Kickba’ (Football)

[Ancient Sports Contents]

We’ll start with the prohibitions against football, &c.

James I. 

   “Item it is statut and the king forbiddis that ony man [‘Item it is deliverit that na man’.] play at the futball undir the pain of iiij d. to the lorde of the lande als oft as he beis taintit (be the scheref of the land or his ministeris, gif the lordis will nocht punnysh sic trespassouris). [‘taintit . . . trespassouris’. Advocates 1 renders as ‘convyct theroff, and geyff the lord vill nocht punyss sic trespas it sall be punyst be the schera of the land and his mynisteris’.]” – 19th May, 1424. 

   “Item [‘Alsua/Item it is ordanyt’.] that all men busk thaim to be archearis fra thai be xij yere of eild. And that in ilk tene pundis worth of land [‘that is plenyst land’.] that thar be maid bowmerkis, and specialy besyd [parychkyrkis], [Group C and E read ‘parychkyrkis’. Group D ‘halikirkis’.] quhare men on halidais may cum and at the lest [schute] thrise about and have using of archery. And quha usis nocht the said archery, [Advocates 1 reads ‘and quha oysis nocht this statut and that of him may be knawin’.] the lorde of the lande sall raise of him a weider. And gif the lorde raissis it nocht, the scheref sall raise it to the king. [Final sentence in Advocates 1 reads ‘ And gyf the lord vill nocht rayse sic paynis, the kingis schera sall gar sic paynis be raysit be his mynisteris to the kingis oysis but fawor’. Advocates 2, Drummond [B], 1566 acts: ‘And gif the lorde raise nocht the said payn, the kingis scheray or his ministeris sal raise it to the kyng’. Fort Augustus [B] follows Drummond [B], but replaces ‘scheray’ with ‘officiaris’]” – 20th May, 1424. 


   “Item it is decreed and the king forbids that any man play football under the pain of 4 d. to the lord of the land as often as he is convicted (by the sheriff of the land or his ministers, if the lords will not punish such trespassers).” – 19th May, 1424. 

   “Item, that all men prepare themselves to be archers from when they are twelve years of age. And that in each £10 worth of land there be made bowmarks, and especially beside parish churches, where men on holy days may come and shoot at least three times and have practice of archery. And whoever does not practice archery, the lord of the land shall raise a wether [A male sheep; ram – especially a castrated ram.] from him. And if the lord does not raise it, the sheriff shall raise it to the king.” – 20th May, 1424. 

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2022), 1424/19. Date accessed: 31 May 2022. 

James II. 

   “Item it is ordanyt and decretyt that wapinschawingis be haldin be the lordis ande baronys spirituale and temporale foure tymis in the yere, and at the futbawe ande the golf be utirly criyt doune and nocht wsyt, ande at the bowe merkis be maide at all parrochkirkis, a paire of buttis, and schuting be wsyt ilk Sunday. Ande that ilk man schut sex schottis at the lest wndir the payne to be raisit apone thame that cumis nocht at the lest ii d. to be giffin to thame that cumis to the bowe merkis to the drink. And for to be wsyt fra Pasche till Alhallomess entir, ande be the nixt mydsomir [to be reddy] with all thar geir without sonye. And that thar be a bowar and a flegir in ilk hede towne of the schyre, and at the towne furnyse of stuf and graithe eftir the nedis tharto that he may serve the cuntre with. And as tuichande the futbaw and the golf we ordane it to be punyst be the baronys wnlawe; and gif he takis it nocht, to be tane be the kingis officiaris. [The alternate wording is as follows (Drummond cited): “And gif the paroschyn be mekile that thare be thre or iiij or v bow merkis in sic placis as ganis tharfore, and at all man that is within [fyftie*] and past twelf yeris sall use schuting. And gif he staikis nocht the unlaw, that it be tane be the kingis officiaris.” (*Note: only the 1566 acts provides an upper age limit. All manuscript versions omit the age, although the grammar of the sentence requires one to be present.] Ande gif the parrochin be mekill, that thar be iij or iiij payre of buttis in sik placis as best accordis tharfor. And ilk man within that parrochin passit xij yeris sall use schuting.” – 7th March, 1458. 


   “Item it is ordained and decreet that wappenschaws be held by the lords and barons spiritual and temporal four times a year, and that football and golf be utterly cried down and not used, and that bow marks be made at all parish churches, a pair of butts, and shooting be used on each Sunday. And that each man shoot six shots at least under the pain to be raised on them that come not, at least 2 d., to be given to those that come to the bow marks for drink. And [this shooting] is to be used from Easter to All Hallowmass entirely, and by the next midsummer they are to be ready with all their gear without fail. And that there be a bower and fletcher in each head town of the shire, and that the town furnish stuff and materials after his needs thereto with which he may serve the country. And touching football and golf, we ordain that it be punished by the baron’s unlaw; and if he does not take it, it is to be taken by the king’s officers. And if the parish is large, that there be three or four pairs of butts in such places as are most appropriate. And each man within the parish past twelve years shall practice shooting.” – 7th March, 1458. 

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2022), 1458/3/7. Date accessed: 31 May 2022. 

James III. 

   “Item, it is thocht expedient that na merchandis brynge speris in this realme out of ony uthir cuntre bot gif thai susten sex elne and of a clyft, na at na bowar within the realme mak ony speris bot gif thai conten the said lyntht, [and] quha that dois in the contrare that the speris be eschetit and the persones punyst at the kingis wil. Alsua that ilk yeman that cam nocht deil witht the bow that he haf a gud ax and a targe of leddyr to resist the schot of Ingland, quhilk is na cost bot the valew of a hide. And that ilk schiref, stewart, bailye and uthir officiare mak wapynschawing within the bondis of thar office eftir the tenor of the act of parliament, swa that in defawt of the said wapinschawyne our soverane lordis leigis be nocht destitut of harnes quhen thai haf neid, and at the futbal and golf be abusit in tym cummynge, and the buttis maid up and schot usit eftir the tenor of the act of parlyament.” – 6th May, 1471. 


   “Item, it is thought expedient that no merchants bring spears into this realm from any other country unless they reach six ells and are of a [single] cleft, nor that any bow-maker within the realm make any spears unless they are of the said length, and if anyone disobeys this the spears shall be confiscated and the persons punished at the king’s will. Also that each yeoman who cannot handle a bow should have a good axe and a targe of leather to resist the shot of England, which is of no cost but the value of a hide. And that each sheriff, steward, bailie and other officer hold a wappenschaw within the bounds of their office according to the tenor of the act of parliament, so that in default of the said wappenschaw our sovereign lord’s lieges will not be bereft of harness when it is needed, and that football and golf be discontinued in the future, and butts made up and shot used according to the tenor of the act of parliament.” – 6th May, 1471. 

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2022), 1471/5/6. Date accessed: 31 May 2022. 

James VI. 

   “Item, it is statute and ordinit that ilke schirref, stewart or bailye of the realme ger wapynschawingis be maid foure tymes in the yere in all placis convenient within his bailyery in this wise: that ilke gentilman hafand tene pundis worth of land or mare be sufficiently harnest and anarmit with bassanat, sellat quhyte hat, gorgeat or peissane, hale leg harnes, swerde, spere and dager; and gentilmen haffand less extent of landis or unlandit sall be armit at thare gudely power eftre the sicht and discrecioune of the schirreffis, bailyeis and sic personis as oure soverane lord sall depute commissiris thereto; and honest yemen hafand sufficient power that likis to be mene of armes sall be harnest sufficiently eftre the discrecioune of the said schirreffis or commissiris; and all uthir yemene of the realme betuix sextene and sexty sall haf sufficient bowis and schaiffis, swerd, buklare, knyff, spere or gud ax in sted of the bow; and that all burges and induellaris of burrowis of the realme in lik maner be anarmit and harnest and mak wapynschawingis as said is four tymmes in the yere, and that the alderman and bailyeis, apoune the quhilkis the chaumerlane or his deputis sall knaw and execut the said thingis. And that all men of the realme to brughe and to lande, spirituale mennis servandis and temporale be wele perruvait of the said harnes and wapynnis be the fest of Midsomer nixt tocum, quhilk sall be the day of thare wapynschawing, undre the panis folowand: that is to say, of ilke gentilman that defaltis at the first wapinschawin xl s., and the secund defalt uther xl s., and the thrid defalt x l., and alse mekle alse oft tymmes as he defaltis tharefter x l.; and of ilke bowmane at the first falt x s., at the secund x s., and at the thrid xl s., and sa furthe alse oft tymes as he beis fundin falti tharefter xl s., and tharefter the faculte of thare landis and gudis. That evere mane be furnist and bodin in his body withe quhite harnes, brekane, tynis or gude jakkis withe splentis and gluffis of plait and complet harnes, wele horsit, corespondent to thare landis and gudis be the discrecioune of the schirref, comisschirr or officiare forsaid. And attour, that in na place of the realme be usit fut bawis, gouff or uthir sic unproffitable sportis, bot for commoune gude and defence of the realme be hantit bowis schuting and merkis tharefore ordinit in ilke parrochoune, undre the pane of xl s. to be rasit be the schirref and bailyeis forsaid of ilke parrochoune ilke yere quhare it beis fundin that bow markis be nocht maid na schuting hantit as said is.” – 18th May, 1491. 


   “Item, it is decreed and ordained that each sheriff, steward or bailie of the realm cause wappenschaws to be held four times a year in all convenient places within his bailiary in this way: that each gentleman who has £10 worth of land or more is adequately furnished and armed with a basinet [‘A steel head-piece, a helmet’], sallet [‘A light globular headpiece, either with or without a vizor, and without a crest, the lower part curving outwards behind’] metal hat, gorget [‘A piece of armour for the throat’] or pisane, [‘A mail collar forming part of a cape extending over the shoulders and upper part of the breast; such a cape itself’] whole leg harness, sword, spear and dagger; and gentlemen who have a small amount of land or [are] unlanded shall be armed as far as possible according to the view and discretion of the sheriffs, bailies and such persons as our sovereign lord will depute and commission for this; and honest yeomen with sufficient power who choose to be men of arms shall be sufficiently furnished according to the discretion of the said sheriffs or commissioners; and all other yeomen of the realm between sixteen and sixty [years of age] shall have sufficient bows and sheaves, sword, buckler, knife, spear or good axe instead of the bow; and that all burgesses and inhabitants of burghs of the realm in similar manner be armed and furnished and hold wappenschaws four times a year as is said, and that the aldermen and bailies, of which the chamberlain or his deputies shall know and execute the said things. And that all men of the realm of burgh and country, spiritual men’s servants and temporal be well purveyed with the said harness and weapons by the next feast of Midsummer [21 June], which will be the day of their wappenschaw, under the following pains: that is to say, 40s from each gentleman who fails at the first wappenschaw, and another 40s for the second failure, and £10 for the third failure, and £10 as many times and as often as he fails after that; and 10s from each bowman at the first failure, 10s at the second [failure], and 40s at the third [failure], and 40s so on as often as he is found at fault after that, and thereafter [according to] the value of their lands and goods. That every man be furnished and equipped in his body with white harness, [i.e., plate armour as opposed to mail.] brigandine, [‘Body armour composed of iron rings or small thin iron plates, sewed upon canvas, linen, or leather, and covered over with similar materials’] tin or good jakkis [‘A jerkin or doublet of defence, with or without sleeves, usually of leather lined or padded’] with plate armour and gauntlets and complete harness, well mounted, corresponding to their lands and goods by the discretion of the aforesaid sheriff, commissioner or officer. And further, that football, golf or other similar unprofitable sports are not to be played anywhere in the realm, but for the common good and defence of the realm the practice of shooting bows and archery butts are therefore ordained in each parish, under the pain of 40s to be raised by the aforesaid sheriff and bailies from each parish each year where it is found that archery butts or shooting practice is not done as is said.” – 18th May, 1491. 

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2022), 1491/4/17. Date accessed: 31 May 2022. 

Perthshire Courier, Thursday 24th December, 1835, p.3. 


   MR EDITOR, – Some of your correspondents have of late been wasting much argument, and no little classical learning on the important subject of the Revival of Ancient Sports. If a quiet man like myself might be allowed a kick at the Ball, without running the risk of a cuff in return, I would suggest a new view of the subject, and one particularly interesting to such of the Authorities as mean to take a share in the intended brulzie – viz., its ILLEGALITY. By the Act of the First Parliament of King James I. holden at Perth May 1424, the 17th cap. is thus entitled 

That na man play at the fute ball


   In the face of these repeated legislative enactments which the wisdom of our ancestors considered necessary to suppress the public inclination for the games in question, I can hardly see how Conservatives, the “Sheriff,” his “Ministers,” or other “Lordes of the Land,” can conscientiously take part in the intended sports of Handsel Monday. That, however, is matter for their consideration, and not that of 

Your humble servt. and constant reader, 


     Perth, 23d Dec. 1835. 

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 20th January, 1875, p.2. 


   SIR, – This athletic game is one of the most ancient in Scotland, as it was practised more than five centuries ago, and our quiet going Chief Magistrate is not the only potentate who has tried to put it down. At the first Parliament of King James I. held at Perth, the 26th May, 1420, the following Act was passed:- 17 – That na man play at the fute-ball -… In the account of the shire of Forfar, written by Ochterlony of Guynd about 1682, he says, in his description of Edzell Castle, “It hath an excellent outer court, so large and levell, that of old, when they used that sport they used to play at the football there, and there are still four great growing trees which were the dobts.” It appears from this extract that obedience had been given to the Act of King James, and the game discontinued. It has been revived in modern times, but as it does not meet with the countenance or approval of our worthy C. M., and he is not alone in his dislike to the game, he should order the Clerk of the burgh to put in force the provisions of the above recited Act against those who persist in practising the disallowed game. 


Dundee Courier, Tuesday 9th March, 1880, p.5.

   FOOTBALL. – This sport has become very popular throughout Scotland during the past few years. The county of Forfar possessed very few clubs till within a very recent period. Now their numbers are legion. It will be interesting to the lovers of the game, and to the curious as well, to know that in the first Parliament of King James the First, “Halden at Perth the XXVI. Day of May, The zeir of God ane thousand foure hundreth twentie-foure zeiris; and of his Reigne the nineteene zeir,” a law was enacted as follows:- “It is statute, and the King forbiddis that na man play at the fute-ball, under the paine of fiftie schillings, to be raised to the Lord of the Land, als of he be tainted, who the Schireffe of the Land or his ministers, gif the Lordes will not punish sik trespassers.” What reason Parliament, in its wisdom, had for this restriction, we leave it to better antiquarians than we are to determine, but would venture to guess that it was not in consequence of the danger of the sport, but that because it took them too much away from the more warlike sport of archery. We know that a similar act was passed in England in the time of Edward the First, with the additional injunction that all the spare hours of the people should be spent practising at the archery butts. Probably King James’s imprisonment in his youth had given him the idea which is embodied in the above recited act. 

[Football is not mentioned in the English statutes but Edward I. did enact that all sports, other than archery, were to be banned.] 

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Saturday 20th October, 1888, p.2. 

   Notwithstanding the great popularity of football much is said against the game, some people – among them being clergymen and even our own learned SHERIFF – characterising it as brutal and degrading. All sorts of games may be abused, but because they are so abused that is no reason why their use should be taken away. The game of football is of ancient origin, and it is uncertain when it was introduced into this country. We do not know whether in olden times it was so popular as it is now, but we have come across some relics of ancient history which show that the modern croakers had their prototypes four centuries ago; indeed, so much so that the matter was brought under the notice of the KING and his Parliament, who caused it to be prohibited… By ACT JAMES II. 1457, chap. 62, the jurisdiction was extended to Barons and King’s officers. During the subsequent reigns of JAMES III. and JAMES IV. the provisions against playing football were repeated. In the last of these statutes “golfe and other sik unprofitable sportes” are combined with football, and the reason for the prohibition is stated to be “for the common gude of the realme and defense thereof.” One would naturally gather from this that our forefathers considered the game dangerous to life and limb; at all events, they evidently did not look upon it as a healthy recreative pastime, but rather recognised it as being attended with no benefit, and thought that the players might be better employed. The true reason, however, may be found in the subsequent provisions of some of the same statutes, which ordain shooting with bow and arrow to be practised instead. Archery was the method of warfare adopted in those days, and it was deemed prudent that all should be able to assist in that way in defending their country should occasion require. 

Montrose Standard, Friday 4th April, 1890, p.3. 

   In an article on “old world football” in the Scots Observer there are some interesting details regarding the history and antiquity of the game. The Scottish Kings had actually to prohibit the game in 1424, 1451, 1471, and 1491, but the very repetition of the enactments is proof of their inefficiency. At all events, in 1497 footballs were purchased by James IV. himself, probably for a game at Court. In the next century the game was played not merely by the gentry but even by the monks and other ecclesiastics. Thus Sir David Lindsay’s Abbot vindicates his Presbyterial efficiency by setting his prowess at football against his neglect of the pulpit: 

“I wot there is nocht ane among you all 

More feinlie can play at the fut-ball.” 

That even the highest nobles did not disdain the game is clear from the case of the fifth Earl of Huntly, who was seized with apoplexy (it was hereditary) while kicking off, and died the same night. The game seems to have been a common one at the court of Queen Mary. Sir Francis Knollys tells that when she was at Carlisle after the flight from Langside, ‘about twenty of her retinue played at football before her the space of two hours, very strongly, nimbly, and skilfully, without any foul play offered.’ Their play struck Sir Francis as much superior to anything he had seen; and it is clear that the game in vogue at this time among the upper classes of Scotland differed radically from the common annual rough-and-tumble of later years. The real cause of decline and deterioration was the prohibition of Sunday football by the Reformers. During the Covenanting and Cromwellian periods of ascendancy, football was in still greater disrepute; and Sir David Hume of Crossrig records that in 1659 having, in accordance with a traditional custom of the second-year students at Edinburgh University, taken part in a game of football on the Borough Muir on the 11th March, he was sentenced to be whipped in the class; and, refusing to submit, was expelled the University. 


   The extraordinary revival of football, continues the writer, is an evidence that the old notions as to the sinfulness of enjoyment per se are practically extinct. Not less remarkable is the immense improvement – in the supercession of savagery by skill – which has followed its adoption by the educated classes. Of course there are prints moral and prints medical whose object is by a long parade of ‘accidents’ to persuade the public to frown this pastime down as brutal and demoralising, and who in that way do their little best to make it both. That, though, is not the way to mend it, and to end it were merely impossible. And after all is it really so dangerous as that? Minor accidents are common enough; but, so far as loss of life is concerned, is football as mortal as hunting, shooting, riding, yachting, bathing, or even doing nothing? Is it very much more deadly than crossing a crowded London street? or is it anything like so perilous as railway travelling? Perhaps some gentle statistician will oblige. 

Southern Reporter, Thursday 28th March, 1895, p.1. 

   The game of football was anciently a very favourite sport throughout Scotland, but especially upon the Borders. Sir John Carmichael of Carmichael, warden of the middle marches, was killed in 1600 by a band of Armstrongs returning from a football match. Sir Robert Carey, in his Memoirs of Border Transactions, mentions a great meeting appointed by the Scottish riders to be held at Kelso, for the purpose of playing at football, but which terminated – as more than one game of football did – in an incursion upon England. 

Football News, Saturday 18 April, 1896, p.7. 

“Fute-Ball” in Glasgow 


   It was James the First of Scotland (1394 – 1437) who passed an Act in terms as follows:- “Fute-ball and golf forbidden; to be punished by the Baron’s unlaw; because they are sportis not proffitabill for the common gude of the realm, and defence thairoff.” The times were troublous, and it was a serious matter that the practice of archery at the district Wappenschaws should have been falling off. Though golf – ye old and ancient game! – was also proscribed, history records that blame mainly attached to what was then popularly called “kickba,” not “fitba.” King James, therefore, put down his royal foot – to kick the ball “dead,” as players still do when dangerously pressed. Whether His Majesty ever lifted his foot again does not transpire. Probably the Act served its day, and then became obsolete as the statute which passes sentence of death upon poachers and sheep stealers north of the Tweed. The Legislature naturally shrinks from strangling its own offspring, preferring to let superseded Acts die a natural death. Evidently subsequent monarchs and Governments discovered that “fute-ball” had been bred in the bone among the inhabitants of the northern kingdom. History repeats itself in the world of sport, as elsewhere. Football is once more romping over Scotland, and especially in and around the big and rapidly-growing city of St. Mungo, notwithstanding a vigilant magistracy and the Free Kirk. 

   The civic legislators forbid the game being pursued on the street – which small boys deem a hardship -and the sons of Chalmers, in Presbyterial Council have not minced matters in blackballing the sport, on more ostentatious grounds than that of recruits for the army and volunteers being at a premium. “Fute-ball” is denounced as the main factor in thinning the congregations, and in the lamented non-observance of the Sunday. At ever-recurring conferences on the sore subject, one hears the king of games (which doubtless owes Glasgow much for the extension of its kingdom beyond the Cheviots) characterised as “an invention of Satan,” the “pillar of the drink traffic,” and a menace to the historic national piety. Over against this, however, it is pleasing to chronicle that a Glasgow professor, of world-sounding fame, persistently promulgates a theory having for its heroic – some say Utopian – object that every growing youth in the population should be induced to play football. This distinguished Scotsman holds that Corporation funds could not be better disbursed than on the acquisition of unoccupied land adjacent to the city for the purposes of the manly sport, and deplores the fact that, whereas tens of thousands witness the game every Saturday, and play mentally, only the merest fraction derives the physical advantages – no deduction is made for sanguinary accompaniments – which football affords. Rightly or wrongly, Glasgow, with its record crowd of 60,000 at the 1896 International, boasts the honour of having cradled, nay more, of having conceived and borne Association, alias “Socker.” Followers of the scholastic “Rugger” are left to flatter themselves with the reflection, fairly well founded on fact, that though a ridiculous minority by comparison, they are still a select few. The legitimising of professionalism gave an enormous impetus to Socker by creating a new and eminently tempting vocation for hundreds who much prefer pedal to manual labour. It goes without saying – all the world knows of it – that a team could annually be picked on the banks of the “Clutha” to challenge creation. Let a big event, say, the English International, synchronise with a Trades’ holiday, not all the attractions of coast or country will avail to attract the artisan population out of town. Around the ropes all ages will be represented in the multitude, from the greybeard hirplin’ with the “pains” to the youthful muldoon, from the purlieus of Argyle-street, in bell-mouthed trousers and red cravat drawn tight above Adam’s-apple in a hot-pea knot. Thousands who know every individual player’s history could not name three of the seven local members of Parliament. With apologies to the poet, politics is of their lives a thing apart, but “fitba’” their whole existence. 

   Every Glasgkow [sic] boy begins football with the alphabet. Groups of younkers may be seen any day – Sawbath excepted – kicking their way to school. Glasgow children are eternally on the streets. It was a historic joke of His Highness the Shahzada of Afghanistan that they must be born four at once. The spectacle of a dozen bare-footed city arabs careering along one of the principal thoroughfares, with a marble, an old hat, or a cap tied up with string, at their toes, is one of the sights of the western metropolis which never strikes a native as worth pointing out. George-square offers rare facilities for industrious young Glasgow, crossing and recrossing in meal-hours. The statues serve admirably for goal posts. Step into any of the nine district police offices of a morning. the chances are ten to one that a batch of boys will be arraigned at the bar charged with committing a breach of the peace by playing football on the streets. The magistrate, who has donned the shin-guards in his day, may address the delinquents thus:- “I suppose laddies maun kick something, frae an ash-bin to an Australian meat in. The first thing a bairn does is to kick, indiscreeminately. Fitba’s a glorious game; and, forbye, it’s nat’ral, especially in Scotland. Wi’ a’ reverence let it be spoken, the ‘Land o’ kirks’ has aye been mair or less the land o’ kicks. At the same time, I’m as much under the law as yersels, and maun fine ye half-a-croon the piece. Your parents’ll likely pay your fines, and that’ll mak’ them tak’ ye in hand.” The offenders, all of tender years – nothing else being very tender about them – slink away from the bar, obviously plotting an escape from paternal chastisement. Let the day be gusty, and your head-gear get blown round a corner. By the time you follow up there is a strong probability that trace-boys will have improvised a football match, and you must buy another hat. Those are the coming professionals, to be drafted into England, who look forward to one day winning an international cap in the Anglo-Scots eleven. 

   Football has even crept into ordinary figures of speech. When a man is dismissed from his employment he has “got the kick,” when he marries he has “kicked off,” and at death the deceased is said to have “kicked the bucket”; how the useful kitchen utensil comes into dismal reference is a problem for philologists. Should you ever take up house in Glasgow, you may expect a visit from the intrepid captain of the “Molindinar Swifts,” or the “Green Grasshoppers,” who will put a dirty slip of paper in your unsuspecting hand, soliciting a subscription. The members of the committee will accompany him, while the rank and file wait outside. “The bobby stole our last ba’,” the captain will explain, to enlist your sympathy. Ask him where they play and he may tell you, “Frae the Free kirk to the U.P., in John Knox-street.” Depend upon it, whether you subscribe or not, they will raise the wind, and a cigarette each for their pains. The number of those juvenile clubs is legion, and their nomenclature a credit to the wealth of the language. 

Daily Record, Monday 29th August, 1898, p.6. 








   Rowing and football are closely associated with the early history of the Clyde F.C., and the opening of Shawfield Park on Saturday is such an eventful incident in the history of the club that one may be pardoned for indulging briefly in a little retrospect. Compared with the Celtic the Clyde is an ancient organisation. If it cannot boast of having played such a conspicuous part in the history of the game as Celtic, the Clyde can plume itself on having served a very useful purpose to athletics… Queen’s Park, as we all know, was the first club of any note in Glasgow. It blossomed into existence in 1867. rangers and 3rd Lanark followed five years later, and in 1874 the Clyde was formed, and down till the end of last season its headquarters were located at Barrowfield Park. I remember well the circumstances linked with the Clyde’s inception… The demise of the old Eastern, a local rival, which furnished 3rd Lanark with such noted international players as W. S. Somers and Alex. Kennedy,.. – secured their places on joining forces with Barrowfield. 


   How time flies! The Bridgeton enthusiast of by-gone days loves to recall the many struggles the Clyde had with such powerful local rivals as the Northern, Cowlairs, Thistle, and Cambuslang. Those clubs are now of the past,.. Those were happy times for the Clyde, for players’ wages were unknown, and there was always the Thistle to keep things lively in the district. 


   Two notable achievements on the part of the Clyde may be singled out in their Scottish Cup victories over the Rangers and Celtic. In September, 1885, on the same day as W. Cummings of Paisley vanquished the ex-amateur champion of the world, W. G. George, in a four miles match at Powderhall, the Rangers’ hopes were blasted at Barrowfield… 

   Three years elapsed between the Rangers and the Celtic wins, the latter taking place in November, 1888, by one goal to nil. The Clyde did not long enjoy the sweets of victory, for on a protest to the S.F.A., the Celts got another chance, and misfortune attended the Clyde. This gave rise to considerable feeling at the time, but the clubs are good friends now. As a prominent Clyde official put it at Shawfield, “The Celts supported us to-day to a man.” 

   The club has had its share of vicissitudes, but perseverance beings its reward, and to-day fortune smiles on Shawfield. Saturdays’ opening was auspicious in every sense of the word, for the takings yielded record for the Clyde, and if Lord Kinnaird did not grace Shawfield as he did Ibrox when Preston North End opened the Rangers’ ground, Provost Edmiston, of the ancient and royal burgh of Rutherglen, performed the ceremony of “kicking off” in the presence of his municipal colleagues and the dignatories of the district. Football was well represented, and to crown all, the Clyde players rose to the occasion and divided points with the champions of last season. 

Perthshire Courier, Thursday 3rd December, 1835, p.2. 

   “A’ IS FAIR AT THE BA’ O’ SCONE.” – This saying has obtained a proverbial status in this quarter for many years, and originated in the latitude of the principle by which an ancient sport which has for more than a century fallen into disuetude, was regulated. This season the game has been revived under the special auspices of the noble family of Mansfield. Tuesday exhibited an animated scene in the Palace Park. The competition was restricted to the parishioners of Scone, but upwards of 300 individuals engaged in the contest. The married men were engaged in opposition to the bachelors and youth of the parish, and were distinguished by badges of ribbon, – the young men wore white “favours,” the married displayed crimson. Viscount Stormont was an active leader of the latter, and his youngest brother, the honourable David Murray, distinguished himself with no less zeal on the opposite side. The day, which looked exceedingly unfavourable during the morning, improved towards noon, when the sports began; but the ground was in the very worst condition. This circumstance however tended to heighten rather than diminish the interest of the game in the eyes of the spectators – for the most ludicrous passages took place in consequence, and even the noble Lord above mentioned was frequently involved in situations which, however laughable, were by no means enviable. Still, however, he continued to bear the brunt of the “action,” and to cheer on his brother Benedicts in glorious style. On his side he had the disadvantage of fellow-combatants of nearly octogenarian age, who had engaged in the same “tulzie” in days of yore, and actuated by a zeal in the revival of the sports of their youth, calling up to their minds so many pleasing recollections and associations, could not refrain from employing their bent-down bodies and stiffened limbs in the contest. It was a highly interesting sight, the fervour with which many engaged in it. In some places wives were seen cheering up the drooping spirits of their husbands; in others the “better half” would be shedding tears on account of the perils to which the partner of her joys and sorrows was exposed. Fortunately, with one exception, we have heard of no very material injury being incurred by any one. The scene of action was chiefly to the northward of the Palace, and occupied a space of nearly two miles. After a desperate struggle of nearly 2½ hours, the unmarried sent the ball to the goal, and the individual who did so was carried in triumph shoulder-high. Lord Stormont complained that this result must have been brought about by the occasional aid afforded by the youth of Perth and Kinnoull, who should have been spectators merely. – But the odds were evidently against him. The concern altogether afforded much amusement. All grades of the parishioners engaged in the combat – and it was highly interesting to see the landed heritors and the members of the noble family, severally engaged on an equal footing and with equal zeal, with the artizans of the village and the toil-worn sons of the soil. A stimulant was administered before commencing the sports, and refreshments served at their close, at the expense of the noble proprietor of the demesne on which they were celebrated. 

‘Book of Days,’ Candlemas, 2nd February. 

   “Another old popular custom in Scotland on Candlemas day was to hold a football match, the east end of a town against the west, the unmarried men against the married, or one parish against another. The Candlemas Ba’, as it was called, brought the whole community out in a state of high excitement. On one occasion, some years ago, when the sport took place in Jedburgh, the contending parties, after a struggle of two hours in the streets, transferred the contention to the bed of the river Jed, and there fought it out amidst a scene of fearful splash and dabblement, to the infinite amusement of a multitude looking on from the bridge.” 

‘Domestic Annals,’ Regency of Morton. 

   “May, [1576] – The Earl of Huntly died in a sudden and mysterious manner at Strathbogie Castle. Having fallen down in a fit while playing at football, he was carried to bed, where he foamed at the mouth and nostrils, struggled with his hands, and stared wildly, as if he would have spoken, but could never command but one word – ‘Look, look, look.’ He also vomited a good deal of blood. After four hours’ illness, he expired.” 

‘Old Glasgow,’ Education – Amusements – Fairs. 

   “Another favourite amusement of the Glasgow people was foot-ball – a game for which their Green was well adapted. This game was prohibited by the old acts of Parliament, as it was thought to interfere with the practice of archery. But James IV. was fond of it, and notwithstanding the law, he often indulged in it himself. It was certainly encouraged and promoted by the magistrates of Glasgow, who always provided the foot-balls; and the burgh minutes, from the very earliest times of which there is any record, contain notices on the subject. From one of these, in 1575, we learn that the price of a foot-ball was twopence. From another in the beginning of the seventeenth century we learn that there was ‘gifen upon the xxviii day of Feb. 1609 to John Neill, cordoner, younger, for fute ballis to the toune at fasterins evin conforme to the ald use xxvis. viid.’ ” 

‘Life of Mary, Queen of Scots,’ From Darnley’s Murder to the Queen’s Dethronement. 

   “The next object of enquiry is the pastimes of the boy King [James VI.]: Bows and arrows; the fute ball, which he condemned, in his advice to his son, Henry, as too coarse, for a Prince;..” 

Leave a Reply