This is my first post on the forum. I live down in England near High Wycombe, with my local team being Wycombe Wanderers, but my dad was born on Coatbridge ( Dunbeth Avenue ) , as were his mother and his maternal grandparents. In this lock down period I've been taking the time to clear out our loft, and I found a few old artefacts, including the attached photo. Actually it's a photo postcard, and depicts the Albion Rovers team that won the 1913 Scottish Qualifying Cup, beating Dundee Hibs ( now United ) 3 - 0 in the final replay after two draws. Hope this is of interest
This is the article that was printed in the match day programme, 08/02/2020, v Brechin City. (I appreciate that there will be sentimental value to the Rovers artifacts but I would love to get them, if you are willing to pass them on me, can we discuss this on the PMs? Hope you enjoy the article below.)
A history of World Football from a Rovers point of view
Season 1913-14, the winning of the Scottish Qualifying Cup
Saturday December 13, 1913, was to be the Qualifying Cup final where Rovers were to meet Dundee Hibs at Tynecastle Park. ‘No fewer than four special trains are being run to the Capital – two by the North British and two by the Caledonian’. ‘Motor charabancs [an early form of motor coach, sometimes open topped] and private motor cars will also be running freely; for seats in the latter application should be made at Mr Adam Smith’s garage in Bank Street’.
To reach the final, Rovers had played 6 matches, scoring 18 goals, losing 2; Dundee Hibs had played 7 matches, scoring 12 goals, losing 3.
A crowd of 10,000, an estimated 3,000 from Coatbridge, awaited the two teams. They were entertained by ‘The Rosehall Pipe Band, in full Highland costume, accompanied the Rovers to the capital, and enlivened proceedings…..at the interval’.
Rovers team –Harrigan; Trainor and D. Ewing; Ralston, R. Ewing, and Weir; Galbraith, Archibald, Martin, Watson, and Prentice.
Dundee Hibs - McPhillip; Hannah and Forbes; White, Henderson, and Boland; Brown, McDonald, Martin, Linn, and Stoessol.
Left winger Stoessol went on an early solo run but Ralston got the ball away. Brown broke clear only for his shot to rebound off the Rovers bar. ‘Both teams fought gamely, the Rovers excelling in defence and the Hibs in attack.’ Against the run of play in twelve minutes, Prentice crossed, the ball deflected off a defender to Martin who drove the ball into the net. Rovers were one up.
‘There was a big Hibernian revival after this, and the Irishmen were distinctly the superior lot’ but the Rovers defence kept them out. Rovers came back into the match due to the good play of Prentice and Archibald gradually taking over the match. Left half Weir was outstanding at this stage and ‘proved himself a dangerous man at shooting’ along with clever tackling and passing.
Hibs came back into the match with Harrigan making a brilliant save from a raking shot from Hibs’ Martin. Again against the run of play, a Galbraith header from a Prentice cross unluckily hit the Hibs post when a goal looked on with DavieEwing becoming a big influence on the match. Half time Rovers were one up.
Second half, McPhillip dealt with a Galbraith shot before eight minutes into the second half Hibs equalised when Linn and Stoessol combined on the left, the cross landed for ‘Brown, who looked in an off-side position, shot through far out of Harrison’s reach, and the sides stood on level terms’.
’The run of the play favoured the Rovers for a time’ with Martin heading over the Hibs bar. Harrigan came to Rovers rescue when he turned Stoessol’s shot round the post. Galbraith forced a save out of McPhillip with ‘one of the finest shots of the day’ and then Henderson blocked another Galbraith shot.
Harrigan came to Rovers rescue when Martin was through. Two minutes from time, Davie Ewing went on a run and ‘almost created a sensation’ running ‘three-quarter length of the field with the ball at his toe, beating opponent after opponent, and finished with a great drive for goal.’ Had he scored he would ‘have repeated his performance of the previous week when he scored one of the finest goals seen on the Meadow for many a day’. Full time and the game finished 1-1.
The Coatbridge Express blamed the wind for a dour, determined, hard fought game. Rovers ‘defence was the best part of their team’. Harrigan was praised, Davie Ewing ‘was the best back on view’, Ralston and Robbie Ewing were described as brilliant but Weir was better again. Galbraith and Prentice gained some praise but the other forwards ‘did little that calls for commendation’. Dundee’s McPhillip, Henderson and Stoessol were praised.
The Coatbridge Leader, 20 December, said ‘The sides were equally matched…..The Hibs were the bigger lot and played a robust game all through, while the tactics of the Rovers were prettier and more scientific’ and looked forward to Rovers lifting the cup in the replay.
News came through that the SFA decided that the replay would be at Easter Road, that the Rovers had a bye in the first round of the Scottish Cup, and would be away to Aberdeen in the second round and that Rovers league hopes were boosted when Abercorn held league leaders Cowdenbeath to a 0-0 draw in Paisley.
For the 20 December replay at Easter Road, the two teams were as before with the exception of Hibs Boland and White swapping shirt numbers, 4 and 6. The crowd was estimated at 3,000, with one special train from Coatbridge taking about 1,000 Coatbridge supporters to the match. The Coatbridge Express suggested that perhaps 7-800 travelled from Coatbridge and that ‘Three men and a boy joined the special at Airdrie, and were cheered to the echo’.
Rovers started well ‘for fifteen minutes the Rovers simply bombarded the Hibs goal’. Galbraith was to the fore, then Martin’s run led to a Prentice shot being held by McPhillip before McPhillip was beaten by Galbraith but Forbes cleared the shot. Prentice ‘received a nasty knock on the side early in the game, seldom touched the leather’.
Against the run of play a White shot rebounded off the Rovers post. Galbraith and Martin collided in the centre while shooting at goal but McPhillip touched the shot away. ‘Half-time was piped with no scoring, although on the run of the game the Rovers should have been a goal or two up, which would have been no more than deserved by the ‘Brig Club.’ Rovers resumed on top ‘but they were up against a defence that never scrupled to ignore the rules of the game, and fouls were even more frequent than during the first portion’.
Henderson set up a Rovers free kick when he sent Martin ‘to mother earth’. Weir lined up for the free kick but rather than shooting ‘he slipped the ball to Prentice, who cut in and shot a beautiful goal for the Meadow Park Club’ despite his injury. Almost immediately Archibald ‘rattled the crossbar with a beauty’.
Three minutes after falling behind Hibs equalised with Linn’s grounder. The game turned on its head as ‘Hibs played to more advantage after this, and it looked odds on their securing the winning goal at any moment’. Both defences got on top and the game fizzled out to a one apiece finish.
Rovers defence was again praised but the forwards came in for criticism when after so much of the game, especially in the first half, the paper felt that they should ‘have established an unassailable lead’.
Dundee Hibs were to play Airdrieonians in the Scottish Cup, and offered £300 as a guarantee to play the tie in Dundee. Rather cheekily Dundee suggested that the posters for the match would read Dundee Hibs ‘Qualifying Cup Holders’. Comment at the Meadow was not recorded.
Tynecastle for the second replay on 27 December had an early kick off, 1.45pm, to allow for extra time if required. A blizzard kept the crowd down, and the match kicked off with the Rovers special train not yet arrived. ‘Prentice who was injured the previous week…..the plucky little left winger was wearing a plaster on his side he agreed to strip and do his best for his side’. So, Rovers were unchanged as were Hibs except that once again White and Boland swapped numbers.
‘It was early seen that the Rovers meant business’. For fifteen minutes Rovers dominated, Prentice had several shots before McPhillip made a great save from the best shot yet from Archibald. Rovers got away with a strong penalty claim when a Hibs breakaway saw Davie Ewing handling the ball inside the penalty area. ‘The incident passed off unnoticed, however, and the Rovers supporters breathed freely’.
Rovers took advantage when they went ahead in 26 minutes when a Galbraith pass was shot home from close range by Martin. ‘The Rovers continued to monoplise the play’ and ‘a second goal came…..five minutes from the interval…..was long overdue’. Robbie Ewing sent over a cross, McPhillip pushed Martin’s shot away only for Watson to shoot Rovers further ahead. ‘This completely took the wind out of theHibernian sails’. Rovers were two up at half time.
‘The Dundee players ”lost their heads” and numerous free kicks were granted against them. Archibald came in for much attention, and on two occasions had to leave the field suffering’. The Rovers kept up their good form but Hibs showed no improvement. Ten minutes into the second half Martin played the ball to Watson ‘who shot a magnificent third goal for his side’. ‘It was a beautiful bit of work which led up to this goal…..and the victory was complete even although there was half-an-hour to run’. The sting was gone from the match although a Stoessol shot skimmed the Rovers post, Galbraith really should have added a fourth but missed a sitter, Harrigan saved from Linn, a Stoessol rocket shot hit Rovers post, and with the last kick of the game Galbraith shot into the arms of McPhillip.
Albion Rovers were the Scottish Qualifying Cup winners.
The Coatbridge Express reporter was ecstatic. The forwards, who were criticised in the two previous matches, ‘played delightful football and toyed with the Hibernian defence’ and were ‘nippy and clever’. Dundee got short shrift, they ‘were at sixes and sevens compared with their previous displays, and were scarcely ever in the picture’. The Cup ‘was won by real merit in the end’.
LOSS ON CUP RUN
There were similarities to Rovers previous Qualifying Cup final appearance ten years before when they went to Dens Park to play Arbroath, both matches were played, at least in part, in a blizzard. However, there were more differences. Rovers lost 4-2 to Arbroath but beat Dundee Hibs. The club made money in 1903-04 on the cup run, but not this time. The gate at the first final came to £220, but the crowds dropped at the next two matches, so the gates crashed to £87 and then a very precise, and very low, £20.7s/1d (£20.36). The Coatbridge Express said about the third final that ‘expenses for the day would not be much under £100’, presumably similar for the first two. The gates would be split between the two teams after SFA and ground expenses were deducted.
So, the win was a footballing triumph but also a major drain on finances. Actually, it was probably worse than just the finals that hurt financially. The first two matches in the cup run were at home against Paisley Academicals and Dumbarton Harp. Then there was a run of away games against Dumbarton Harp in a replay, Dykehead, Stevenson United and Nithsdale Wanderers, followed by Arthurlie at home, then the three finals. Football triumph and a financial loss, only the Rovers! To put the tin lid on Rovers finances, Rovers also had to travel to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup proper.
Reading both the presentation reports in the Coatbridge Express and the Coatbridge Leader, there are no clues as to what involvement there was from the players in the presentation, if any. Medals would be presented to the Rovers players later at a time of the Club’s choosing. But there were speeches, the comments that follow are from the Coatbridge Express.
Among the presentation party were the Secretary of the SFA, Mr J. McDowall, Vice-President of the SFA Mr Duncan Campbell, Mr T White of Celtic and the officials of Albion Rovers and Dundee Hibs.
Mr Campbell, one of the linesman on the day, spoke for the SFA, gave a history of the Qualifying Cup, congratulated both teams and complimented the Rovers on their victory and ‘asked Mr Hugh Thom…..to accept custody of the cup’.
Hugh said the cup ‘would be well honoured and treasured in Coatbridge’. He also spoke about Rovers two finals with snow on both occasions. He also spoke about the amount of travel and expense involved in the cup run and finished by wishing Dundee Hibs well in the future.
The Secretary of Dundee Hibs, Mr Reilly ‘admitted that on the day’s play the Coatbridge Club was represented by far away the best team’ while his club ‘had given it [the cup] away to good opponents’.
‘The little ceremony terminated with three cheers for both clubs’.
‘A special train returned with the Rovers team, officials, some two hundred enthusiasts [supporters] who had journeyed to Edinburgh’ were met ‘at the Sunnyside N.B. Station’ by ‘a crowd numbering several thousands – men, women, and children’.
‘The Airdrie and Coatbridge Tramway Company gratuitously sent along one of their motor char-a-bancs for the purpose of conveying the players round the town, and the Coatbridge Instrumental Band struck up “The Conquering Heroes” as soon as the team steamed into the station’.
‘The players were unmercifully “hugged,” and Watson was carried shoulder high right along the Main Street’, this was in part because early reports of the match suggested that Watson had scored a hat trick.
The officials and players got on the bus and then ‘the Coatbridge Instrumental Band led a torch-light procession numbering many thousands by way of Sunnyside Road, Bank Street, Dundyvan Road, round by Whifflet, up Coatbank Street, and along Main Street where the team, officials, and members assembled in the Royal Hotel Hall and drank from the Cup in honour of the great victory’.
‘For a couple of hours jubilation reigned supreme.’
(I expect the image is the same one in Robin’s book, page 75 team photo, two cups on show, one on left is the Coatbridge Express Cup, won at end of previous season, then the Scottish Qualifying Cup. I saw a reference on internet to the Coatbridge Express Cup being held in Cliftonhill board room, if it is the cup I am thinking of then the figurine is missing, not sure about base, worth a check, next time anyone is in board room)
Coatbridge Leader, 13 December 1913 Coatbridge Express, 17 December 1913 Coatbridge Leader, 20 December 1913 Coatbridge Express, 24 December 1913 Coatbridge Express, 31 December 1913