1940s

After 6 years the War in Europe ended in May 1945 and thoughts returned again to football at East Stirlingshire FC. Shire played an Internal Trial match on 18th August to re-start the playing side of the club and 4 days later a crowd of 3000 turned out (including many Polish soldiers) at Firs Park to watch a 2nd Trial game when Shire lost 1-4 to a Polish Army Team. The same 2 teams met again 1 week later with Shire losing 1-5. When the Scottish League restarted as Division A and Division B for season 1945/46 Shire, along with 6 other teams, were excluded from the competition. Whilst Shire fought to regain their place at the top table an Eastern League was formed which included Forfar Athletic, Montrose, Brechin City, Dundee Reserves, Stirling Albion, Leith-St. Bernard’s and Edinburgh City. With the exception of Dundee Reserves only Stirling Albion hadn’t played in Scottish Division Two in 1938/39 and in the case of Stirling Albion it was because they had only just been formed in 1945 after the demise of King’s Park just before the end of the War. An application from Bo’ness FC to join the League had been declined.

This is an East Stirlingshire team photo from 1945/46 (taken from “Showing in Black & White Only – Alan McMillan)

Back Row: Archie Cameron (Chairman), John McWilliams, Peter Kelly, Robert Costello, John McCormack, J.(Thomas) Bilsland, Rabbie Kemp, Andrew Scott (Trainer)

Front Row: Johnny Cook, Joe Burke, Jimmy Roughead, Jack McCormack, Bob Mauchline

There were 2 Series of the Eastern League played in 1945/46, the 1st Series commenced on 1st September and our 1st competitive game in 6 years was away to Forfar Athletic where in front of a 1000 crowd we gained a 3-3 draw, after being down 3 nil in 50 minutes. There had been a scheduled league game the Saturday before against Leith-St. Bernard’s but the Edinburgh team had with withdrawn from the League before it had started and East Stirlingshire travelled to play Alva Albion Rangers instead for a friendly, which we won 3-2. The Series was scheduled for 12 matches but in the end Shire only played 11 as the return game against Forfar Athletic never took place. Shire ended up in a mid-table 4th in the 7 team League Series. St. Johnstone Reserves joined the Eastern League for the 2nd Series but Stirling Albion were expelled after 2 games due to them playing in the Southern League Cup. The 2 games Stirling Albion had played were declared void, including Shire’s 2-6 away defeat against them on New Year’s Day. Shire took the 2nd Series by storm winning the League by 1 point from Brechin City. Instead of a Scottish Cup competition a one off Victory Cup was played. Shire qualified to play in the Victory Cup after winning the Victory Cup Qualifying Tournament after the 2nd Leg Final against Clachnaccuddin went to a Replay on 2nd January at Muirton Park, Perth with Shire triumphing 5-2 after extra time (sadly there was no trophy). The programme below is the 1st ever Shire home programme which was produced for the 2nd Leg of the Final on 1st December. The 1st Round of the Victory Cup was also over 2 Legs and we went out to St. Mirren 3-5 on aggregate in the April tie. An Eastern League Cup was also played but Shire went out 1-3 over 2nd Legs in the 1st Round against Brechin City. The Stirlingshire Cup was also revived but our 1st Round 1st Leg Tie against Division B Stenhousemuir saw us lose heavily 1-8 (our equal record defeat against the Warriors) and the 2nd Leg was never played.

The photo below shows Allan Rae unfurling the 1945/46 East League 2nd Series Flag at Firs Park. Allan was the last surviving member of the original East Stirlingshire 1880s team and played for the club from 1881/82 and possibly in our 1st season in 1880/81. The gentleman next to him was club chairman in 1945/46, Archie Cameron.

The following season the Scottish League formed a Third League called Division C and promotion was agreed for the top two finishers. Shire joined the 10 team League which included all the 1st teams from the previous season’s Eastern League, plus the returning Stirling Albion and Leith Athletic. The 2 other teams were the Reserve Teams of Dundee and Dundee United. Shire had a decent League season finishing 4th, winning 10 of our 18 matches. The Scottish Cup was re-instated for 1946/47 and Shire qualified for it through the Scottish Midland Qualifying Cup in which we were Runners Up to Forfar Athletic, losing the Final at Muirton Park, Perth 1-2. In the run to the Final Shire racked up some huge scores including the Shire’s biggest post World War 2 score of 12-1 at home to Muirpark despite playing with only 10 men in the 2nd half due to an injury to a player. Also a 9-1 home win was achieved in the next Round against Shawfield Amateurs. In the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup Shire travelled to Inverness to play Clachnacuddin and recorded a 1-1 draw before winning easily, 5-1, in the Replay at Firs Park. In the 2nd Round Shire travelled to Division B East Fife where we went out 1-5. In the Division C League Cup Shire failed to progress from the 5 team Group. In the Stirlingshire Cup Shire reached the Semi Final after defeating Dumbarton in the 1st Round but Stenhousemuir won the tie 0-2 at Ochilview in front of an 800 crowd.

This is an East Stirlingshire team photo from 1946/47

Back Row: Archie Cameron (Director), John Cunningham, John McWilliams, John Muir, Robert Costello, Ritchie Collins, John Taggart, Andrew Scott (Trainer)

Front Row: ?, Jack McCreary, Ian (Puff) Crawford, Donald McMillan, Charles Service

1947/48 was another great season for the Shire after years of hardship. Division C had been expanded to 12 teams and although Stirling Albion and Leith Athletic had been promoted to Division B at the end of the previous season 6 more Reserve teams joined the League. These were the Reserve teams of East Fife, Kilmarnock, St. Johnstone, Arbroath, Leith Athletic and Raith Rovers. Dundee Reserves withdrew from the League. Shire started the League season on fire winning every League game we played in from August to the end of September (a club record of 14 League wins in a row). In the 1st 2 weeks of December we played East Fife Reserves (who would end up runners up in the League) away then at home. The 1st game was drawn 2-2 at Methil before an emphatic 5-0 home win 1 week later. In the end Shire won the League by 4 points from East Fife Reserves, winning 18 of our 22 games and drawing 3 and only losing once in the other 4 matches. The title was won on 7th January with a home 1-1 draw against Montrose with 2 games left to play. Shire went onto play in the Division C Supplementary League Section B and ended up Runners Up in the 6 team League behind East Fife Reserves. Shire reached the Final of the Scottish Midland Qualifying Cup for the 2nd year running by again we fell at the final hurdle, this time 0-3 at Arbroath in a Replay against Montrose after a 4-4 draw. As a result of reaching the Final we qualified for the Scottish Cup and came up against St. Mirren at St. Mirren Park but the Division A team were too good on the day and we went out 0-2. Shire were knocked out in the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup 1-2 at Dumbarton. We also took part in the Penman Cup but went out 0-3 away in the Semi Final to a Raith Rovers team who went onto lift the Cup.

So back into the 2nd top League in 1948/49 but Shire struggled to find our feet in Division B and it wasn’t until our 12th game (at the end of November) that we won our 1st game, a 2-0 home victory against Cowdenbeath. There was a brief improvement of form In January with 3-0 and 3-1 home wins against Kilmarnock and St, Johnstone respectively but one only 1 win in our last 6 games meant we ended up bottom of the 16 team League, 4 points adrift. Shire went straight into the Scottish Cup but the 1st Round away trip to Division A Queen of the South resulted in a 0-2 defeat. Shire took part in the Scottish League Cup for the 1st time in a 4 team group made up of other Division B sides, Kilmarnock, Alloa Athletic and Queen’s Park but after beating Kilmarnock 2-1 at home in the 1st game we failed to win any other of the group matches and ended up in Last place in Group 6. We also played in the Division B Supplementary Cup but lost in the 1st Round 0-2 at Raith Rovers. Shire received a bye in the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup and then won 3-1 Stirling Albion at Firs Park in the Semi Final but the competition wasn’t completed. Also Shire won our 1st Round away tie 3-2 against Stenhousemuir in the Penman Cup but the competition was again not completed.

This photo was taken at Firs Park on 4th September, 1948 during a Division B match against Stirling Albion which we lost 1-2. Legendary Polish Shire goalkeeper, Morawiec Gerhard tries in vain to save an Albion penalty. The late Bert Johnston, honorary lifetime Shire season ticket holder, told a story about “Mo’s” pre-match warm up consisting of walking around the full pitch along the touchlines doing a handstand.

(photo taken from “Showing in Black & White Only – Alan McMillan)

Back in Division C for 1949/50 but the Scottish League decided to regionalise the League into two Divisions which the Shire were unhappy about as more of the Division A Reserve teams were included. Also there was to be no automatic promotion but the Champions would have to meet the League management committee’s ground criteria for Division B games. To make matters worse, despite the Shire’s protests of loss of gate monies, East Stirlingshire and Falkirk Reserves were placed in different Divisions with the Shire playing in Division C North East Section and Falkirk Reserves in the South West Section. There were only 3 other 1st XIs in the League (Brechin City, Leith Athletic and Montrose) with the remaining 12 teams being Reserves. Shire had a poor season ended up in 12th place, with only Leith Athletic of the 1st XI teams finishing below us. In the Scottish Qualifying Cup Shire we lost to Stranraer 1-3 away in a 2nd Round Replay and therefore failed to reach the Scottish Cup. We did reach the Final of the Dewar Shield but lost the 1st Leg 1-3 at home to Aberdeen and then the 2nd Leg was held over until the following season. In both the Stirlingshire and Penman Cups we went out early, 0-2 away to Falkirk in the Stirlingshire Cup 1st Round and 1-3 at Stirling Albion in the Penman Cup 2nd Round after having received a bye in the 1st Round.