had first to obtain the consent of the English Union, was that Pocock in his club matches was playing behind a huge protecting barricade in the Wanderers forwards. In the International, where every man had to stand on his own legs, Pocock had to be propped up. Probably he was injured—I cannot say—but they put him in the scrummage, where the other forwards carried him along. Gerry Scott, who was then playing for the Royal High School, had a dropped goal that saved them being beaten by the Wanderers.
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Academicals had to exert themselves to the uttermost to get the better of the Wanderers. The Royal High School were a good team. P. W. Smeaton, who was a sort of handy man, sometimes in, sometimes out of the forward division, stole away from a throw-out and 'galloped' over the line for the Edinburgh Academical winning score in the 'School' match. Smeaton had a style of progression peculiarly his own. It was more a gallop than a run.
Like hundreds more, I blamed T. A. Bell for losing the Glasgow Academical match at Raeburn Place. That judgment was as severe as it was unjust, for Bell was sticking to his post when he had been badly hurt, and in the course of the game we could only see his failure to tackle D. H. Watson when he broke away from about the ' 25,' and did not know of the handicap he was labouring under. Watson was a strong, forceful runner, and not an easy man to stop. ' Tommy ' Bell, as he was affectionately termed, and he was brother man to all men, was a good three-quarter, very fast and second only to Ninian Finlay as a drop-kick. He was an expert hurdler, and I rather think he held some records ' over the timber.' Ninian Finlay played no football at all that season.
When we reach seasons 1875-76, 1876-77, we have left behind us what, for convenience sake, may be regarded as the more primitive period. Rugby football had established for itself a position as a popular sport equivalent to that already attained by cricket.
The Saturday list now consisted of a string of matches varying in grade and importance from those of the leading clubs down to second-fifteen club and school games, with an intermediate section containing the St. George, Cronstadt, and Watsonians in Edinburgh, two or three teams in the Dundee and Perth districts, a club at Kirkcaldy, several on the Borders, and even one at Portobello. The game was being played at Aberdeen in the North and at Dumfries in the South. In the West country, the Paisley club were competing with the first-class teams and holding their own very well.
At the October meeting of the Scottish Union two clubs in Dundee were admitted to membership, one at Aberdeen, one each at Broughty Ferry (the Abertay), Clackmannan, and Dumfries, and two in Edinburgh (the Carlton and Collegiate). All of these have passed out of existence, but their presence at that time is evidence of the spread of the game.
Some points of procedure in the play were still creating a conflict of opinion. B. Hall Blyth identified himself very intimately and energetically with a movement having for its purpose the prevention of the forwards picking up the ball except when it was bounding. The proposal, after being referred back to the Union for further discussion and for the opinions of the club captains, was ultimately accepted and submitted to the English Union, who were still the law-makers. It did not meet with the approval of the English rulers, and, whether they were right or wrong, it was a drastic and far-reaching proposal practically cutting out a root and deflecting the growth in a direction opposite to the tendency of modern Rugby. Yet it was in consonance with the Scottish idea that the game of the forwards was footwork. They were putting their brains as well as their bodies into the game. In fact, it was from Scotland that all the earlier progressive movements issued.
By season 1877-78, T. J. Torrie, the first International product of Fettes, had retired from the Edinburgh Academicals, and Gardine Finlay had gone abroad. The team thus lost two of its best forwards. Frequently reserve, the youngest forward of the Finlay family would almost surely have secured his International place had he continued in the game. Ninian had returned, and he and W. E. Maclagan formed the strongest halfback division the Academicals so far had had. L. J. Aitken, a notable school player and runner, had gone among the forwards, there to rub shoulders with P. W. Smeaton, who could not get his place outside so long as 'Quinty' Paterson and J. Younger were available. E. S. Balfour, the younger brother of 'L. M.,' was playing full-back.
In the autumn of 1877 the Watsonians joined the Scottish Rugby Union. John and Malcolm Tod were playing for them then. John Tod stuck to the club; indeed, I would be inclined to say he was the 'Father' of the Watsonians; but Malcolm went over to the Wanderers, for whom he did good work at quarter during several seasons. W. H. Masters, who was playing for the Royal High School, was another who transferred his affections. Before the season was over he was firmly installed, with W. Sorley Brown, at quarter for the Institution.
Nat Brewis was building up his team. He got W. Somerville from the Cronstadt, or 'Leith Cronstadt' as everybody called it—a club which played down Easter Road way on a field that had a two-feet drain cut across it. This club beat Loanhead, who were under the captaincy of R. Ainslie. Soon afterwards Robert joined his brother, T. Ainslie, in the Institution Club.
That season the championship came back to Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Academicals beat the Glasgow Academicals by a try in each match, and both tries were scored by W. E. Maclagan following up unsuccessful drops at goal by 'Quinty' Paterson. The second of these matches, played at Raeburn Place, attracted a crowd of almost International dimensions. All the Glasgow team behind the scrummage were International men, J. S. Carrick, R. C. Mackenzie, M. Cross, J. A. Campbell, and A. T. Nelson. Pat Russel was full-back for the Edinburgh Academicals, and in front of him were N. J. Finlay and W. E. Maclagan, 'Quinty' Paterson, and J. Younger. The forward divisions were largely composed of the same class of players.
Naturally, the meeting produced a great game, and it was team work and combination that gave the Edinburgh side their advantage. When they scored it was from a run by J. Younger, followed by a combined movement in which Ninian Finlay carried on and transferred to Paterson, who 'foozled' his drop at goal, for Maclagan to dash in and score the winning try. J. A. Campbell, who was still at Merchiston, played best among the Glasgow backs.
J. H. S. Graham's team held the title till deprived of it by the Institution, who, even in the season under notice, could claim to be a good third to the Academicals of the East and West. Frost set in about the middle of December 1878, and did not break till near the end of the following February. Except for a few weeks at the beginning and the end, the season was a blank. L. M. Balfour had returned to football, and was playing full-back for the Academicals, who in October opened the new ground of the Institution at Coltbridge. The Academicals won by a goal and a try, but even then the Institution forwards were beginning to command attention.
The continuity of Gerry Scott's career had been much interrupted, but he started the season with the Royal High School, who were not strong, and in one of the few matches played lost to the Academicals by 4 goals (all kicked by L. M. Balfour) and 3 tries.
The Wanderers and Edinburgh University also fell heavily before the Academicals. E. J. Pocock had left, and J. Reid, who had been the Wanderers' leading forward for about half a dozen seasons, had given up the game.
Season 1879-80 was a busy one in club football. The brothers Ainslie were then with the Institution, for whom W. Sorley Brown and W. H. Masters formed a strong scoring partnership. Behind the quarters the players were essentially sound in defence, and although Boyd Cunningham and A. Philp could score on occasion, it was in the quarters the danger lay. Masters was the more showy man, but Sorley Brown was the sounder player. He was one of the first quarters to carry on with his feet and thus beat opponents who had been specially told off to watch him. For a light player he escaped injury marvellously, and had a much longer career than Masters. When playing together the two backed each other up so well, and were so quick and clever in their movements, that they kept most teams on edge.
Malcolm Cross, who was then captain of the Glasgow Academicals, beat the Institution by his place-kicking in a hard game, in which each side crossed the other's line twice. Only one inter-Academical match, resulting in a draw, took place that season, and as the Edinburgh Academicals beat the Institution, the strongest local aspirants, the title remained at Raeburn Place. 'Quinty' Paterson had retired, and P. W. Smeaton and J. Younger were the Academical quarters. 'Jimmy' Younger, as he was currently called, was a fine player.
A notable player in Scottish Rugby appeared in the Royal High School team of this period, J. P. Veitch, who in after years became one of the stoutest defenders and soundest full-backs who ever played for Scotland. C. D. Stuart also came into the team as a forward. Always a strong, heavy player, he went into the heart of the scrum, and held the 'School' pack together in the hottest matches of a period when forward work was of a particularly strenuous and vigorous type. In later years he had the satisfaction of seeing two of his sons, C. D. Stuart (West of Scotland) and L. M. Stuart (Glasgow High School F.P.), go into International teams.
Edinburgh University were then playing at Corstorphine, where John Smith returned to the Association game, and Frank Hunter, whom Gregor MacGregor declared to be the fastest bowler ever he kept wicket to, reverted to the football he had learned at Fettes. W. A. Peterkin and Hunter took a turn at full-back for the University till Peterkin found his true place forward. When he was champion sprinter of Scotland, Peterkin was in the International pack. Scotland in these days was often faster in the scrummage than outside of it.
The Watsonians were getting their heads above water. The brothers Tod, A. Glegg, and H. Vibert were in their team which lost to the Royal High School by a try. Vibert became walking champion of Scotland, and went to London, where he made a name for himself on the stage. J. W. Parsons, who was at Fettes with Edgar Storey, a noted Fettes captain and equally prominent Cambridge University and ' F.L.' player, was playing for the Wanderers. Parsons was the best jumper Fettes has produced, and won both the Scottish and English high jump championships. His best jump was 6 ft. | in.
By the middle of the 'seventies the game had become firmly established on the Borders. Earlier progress was mainly confined to Langholm and Hawick. Gala and Melrose were still represented by a joint team, occupying a field at Galashiels. It would be contrary to Border character and temperament if two sections remained in union for any length of time. By and by the Gala men and the Melrose men apparently got tired of each other's company, and one dark night the goalposts disappeared from the field at Galashiels. By exercise of the wizardry Sir Walter Scott imputes to the district, the posts, the following morning, had sprouted out of the earth, and were standing erect on the Greenyards at Melrose. Clearly, the occult powers indicated separate and independent courses for Gala and Melrose, so the story goes.
Towards the end of the decade clubs existed at Berwick, Kelso, Duns, and Earlston. One of the Earlston players was a member of the Murdison family—grandfather, it might possibly be, of the youth who played for Gala a season or two ago. Both J. P. Veitch and George R. Wilson, Royal High School, had a Border connection.
An effort was made to stimulate the game north of Edinburgh by a series of fixtures played in Perth between representative teams of Edinburgh and those chosen from St. Andrews, Dundee, and the North generally, but, in spite of all encouragement, Rugby did not take the same hold as it did on the Borders. In fact, until comparatively recent times, no football of any kind appeared to appeal to the people in the North.
The extension of the radius in the East v. West game as an International trial was not very productive, for, as a matter of fact, with the exception of Paisley the clubs outside Edinburgh and Glasgow were not strong. D. Lang, Paisley, who played against England in 1876 and 1877, and L. J. Auldjo, Abertay, in 1878, were the only discoveries of the earlier matches.
I remember the Paisley team. They played in green-and-black striped jerseys. The Royal High School of the period affected broad red and blue stripes. The University, when they took up house at Corstorphine, were wearing a maroon jersey. The Institution school colour was scarlet, too pronounced for the Former Pupils, who played in white jerseys, red stockings, and white knickers. That sort of thing never affected the West of Scotland. They have been blazing scarlet and yellow all the time I have known them, symbolic, they say, of the popular Glasgow dish of ham and eggs.
For a number of years the Royal High School had been well represented in all the important matches, but, good as some of them were, none of their backs compared with Gerry Scott, who came into the team in 1875-76. He was the best product of 'School' football up to that time as far as back play was concerned. Not such a wonderful player as Ninian Finlay, he resembled the Edinburgh Academical more in style and play than Malcolm Cross did. A strong body of opinion advocated Finlay as centre half to Cross and Scott for the 1876 International, and, as events subsequently showed, that arrangement, and a change at quarter, might have made all the difference between the winning and the losing of the match. Scott unfortunately contracted a leg trouble that broke the continuity of his career, and prematurely stopped him entirely.
The 'School' had still a good team. N. Watt was playing behind the maul, sometimes with Scott at half-back and sometimes with T. L. Knott or Rutherford at quarter. A. H. Schneider helped to complete a first-rate club back division. They had lost a good forward in A. Wood, but found a strong pair in J. C. Robertson and R. B. Murrie, who was possibly a better cricketer than a football player. He certainly was one of the best fast bowlers in the East.
Fifteen a side had been generally adopted in club football, and applied to some of the representative matches two years at least before the repeated appeals from the Scottish Union for the reduction was accepted. About that time dissatisfaction with the scoring rule began to find expression, and at the autumn meeting of the English Rugby Union in 1875 the try was established as a substantive score. Scoring by points was already being discussed, but neither Union felt disposed to do more than recognise the principle.
Club rivalry was beginning to get very keen. The Scot has always been credited with clannish-ness as a natural attribute. Some time later than the period under notice this characteristic revealed itself in aggravated form, and only a very fine line of distinction could be drawn between club and faction. Everyday personal relationship was hardly affected, but on the field and in the council chamber 'club jealousy' was currently accepted as an explanation for multitudes of sins of omission and commission. The curious feature of this phase of the game was the nice discrimination exercised. Every man's hand was not against his neighbour. Each club had one pet aversion, upon which they accumulated and bestowed all the love that could reasonably be translated into chastisement.
Scotland reared a race of hardy players. All old-timers will remember that invariably when play was interrupted in an International, it was to allow an Englishman time to recover. Not that the Scot was rougher than the Saxon, but he was hardier, partly by racial inheritance and partly by his football upbringing. An old military man, of many campaigns and an International player, has told me that one of the stormiest times he ever came through was in an Edinburgh club match in 1874.
James Finlay, one of the last of the Scottish twenty who played in 1871, retired at the end of 1874-75. Chosen for all representative matches during his career, he was one of the heaviest, most powerful, and athletic of the Scottish forwards. Inside the ' 25 ' there was no stopping him if he got fairly set for the line.
Personal reference is due to many of these old players of the 'seventies. Some of them are bearers of names which are still mentioned and discussed at the present day. There are those who consider that T. R. Marshall was not only a great football player, but as a cricketer was the best bat Scotland has ever produced. After his return from abroad, he played cricket in M.C.C. elevens, and occasionally appeared in Scotland. By that time he had lost much of his earlier agility, attributable no doubt to the climatic influences incidental to his sojourn abroad. His fielding was thereby affected ; otherwise he would have been classed as a Gentlemen of England player.
T. Chalmers was also a very prominent cricketer. Loyalty to their own evoked the opinion in Glasgow that Chalmers was the best Scottish bat of his day. B. Hall Blyth could play cricket too. I recollect Hall Blyth taking wickets on the Academy ground, and saw Chalmers drive R. Macnair clean out of that field for a 6, and not many 6's were hit off Macnair.
J. Finlay was a member of a notable brotherhood. I cannot claim to personal recollection of him, but I saw Ninian Finlay from his schoolboy days, and perfectly remember Gardine Finlay, who would probably have gained International honours had he not gone abroad. There never was such glamour and reputation attached to any Scottish player as there was to Ninian Finlay, until A. R. Don Wauchope reached the zenith of his powers.
To detail L. M. Balfour's career would occupy a volume in itself. I saw him play football as an Academical, watched his cricket many and many a day, saw him at lawn tennis at the time he won the Scottish Championship, heard of his triumph at St. Andrews in a game I know little about, and probably from observing him and that Sussex County gentleman who played football for the Wanderers in 1873, J. M. Cotterill, the hardest hitter in England and the greatest bat in Scotland, had it ingrained in my being that a cricket ball was a thing that was intended to be hit—a fundamental that is not universally observed.
In the mid 'seventies there was a J. Smith playing full-back for the Wanderers and Edinburgh University as occasion offered. A big fellow, you might see him stand with his arms folded over his chest in idle moments. He was that John Smith of Mauchline, afterwards Dr. Smith, leader of the Queen's Park forwards, and International successor to the great George Kerr, ' Prince of Dribblers.' He is now of Kirkcaldy, and occupies a high place among Scottish bowlers. In 1876 he was selected reserve full-back for Scotland. Had he played, the unique distinction of representing the country under both codes would have fallen to him.
Angus Buchanan, although he continued to lead the Royal High School for a number of years later, only played in the first International. However, before retiring, he had brought the 'School' into the front rank in club football. In 1874 the Glasgow Academical-Royal High School match at Bonnington attracted one of the biggest crowds seen at a club game up to that time. The 'School' was then playing a fast, open style of game in which 'chucking' and 'backing-up' were features. However, on that occasion their play did not reach its usual standard, and they were beaten.
A. Gordon Petrie and A. Wood, of that 'School' team, became International forwards.
One of the greatest cricketers of that time was T. W. Lang, who played football in the Edinburgh Academical side of 1872. While at Oxford University he was one of the best bowlers, slow or medium, in England. In the 1874 game against Cambridge he took no fewer than ten wickets. I recollect hearing a story, but cannot vouch for its accuracy, that on one occasion he bowled the great W. G. Grace for ' duck.' ' T. W.' was a Selkirk man, brother of Andrew Lang of literary fame. There were three brothers. The family did a great deal to establish cricket in Selkirk.
J. H. S. Graham was one of the greatest forwards the game has seen. A fair-haired, enthusiastic schoolboy, he possessed from his early days the gift of leadership, and as captain of the champion school team, captain of a great Academical champion team, and captain of the International fifteen, he gained all the honours the game could give. Of very powerful physique, it was his skill as a dribbler that carried him into his first International match in 1876. He played the game heartily and vigorously, and was always as willing to make concessions to an opponent as he was ready to acknowledge the merits and encourage the efforts of his own players. Whether he passed the ball to Malcolm Cross, or some one else did, it was characteristic of Graham that almost as the ball cleared the bar he was endeavouring to hoist Cross shoulder high there and then. No forward of his day played the game with more intelligence, skill, and effect than Graham. He was one of the most advanced players of his time, and one of the great products of Scottish football.
W. St. Clair Grant was the first great product of Craigmount, a school that in its day held its own in competition with the best of its rival scholastic institutions. When we consider its term of existence, Craigmount may be said to have provided both Scotland and England with a wonderful list of players of the highest status. St. Clair Grant not only went into all the representative football teams of his time, as a first choice man, but, as a cricketer, was reputedly one of the best bowlers in Scotland. The pink field jacket and cap of Craigmount were the prettiest 'creation' in cricket attire.
J. H. L. M'Farlane lived before the days of authentically recorded athletic performances, but we know that as a long jumper and as a sprinter and middle-distance runner he was the best all-round man of his time in Scotland.
J. A. W. Mein, who played in the first International, is a Border laird in the Jedburgh district. His two sons were prominent Edinburgh Academy players between 1904 and 1907. In the latter season the younger, A. B. Mein, was captain of the school fifteen.
C. W. Cathcart—in 1872—was the first Loret-tonian to be capped, or rather selected, for 'capping' was of a later date. In the photographs of the first International teams, several of the players can be observed wearing the conventional cowl previously referred to.
As St. Clair Grant was the first Craigmount International player, H. Springman, a Lancashire boy, of the same school, was the first Scottish-trained schoolboy who played for England. Neither Edinburgh Academy nor Merchiston had any particular first International player. Each school supplied a batch to the team of 1871.
The Institution team, which won the club championship in seasons 1880-81 and 1881-82, was of distinct character and strength. N. T. Brewis had laboured long and arduously toward the consummation of his ambition.
The title had been in possession of the Edinburgh Academicals from season 1877-78. J. H. S. Graham led a powerful team at the peak of its strength. By season 1880-81 it had begun to crumble, and a year or two later the Academicals entered a tolerably long journey through the wilderness until they were again led into the ' promised land' by C. Reid and his virile collection of young forwards. W. E. Maclagan had gone to London, but was brought down specially to face the new challengers. Two Academy schoolboys, C. Reid and Frank Wright, already building up reputations for themselves, were included. But it was of no avail; the Academicals were beginning to decline, and even if they had been able to put off the evil day, the fall would only have been deferred. The game was played at Coltbridge, and I have a tolerably clear recollection of W. H. Masters running in for the winning and only score of the match.
I cannot recall two brothers playing together as forwards in one team who would bear favourable comparison with R. and T. Ainslie. In the great International triumph at Manchester in 1882, it was they who scored both tries. When R. Ainslie, or 'Bob' Ainslie, as he was known to the world, scored, A. N. Hornby, the English back and Lancashire cricketer, stooped too soon in his attempted tackle, and Ainslie jumped clear over him. When Tom Ainslie scored again, the crowd were actually on the goal-line, and his problem was to get through them and at the same time evade Hornby.
Behind the scrummage the Institution's scoring power lay in the quarters—W. Sorley Brown and W. H. Masters. They were both small men, but fast, active, and nimble-witted. In fact, they conformed in all essentials to the ideals of the period. The others were pre-eminently safe men and sound defenders. W. H. Masters went abroad after a season or two, but Sorley Brown had a long and successful career in club and International football. Over and above that he did a good deal of practical missionary work in forming a connection between the Institution and the Border teams. He and Masters were the best scoring club pair who up to that time had played together.
Actually ten of that Institution team were International players. R. Maitland, the heaviest man on the side, was a thoroughly sound forward; D. Somerville's long reach rendered him a most useful player at the throw-out, and he brought both feet and hands, along with a keen scent for a score, into operation on the goal-line.
A. Philp was wonderfully light on his feet, in spite of his rotundity, and he earned all the honours that came to him. I used to think Boyd Cunningham a very fine player of the type equally at home in any class of game, winning or losing. They were a very sound pair of halves. W. Gordon, a young Irishman—how Nat Brewis unearthed him I don't know—was a clever back. It was therefore a powerful, well-balanced team.
The Institution men who beat the Edinburgh Academicals in November 1880 were : W. Gordon; A. Philp and Boyd Cunningham; W. H. Masters and W. Sorley Brown; N. T. Brewis, R. A. Brewis, T. Ainslie, R. Ainslie, R. Maitland, D. Somerville, A. Drummond, J. Fraser, J. Chisholm, and — Adam. In rather an indirect manner the Royal High School won the championship of 1883-84. The West of Scotland had the misfortune to be weakly represented in their match with the Institution, which they lost; and when they came to play the Wanderers they were faced by a team reinforced by Edinburgh Academicals and Fettesian-Loret-tonians, and they went down very decisively. The Royal High School brought Walter M'Farlane from London specially for their match with the ' West,' but they were beaten by a goal and a try.
The 'West' were the best club team of the season, but the Royal High School were the champions. It was an anomalous position, no doubt, but the competition bristled with incongruities. A. R. Paterson, the Fettesian-Lorettonian forward and Oxford ' Blue,' helped the Wanderers to beat the ' West,' and assisted the 'West' to get the better of the ' School.'
At that time, and for a number of years afterwards, the Royal High School were well supplied with players; so well, indeed, that they ought to have been in closer running for the championship than they were. Their team in the 'West' match was: J. P. Veitch; W. M'Farlane and W. A. Scott; P. H. Cosens and C. Robertson; N. Watt, C. D. Stuart, A. M'Farlane, R. Roy, J. W. Walker, W. M. Gossip, D. A. Gray, J. Horsburgh, C. Paisley, and W. M'Donald.
The following season the 'School' ought to have had even a better team, for they had several notable additions, particularly G. Wilson, a halfback, who had a meteoric career; A. Duke, an International forward; W. R. Gibson, also an Internationalist; and Dr. Rutherford lent his assistance on occasion. The best they did was to make a strenuous fight at Grange Loan against the Edinburgh Academicals in a game that was unfinished ' owing to a dispute.'
Until the middle 'nineties the 'West' continued to exert a leading influence on club football, and for a great part of that time quite put in the shade their local rivals the Glasgow Academicals. Indeed, the new century had almost dawned before the Academicals began to re-establish themselves in their old position among the leaders.
When all the other home clubs were playing the hard slogging forward game, the back play of the West of Scotland in combination was not equalled until C. Reid had R. H. Johnston, H. J. Stevenson, and J. Duncan in his half-back line. After M. F. Reid left Loretto, he played centre for the 'West' until he went abroad. With Reid in the centre, and A. E. Stephen and R. G. Eaglesham on the wings, the 'West' had about their best scoring three-quarter line.
C. E. Orr went to them from Loretto a few seasons later than M. F. Reid, and J. E. Orr, a half-back when in England and a forward when in Scotland, came in about the same time. A couple of virile players were the Orrs, both a trifle peppery, 'Jack' rather more than his brother. There is no question that C. E. Orr was a thoroughly good quarter in his earlier days. Latterly, he got spoiled in his play by continual worrying with the forwards. But that was the work the quarter of the period had to perform if he were to be of any use. The man behind the scrum who would not get down to a forward rush or stop the movement at its inception did not command much respect.
J. D. Boswell played all his club football with the West of Scotland after he left Oxford University, and still they kept getting Lorettonians, such as Harold Paton, a clever and plucky little player. Later still half the team were Merchistonians. There were George, Gordon, and Willie Neilson of one branch of that family, and Hugh Neilson, the Cantab, of another; and about the same time another Merchistonian International forward in J. N. Millar was with them. They had always good forwards, and none served them better or longer, unless it were D. Morton, than the Fettesian, H. F. Menzies. R. G. MacMillan also played for a season or two with the 'West' before going to London.
The old-time Glasgow Academical-Merchistonian connection almost disappeared. Now and again the Academicals would get an odd good player from Merchiston, such as A. N. Woodrow and A. W. Walls, but the early-day attachment between Glasgow Academy and Merchiston was gone, to the detriment of the Academicals and the benefit of the West of Scotland.
Withal, the Academicals maintained a good position during the 'eighties. D. W. Kidston was in their back division early in the decade when their leader in the pack was J. B. Brown, one of the cleverest forwards who have played for Scotland. A. W. Walls came to them from Merchiston as a powerful addition to their front rank. Walls was a big strong useful forward, though he never had the skill of ' Johnny ' Brown nor yet of H. T. Ker or J. French, who were too light to owe their success to anything but cleverness. F. M'Indoe succeeded D. W. Kidston as a full-back of the sound and safe national pattern, and A. N. Woodrow, the Merchiston marvel, was in the Academical team of 1886 and for some years later. The club left the old field at Burnbank at the end of season 1882-83. Mutual associations and old relationship demanded that the first visitors to Anniesland should be the Edinburgh Academicals. So it happened, and as a happy augury the Glasgow club opened their new home with a win. They were a better team at this time than their Edinburgh brethren, and they were stoutly disputing local supremacy with their rivals the ' West.' In 1884-85 they renewed relationship after a ten years' interval, and beat the Royal High School, who were championship holders. They lost the autumn match of the following season to the West of Scotland by three goals and a try. The game is memorable for the fact that all three goals were dropped by M. F. Reid, who thereby accomplished the crowning achievement of his career in club football. Reid set himself almost exclusively to score from drop-kicks, and the other members of the team systematically aided him. It was very rarely that he did not drop at least one goal, but he excelled himself in the record success of 1885.
The West of Scotland were a strong side in 1882-83, when they won the championship. D. Y. Cassels had among his forwards several International men—A. Walker, the Lorettonian, and elder brother of J. G. Walker; D. Morton, a duplicate in a measure of D. Somerville; J. Jamieson and D. M'Cowan.
There were two old Loretto boys in the back division, A. J. W. Reid and C. Dunlop, school contemporary of A. G. G. Asher, and also the Edinburgh Academical, A. P. Reid, the elder brother of C. Reid, a very fast man and a good player. They beat the Institution, the championship holders, by three tries, and by a coincidence A. P. Reid, coming to Edinburgh for the occasion, scored the winning try for the Academicals against the Institution, thus indirectly helping the 'West' on their way to the title. The Institution team was beginning to break up by that time.
Let us here divert our course a little in order to touch upon some lateral influences affecting the general position. Oxford University, in the early 'eighties, was the leading team in England. Their football was accepted as the model upon which the game should be moulded. When therefore Edinburgh University team, led by the Fettesian R. F. S. Henderson, beat H. Vassall's Oxonians at Oxford in 1881, the result was very significant in several respects. Oxford had not lost a match for three seasons. Henderson had only his ordinary club team with him. Frank Hunter, the Fettesian, was in the back division along with three Watsonians playing regularly for the University, J. Glegg, M. Morton, and W. Brooke. The match reflected favourably on the strength of Scottish club football. Two years later, Oxford came to Edinburgh and wiped out the stain on their reputation. Still, there was none to beat Oxford until Edinburgh University repeated their success in 1885. In 1881-82 there were four Lorettonians (J. G. Walker, A. R. Paterson, A. O. MacKenzie and A. G. G. Asher), and also the Edinburgh Academical, E. L. Strong, in the Oxford team. The following season a further contingent from Loretto (H. B. Tristram, G. C. Lindsay, and C. F. MacKenzie) was added. When A. G. G. Asher was captain of Oxford he had with him six Lorettonians : H. B. Tristram, G. C, Lindsay, A. S. Blair, C. W. Berry, A. M'Neill and R. C. Kitto. These were the days of the ' Oxford game,' when the University was holding up the torch to the rest of England; but the light had been kindled in Scotland, and it was the Scottish schoolboys who were the torch-bearers.
Contemporary football at Cambridge Universitv did not feel the influence so strongly for the reason that Scottish schoolboys there were less numerous. Edgar Storey and A. R. Don Wauchope, who had played together at Fettes, were two of the earlier additions who impressed their personal powers upon the teams at Cambridge. J. G. Tait and the brothers Sample from Edinburgh Academy, Hugh Neilson from Merchiston, C. J. B. Milne and W. M. Macleod from Fettes, were all Cantabs of the early 'eighties.
From the numeric strength and playing power of Loretto and Fettes at Oxford and Cambridge sprang the inspiration for the foundation of the Fettesian-Lorettonian Club which started inl881-82, but was not completely organised nor at its full power until the following season. All International men or ' Blues,' the early ' F.L.' team flashed into football as new stars in the firmament. We in Scotland only got glimpses of their brilliancy. In fulfilment of one of their functions as a holiday club presumably, most of their matches were played in touring the North of England. No club team that I have ever seen or heard of could produce such a back division as H. B. Tristram,
D. J. M'Farlan, E. Storey, G. C. Lindsay, A. R. Don Wauchope, and A. G. G. Asher. Five of these men have never been excelled, and two at least of them have never been equalled in their positions as International players. Tristram is still the best full-back that has played for England, and none has arisen in Scotland to bear comparison with A. R. Don Wauchope at quarter or half-back, where he and A. G. G. Asher still hold claim as the greatest pair that have played together for the country. None of the North of England teams could stand against the 'F.Ls.' till Bradford began to aspire to universal club championship about 1884. At least two great matches between the pair found them on tolerably level terms. Bradford's connection with Scotland introduces another phase of this diversion. C. Reid was building up his Edinburgh Academical team, and among other successes he had abruptly cut short the West of Scotland's run of club triumphs in the autumn of 1884. That season the Academicals had been beaten at Bradford by a snap try scored from their own goal-line by the Yorkshire team's full-back, Archer, in the last minute of the game.
When Bradford, seeking more worlds to conquer, came down to meet the Academicals at Raeburn Place in November 1885, they were prepared for a great battle, and so far they were not disappointed. It was a Homeric struggle if ever there was one. There was no quarter given or asked, Bradford had a strong back division, but Reid's forwards held them in a firm grip, and only once did the Academical crowd get a shiver. Ritchie, the fastest sprinter in England, cut away along the touch-line, and it looked all up when C. Reid, who had taken a diagonal course behind his halves, intercepted Ritchie at the '25' flag and saved the situation. Strange to say that, though I seem still to see that tackle clearly and distinctly, a well-known Academical of the period is just as sure that it was T. W. Irvine who stopped Ritchie.
Rawson Robertshaw, who was England's International centre, seemed to become affected by the excitement, but the two quarters, Bonsor and Wright, stuck to their work, and the Yorkshiremen in the pack laid about them just as lustily as their opponents.
It was two of the smallest men engaged, D. M. M. Orr and A. P. Moir, who worked out the Academical score by a straight dash for the line from inside the '25.' When it was all over there were as many limp ones among the Academical spectators as among the players. It was certainly a strenuous encounter, but to my own personal knowledge some of the most bitter newspaper criticisms were written by people who did not see the game, and the same critics took no exception to similar happenings in local matches.
The Academical players who won that historic championship game were: F. Saunders; G. H. Carphin, H. H, Littlejohn, and R, H, Johnston; D. M. M. Orr and H. G. Kinnear; C. Reid, T. W. Irvine, M. C. M'Ewan, A. T. Clay, A. P. Moir, R. O. Adamson, P. M. Matthew, V. A. Noel Paton, and P. W. Hislop.
From that date till the end of the 'eighties the Edinburgh Academicals dominated club football in Scotland. During the earlier seasons of this term, Reid had to depend almost entirely upon his forwards. His backs, H. H. Littlejohn, G. H. Carphin, D. M. M. Orr, and H. G. Kinnear, were primarily defensive players. The forwards were the greatest pack that has played in Scottish club football. I do not stand alone in that expression of opinion.
The team was at its best in 1887-88. During that season the only scores recorded against the Academicals was a try by Hawick and another by the Fettesian-Lorettonians. On the latter occasion the ' F.Ls.' were beaten for the first time in the club's career proper.
Hawick gave the Academicals more trouble than any of the city teams. They had a strong set of forwards, who disputed every inch of ground with Reid's pack. J. Jackson, big and fast, was one of their leaders. Dr. Wade was another. Their captain, A. Laing, was a good man. Behind the scrum they had the Langholm quarter, J. Veitch, and three good halves, W. Wilson, T. Crozier, and the elder 'Billy' Burnett—no relation to his successor of a later period.
In December of 1887 the Academicals hit the West of Scotland the hardest blow they had suffered under for five years, beating them by five tries. Yet it was a strong 'West' team, and included C. E. Orr, R. G. MacMillan, D. Morton, and W. Auld—all International men.
A mistaken idea seems to prevail as to the weight and physique of C. Reid's forwards. He himself was a giant among men. About 6 feet 3 inches and between 15 and 16 stone—nearer 15 perhaps—he carried no superfluous weight, and was as active as a well-trained 10-stone man. M. C. M'Ewan would be about 14 stone, and A. T. Clay and T. W. Irvine about 12½ stone each. T. B. White, the prettiest dribbler and most scientific player in the team, would be fully half a stone lighter, and the others, except J. Methuen, who would be nearer 13 than 12 stone, were all a little over 12 stone or thereabouts. Their power lay in their combination, quick breaking up, and tackling.
Reid had little use for players who could not tackle and bring the man down. He had them drilled to perfection, and held a complete command over his team. On a big occasion no back division could settle down against these forwards.
Four of them—'the quartette'—Reid, M'Ewan, Irvine, and Clay—were first choice International forwards for several years, and T. B. White latterly increased the number to five. Reid still stands as Scotland's greatest forward production. No player has yet appeared who could do on the field the things that Reid did. M. C. M'Ewan occupies a position in the highest ranks, and there will always be a wholesome difference of opinion as to whether R. Ainslie or T. W. Irvine should be regarded as the greatest tackier among forwards. That is a class of question that can be left open, to the satisfaction of all concerned. In 1888 the Academicals had seven players in the International team—W. E. Maclagan, H. J. Stevenson, and 'the quintette.' This representation, which is a club record, conveys an idea of the strength of the team of that time.
A. T. Clay was another of the early-day Borderers who obtained International honours. Of a Kelso family, he was wicket-keeper and one of the best bats in Hay Brown's Academy team of 1880. Before returning to the Academicals he played football for a time with Gala.
C. Reid obtained a scoring back division when he introduced from the Academical second fifteen the three halves, R. H. Johnston, H. J. Stevenson, and J. Duncan. In Stevenson, Reid had found one of the most wonderful players Scottish football has produced. In a contemporary reference the Scotsmandescribed him as 'the greatest football player in the world.' He was equally good at quarter, half, or full back. Along with D. J. M'Farlan he formed the most potential scoring half-back combination at the Scottish Rugby Union's command. At full-back he was one of the best who occupied the position for Scotland, and at quarter he astonished every one by practically beating the Watsonians off his own bat when they were running for the championship.
Without W. E. Maclagan's great physical advantages, Stevenson's defence was just as sound. When it was the practice for a back to fall on the ball in front of a forward rush, Stevenson nipped the ball from their toes, kept on his feet, and replied by kicking or breaking through. No one had ever seen saving done in that fashion. His offence was equally strong, and the number of tries he got out of his wings sufficiently testified to his powers of combination. Stevenson and A. R. Don Wauchope were two of the marvels of middle-time football. Stevenson refused to submit to the dictation of the Union committee as to what he should do and how he should play. Hence the explanation of the transitions from centre to full-back, and from full-back to centre.
R. H. Johnston had learned most of his football at an English public school. Many will probably remember him more clearly as a cricketer, and I may add that W. G. Grace once said of R. H. Johnston that he was the finest schoolboy wicket-keeper he had ever seen. He used to sprint down the touch-line at a great pace, but few knew that even then H. J. Stevenson had to nurse him. If he sent him off too soon, he was sure to fall before he got to the line. His brain was too active to get the response from his body, and the goal-line did not come to him soon enough.
J. Duncan's heart was not in football. As a schoolboy he kept tally of the salmon he had landed from the Tay, and though he was a good cricketer and a marvellous fielder at point, and might have been a first-class wing half, give him a rod and line and you might have had all the glories of the football or cricket field for those who desired them.
Club football was very strong in the later 'eighties. The Royal High School, Edinburgh Wanderers, Edinburgh University had all good teams, and on the Borders Hawick was already in the first grade, with Gala fast establishing strong local rivalry, and Melrose and Jedforest as healthy centres of the game. The Wanderers owed much of their strength to the Fettesian-Lorettonian element. A. R. Don Wauchope played all his club football with them after leaving Cambridge. A. G. G. Asher was also one of their regular players on his return to Edinburgh from Oxford, and C. J. N. Fleming, while on the teaching staff at Fettes, played centre half for the Wanderers for a number of seasons.
The decade had closed before another new name was inscribed on the club championship roll. Beginning with second fifteen fixtures, the rise of the Watsonians was gradual. Under John Tod, who, as I have suggested, is entitled to be regarded as the 'father' of Watsonian football, they achieved one of their first notable triumphs when they beat the Edinburgh Academicals in 1883. In October of 1884 I saw them create a great surprise in practically running down a team of the Edinburgh Wanderers which included M. C. M'Ewan of the Academicals, Conrad Mackenzie, Oxford 'Blue,' H. L. Fleming, Blairlodge, and R. D. Rainnie, one of the best of the old stock of Wanderers forwards. A. W. Cameron was already making a name for himself as full-back in the Watsonian team. Most of their players behind the scrummage were fast, and they had acquired a fine open style of play. In front of Cameron, the brothers Laing and J. D. Mackenzie were very speedy players, and J. Carmichael, uncle of the present-day Watsonian wing three-quarter J. H. Carmichael, was a sound serviceable quarter. The forwards were light, but energetic and clever. Nothing gave the Watsonians more satisfaction than a couple of successive wins over the Royal High School while the 'School' were still holders of the championship. J. Rankin had succeeded John Tod as the Watsonian captain. In his pack were a number of good forwards: A. B. Easterbrook, W. M. Heron, W. Inglis, and C. White. The team was doing so well a little later that they were very hopeful of the result of their encounter with the Edinburgh Academicals, but C. Reid's forwards were far too powerful for them, and they got no chance to exert their pace.
N. Leggatt, an elder brother of H. T. O. Leggatt and a most reliable half-back, came into the team later on. W. Bruce was such another as the elder Leggatt, safe and sound in every detail, both capital specimens of the all-round half-back of the period. When the Watsonians won their first championship in 1892-93, R. M. M. Roddick had under him a young and vigorous pack, in which H. T. O. Leggatt physically stood head and shoulders above any of the other members. On the touch-line, in the scrummage, or in close work outside, he was an invaluable player and a first-choice Internationalist.
Later, when he became captain, he exercised a strong influence over the team. H. O. Smith and Andrew Balfour were thoroughly good-class International forwards, and though it took the Union a long time to recognise the fact, W. B. Cownie was the most scientific forward in Scotland. To the prejudice of his International prospects, the Watsonians made a handy man of H. B. Wright. Abnormally strong, he revelled in the loose work outside the scrum, and there was nothing he would not face and little he would not bring down. When 'Willie' M'Ewan and Wright were in opposition, the field was not big enough for them.
J. Muir surmounted obstacles in a very direct way, and T. S. Paterson was always working in the shadow of Cownie, and along the same lines. P. G. Gillespie, W. P. Drummond, and A. W. Falconer were sound, good club forwards.
'Safety first' was the rule behind the scrum. They were not really a scoring side. Robin Welsh was fast, and got his International cap, and the others—H. H. Forbes, G. S. Wilson, and H. A. Forrester—were more defensive than offensive players, though W. L. Bruce, Forrester, and Forbes could all cut through smartly and cleverly into the open. But there was little organised or combined offensive work behind. A. W. Cameron, like R. M. M. Roddick, had waited and worked long for the day, and no two players ever did more for Watsonian football. With John Tod, they formed a connecting-link between the base and the summit of the club's career.
A. W. Cameron was the cleverest full-back of his time. He was a ' finished player,' fast and clever, a great and fearless tackier, and a fine kick, but he lacked weight and physique, and, like many more, he seemed to be too sensitive to do himself justice on representative occasions. The Watsonians have not yet produced a successor to Cameron.
H. T. O. Leggatt's team earned a niche in history in January of 1894, when they travelled to South Wales for a match with the Newport team, which was at that time exploiting the four three-quarter formation to such purpose that there were few club teams in England or Wales that could make a respectable stand against them. Leggatt, depending upon his forwards, adhered to the usual formation behind the scrummage, and the game resolved itself into a test between the Scottish and Welsh national styles. In the end there was nothing between the two teams, and although Newport won by acoal to a try, the victory was more moral than real. The game aroused great interest in both countries, and as an experiment its teaching ought to have been more closely observed in Scotland. The fixture marked the opening of the Watsonian relationship with Welsh clubs which has been maintained until the present time. From the date of their first championship success in 1892-93 the Watsonians have maintained a leading place in club football, and have never declined to a low or mediocre position nor fallen into an inferior style of play.
To the consternation of the Edinburgh Academical constituency and to general public surprise and regret, H. J. Stevenson prematurely retired from the game in 1892-93. The Watsonians continued to hold the championship through season 1893-94. Their strongest adversaries were the Edinburgh Wanderers, who had one of the best teams that has represented the club. C. J. N. Fleming was playing regularly for them at centre half, as the position was still termed, and they were particularly strong at quarter with a big Irish International man, A. C. M'Donnell, and H. T. Methuen, small, smart, and clever. Ben Greig, the Fettesian, who latterly played for Jedforest, and W. K. Laidlaw, neither of whom were much if anything outside International class, were two of the best of a powerful pack of forwards. In that they won one of their matches and drew the other, the Wanderers had the better of their immediate relationship with the Watsonians. L. G. Thomas, much in the same capacity and doing much the same work as D. J. Simson had done in an earlier dark period, was scoring greatly needed tries for the Edinburgh Academicals. The Institution were doing quite well, as may be incidentally inferred from their wins over the Royal High School and the West of Scotland, and Border football had never been so strong. The Gala team of Ninian Kemp, A. Dalgleish, and the Murdison brothers, was meeting on level terms the Hawick fifteen of Matt Elliot and D. Patterson, T. M. Scott, W. L. Watson, A. B. Storrie, and R. Scott, while at the same time W. S. Oliver, J. T. Mabon, and R. Douglas were in the best team that Jedforest had yet had. These were stirring times in Border football, and the 'steer' was not confined to the ' big three,' for Melrose startled the football world in the early weeks of the following season by beating Hawick two goals and a try on their own ground. That, too, was one of the best, if not actually the best team Melrose ever had. Three at least of their backs, J. Milton, J. Mair, and F. D. Hart, were exceptionally clever players, and there was power and play in the backbone of the forward division, G. Frater, J. Moffatt, G. Bunyan, and the brothers Telfer. That Melrose team should not have been far out of the championship. The season was spoiled by frost, which set in before the New Year and held till March. Indeed, when the Watsonians played at Myreside on the 16th of that month, it was their first appearance on their own ground from the 17th of November.
Season 1895-96 was a Border one, and the club championship was won by Hawick, who had very strong opposition to face, not only in the cities but among their own kith and kin in the near neighbourhood.
The Edinburgh Academicals, Watsonians, and Edinburgh University were powerful teams. Hawick knew something of the University Irish three-quarter, H. Stevenson, one of the best players Ireland sent to Edinburgh. Robin Welsh, H. O. Smith, H. B. Wright, R. A. Bruce, and T. Muir were playing at Myreside. W. M. C. M'Ewan, J. M. Reid, J. I. Gillespie, A. W. Robertson, and A. M. Bucher were in the Academical team.
C. J. N. Fleming was with the Wanderers, Mark Morrison and J. W. Simpson in the Royal High School ranks, and Jedforest were fast approaching the championship pinnacle. The general standard in club football, therefore, was very high.
Hawick lost to the University, and the destination of the title was left to the deciding match with the Watsonians at Hawick in the last weeks of the season. Both sides played four three-quarters, though the formation had not yet become thoroughly established. Matt Elliot was unable to play, and Hawick's team consisted of
D. Corbett; W. Lindsay Watson, T. Scott, J. Sharp, and B. Hills; A. M'Kie and D. Patterson ; G. Johnston, A. Laidlaw, W. Marchbank, R. Scott, A. B. Storrie, W. M'Lean, and T. M. Scott.
That was the first occasion on which the club championship went to the Borders. Perforce the merit of the players in the South had thereafter to be recognised. The Union had been very stingy with their honours, and I do not know that they profited thereby.
I never could quite follow the reasoning that precluded the selection of D. Patterson and M. Elliot as an International pair. Each was chosen separately, yet as a pair the combination had possibilities that might have stood comparison with some of the best national pairs. Tom Scott, as already stated, was a Langholm man. and T. M. Scott belonged to Melrose. With R. Scott, five of the Hawick championship team were capped. So in that respect they fared very well.
Border football had been gradually gaining ground from the middle of the 'seventies. Fortunately they had exclusively adopted the Rugby game, and hard hit as their teams often have been by defections to the Northern Union, football would never have got its head above water had they adopted the Association form and entered into competition with the wealthy professional clubs. There would have been no premier position for any of their teams, no championship for Hawick, or for any of them, and to-day their clubs would have been struggling in an impecunious third grade.
From about the beginning of the 'eighties the principal strongholds were Hawick, Melrose, Langholm, and Galashiels. There were three clubs in Hawick until well on in the 'nineties. That was an overplus of two, and it was not until the 'Greens' became the sole representatives of the town that Hawick football attained a permanent position in the first grade. True, the ' Greens ' were strong in the middle 'eighties, as I have shown in their interchanges with the Edinburgh Academicals, but they were merely getting firmly planted on the first step-stone of the upward flight.
Earlier than that Langholm was a strong centre, but the isolated situation of the town was always an impediment, and the marvel is that the game has been able to keep going there. They saw little or nothing of city football. One year the Wanderers went down to give them a help on, but outside their own district they had to rely for variety on the Cumberland clubs. In their earlier matches with Jedforest, the games took place at Hawick.
Langholm had a pair of quarters of wide reputation, J. Veitch and J. Scott, in the middle 'eighties. Veitch helped Hawick in some of their matches with the Edinburgh Academicals at that time.
There were too many Langholm Scotts for me to identify. Of course, we all know T. Scott, the International three-quarter, and his doings. I recollect another of the clan, C. B. Scott, captain of the Edinburgh University team about the time of W. J. N. Davis and the ' Irish brigade,' but further than that he was an old Craigmount and Langholm boy I do not know from what branch of the tree he sprang.
I have a very clear recollection of T. Scott, or 'Langholm Scott,' as he was known in the cities, showing a clean pair of heels to Larry Bulger at Belfast, and Bulger was no mean sprinter. It occurs to me also that Scott scored a very similar try against the Irishmen at Powderhall, and the other Tom Scott, the Melrose one, kicked a goal from the touch-line. He was an expert place-kick. Mainly through having practised the art as a pastime on the Greenyards at Melrose, he became so proficient that they said he could kick goals within reasonable range with his eyes closed. There is more in knowledge of the ground than is generally supposed. Lucius Gwynne, in the Irish match referred to, punted the ball over the Scottish bar, and when H. Stevenson, who was in the Irish half-back line, asked why he did that, Gwynne replied that he had no idea he was so close to the goal.
I think Gala were at their best under Ninian Kemp and when Adam Dalgleish, the Murdiesons, D. Rutherford, and J. Ford were playing. Kemp was a very clever forward, but he had not the weight of, let me say, D. Bunyan, the first of the Melrose family still represented in present-day football. Otherwise Kemp possessed all the International requirements.
In season 1900-1, Gala just failed to win the club championship. Undefeated until the end of March, they lost their last two matches, and the title just escaped them. Still, I think Ninian Kemp's was the better Gala team, although Gala were nearer the championship in the later year than in Kemp's time.
Jedforest's day was near at hand when Hawick gained the club laurels.
Melrose occupied an interesting position in middle-time football. They saw more of city football than any of the other towns, and, small as the population is, the game flourished almost from its introduction. Melrose missed the honour of providing the first Border International player by a hairbreadth.
When D. Sanderson, their quarter, played in the East v. West Trial match of 1884, he was reckoned to be in the running with A. R. Don Wauchope and A. G. G. Asher; surely in itself sufficient tribute to his abilities. An absurd story to the effect that Don Wauchope resented Sanderson's intrusion into the partnership gained wide currency. Personally, I cannot imagine Don Wauchope taking up such an attitude. On the contrary, he was the first to approach Sanderson before the game, and gave him his choice of the side of the scrummage on which to play. The only difference recognised at that time was right or left; a player accustomed to a particular side stuck to it. We may take it as certain that Don Wauchope was as anxious to make the partnership a success as if he had been playing with A. G. G. Asher. Sanderson's football was so much appreciated by the Union that he was made reserve quarter to Wauchope and Asher for all International matches of that season.
Melrose had another fine quarter, A. Haig, in association with Sanderson. As the man who invented, or discovered, the seven-a-side form of football, Haig has been one of the greatest benefactors of the game on the Borders. Without its financial aid the clubs would be sore pressed to keep the fires burning.
T. M. Scott in 1883 was Melrose's first International player.
Adam Dalgleish had preceded Scott by a couple of seasons, but there were hosts of good forwards of International class on the Borders then and later. It was curious that when T. Riddle went to London from Melrose and played for the ' Scottish,' he was at once nominated for his cap. Previously he was unknown beyond his own district. But Riddle was only one of many.
J. Ward (Galashiels) was a particularly hard case. When in 1892 the South representative team swamped Edinburgh there was hardly a man in the Border pack that was not of good International class. T. M. Scott and R. Scott were capped on different occasions, but others, such as B. Greig, A. Moffat, R. Douglas, A. Laidlaw, R. Veitch, R.
Laidlaw, D. Elliott, were of much the same stamp, and there were many more.
All club football is not confined in the small circle drawn round two or three of the most successful teams. When Hawick were winning, another team, the Clydesdale, were working onwards, and still another, Heriot's F.P., further in the rear, were busy erecting the first stages of the fabric on the foundation laid in 1890 by one of the masters, Mr. D. L. Turnbull, and a few ardent workers. An old-established club, the St. George, were pursuing an eminently respectable middle course, and Daniel Stewart's former pupils were building on the base-work laid by a little band of enthusiasts, who weathered the storms and stress of football infancy at a time when every man's hand was against the aspiring branch of football society currently known as the 'rising clubs.'
Kelvinside Academicals may be included in the same category. Add to these the legion of older teams indirectly concerned in the championship, and it will be realised that the struggle for the title no more represented the whole battlefield than did the ring round the Scottish King at Flodden. Clydesdale and Kelvinside Academicals increased the Glasgow constituency to overcrowding, and to the direct detriment of the West of Scotland, whose monopoly of Edinburgh schoolboys not associated with the Glasgow Academicals ceased in the 'nineties, and with its cessation the decline of the 'West' set in.
During all the middle and later 'eighties, and until well on in the 'nineties, the Glasgow Academicals, with the exception of a few brighter intervals, occupied varying positions in the intermediate region, and did not reach within several steps of the top of the ladder until the time of R. S. Stronach and Louis Greig after the turn of the century.
In season 1899-1900 the Kelvinside Academicals had gone undefeated up to January, when they lost by 14 points to the Academical team just mentioned, a notable occurrence generally and a disruptive one locally.
During all the 'nineties the Kelvinside Academicals attracted attention by their fast open style of play. They were a clever and successful team, and passed out a number of noted players during this time. J. C. Woodburn gained his International cap as a wing three-quarter in 1892 ; G. A. W. Lamond, also an Internationalist, was a very fine three-quarter. J. Knox, in the same category, who came to them from Merchiston, was of the hardy type of half-back, and the Wingate brothers were Lorettonians. G. R. Muir, J. T. Tulloch, and C. France were all of the same pre-eminently clever type of players, contributing to make the play of the Kelvinside team characteristically bright.
Some teams of the time, very jealous of their record and reputation, were just as keen to keep out of Kelvinside's way as to meet them. They were dangerous.
When I compare the Kelvinside Academicals with the old St. George, successful as that team was, the contrast suggests a deal of plodding work. For about twenty years the St. George held quite a good position. About 1890, a little earlier and a little later, they were at their best. John Brown, who had led them for years, was a first-class forward and ought to have gone further than inclusion in the Inter-city team. John Pratt was the best three-quarter the club produced, but the camel and the needle's eye applied as well to Pratt as to Brown.
For a long number of years the club was fed from Daniel Stewart's College, and, naturally, when Stewart's themselves started, the St. George felt the drain. Pratt was from that school, likewise the brothers Elder and J. Maclndoe, a very strong three-quarter. They had two Dollar Academy half-backs one year, W. Robertson and G. Anderson, and in the same position Alec Clapperton served the team well through several seasons.
'Billy' Arnot, one of the pillars of the club, was a Londoner, and F. A. Lumley, from the same quarter, did a bit of football with them when he was not boxing or aiming at sprinting honours at Powderhall, where J. J. Allan, one of their forwards, won the 100 yards championship.
Quite a good club in their day, the St. George played most of the first-class teams, and beat as many as they lost to, A crowning achievement one year was when a youth from Kelso, J. Ferguson, scored a try for them that beat the Edinburgh Academicals. The St. George were still strong in 1892, when the infant Heriot's team surprised themselves by beating 2nd Clydesdale and 2nd St. George on successive Saturdays. On the latter occasion the triumph was achieved by a drop-kick from their full-back, W. P. Short.
D. Drysdale has dropped many goals, and important goals, too, but he is not the first Heriot's full-back to acquire the faculty, and none of his successes outweighed in club gratification that one of 1892. Short dropped another goal against the Collegiate. The habit with Heriot's full-backs is therefore an old one. In the spring of the following year Heriot's drew with Stewart's College, and a year later progress was demonstrated in a victory over the St. George. J. W. Cownie, P. J. Lawrie, J. Reekie, and A. J. Thomson were in that Heriot's team, captained by R. Bowie.
By the end of the 'nineties the team was well established. In 1903 they were reckoned a smart side. They had then quite a number of clever players—T. W. Smith, J. W. Frew, J. S. B. Wilson, J. Wilson, J. W. Drever, G. Cownie, the brothers Potts, W. M. Douglas, and T. and W. H. Clark. This was the team that made the position for Heriot's. Their back play was almost a revelation, and some of the club's friends consider that it has not been excelled by a Heriot's team even yet. Like many more 'rising teams,' want of weight clogged their aspirations. W. H. Clark and J. A. Potts were two thoroughly good forwards, but the earlier packs were light and ability was a diminishing quality from the leaders downwards. No better forward than Potts has yet come out of Heriot's.
In 1912-13, Heriot's had to be seriously reckoned with by all comers. One of their wins was at the expense of Hawick. Heriot's team at that time contained several players who will be recognised by present-day friends of the club-—J. A. Hardie, J. D. Morrison, A. B. Falconer, R. Badger, C. W. Badger, J. Docherty, J. Lamb, J. C. Dobson, W. G. Dobson, G. L. Davidson, T. Wilson, G. W. Simpson, W. S. Kerr, C. G. Sinclair, and J. B. Laidlaw. That was one of a number of victories.
Keen rivalry subsisted between Heriot's and Stewart's College F.P. For several seasons before the war, Stewart's were a strong team. In 1910 their full-back, J. G. Bell, was fancied for International honours. In 1911-12 they had a powerful pack of forwards, led by Finlay Kennedy, and including D. Lunan, G. M. Beaton, and W. L. Kerr. A. D. Lambert came in later on, and when T. R. Tod and Ivan Tait were in the three-quarter line, the team was one of the best in the country.
It had taken Stewart's about twenty years to establish themselves in the first rank. Back in the early 'nineties, when the club had left Gorgie and were playing on a not particularly good field, but the most accessible to the boys, at Ravelston, they were fighting hard for recognition. The pioneers were a hardy band of enthusiasts, led by D. G. Smeaton. They took their task seriously and trained assiduously.
Like all teams of the time, they depended upon their forwards and asked for little more than safety from their backs. A try went a long way with them. The try by which they beat the Royal High School in 1890 was a precious donation, subscribed by their quarter, D. Smith, who stood well by the club in the stormy times. In their back division they had W. B. Morrison, brother of Mark Morrison; Tom Morris, a very sturdy player and an Englishman who naturally, perhaps, agreed with me that Briggs and Varley had played correct football when the crowd hooted them for exposing the weakness of Darcy Anderson and C. E. Orr.
They had a most excellent full-back, G. R. Turner. R. W. Hepburn was a worker at half, where J. Dick, another of the true pioneers, was smart and clever, and they had a number of good forwards, including J. M. Gow and big T. Cowan. The club removed to Inverleith in 1896, where two of their earliest products were a clever little three-quarter, W. A. Gilbert, and their forward leader, A. M. M'Donald, who obtained minor representative honours.
They lost an excellent forward about that time when A. Mann went to Glasgow and joined the Clydesdale. As I have indicated, this club was one of those that was eating into the strength of the 'West.' Gradually they worked their way onward till, in 1896-97, they shared in the unique triple distribution of the championship between themselves, Jedforest, and the Watsonians. As the result implies, it was a very open competition, and besides the winners, the teams most intimately concerned were Hawick and the Edinburgh Academicals, while Stewart's F.P. played a distinctive part in the settlement. The Academical team, with W. M. C. M'Ewan, A. M. Bucher, A. W. Robertson Durham, J. M. Reid, C. P. Finlay, and E. C. Comrie Thomson among their leaders, were recovering from a temporary decline, and after beating the Watsonians they looked very likely winners, till Jedforest got the better of them by a penalty goal, in the same week as the Academicals' journey to Cambridge.
The Watsonians improved as the season went on and closed very strongly with victories over the Academicals and Hawick. In their later matches they developed strong scoring powers. R. Welsh was in the back division, but T. Muir was the cleverest of the lot and had double the number of tries that fell to R. A. Bruce, M. W. Robertson, and G. C. Robertson.
The forwards were not up to the best standard. Most of those who had placed the club in position had retired, though J. Muir and H. B. Wright were still playing. J. D. Dallas was in the pack, but Dr. Balfour had gone to Cambridge. Incidentally he had warned the Cantabs they would get it very hot from the Edinburgh Academical forwards, as they certainly did, and were well beaten, as was also Oxford by the same team. Many will remember W. M. C. M'Ewan's dash from the ' twenty-five ' which beat the Oxford team, whose full-back, T. A. Nelson, familiarly known to the Oxford men as ' Tommy,' and nothing but ' Tommy,' smiled perceptibly when M'Ewan, like the young Hercules he was, cleared all obstacles out of his way. T. A. Nelson was a beautifully scientific player, a great Academy favourite, and equally esteemed at Oxford.
Clydesdale were a sound rather than a brilliant side. T. L. Hendry, their forward leader, who played International on four occasions, was a fine type of a player. E. Spencer was an old Blair-lodge boy and a good three-quarter. D. M'Laurin, from the same school, was in the forwards, and their full-back, J. D. Smellie, was a player of repute. In A. C. Cameron they had a very active quarter.
Jedforest had been working their way upwards for some seasons. They had a robust pack, led by Ben Greig, the Fettesian, and R. Douglas. J. T. Mabon was at half, and W. Oliver at centre three-quarter. How Oliver missed representative distinction was always puzzling. All the others in the back division, J. Lowrie, Elliott, Ellis, and Brownlie, were active, smart players.
The third portion of the championship represented a season's good work.
Clydesdale's share is the monument to a club that has passed out of football.
That two Border teams should have been associated with the club championship in successive seasons as Hawick and Jedforest were in 1895-96 and 1896-97 is sufficient testimony to the strength of the game in that district. Up to the outbreak of war the high-level standard was maintained, the form of these teams varying and fluctuating in normal manner. In the cities, the greatest strength, during the period mentioned, was concentrated in a group composed of the Edinburgh Academicals, Edinburgh University, the Watsonians, and the Glasgow Academicals. During these years the game was kept going so merrily that the period could quite justly be regarded as one of the brightest in the life of Scottish club football. And not only were rivalry and competition of themselves very strong stimulants, but methods and style of play attained a high degree of proficiency. In the earlier years of the period, the back play of the Edinburgh Academicals and Edinburgh University, supplemented by good forward work, reached a standard of efficiency bearing its own witness and testimony in the 1901 International team that swept all in front of it. The pronounced success of the Watsonians followed eight or nine years later, though all the while their teams were sharing in the finish round the ultimate championship winners. That they did not, while at their zenith, contribute to the national success to the extent that the Edinburgh Academical-University combination did, was anomalously due, I think, to their own pronounced efficiency as a team. They perfected their combined work, and at the same time engendered the incipient weakness of interdependence of the parts. Separated, or taken in sections, their effectiveness was appreciably reduced. The team of the Watsonian era, from about 1908, made a great contribution to the popularity of the game. Contrasted with the Edinburgh Academicals no club stands comparison in the recurring periods of prominence from the establishment of the game onwards. After the teams of C. Reid, M. C. M'Ewan, and H. J. Stevenson had, we might say, exhausted themselves in the early 'nineties, the Academicals were beginning to revive when Hawick were winning the championship, and in the year of the triumvirate, Jedforest, the Watsonians, and Clydesdale, 1896-97, the most direct challenge to the trio came from Hawick and the Edinburgh Academicals. Stewart's College F.P. ' staggered humanity' and steadied the expansion of the championship by beating Hawick, and among other incidental happenings the Glasgow Academicals conceded 8 goals and 3 tries to their Edinburgh brethren, who maintained the honour and credit of Scottish club football by beating both Oxford and Cambridge. The following season their own player, J. E. Crabbie, won the Academical match for
Oxford and repeated the performance two years later. From 1897-98 the Academicals held the championship for four years, though in one of the intervening seasons, 1899-1900, they finished even on results with Hawick and Edinburgh University. This was a strong period in Academical football. In 1897-98 W. M. C. M'Ewan was at the head of their pack, and behind him were a fine, evenly balanced set of first-rate young forwards, L. H. I. Bell, F. P. Dods, L. Craufurd, G. Moncreiff, and W. Dove, a forerunner of J. N. Shaw in appearance and in style. There were four International players in the three-quarter line, Phipps Turnbull, A. W. Robertson (later Robertson Durham), A. M. Bucher, and W. H. Morrison, who came to the Academicals from Blairlodge and could play half-back or three-quarter equally well. J. I. Gillespie and a younger Morrison, J. N., were the regular halves. The Watsonians were strong and had Ian Graham, M. F. Simpson, J. D. Little, and the Robertsons behind the scrum, in which H. O. Smith, A. Balfour, H. B. Wright, J. D. Dallas, and F. A. Falconer constituted the leading section. L. M. Magee, subsequently Irish International half, was playing in the Wanderers.
The fluctuations in the championship from 1900-1, when the hold of the Edinburgh Academicals was loosened, tells its own tale of keenness and widespread efficiency. In consecutive seasons, Edinburgh University gained the title outright, and shared it, first with the Watsonians and then with the Glasgow Academicals. Next year was eventful and memorable for the restoration of the Glasgow Academicals to the leading position after a lapse of years dating back to the early 'eighties.
The Edinburgh Academicals resumed supremacy in 1905-6, and to accent the variations Jedforest came to the top the following season. Edinburgh University had another term of honours, and next a fresh pair, Hawick and the Watsonians, had their claims divided. Myreside supremacy in seasons 1909-10 and 1910-11 was followed by Edinburgh University participating in honours in 1911-12. The Glasgow Academicals again became supreme in 1912-13 and finished second to the Watsonians in the year of the outbreak of the war.
It will thus be realised that, from the opening of the century on to war year, there was considerable stir, and sometimes a little commotion, round the top of the table. Historically, it is notable to observe one of the oldest clubs and one of the pillars of early-day football, Edinburgh University, take precedence for the first time. From the days of J. H. L. M'Farlane, in the early 'seventies, the University maintained a strong position in club football. In 1881, R. F. S. Henderson's team, as has been recorded, did a very notable thing when they beat Oxford University of H. Vassall's time.
Edinburgh University were holding their own in the best class of club football during the 'eighties and 'nineties, and contributing to International and other representative teams. In the late 'eighties, when Irish students were numerous, they had four of Ireland's International forwards, R. D. Stokes, J. N. Nash, W. J. N. Davis, and T. M. Donovan, in their pack. H. F. Chambers, the Scottish full-back, was playing for the University about this time, and also a smart Merchistonian three-quarter, W. C. Smith, a Borderer with a Kelso connection. Again, in the middle of the 'nineties, University football was very strong, so strong that a place could not be found for A. B. Timms, who was playing in the Wanderers team of C. J. N. Fleming and H. T. Methuen. At that time the University had the best three-quarter, H. Stevenson, who ever played for the club. Stevenson was one of the 'Irish Brigade' then so numerous. There was not a back division he could not score against. I saw him go through the Jedforest defence in the year Jedforest shared the championship, and not a man of them, not even the full-back, who saw him coming all the way, could get within yards of him. He did the same thing against the West of Scotland and against Hawick on each of the three occasions, lifting his team out of a critical situation. He was equally strong in defence, a resolute and safe tackier.
Good players were numerous at the University about this time, both forwards and backs, including A. B. Flett, who was with them when the first championship fell to Edinburgh University in 1901-2. The other forwards at that time were the schoolboy, Hugh Martin, and also A. B. Mein, whose family resided in the district and whose father was one of the Scottish twenty in the first International with England. There was a sporting ring about the whole function, and when Jedforest drew the match Mr. Crabbie, senior, father of the Oxonian Academical, entertained the teams in the Spread Eagle Hotel at Jedburgh. 'Jeddart' folks still retain recollections of that day. It was the first time their team had won the championship outright, but even at that, it was a wonderful feat for a little town on the confines of the Rugby area with no regular source of supply of players and an active list that for championship purposes did not much exceed the regular fifteen. The Foresters who raised the slogan 'Jeddart's here' were : J. T. Robson, G. M. Oliver, J. B. Wilson, W. Purdie, J. L. Huggan, W. Fish, C. W. Stewart, A. Renaldson, W. B. Jardine, T. S. Waugh, W. Hall, M. Drummond, W. C. Balfour, R. Lunn, T. Aitken. Huggan played some of his football with Edinburgh University and was one of the Scottish wing three-quarters in the 1914 English International at Inverleith and one of the many in that match who fell in the war.
One of the old clubs that had not raised its head for many years came very prominently into the running in 1907-8. Up to February of that season the Institution team of J. H. Lindsay, A. B. Davidson, J. B. Stewart, and J. Ainslie were unbeaten till they lost the Royal High School match.
Ultimately they finished second to Edinburgh University and thus made a nearer approach to the championship than any Institution team had done since that of Nat Brewis and the brothers Ainslie at the beginning of the 'eighties. It was not a great University team that won the title that season. J. R. Izatt, their captain, was rather a 'dour' type of half-back, and there was nothing out of the way in the rest of the back division, but the forwards included D. R. Bedell-Sivright, T. Smyth, J. M. Mackenzie, and L. Barrington-Ward, who played for England.
The Heriot's team of T. Smith, A. Falconer, J. Drever, and J. A. Potts did something to establish the club in public opinion when they beat Jedforest, the championship holders. Jedforest, like themselves, were light and just the type of team that Heriot's would show to advantage against. Their football was as good as that of the best when not suppressed by an overbalance in weight.
Like the Institution and others the Royal High School had for years pursued the even tenor of their way in eminent middle-place respectability. The team of G. Sanderson, A. W. Gunn, T. Sturrock, George M'Laren, J. Hume, A. C. Brown, and A. D. Laing of 1909-10 was the best the 'School' had had for many years. Gunn played International in 1912, and it will be remembered what a useful half-back J. Hume was in representative football after the war. A. D. Laing was International, ante-bellum and post-bellum. A hard-working forward they called him in conventional language, but there was always a bit more than that in him.
The Watsonian team that won the championship in 1909-10 and retained the title over the next season was A. A. Morison, W. M. Robertson, J. Pearson, A. W. Angus, J. T. Simson, J. Y. Henderson, E. Milroy, L. M. Spiers, J. C. M'Callum, J. Thorburn, W. G. Stuart, J. W. G. Horne, W. Oliver, A. F. Wilson, J. Martin. The vital force in the back section remained unchanged till the war stoppage, except that T. C. Bowie took stand-off position vacated by J. Y. Henderson when he went abroad. C. S. Nimmo deputised for Milroy a good deal. Edinburgh University broke the Watsonian run of success with a division of honours in 1911-12. It was a good University side. A. S. Taylor (three-quarter) and S. B. B. Campbell (forward) were Irish International men. L. G. Thomas (full-back) just missed his Welsh cap, and J. M. Mackenzie, J. L. Huggan, and F. Osier played for Scotland.
I have always held in great esteem, for the soundness of their football and the reliability of the greater number of the players, the Glasgow Academical team which won the championship in 1912-13. G. Ure-Reid, C. W. Andrew, A. D. Laird and the Warrens were dependable in any sort of game. Little T. Stout went along the touch-line with an exhilarating rattle. I saw him score the winning try at Myreside and I likewise witnessed some West of Scotland players treat him in not quite a sportsmanlike way, but I also remember the team falling badly before the Edinburgh Academicals. There was a reason for that. Some of the English Union were down to see J. H. D. Watson play, and 'Bungy ' gave them an exhibition of how he could win a match single-handed. We lost the greatest centre of modern times when we allowed England to acquire Watson. The Watsonian period of domination began in season 1908-9 and extended practically till the opening of the war in 1914. The struggles of John Tod's time and the culminating triumphs of the teams of R. M. M. Roddick and H. T. O. Leggatt mark two distinct stages in the life of Watsonian football. The third was the brightest, and left a more permanent mark in that the Watsonian team of that time set up a model and cultivated a style that it became the general aim to copy. By an intensive system of practice and rehearsal they perfected their combination and acquired a machinelike accuracy of movement that, while disconcerting to opponents, provided a most attractive spectacle to onlookers. The key to the team's success behind the scrummage lay in the conjunction of the centre three-quarters, A. W. Angus and J. Pearson, and the halves, E. Milroy and J. Y. Henderson, and latterly T. C. Bowie. The rest of the back play was more or less auxiliary. This pivotal group, working almost intuitively 'according to plan,' generated the energy from which the others derived the supply. The forwards, when the team was at its best, were by no means an automatic service source for the supply of the ball to the backs. L. M. Spiers and J. C. M'Callum were two of the best International forwards of immediate pre-war years. The team was fortunate in its possession of E. Milroy, the best scrum worker that has been produced in Scotland since the position became specialised. While the Watsonians were working upwards Hawick in 1908-9 formed the principal obstacle, and at the end of the season the pair claimed the championship between them. Hawick football was particularly strong at this time. Walter Forrest was in the back division along with W. R. Sutherland and W. Burnett. T. Neill at half was above club class, and W. E. Kyle's long International career testifies to his rank as a forward. The team imported a breeziness into the competition, and there was always a full measure of liveliness when Hawick took the field. Sutherland was a most popular player. Variety clung to 'Watty' Forrest wherever he played. In that respect his football was in marked contrast to that of his fellow Kelso townsman, Carl Ogilvie, steady and almost staid. T. Wilson played, again, the game in his own characteristic way. Hawick football would have been minus an important concomitant without ' The Bottler.'
The position of the clubs in the war year was that although the Watsonians won the championship they were twice beaten, and the general standard was not above an average level. If there was a feature, it lay perhaps in the upward tendency of the middle section. The Wanderers, strengthened by the Merchiston Macfarlane brothers, R. H. Lindsay Watson, and three University forwards, C. L. Marburg, G. M'Connell, and J. A. S. Ritson, had their best team for years. They beat the Watsonians in their early match, but afterwards fell before Heriot's, who had J. D. Morrison, C. W. Badger, W. G. Dobson, and G. W. Simpson in their team. The Edinburgh Academicals had the Sloan brothers, C. C. Winchester, G. H. H. Maxwell, and J. W. F. Neill in that team that beat the University, but fell to the Watsonians and Glasgow Academicals. The Glasgow team lost to the Watsonians and finished the season with three defeats.
The regular Watsonian team of the season, as near as can be judged, though there were changes from one cause and another, was E. G. Pyott, F. Hislop, J. Pearson, A. W. Angus, G. G. Marshall, T. C. Bowie, E. Milroy, J. Thorburn, J. Martin, E. F. Rankin, J. J. Maybin, R. Menzies, R. F. Kilpatrick, J. M. Dunn, and J. W. Jenkins. Rather under average strength forward, it was not a great Watsonian side, and depended altogether on the work of the quartette at centre three-quarter and half-back.
It is an old saying that ' there is always room at the top.' Club football since the resumption after the war is chiefly noticeable for the advance of two new teams : George Heriot's F.P. and the Glasgow High School F.P. Heriot's career resembles the path the Watsonians were forced to tread before they arrived at the summit. The High School again have arrived more abruptly. During the war we saw signs of coming events in the quality of their schoolboys. When you bring the Glasgow Academicals and the Watsonians into focus you have encircled the little group that has monopolised the title during the past five years. There is nothing new under the sun, not even in Rugby football. Heriot's won their first championship by virtue of their forward play just as championships have been won many times since the earliest recognition of the competition. Honours fell to the Glasgow Academicals mainly by exercise of force of combination behind the scrummage. To carry the simile further, the contributions from Fettes and Loretto are doing for the Academicals what the same schools did for the West of Scotland in the 'eighties and 'nineties. In the wider perspective it will be seen that the rise and fall of teams is one of the main characteristics of club football. At the same time we may venture to assure ourselves of a degree of permanency in the addition of Heriot's and Glasgow High School to the list of leading clubs. Before the war neither of them had entered that class. Heriot's success in 1919-20 was achieved by exercise of the old-time forward game of quick breaking up and safe tackling. They had no methodical style of play behind the scrummage, and their backs were more proficient in stopping the other side's progress than in making way for themselves. D. Drysdale graduated from stand-off half through three-quarter to full-back, where he has had a full share of honours, and yet there remains a doubt whether he is not a natural centre three-quarter. W. G. Dobson has the distinction of being Heriot's first International player. J. Greenshields and K. G. P. Hendrie are of the handy active type of forward that used to appear as prominently in all classes of football. The first Heriot's players to win the club title was F. T. Brand, E. J. W. Brown, J. D. Morrison, A. S. Officer, D. Drysdale, R. J. Anderson, D. Benzies, C. S. Broadwood, G. W. Simpson, W. G. Dobson, J. Greenshields, K. G. P. Hendrie, R. Bryce, A. M. Murray, D. Cattanach, A. E. W. Maclachlan, J. Anderson. There were frequent changes of positions in the back division, and a fairly regular call on reserve forwards.
Heriot's receded the following year, when the title went to the Watsonians, for whom the old pre-war men, A. W. Angus and C. S. Nimmo, were still playing. J. A. R. Selby and J. H. Carmichael filled positions at scrum half and wing three-quarter, which they have retained since then, and have been two of the best post-war Watsonian backs. D. M. Bertram, A. C. Gillies, and J. P. Thomson were prominent members of a useful pack of forwards.
Another change took place in 1921-22, the third in three seasons, when the Glasgow Academicals became championship holders with a first-rate team in which R. Simpson, J. C. Dykes, R. C. Warren, J. B. Nelson, and E. B. Mackay were the inspiration of a clever back division. Simpson is one of the best all-round players the Academicals have had for many years, and there is no more clever back in club football than J. C. Dykes. A. K. Stevenson and G. M. Murray were good International-class forwards.
Heriot's accomplished a very fine performance in coming through season 1922-23 unbeaten.
A number of new players had come into the team, and their back play in style had improved greatly. D. Drysdale was now playing full-back, and making such a success of it that ere long he had practically no rival for the position in the International team. In G. W. Somerville and G. M. King they had found a couple of good wing three-quarters. King indeed looked like developing into International class when he was unfortunately injured in one of the Trial matches. Gow Brown and W. A. Fairbairn made a clever pair of halves, and R. M. Kinnear a centre of whom, good as he is, we may not yet have seen the best. D. S. Kerr was the most valuable addition to the forwards, though as a skirmisher J. M. Graham more than paid his way.
Rivalry between the High School and the Academicals had been the feature and inspiration of Glasgow football from the date of the resumption of the game. The 'School' had been a good team and had quite worked for their reward when they shared the championship with the Academicals in 1923-24. They had produced a number of fine backs, including R. L. H. Donald, A. Browning, J. M. Tolmie, W. C. Johnstone, and no better forward than J. M. Bannerman has played since the war. L. M. Stuart, son of the old Royal High School player of the early 'eighties, has all along been one of the most effective forwards in the country.
Heriot's and the Glasgow Academicals fought out the championship in 1924-25, and in a couple of sensational matches, one particularly so in Glasgow, honours were even between the pair, but with the clearer record the title went to the Academicals, whose most notable addition to recent teams was H. Waddell at stand-off half.
Beyond the championship group, club football has not reached a particularly high standard. The Edinburgh Academicals in earlier years under A. T. Sloan, and with J. N. Shaw and R. I. Marshall in the forwards, promised well, but fell off for want of qualified young players in the later seasons. The Border clubs have not yet touched the pre-war standard, and some of the older city teams have descended to a lower level than they have been accustomed to.