Thornhill Football Club, Blantyre

1876 Thornhill Football Club registered in SFA book

1876 Thornhill Football Club registered in SFA book

Some like minded friends in Blantyre, having played a few times together during the summer of 1875, decided to form a properly organised football team, along the new association lines. Once they were established they registered immediately with the Scottish Football Association in Glasgow, and appear in the membership book in the same column as Hamilton Academicals, who registered the year previously. This was one of the first ever Blantyre Football teams, Thornhill Football Club.

Rugby and cricket were by far the more popular sports of the day, so this was an entirely new venture for these local lads. A meeting was called for the evening of Monday 13th December 1875 in the Stonefield Hall, when office bearers were chosen for the season. John Steele of Woodburn was elected president, James Lyle of Rosebank was chosen as secretary in place of Thomas Morton, the coachman from Calderglen who gave up his office, the treasurer was Murray T. Gow who lived at Homeston, and on the committee were James Torrance of Viewfield in Bothwell, Stuart Fairlees, of Kirklands in Bothwell, Fred Shaw from Thornhill, and P. Nisbet of Maryville, Blantyre.

1875 Thornhill Football Club, Blantyre

1875 Thornhill Football Club, Blantyre

The park they played on was on the grounds of Thornhill with a little changing room nearby, the ground was known as Thornhill Park, and it is interesting to note that Hamilton Accies were also playing on farmland at this time. The ground was noted as three minutes walk from Blantyre Station. The strip they chose was a white jersey, with white shorts (called knickers in these days) and red stockings (hose). On the jersey was a red ‘X’ with a monogram, which may have been “Thornhill” or “Blantyre” or something similar.

The Thornhill also had a second eleven who played in reserve matches the same day as the first eleven, but they were at home when the first eleven were away and vice verca.

The following June, Saturday 10th, the club held an amateur athletic sports day at their ground, when the Blantyre Band played for the large crowd, and the competitors took part in races like the ‘Place Kick’, Putting the 16lb Ball, the ‘Trouser Race’, the ‘High Leap’ and the ‘Long Leap’, along with ‘Flat Races’ and the ‘Hop, Step and Leap’. Quite a few of the winners were Rifle Volunteers from the 3rd Lanark Company and the local Blantyre Company of Volunteers.

Although most matches played in these early days were friendlies, Thornhill played in the Scottish Cup, and obviously had great plans to become a force in Scottish Football, alongside teams like Hearts, Queens Park and Third Lanark. They managed to beat the Accies 2-0 in April 1876, then lost to them in two friendlies in September and October by 2-0 and 4-0. Some of the reporting is quite comical looking at it now, for instance, early in November 1876 Thornhill played host to the Ramblers from Crosshill, a match which “resulted in a draw, very much in favour of the Thornhill, no goals were taken” During a reserve match in February 1876, which Accies won 3-0, the Thornhill had trouble scoring mainly because “The back play of the Academicals was very fine.”

With 36 members already on their roll, and the population of Blantyre growing daily through the influx of workers coming to the new collieries, we might assume the future was bright indeed for the Thornhill F.C. But strange to say they disappear from our view as quickly as they arrived. With no explanation that I have found as yet, the club are never heard of again. Perhaps with a little more digging around an answer may be found one day, but till now it remains a mystery, while Hamilton Accies prospered and grew, what happened to Thornhill, Blantyre?

Thanks to Gordon Cook for this information.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Gerald Kellachan My great uncle Paddy Callaghan moved from Thornhill to Hibernian in the 1890 s , played outside left in the Hibs Scottish cup winning team of 1902 and gained two Scottish caps , one of which is here in Blantyre.
Gerald Kellachan He was a miner in Dixon’s pit and lived in Calder Street which at that time was part of Dixon’s Raws. He never came back to Blantyre , spending the rest of his life in Leith as a publican

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