Randyford is synonymous with both the early histories of East Stirlingshire FC and Falkirk FC but for over a century it has just been a name that the fans of both clubs have read about with each having only a vague idea where its’ location might have been.
Randyford was originally the cricket ground of East Stirlingshire Cricket Club who, having moved from Callendar House, formally opened Randyford Cricket Ground on 31st July, 1875, when they held the East Stirlingshire Cricket Club Games. The local Kinnaird Band was present to entertain the crowd and 1st prizes of electro-plated cups were awarded to the winners of the following games; Throwing Cricket Ball, Half-Mile Race, Steeple Chase, 300 yards Volunteers Race, Sack Race and Throwing the Hammer.
East Stirlingshire Cricket Club played at Randyford from 1875 until 1879 when the stopped playing. At the end of that 1st Cricket season at Randyford East Stirlingshire Cricket Club placed the following announcement in the 9th October, 1875 Falkirk Herald.
It can be seen above that an initial game of the new East Stirlingshire Football Club was to be played on 16th October 1875 at Randyford. Unfortunately the trail runs cold at this point with regards to the new Football Club, so we have no record if more games were played or whom the players and officials were and even if it was a Rugby or Association Football club. This 1st East Stirlingshire FC had no connection to the current club.
Whilst East Stirlingshire Cricket Club were still playing at Randyford Falkirk FC (who had been formed on the evening of 22nd December, 1877 at the Market Inn, Falkirk) moved in during 1878. The original East Stirlingshire Cricket Club ceased to exist around 1879 though there was one final hurrah for them in 1880. Falkirk would make Randyford their home from early 1878 until the end of season 1879/80 when they moved to a new home across town at Blinkbonny. One Season later Bainsford (the Britannia had been dropped from our club’s original Bainsford Britannia name at some point during 1880/81) decided to move to Randyford for the start of season 1881/82. Bainsford upon moving to Randyford elected to change the club’s name to East Stirlingshire FC in honour of the previous Cricket Club of the same name that had played there not that long before. The East Stirlingshire FC 1922 booklet said that… “on the suggestion of Mr Alex. Cockburn, the club’s first secretary, it was resolved to assume the cricket club’s name of “East Stirlingshire”, the name which the club bears to the present day.” However, Alex Cockburn wasn’t actually the club’s 1st Secretary in 1880/81 when the club were formed though it was likely that he took on that role for season 1881/82 when the club moved to Randyford.
East Stirlingshire’s tenancy of Randyford was short lived, only playing there from August 1881 to March or April 1882 before returning back to Bainsford. It has always been wrongly held that East Stirlingshire played at Randyford until 1883 (or even as late as 1887). The reason for the move from Randyford remains unknown but it is likely that it was due to a number of factors; the state of the pitch at Randyford, the club wanting to move back to its’ original base and a pitch becoming available in Bainsford. There is another potential reason for the move in the form of the newly reformed Falkirk Cricket club (the old club of the same name having gone defunct). They were formed on 28th February, 1882 at a meeting in the Crown Hotel and obtained a 2 years lease at Randyford to play their games there. They immediately built a club house at Randyford and played their first game there on 29th April against Dunfermline. The new members of the Falkirk Cricket Club were the “well to do” of the town and it maybe that East Stirlingshire FC were priced out of renewal of the lease of Randyford (that they may have had) towards the end of season 1881/82. My personal thoughts on this is that it was at this time that the club had found its first benefactor in the person of the then “Councillor” James Young who owned Mungal Farm, which was situated West of Bainsford Main Street, and who gave the club a field of his farm to play on. Note that Bainsford Britannia/Bainsford had rented a field on his farm in 1880/81 so there was already a connection with the club and James Young.
Location of Randyford
For the longest time virtually nothing had been uncovered from history about the location of ground at Randyford. What could be gleaned was it was would have been a playing field which was probably rented from Randyford farm (which was in turn let from Callendar House). Randyford farm was situated just to the east of where the petrol station currently is on Grangemouth Road, opposite Falkirk College. One interesting side note is that Buffalo Bill took his Wild West show to Randyford Farm in 1904. The name Randyford is remembered in current times by Randyford Street, which is just south of Grangemouth Road. The actual location of the ground at Randyford had never actually been indentified until, when I was finishing my own research for my recent East Stirlingshire FC History Booklet 1880/81 to 1882/83, I came across in the Falkirk Herald 7th April, 1948, a report of the Victory Assembly of the East Stirlingshire Football Club at which the players and supporters celebrated our C Division Championship win and promotion. Mr Festus Moffat O.B.E., the club’s long time auditor, gave a speech at the gathering about the history of the club and said of Randyford “Then they had moved to Randyford, where the Ice Rink now was…” Now this speech was nearly 67 year after East Stirlingshire had moved to Randyford and although some of the other historical facts that he mentions are correct others are not. It is not known where he obtained the information about Randyford from, whether it was from someone living in 1948 who had been alive in 1881/82 and had 1st hand knowledge of Randyford’s location or from oral history that was passed down from the previous generation. Note that I have yet to find any other links that confirm Randyford was where the Ice Rink was though no other historical documents have yet been uncovered that reveal any other alternatives. We also don’t even know the orientation of the ground, whether it was West-East for example. However, as can be seen from the following 1947 Ordnance Survey map (which shows the location of Falkirk Ice Rink) it had very probably, due to the boundaries of the area, been in the same North South orientation as the Ice Rink. The map also shows how close Randyford was to our later home and ground, Firs Park.
The following list of games are the only recorded games we played at Randyford though undoubtedly we would have played more but these have been “lost” to history due to lack of reporting of our games at that time.
27th August, 1881 v Falkirk—Friendly. Lost 0-5. (This was the 1st time we had played Falkirk’s 1st XI and almost certainly the 1st game in which we were called East Stirlingshire)
8th October,1881 v Armadale—Friendly. Lost 0-2.
25th February, 1882 v Alloa Athletics—Friendly. Lost 0-2.(Alloa Athletics turned up with only 8 men and the East Stirlingshire Captain therefore arranged for 3 East Stirlingshire 2nd XI players to play for Alloa Athletics)
(Note that a Friendly was played on the 11th March, 1882 v Bo’ness which we won 7-3. It is unknown if this was played at Randyford or at our new ground at Bainsford).
4th March, 1882 v 2nd Grasshoppers. Won 3-0.
|Alexander (Alex, Sandy, San) Cockburn was East Stirlingshire’s 1st XI Captain and Club Secretary during the club’s one season at Randyford and was the man credited with renaming the club, East Stirlingshire FC.
Alex was also one of the 9 founding members of the club on the evening of 1st October, 1880.