1980s

1980/81 was the Shire’s Centenary season and to honour the occasion we swapped our normal black and white strip for and all white strip (the strip that was believed to have been worn in our 1st season in 1880/81) together with a specially designed new club badge.

This is the East Stirlingshire Team photogragh from Season 1980/81

Back Row: B. Simpson (Coach), Paul Lamont, Dave McCaig, Jim Blair, Brian Pearce, Ian Rennie, Charlie Kelly, Ricky Sharp, Ray McRitchie, Ian Robertson, Benny Cairney (Physio)

Front Row: Donnie Watt, Alex Grant, Gordon Simpson, Billy Lamont (Manager), Ian Gourlay, Gordon Taylor, Bobby McCulley

Following promotion Shire played in the 1st Division during season 1980/81 and we got off to a reasonable start winning 3 and drawing 4 of our 1st 9 League matches, a run which included an emphatic 5-1 home win against Berwick Rangers on 27th September. It became all lot harder for the Shire after this with only 3 more wins being achieved during the rest of the season but regular draws meant that for the 1st season in our history we avoided relegation the season after a promotion, securing an end of season 11th place in the 14 team League. 3 of the 16 League draws we had had during the season came against Falkirk in our 3 derby games. On the last game of the season a huge 5762 crowd turned up at Firs Park to watch Dundee gain promotion to the Premier Division when they narrowly defeated us 1 nil. Shire had a great run in the Scottish Cup in 1980/81. We entered the competition at the 3rd Round due to our League standing and were drawn at home to Inverness Thistle, winning the Tie easily 4-1. The 4th Round took us to Cowdenbeath and we won the Tie 2-1 to take us through to the Quarter Final for only the 3rd time in our history. In that Quarter Final we travelled to play Celtic on 8th March in front of a 18,500 crowd and the Premier Division team were too strong on the day winning 2-0. Shire disappointingly went out in the 1st Round of the League Cup in August against Queen’s Park 0-5 on aggregate, losing the 1st Leg at Hampden 0-1 then crashing out 0-4 in the Firs Park 2nd Leg. We also took part in the Anglo Scottish Cup for the only time in our history. In the 1st Round 1st  Leg we had a great 3-1 win at Kilmarnock but joy turned to despair when we lost the home 2nd Leg 0-3 and therefore exited the competition on aggregate and missing out on a Quarter Final 2 Legged Tie against Blackpool. There was an early departure in the Stirlingshire Cup when we lost heavily 1-6 at home to Clydebank in the 1st Round.

 

The following season we had a reasonable start to our 1st Division campaign with 4 wins and 4 draws in our 1st 13 games, including an impressive 1-0 win against Heart of Midlothian at Tynecastle. However, it then got tougher for the Shire with only 1 win in our next 19 games putting us in real danger of relegation. With only 7 games left Shire rolled up our sleeves and recorded a great 3-0 win away to Falkirk. However, we narrowly lost our next home game 0-1 to Clydebank (which was played at Brockville Park) to leave us 5 points below 3rd bottom Raith Rovers who also had a game in hand. Unfortunately it was a points margin we failed to close and we suffered relegation at the end of the season, ended up in 13th place in the 14 team league, 5 points from safety. In the Scottish Cup Shire again entered at the 3rd Round stage and met fellow 1st Division team Heart of Midlothian at Firs Park in front of a 3000 crowd but lost the Tie 1-4. The League Cup reverted to Groups for season 1981/82 and during our Group 8 games in August we had a disastrous time losing all 6 of our matches. In the Stirlingshire Cup we lost out 4-5 at home in the 1st Round against Dumbarton.

Shire returned to 2nd Division in 1982/83 and any thoughts that Shire would make a quick return to the 1st Division were quickly dispelled when it took until 6th November, our 13th match, to record our 1st League win when we defeated Stenhousemuir 2-1 at home. Although we would win another 6 games before the end of the season there were too many defeats and an unwanted 13th  place in the end of season table was the result, only 1 point above bottom team Montrose. Shire had won 2 and drawn the other League game against Montrose during the season and it was these results that was all that had kept us off last place. Incredibly Shire had used 52 different players in our League Campaign. Shire took part in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup for the 1st time in 3 seasons but went out losing 1 nil away to Stirling Albion. We played in Group 7 of the League Cup at the start of the season ending up in 3rd place in the 4 team Section winning 1 and drawing 2 of our 6 matches. Shire again went out in the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup losing 1-2 away to Alloa Athletic. A couple of pre-season friendlies were played in 1982/83 with Shire losing 1-2 against Heart of Midlothian at the BP Playing Fields and drawing 2-2 against Aberdeen Reserves at Firs Park.

This East Stirlingshire Team photogragh was take before our 2nd Division match at Firs Park against East Fife on 15thJanuary, 1983

 Back Row: Mark Leetion, Jim Meakin, Charlie Gibson, George Young, Ian Rennie, Charlie Kelly, Kenny Ashwood, Alex Grant, Jim Blair, Craig Renwick, Angus Williamson (Physio)
Front Row: Dave McCaig, Paul Tierney, David Jack, Billy Little (Manager), Dick Campbell, Derek Wood, Neil Watt

There was a slight improvement on the park in the following season when an 11th place in the 2nd Division was achieved with 10 wins and 11 draws in our 39 games. It had all started poorly with only 1 win in our 1st 14 League games but form improved a lot after that when we won 9 and drew 7 of our remaining 26 games as we started to rebuilt the team after our disastrous previous season. Shire enjoyed a Scottish Cup run in 1983/84 wining 1-0 at Firs Park in the 1st Round against Stenhousemuir and following this up with a 2nd Round 3-1 home win against Fraserburgh. This set up a 3rd Round Tie against Greenock Morton at Cappielow which we lost 2 nil after drawing 0-0 at the break. The League Cup was back to Ties and Shire succumbed to an aggregate 1-3 defeat over 2 Legs against Montrose. For the 7th season running we were knocked out of the Stirlingshire Cup at the 1st Round stage, this time losing heavily 0-5 at Stirling Albion.

Season 1984/85 again saw the now regular “slow start” to our 2nd Division challenge, this time it took until the 13th match before we finally won our 1st League game. After this Shire competed a lot better in our matches winning 7 more matches by the end of the season to secure 12th place in the League. One of the main problems with the team as the season progressed had been the a lack of goals scored with only 5 being scored in our last 16 games in the campaign, including a horrendous spell of 6 games in a row without a goal to our credit. Shire were drawn away against fellow 2nd Division team, Dunfermline Athletic, in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup and achieved a great 3-1 win. In the next Round we travelled to play Alloa Athletic but lost narrowly 1-2. In the League Cup in August, for once, Shire won our 1st Round tie at Firs Park against Berwick Rangers, 4-3 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 after extra time. The reward was a 2nd Round trip to Tynecastle to play Heart of Midlothian, however, the Premier League side were too strong winning 4 nil. After seasons of misery in the Stirlingshire Cup it finally all came good in 1984/85. Shire received a bye in the 1st Round and then met Dumbarton at home in the Semi Final which we came out on top 3-2 on penalties after the match had ended goalless in 90 minutes. The Final against Stirling Albion was played on 14th May at our opponents Annfield ground and despite the venue disadvantage goals from Ian Rennie and Russell Doig won the Cup for the Shire 2-0, our 1st win in the competition since 1971/72.

This is the East Stirlingshire Team photogragh from Season 1984/85

Back Row: Charlie Kelly, John McKay, Charlie Gibson, Terry Mullen, Ian Rennie, George Tulloch, Derek Steel, Paul Crawford, Steve Maskrey, Russell Doig, Angus Williamson (Physio)

Front Row: Sandy McNaughton, Gordon Wylde, Colin McIntosh, Ian Steen, Billy Little (Manager), Jim Meakin, David Marshall, John Wilson

 

The next season saw Shire off to a great start in our League campaign with 3 wins in our 1st 4 games but this form wasn’t maintained and the next 13 games only saw 1 more victory. This left us battling it out at the lower reaches of the League for the remained of the season. After our 4-2 home win against Berwick Rangers on 2nd April we were in 10th place in the League only 2 points off 8th place. Crucially for our final League placing we were 13 points ahead of 3rd bottom Berwick Rangers in the League as we went on a horrendous end of season run taking on 2 points from our final 8 matches. This meant that we ended up in 11th place 3 points above 3rd bottom place. In both the National Cups Shire went out in the 1st Round, losing 2-3 at Meadowbank Thistle in the Scottish Cup and 1-3 to Raith Rovers at Firs Park in the League Cup. We also went out in the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup losing 1-4 away to Clydebank.

Season 1986/87 proved to be even more of a disappointment on the League front with the Shire only avoiding last place in the 14 team League on goal difference, by only 6 goals, from Berwick Rangers. We had only won 6 games all season with only 2 being achieved before the turn of the year and it was no surprise that only 23 points were won all season. Shire travelled to Peterhead for a 1st Round Scottish Cup tie and lost narrowly 0-1 in front of a good sized crowd of 2640. It was the 1st time the teams had met since 30th October, 1920 and the 1st time we had ever travelled to Peterhead for a match. In the League Cup we gained a good 2-0 away win in the 1st Round against Stranraer and then met Hibernian in the 2nd Round, losing narrowly 0-1. In a close 1st Round Stirlingshire Cup match we went out on the tightest of margins at home to Stirling Albion when we lost 4-5 (also recorded as 2-4) on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 in 90 minutes. At the start of the season Shire went on only our 3rd ever Highland tour at that time and our 1st since 1891/92. 4 friendly matches were packed into a few short days, our opening match was a 2-2 draw against Keith before winning 2-1 against Forres Mechanics 2-1. With so many games in such a short time period it wasn’t a real surprise that we lost our final 2 matches on the tour, 1-2 against Lossiemouth and 0-1 to Buckie Thistle.

 

Ever since our relegation from the 1st Division at the end of season 1981/82 Shire had struggled to make a mark on the 2nd Division, this changed in season 1987/88. We got off to a good start in the League with 4 wins and 2 draws in our 1st 7 games. After the positive start our form took at dip with no wins in our next 11 games though 5 of those matches on this bad run were draws. However, from December until the end of the season we had a great run of matches winning 10 and drawing 6 of our last 21 games to take us to a Final 6th place in the League. Included in this run were two great 0-0 draws away to the promoted teams, Ayr United and St. Johnstone. Shire went on a Scottish Cup run in 1987/88 reaching the Last 16. In the 1st Round we travelled to Inverness where we played out a 1-1 draw. In the Replay at Firs Park we won through 2-1 and travelled north again where we won 3-2 at Buckie Thistle in the 2nd Round. The 3rd Round saw us on our travels once more, this time to the borders where we met Gala Fairydean. In a high scoring score we came through 5-3 and finally we received a home draw in the 4th Round against 1st Division Clyde. In a very close game, which was tied 2-2 at the interval, Clyde scored the only goal of the 2nd half to win through 3-2. In the League Cup in August we won our 1st Round away tie against Stenhousemuir 3-1 after extra time and then met Dunfermline Athletic at home in the next Round in front of a 2600 crowd. On the night the Premier League team were the stronger of the two winning 3-1. In the 1st Round of the Stirlingshire Cup Shire went up against Alloa Athletic at Firs Park but lost out 2-3. Shire played 2 other games as the start of the season, both at Firs Park and both were drawn 0-0. The 1st was a friendly against Willington Town and the 2nd a deserved testimonial for long serving Shire defender Ian Rennie against Premier League St. Mirren.

Season 1988/89 started with a lot of promise, winning 3 and drawing 3 of our 1st 7 League matches, but this form couldn’t be maintained and Shire slipped down the League table as the season progressed. In the end we had to settle for 9th place in the table with 13 wins and 11 draws from our 39 games. The biggest League win of the season had been our excellent 5-0 triumph at Berwick Rangers at the end of end of November. In the Scottish Cup 1st  Round we met East of Scotland side Gala Fairydean at Firs Park and won a tight game 1-0. The next Round was again another close game but unfortunately not in our favour with Montrose winning the Firs Park Tie 2-1. Shire played Arbroath in August at home in the League Cup 1st Round and with the score at 1-1 at 90 minutes the match was abandoned due to floodlight failure. The re-arranged Tie was played the following night but we lost 0-1. In the Stirlingshire Cup 1st Round we defeated Dumbarton 2 nil away before travelling the short distance to Brockville Park to play Falkirk in the Semi Final. In a close game, in front of a 500 crowd, we went out 0-1. Like the previous season 2 other matches were played, one a pre-season home friendly against Larne which we drew 1-1 and the 2nd a Testimonial for Shire goalkeeping legend, Charlie Kelly. The Testimonial against Rangers, played on 12th September, was switched to Brockville Park to accommodate the 1554 crowd with the Shire losing 1-6. Charlie Kelly chose to wear rather natty Black and White striped shorts for the occasion. Rangers put out an incredible strong team for the match including Ray Wilkins, Derek Ferguson, Kevin Drinkell, Mark Walters and Davie Cooper.

Photo of Charlie Kelly is taken from the Rangers News 22/9/1988

 

The last season of the 1980s was to be a pivotal turning point for the Shire, which has had repercussions to the present day, though at the time the main focus was on the very poor results that the team recorded throughout the season. In 1989/90 Alan Mackin became the major shareholder in the club and also became the Shire’s 1st Player Manager. Shire lost our 1st 5 League games and it took 4 more games to record our 1st win. Although we did have some remarkable wins during the season, including a 2-1 home win against Kilmarnock, the wins were just too infrequent. With only 1 win in our last 15 matches it was no surprise that we ended up in last place in the 14 team league at the end of the season, 6 points adrift of 2nd bottom Montrose. This was the 1st time we had ended up in last place the Scottish League lowest tier since 1956/57. In the Scottish Cup 1st Round we travelled to Innerleithen where we defeated Vale of Leithen 3-1. Our 2nd Round Tie was at Firs Park against Stirling Albion but we went out 0-1. In August we also went out 0-1 in the League Cup, this time at Arbroath in the 1st Round. It was a similar story in the Stirlingshire Cup 1st Round when we went out 1-2 away to Stenhousemuir. Shire also played at couple of home pre-season friendlies, wining 1-0 against Goole Town and losing out 0-5 to Premier League Dundee United.

This East Stirlingshire Team photogragh was take before our Pre-Season Friendly at Firs Park against Goole Town on 29thJuly, 1989

 Back Row: Tom McEntagart, Derek Woods, Campbell Durie, Bryan Purdie, Charlie Kelly, Davie Wilcox, Ronnie Scott, Colin Wilson

Front Row: Peter Feeney, Gordon Russell, Billy McNeill, Darrel Drew, Alex Gilchrist, Scott McIntosh, Paul O’Brien, Allan Peters