1910s

The gradual improvement in the East Stirlingshire team continued in 1910/11 with a comfortable mid-table placing of 7th achieved in the 12 team Scottish Division Two. Shire recorded wins against the eventually two top teams, Dumbarton and Ayr United. Crowds remained buoyant for League games and were usually between 1000 to 2000. The main focus of the season, however, was the Scottish Qualifying Cup in what was to be Shire’s year. The 1st Round took place in September against King’s Park which we won through 1-0 away in a replay after a 2-2 draw at Merchiston Park. This was followed with a 2-0 home win against Non-League St. Johnstone before Shire were drawn against Stenhousemuir in the 3rd Round in October. Just like the 1st Round Shire won the tie in a replay at Ochilview 1-0 following a 1-1 at home.  After the game E.S. celebrated in the Blue Bell as we had qualified for the Scottish Cup. Our 4th Round opponents were Stanley at the end of October and the game was switched to Merchiston Park after a financial inducement, the result was a comfortable 6-1 win for the Shire. St. Bernard’s were the next team to lose to the Shire in the Quarter Final, 2-0 in front of a near 5000 crowd.  An immense crowd of 7000 packed into Merchiston Park on 12th November to witness the Shire win through to our 5th Scottish Qualifying Cup Final. The following Saturday Shire travelled to Celtic Park along with 1100 Shire fans on special trains for the Final against Johnstone. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the tie was replayed 7 days later at Ibrox Park. Again 1100 E.S fans travelled on special trains and they were rewarded when an 80th minute goal from Dan McNeilage won the Cup for the Shire. The club celebrated the success in January with an evening at the Blue Bell when the winners medals were handed out. The players had raised monies for Walter Clarkson (ES secretary) and James Hastings (ES trainer) to receive medals as well. In the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup we went out at home 1-4 in front of a 5000 crowd to Division One Greenock Morton. It was understandable that Shire went out in the 1st Round in the Stirlingshire Cup to Clackmannan as the game was played during the Qualifying Cup run and as a result we played Falkirk in the Stirlingshire Consolation Cup 1st Round but lost 0-3 at Brockville Park. Shire and Falkirk did meet again at Brockville Park in April in the 1st Round of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield with Falkirk winning 0-1.

The next season did not reach the same heights with Shire spilling down the League table to finish 9th although we did defeat Champions, Ayr United 1-0 at home in April. Shire again had a good run in the Scottish Qualifying Cup reaching the Quarter Final before going out, away to Dumbarton, 1-4. The run gave E.S. entry to the Scottish Cup and in a strange quirk of fate Shire won our 1st game in the competition since 1898/99, defeating Dumbarton 3-0 at home in the 1st round. Dumbarton had been team the team that we had last beaten in the Scottish Cup. Shire drew the might of Celtic in the next round (the last 16) who would go onto win the Cup that season and also end up Division One League runners up. The game took place at Celtic Park on 10th February, the crowd 4000, and Shire went out 0-3. As a result of Shire losing in a 1st Round Replay to Stenhousemuir in the Stirlingshire Cup we then played in the Stirlingshire Consolation Cup reaching the Final where we again met Stenhousemuir. Although Shire lost again it took a 2nd Replay before we were overcome 0-2. For a 3rd time the teams met in a different competition that season, this time it was the Final of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield, but Shire once again failed to get the better of our rivals Stenhousemuir, losing 1-3. We also played in the Penman Cup in 1911/12 but went out 1-5 away to King’s Park in the 2nd Round (we had fielded a reserve team as we had also played a League game that day).

Season 1912/13 and Shire again became a force. Division Two was increased from 12 to 14 teams and Shire remained in with a chance of the title until 2 defeats in the last 3 games meant that we ended up in a credible 3rd place. Shire again reached the Scottish Cup after getting to 4th Round of the Scottish Qualifying Cup, Dumbarton ending Shire’s interest in that competition in a Replay by 1 goal to nil with a large 5000 crowd in attendance. Shire were fortunate to receive a bye in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup and then we were drawn against Division One Clyde in the 2nd Round. In a very close tie E.S. lost out 1-2 in the 2nd Replay, a massive crowd of 12000 had turned out to watch the game including 800 Shire fans. In between the main Cup games Shire went out in the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup away to King’s Park 0-2.  Shire also took part in another new Cup called the Loftus Cup which had come into being the season before. The competition involved East, Central and Tayside teams. It was played in a league format and Shire only managed 1 draw in the 2 known games we played in it. At the end of the season Shire lost out to Stenhousemuir 0-1 at home in the Semi Final Replay of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield.

Into season 1913/14 and although Shire competed well in the League only a mid-table placing of 8th was achieved in a reduced 12 team league. Shire did beat eventual champions Cowdenbeath 3-0 at home but it was the lack of consistency which hurt most only being able once during the season to record back to back wins. E.S. did well in the Scottish Qualifying Cup again reaching the 4th Round and qualifying for the Scottish Cup. The run came to an end at the hands of Dundee Hibernian in a replay at Tannadice Park, 1-2. Shire received a bye in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup before being drawn against Non-League Forfar Athletic in the 2nd. Unfortunately Shire could only draw 1-1 at home and Forfar were able to win the replay 2 nil. For the 1st time since 1906/07 the Stirlingshire Cup was won, Falkirk being defeated 2-1 in the April Final at Merchiston Park. The Stirlingshire Consolation Cup for 1912/13 had been held over until 1913/14 and Shire reached the Final only to lose out in a replay 0-3 away to Falkirk A.  Shire also took part in another 3 Cups that season, the 1st was the Penman Cup where Shire easily defeated Kirkcaldy United 4-0 in the 1st Round but then East Fife, who we were due to play in the next round, withdrew and the completion wasn’t completed. The other two were the local Charity Cups. The Falkirk Infirmary Shield Final was lost 0-3 away to Falkirk and the two teams met again in the Final of the Falkirk Charity Cup at Merchiston Park with Falkirk being the victors 0-2. In November of that season the death of Andrew Arthur, the club’s 1st ever President (in 1880/81), was announced.

In the week before the season began the United Kingdom joined the escalating Great War but the Scottish League chose not to suspend the football season. Many times in Shire history we have been on the wrong side of fortune and by all contemporary accounts the 1914/15 team was the best we had had since joining the Scottish League and it was expected that we would challenge for the title. Unfortunately the events taking place on Continental Europe had a bearing on the season and we ended up in 4th place in the once again expanded 14 team League. Right at the start of the Season Shire lost Charles Stirling to the war effort and as the season went on forward Dan McNeilage enlisted too. At the end of the season Division Two was stopped for the remained of the war although the Division One would continue. Shire reached the Quarter Final of the Qualifying Cup before losing 1-2 away to St. Bernard’s. Despite qualifying for the Scottish Cup a vote was taken in December that the competition be abandoned for the season by the narrow margin of 14 votes to 13. The 1913/14 Penman Cup competition was continued and Shire reached to Final only to lose unexpectedly 2-3 to Broxburn United at home. In the 1914/15 Penman Cup Shire received a bye in the 1st Round, then won a 2nd round tie against Kirkcaldy United before received a walkover and a bye to reach the Final. However, the Final was never played and the competition abandoned. In the Loftus Cup Shire were only known to have played 1 game which we lost 1-5 at Dunfermline Athletic. Shire were knocked out of the Stirlingshire Cup against Falkirk at the Semi Final losing 1-2, though we did win the Stirlingshire Consolation Cup with a Final win against Stenhousemuir 2-1. The final match of the season was the Semi Final of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield losing out to Falkirk 1-4 on corner count after a 0-0 draw.

With no Division Two in 1915/16 Shire moved to the Eastern League along with fellow Scottish Division Two teams Cowdenbeath, Dundee Hibernian, Dunfermline Athletic, Leith Athletic, Lochgelly United and St. Bernard’s. The remaining teams in the 12 team League were the Linlithgowshire teams, Armadale, Bathgate and Broxburn United and Fife teams, East Fife and Kirkcaldy United. Shire would finish mid-table in 7th place winning 10 games but losing just as many. Despite the War the crowds were still holding up with 1500 turning up for the Kirkcaldy League game at Bainsford in October. One high was our 1-0 win at home in February against the eventual League Champions, Armadale. As the season progressed more and more current and recent ex-Shire players were serving in the armed forces, Joe Allan, Henry Brown, Donald Sloan, Willie Grace, Tom Snoddy, R. Baird, Alex Stupart, Archibald Buchanan and George Croal. Also Charlie Stirling was still a prisoner of war being held at Cellelagar in Hanover, Germany. Shire fans were doing there bit for the Shire players on active service sending parcels to them. There was an Eastern League Cup that season but Shire went out 2-4 in the 1st Round at home to Lochgelly United.  E.S. did reach the Semi Final of the Penman Cup but we were knocked out at that stage at Merchiston Park by Bathgate, 1-0. The club also played in the Section Stage of the Loftus Cup but failed to progress after losing away to both Dunfermline Athletic and Cowdenbeath. The only local Cup in 1915/16 was the Falkirk Infirmary Shield and with Stenhousemuir already having initially going into abeyance for the duration of the War (they would ultimately fold) it went straight to a Final game against Falkirk at Brockville Park which the Scottish League side won 3-0.

Shire continued in season 1916/17, playing again in the Eastern League. Like other clubs Shire’s playing roaster was affected with many players assisting with the War effort.  Shire would be placed 7th in the 10 team League by the season’s end though we didn’t complete our fixtures with 3 League games outstanding. The major turning point for the League and for the Shire happened at New Year when the government dramatically increased the price of train fares (in fact, they were doubled) which meant that for a lot of clubs travel costs became impossible. The Eastern League immediately agreed that any teams still to play each other home and away could agree to cancel these games, but no points would be awarded. In the end Shire only played 2 League games after this and only 8 games in all competitions after New Year. In total for the season only 22 games were played. In the Loftus Cup Shire didn’t progress out of the group section, winning 5-2 away to Dundee Hibernian but losing 2-4 at Cowdenbeath. In the 1st Round of the Penman Cup in February Shire suffered at terrible 7-0 defeat at Broxburn United (a team that we had beaten 2-1 the week before in the League at Merchiston Park) due mainly to the full team not being able to travel and 4 local players were found to make up the XI. After playing only 1 game since 24th February a friendly match away to Falkirk on 21st April took place which was practically a benefit game for the Shire due to the club being hit hard with a lack of fixtures during the season. Despite Falkirk giving their share of the proceeds to us it proved in the end to be of no avail. One final game was played that season against Falkirk in the Final of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield on 5th May at Brockville Park which we lost 4-6. At the East Stirlingshire AGM on 23rd July it was agreed that the club would stop playing football until the “termination of the war due the heavy travel costs in the Eastern League”.

The armistice that ended the War was called on 11th November, 1918 and it wasn’t until the start of season 1919/20 that East Stirlingshire were able to re-commence playing, some players not being demobilised until then. East Stirlingshire, like other clubs during the war, had seen a good number of their players sign up for military service and sadly a number never made it home. When the Scottish League failed to re-start Division Two after the War East Stirlingshire, along with other displaced teams and Non-league teams who would gain League status in a few short years later, reformed the Central league for season 1919/20. The 14 team League included the new Stenhousemuir (a new club had been formed on 1st May, 1919 after it has been decided that the debts of the old club would not be taken on) and Falkirk A together with teams from Linlithgowshire, Fife and Midlothian. East Stirlingshire’s 1st recorded game since they had last played on 5th May, 1917 was an internal practice game on 9th August. The 1st competitive match was a Central League on 16th August away to Clackmannan. A good number of E.S. fans travelled to the match but Shire lost 1-2. We would finish 12th in the League at the end of the season but an least we were playing football again and it had taken until the end of the season for of all the surviving players to be demobilised and return to playing. Shire went out in the 1st Round of the Scottish Qualify Cup losing out in a 2nd Replay at neutral Brockville Park to Alloa Athletic 0-2 in front of a very large 6000 crowd. The defeat in the Qualifying Cup didn’t matter as we were included the Scottish Cup anyway. A 1st Round 6-0 home win against Thornhill was achieved before a mammoth 2nd Round tie took place against Scottish League side Raith Rovers, which took 4 games to settle. The 2nd and 3rd Replays were played on consecutive evenings at Tynecastle Park in February. The 1st of which saw a massive 12000 crowd, swelled by a lot of Edinburgh half-holiday makers and a good number of Shire fans who had travelled through by motor cars and trains. The teams failed to score after 120 minutes but on the following evening a tired Shire team lost 0-4 to go out of the Cup. A total of over 30500 fans had watched the 4 games. A Central League Cup was played that season and Shire reached the Semi Final before going out 0-2 away to Heart of Midlothian A. The local Cups were also revived, Shire losing the replayed Stirlingshire Cup Final 1-3 to Falkirk A at Brockville Park in front of a 6000 crowd, and losing out 0-5 away to Falkirk in the Semi Final of the Falkirk Infirmary Shield.

Photograph Taken from Showing in Black & White Only (East Stirlingshire FC Centenary Book) – Alan McMillan