This fantastic photo is of early Blantyre football team, “Blantyre Priory Rovers“. Handed in kindly by Mrs. N McCue, I got excited seeing that it was marked with a date of 1880. If so, this would have made one of the earliest known Blantyre football team photos, even predating Blantyre Vics.
However, according to my notes, Blantyre Priory Rovers weren’t formed until Springtime 1896. This is confirmed in the June edition of “Scottish Referee” which discussed the newly formed team taking part in the new Rogerson Cup. I also see Mr John Roberts on the left in this photo (the owner of the Priory Bar), which given his appearance could potentially mean he was sponsor or had something to do with the name of the team?
There’s a lot of good detail in this photo. The sponsors, owners, organisers, coaches pictured with the team. The old strips with buttoned, full sleeved shirts. These players were Blantyre lads and I think this photo is around 1896, not long after they formed. To put how early this photo is into context, the lads would likely have been “too old” to go off to war by the time 1914 came around.
Blantyre Priory Rovers found themselves playing in the Cup final against Cadzow Reserves at Burnbank on 30th May 1896, doing particularly well right after forming. A junior league team, they had a good following on the day of the cup final. Unfortunately though, they were beaten 4 goals to 2.
I could not find any mention of ‘Blantyre Priory Rovers’ after May 1903, so the club may only have existed for 7 years or so.