1970s

The 1970/71 Division Two was to be a disappointing one for the Shire after a couple of promising seasons. Shire has sold a number of young talents and had yet to find suitable replacements. In the 17 League games we played before the end of the year we only managed to win 1 away to Stirling Albion, 3-1 in September. We weren’t too after away from getting it right, with 7 draws in that time, it was just that wins were proving to be elusive. 1971 started with another home defeat this time 0-2 at Firs Park  against Partick Thistle in front of a 2319 crowd. However, it finally started to go right for the Shire on the pitch starting with the next game at Queen of the South when we narrowly won 5-4 with Shire goalkeeper, George Wood, remarkably opening the scoring with a 2nd minute goal for the Shire. We then won 3 and drew 1 of our following 5 games to move us up the table. However, the poor form returned  with only 1 win in our next 7 games. The results in the final 5 games of the season were better with 3 wins and a draw but it wasn’t enough to take us beyond 16th place in the final league table. We also had a poor Scottish Cup going out in the 1st Round, 0-2 at home to Clydebank. Shire played at the start of the season in a 4 team Group 7 of the League Cup but only managed 1 win and 1 draw in our 6 matches and as a result finished last our the Section. It was a different story in the Stirlingshire Cup when we reached the Final after home wins against Alloa Athletic in the 1st Round and Stirling Albion 4-3 on penalties in the Semi Final Replay after the 1st game had been drawn 2-2. However, due to lack of time the Final was held over until the next season. Shire also had 2 pre–season home friendlies, drawing 1-1 with Mansfield Town and losing 2-3 to Hibernian. One other game was played in 1970/71, on 19th April Shire legend Arthur Hamill was honoured with a Testimonial against Falkirk at Firs Park which the Shire team including Arthur won 2-0.

The following season there was a big improvement on the pitch with the Shire achieving 8th place in the 19 team Division Two. Results were a bit up and down for the majority of the season but a great run of 5 wins and a draw from the end of December to mid February helped our final place in the league no end. That purple patch included at 5-0 home win against Arbroath. Shire again went out in the Scottish Cup 1st Round though this time it was close 1-2 away defeat against Queen’s Park. We nearly had a great start to the season in the League Cup. In the 5 team Group 9 going into the last round of matches we were in pole position to top a very even Section but we crashed heavily at home, 2-6 to bottom club Hamillton Academical, to end up in 3rd place 1 point off top. In the held over 1970/71 Stirlingshire Cup Final it was to be disappointment when we lost the Brockville Park Final 2-3 against Stenhousemuir after leading 2-0 at the interval. There was a small crumb of comfort in the 1971/72 version of the Stirlingshire Cup when we beat Stenhousemuir by 3-2 in the 1st Round at home though we went out 0-2 at Stirling Albion in the Semi Final. Shire played 8 friendly matches over the season including home matches against Walsall and Celtic Reserves though we lost both, 1-4 and 1-5 respectively.

 

Shire team photo taken before one of the following home Friendly games:

3/8/1971 v Hibernian Reserves or 7/81971 v Walsall

Back Row: Jim Meakin, Jim Murphy, Bobby Stein, George Wood, Jim McGregor, Brian Derby, Gordon Simpson

Front Row: Alan Miller, Tom Donnelly, John Donachie, Ian Browning, Ian Scanlon

There was a bright start to the 1972/73 Division Two campaign with 2 draws and 1 win in our 1st 3 games but the earlier promise soon faded with only 2 wins in our next 16 matches. Form took a turn for the better at the end of December as we went on a 5 game unbeaten run which included 3 wins. However, with the rest of the season’s results mixed we could only achieve a final placing of 13th in the League, though we did win our last 3 games including a final day 3-1 win at St. Mirren.  Shire met Highland League team Ross County at home in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup, the 1st time we had played them since an away friendly in January 1892. After a tight game we progressed, 1-0, to face Brechin City in the 2nd Round. The Tie at Glebe Park was drawn 0-0 but we lost out 1-2 at Firs Park in the Replay. In our 4 team League Cup Group 7 at the start of the season Shire had a torrid time losing all 6 matches which included heavy home defeats of 2-8 and 1-5 to Division One teams Dundee and Motherwell respectively. We did reach the Final of the Stirlingshire Cup after a home 1-0 win against Stirling Albion in the 1st Round and 6-5 win on penalties (our 1st ever penalty shoot out) away to Stenhousemuir in the Semi Final after the game was drawn 0-0 after 90 minutes. The Final was away to Dumbarton but the Division One team easily defeated us 6 nil. Shire played an incredible 13 friendlies throughout the season, two of which were against English opposition. A 1-1 home draw was recorded against Rochdale in August and right at the end of the season we travelled to play Nuneaton Borough, losing 1-3.

This is the East Stirlingshire Team photogragh from Season 1972/73

 

Back Row: H. Nicol (Assistant Trainer), Brian Derby, Davie Grant, Bobby Stein, Tom Donnelly, Bert Archibald, Peter Dunne, Danny Daye, Gordon Simpson, R. McFarlane (Trainer)
Front Row: Jim McGregor, Jim Murphy , Gordon Freedman, Alan Milller, Bob Shaw (Manager), Ian Browning, Billy Little, Davie Robertson , Jim Meakin

The following season Shire continued to languish at the lower end of Division Two with a 16th place finish. After a narrow 2-3 home defeat against Alloa Athletic in the opening League game Shire went on a fantastic run, winning our next 5 League games and drawing the next match. The great form couldn’t be maintained and results after this weren’t great with only 4 wins recorded  during the rest of the season. Shire came up against Clydebank in the Scottish Cup 1st Round on 24th December and drew 0-0. The replay was played the next day, Christmas Day, at Kilbowie Park and in front of poor crowd of 133 Shire went out 0-1. This was the last time we played on Christmas Day, in fact we had only ever been known to have played 2 times before on Christmas Day in our history, an away friendly at Blackpool in 1896 when we went down 0-6 and 12 months after that against St. Johnstone in Perth in a Central Football Combination League match which we won 3-2. Shire were placed in Group 5 of the early season League Cup and achieved a credible 2nd spot in the 4 team section with 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats. We were only 2nd to  Kilmarnock by 1 point but did inflict their only defeat in the Group when we won 3-2 at home against them in the opening Group match. The good placing in the Group meant that we progressed to the Supplementary Round where we met Albion Rovers. We recorded a 0-1 defeat at Albion Rovers in the 1st Leg and hopes were high of success in the 2nd Leg. However, the 0-0 result at Firs Park meant we went out narrowly on aggregate. In the Stirlingshire Cup we achieved a good 3-1 home win against Falkirk in the 1st Round but went out 4-5 on penalties after a 2-2 draw against Dumbarton in the Firs Park Semi Final. Shire also played half a dozen friendlies during the Season including a pre-season 0-0 draw at home to Shewsbury Town.

Division Two was increased to 20 teams for season 1974/75 with the election into the League of Meadowbank Thistle. Before the season had started Shire had appointed Alex Ferguson as Manager of the club. The 32 year old was in his 1st managerial role and although he was only at the Shire for 117 days, before taking over at St. Mirren, during that short time he took us up to a high point in the campaign of 3rd  place, Shire winning 9 and drawing 2 of our 1st 16 League games. However, the good start wasn’t maintained and only 7 more wins were achieved in the rest of the season and we had to settle in the end for a 10th placing in the League. We did win our last League game of the season at Firs Park with a fantastic 5-0 result against Alex Ferguson’s St. Mirren. Shire had a run in the Scottish Cup in 1974/75 reaching the 3rd Round (last 32). In the 1st Round we overcame Stenhousemuir 3-1 in a replay after the 1st game was drawn 2-2 at Ochilview Park. In the next Round another home win was achieved, this time 2-1 against St. Mirren. We travelled to play Division One Arbroath in our 3rd Round Tie but just lost out 0-1 in front of a 2330 crowd. In the League Cup, played as the season started, we were in the 4 team Group 9 and competed well ending up in 2nd place with 3 wins, 1 draw and only 1 defeat. In the Stirlingshire Cup we won our 1st Round tie 1-0 at home to Stirling Albion but went out in the Semi Final at home to Stenhousemuir 0-1. We also played 5 friendlies during the season which included 3 pre-season home matches against Celtic (3-4), Nuneaton Borough (0-3) and Bury (3-4). We also travelled to Nuneaton Borough at the end of the season  for a match which we won 3-0.

There was major reconstruction of the Scottish Leagues in 1975/76 when the setup changed from two Divisions to three. Shire’s end of season placing in the previous season meant that we were included in the 3rd League called 2nd Division which was made up of 14 teams. The decision was made that only 26 League games would be played that season on a home and away basis. Shire gave a good account of ourselves during the League season ended up in a mid table 8th place. The Scottish Cup was a disappointment when we crashed out 5 nil at home to fellow 2nd Division team Alloa Athletic. In the earlier season Group 7 of the League Cup Shire ended up 3rd in the 4 team group with 1 win, 2 draws and 3 loses. Due to the truncated nature of the League an additional Cup was played called the Spring Cup. In our 4 team Group 7 we only recorded 1 win and 2 draws in our 6 games. We did reach the Final of the Stirlingshire Cup in 1975/76 but lost it 0-1 away to Stenhousemuir.  In the Semi Final we had defeated Alloa Athletic 6-4 on penalties at home after the game was tied 2-2 after 90 minutes. Our friendlies during the season included home games against both Rangers and Celtic and also another match against English opponents at Firs Park, this time Southend United when we won 2-0.

Although we were still in the 2nd Division the following season the League matches were increased to 39 games with each team having either 1 or 2 home games against the other teams in the League. Shire got off to a positive start only losing 1 of our 1st 8 games. However, the early season promise fading as our form then reversed  with only 1 win in our next 12 League matches. Results did improve from February until the end of the season with a further 9 wins being recorded but it wasn’t enough to take us above 10th place in the 14 team league at the season’s close. In the Scottish Cup we received a bye in the 1st Round and then travelled to Edinburgh where we won a close 2nd Round Tie against Meadowbank Thistle, 2-1. In the 3rd Round (last 32) we disappointedly lost 3 nil at home to fellow 2nd Division team Albion Rovers. Shire played in Group 7 of the League Cup at the start of the season, finishing 3rd in the 4 team section with 1 win, 3 draws, and 2 defeats. One of those defeats was a heavy 0-6 home lose to Stirling Albion who went on to top the Group. We met Stenhousemuir at Firs Park in the 1St Round of the Stirlingshire where we progressed with a good 4-1 win. In the Semi Final we travelled to 1st Division Clydebank but lost out 0-4.

There was only a marginal improvement in our 2nd Division final placing in Season 1977/78 when we ended up in 9th place. We had a mediocre start to the League campaign which included a terrible 2-7 home defeat to Berwick Rangers on 17th September. The season continued with more loses than wins until a fabulous last 7 games of the season when we won 5 and drew the other 2 games. Shire for the 2nd season in a row received a bye in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup and for the 2nd season drew Meadowbank Thistle away in the next Round. Unfortunately this time we went out of the Cup losing 1-2. The League Cup was re-organised for 1977/78 and a 2 Legged 2nd Round Tie was played against Stirling Albion at the end of August/start of September. The Firs Park 1st Leg was won by Stirling Albion 1 nil and try as we might there was no scoring in the away 2nd Leg and Shire went out on aggregate. Note that Shire had received a bye in the 1st Round. In the Stirlingshire Cup we went out 1-4 away to Dumbarton in the 1st Round.

This is the East Stirlingshire Team photogragh from the start of Season 1976/77

 

Back Row: David McIntosh (Kitman), Hunter Towner (Trainer), Gordon Soutar, Gordon Simpson, Jim Stirling, Ian (Puff) Crawford (Chairman), Alex Morrison, Jimmy Hastings (Vice Chairman), Tom Donnelly, Dave Whiteford, Dan McLindon (Manager), Billy Lamont (Coach).
Front Row: Allan Bennett, Bobby McCulley, Ian Cochrane, Jim McGregor, Tommy Rae, Jim Mullen, Bobby Stein

There was no improvement on the pitch season 1978/79. In fact, there was to be decline in our fortunes with only 12th placed being reached in the 14 team 2nd Division. Shire did start off the League campaign with 3 wins in our 1st 6 games but the wins became less frequent as the season progressed. However, the season ended with 3 wins and 1 draw in our last 5 games to give hope to our fans for the next season. The Scottish Cup saw us play against two new opponents for the 1st time. In the 1st Round Shire won 2-0 at Castle Douglas against Threave Rovers before being drawn against The Spartans in the 2nd Round at Firs Park. The winter in season 1978/79 was particularly harsh and Shire agreed to play the Tie only 24 hours after our League match against Meadowbank Thistle. The decision backfired as we crashed out of the completion 2-3. After receiving a bye Shire met Montrose in the League Cup 2nd Round in August, drawing the 1st Leg at Montrose 0-0 before losing out in the 2nd Leg 0-2 after extra time at Firs Park. In the Stirlingshire Cup we lost in the 1st Round 0-1 at home to Falkirk. We also played 4 friendlies during the season including a pre-season game at home against Rochdale which we lose narrowly 1-2.

Season 1979/80 was all about the town of Falkirk where the 2nd Division was concerned. It was to prove a season long ding dong battle with rivals Falkirk for promotion and the Title. Shire had an indifferent start to the season only winning 1 of our 1st 5 games but then it all changed with 11 wins in out next 13 games included a great 3-2 at Brockville Park on 27th October against Falkirk in front 3254 fans. Shire again got the better of Falkirk in the New Year Derby at Firs Park when 2668 fans turned out to watch us win 2-1. As the season went on both Shire and Falkirk kept the pressure on each other wining point after point.  Promotion to the 1st Division was gained by the Shire in our 2nd last League match on the 19th April with a 1-0 home win against East Fife. The title went down to the last game of the season after Falkirk drew their outstanding midweek game at Brechin City 1-1. This left Shire and Falkirk tied on 48 points going in the last game with Falkirk having the better goal difference. In the end Falkirk pipped Shire by 1 point after we drew our last game at Brechin City 1-1 and Falkirk won their home game 2-1 against Montrose. We had won 2 more games in the campaign than Falkirk but critically had lost 3 more. The disappointment of not wining the Title was tempered with promotion for the 1st time in 17 seasons. The Scottish Cup 1st Round Tie against Brechin City proved to be a marathon, after a 1-1 draw at Firs Park the teams drew again 1-1 in the Replay at Glebe Park. A 2nd Replay was therefore required which took place at Muirton Park, Perth where a second half strike in favour of the Angus club meant that we bowed out of the Cup. Shire met Albion Rovers in August in the 1st Round of the League Cup with the 1st Leg at Firs Park ending 1-1. The 2nd Leg at Coatbridge turned into a farce with the game ending 0-0 in 90 minutes the referee wrongly decided not to play 30 minutes of extra time and the game therefore went straight to penalties which we duly won 9-8. However, due to the referee’s error the League Management Committee made the decision that the 2nd Leg had to be replayed and as fate would have it we lost the replayed Tie 1-4 to go out of the Cup. One other game was played during the season on 9th December when the club honoured Shire legend Gordon Simpson with a Testimonial against a Stirlingshire Association Select at Firs Park which the Shire won 5-3.

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