Q From Murray Duncan. Could
you describe the background to and the reasons behind the league reconstruction
in 1975 which led to teams in top flight playing each other four times?
I feel this is one of the biggest faults in Scottish football today.
A I can give a brief synopsis here
and take this opportunity for a shameless plug for 'The
ROAR of the Crowd' which looks at this in greater detail.
Briefly, in the 18-club First Division of the early 1970s Celtic were
winning the title every year, crowds were falling, there were some embarrassing
scorelines and promoted teams usually struggled badly, often going down
with an appallingly low points total. Moves to a three-division set-up
had been mooted for many years but were finally agreed in 1973-74 with
the top ten in Division One in 1974-75 comprising the Premier Division,
the bottom eight from Division One and the top six in Division Two forming
the new First Division and the remainder including new club Meadowbank
Thistle (who joined the League in 74-75) made up the new Second Division.
The idea was that smaller leagues removed the imbalance between top and
bottom and promoted greater competition. The number of clubs changing
division each season through promotion/relegation doubled from four to
Smaller leagues meant a move to playing each other four times in the Premier
to keep the total number of games played close (36) to what it was in
the old set-up (34). After one season the 1st and 2nd divisions moved
from playing each other twice to an unwieldy three times as the Spring
Cup which was introduced to compensate for lost fixtures was a financial
After a few seasons the Premier appeared to be a highly competitive league.
For three seasons running (1982-85) neither of the Old Firm won the title
- the only time they have gone as long without a success. And if Hearts
had held their nerve for seven more minutes on the last day of the 1985-86
season it would have been four in a row.
To that extent it was a success but I agree that clubs meeting four times
a season is too much and breeds over-familiarity. A division of ten or
twelve teams will always be biased towards the big city sides. As a supporter
of a 'provincial' club, this writer was opposed to it in 1975 and doesn't
like it any better thirty years on.
Q Jenny Smith asks: How many
Scottish towns can boast more than one professional football team and
what are they?
A Glasgow - Celtic, Rangers, Partick
Thistle (Queen's Park are a League side but amateur)
Edinburgh - Hearts, Hibs
Dundee - Dundee, Dundee United
Falkirk - Falkirk, East Stirlingshire
That's restricting it to League clubs. It all depends on the definition
of 'professional.' If you mean full-time then East Stirling wouldn't count
and Falkirk as a town would drop off the list. If senior non-league is
included then there are a few more in Edinburgh and Highland League Cove
Rangers from Aberdeen would give that city two clubs as would Clachnacuddin
Q Robert Guy met an ex-player on
holiday and asks: I wonder if you or any of your readers could
help me in my quest to find out some information about a Scottish player
by the name of Andrew (Andy) Bowman?
All I know is, in 1949 at the age fifteen he went by train from Fife,
to London, to sign for Chelsea F C, whose Manager at the time was Billy
Birrell. After six years he returned to play for Hearts, alongside Alec
Young, who later went on to play for Everton. I am interested in any information
available about him and his team, your help would be appreciated.
A Andy Bowman was a wing-half who
was a Scottish schoolboy international. He made just one first team appearance
for Chelsea (in 1953-54) before joining Hearts. He enjoyed
greater success at Tynecastle, winning championship medals in 1957-58
and 1959-60 and also played in the side which won the League Cup that
For much of his time at Tynecastle he was in competition for a first team
place with Dave Mackay which explains why he made just 70 league appearances
in six seasons. He left Hearts in 1961 for Newport County where
he made a further 69 league outings. Later he returned to Scotland to
play for Hamilton and he finished his career in 1967-68 at Stenhousemuir.
Q John Blair has an illustrious grandfather.
I am trying to find out some info about my granddad who played
for Scotland and Motherwell around the 1950s named John Blair.
A Your grandfather's playing days
were in the 1930s not the 1950s. He was born around 1910 in Pollokshields
and was a centre-half with Yoker Athletic when he signed for Motherwell
in 1931. He played four times in the 1931-32 side which won the League
- not enough for a medal.
He was understudy to Alan Craig but became a regular when Craig was transferred
to Chelsea in January 1933 and played in the losing Scottish Cup Final
team the same year. A year later he played for Scotland but the
team was beaten by Wales in Cardiff. He didn't make any further international
appearances but turned out twice for the Scottish League.
He became club captain in 1935-36 and made another losing Scottish Cup
Final appearance in 1939 by which time he had made 208 league appearances.
He features in the book
'Motherwell, Champions of Scotland 1931-32' by Alex Smith.
According to the book, he served in the auxiliary police force during
the Second World War, playing on with Motherwell until 1944. A nephew
- Charlie Cox - played for Hearts. John Blair died around 1975. Blair
Path, next to Fir Park, was named in his honour in 1990.
Q Lusck De Zoot has two queries. A
booklet I recall reading about Edinburgh City suggested that Hibs' directors
approached their 'Queens Park of the East' counterparts about potentially
taking over City's name upon their reversion to Junior status in the early
fifties, the implication being that Hibs were embarrassed by the connotations
of their own name. Is there any substance to this or have I remembered
incorrectly? Would it perhaps be related to their imminent involvement
in European competition and the desire to use a name recognisable with
their city, in the way the Fairs Cities Cup had London and Copenhagen
combined X1s, and therefore only for continental competition?"
A I haven't heard the story about
Hibs trying to take over Edinburgh City's name and I doubt very much if
there is any accuracy to it.
Firstly, Hearts would no doubt have objected to the identification of
the city with one club. Also, as you say, the combinations in the Fairs
Cup were precisely that - selects from several clubs in one city. There
was absolutely no need to change names as they weren't clubs in the normal
sense of the word. Thirdly - and most importantly - can you imagine the
uproar among the Hibs support at the suggestion of a name change?
I'd say it's apocryphal. It's possible that the story might relate to
what happened in Dundee in the 1920s. DUNDEE Hibernians wanted
to change their name to Dundee City and Dundee FC objected to the SFA
in the strongest possible terms. A compromise was agreed on and Dundee
Hibs became Dundee United.
That's not to say that there wasn't somebody somewhere who toyed with
the same idea in Edinburgh but I'd be very surprised if it was anything
more than a momentary flight of fancy.
Q Lusck is also trying to find out
about the Tennent's Sixes tournament. "Nowhere have I been
able to find out even the results of the Final, never mind details about
the rest of the tournaments. Was the event well-attended in Falkirk, Ingliston
and Glasgow? Who replaced Rangers when they declined entry? Were there
any derbies involved in the group stages?
A Riding to the rescue here is my
colleague Forrest Robertson who provided statistics for the BBC
when it was staged in Glasgow and who has kindly passed on details about
The tournament was played on four occasions - the first being at the Coasters
Arena, Falkirk on January 17th/18th 1984 when Rangers
beat Dundee 6-4 in the Final. The next was at Ingliston
on January 20th/21st 1985 with Hearts beating Morton
4-1 in the Final. This was the only occasion when there was a derby
match in the group stages when Morton beat St Mirren 2-1.
The SECC in Glasgow staged the 1986 competition on
January 19th/20th. Manchester City replaced Rangers but finished
last in their group. Aberdeen beat St Mirren 3-0 in the
The SECC was also the venue for the last tournament on January 18th/19th
1987 and Aberdeen retained the trophy beating Hearts 4-3
in the Final.
I'm sorry but there doesn't appear to be any record of attendance figures.
Q Derek McKenzie wants to know
Which goalkeepers have captained Scotland since 1945?
A Tommy Younger captained Scotland
four times in 1958 including twice at the World Cup Finals. Jim Leighton
was awarded the captaincy for his 50th international - v Chile in 1989.
He also skippered the side a further three times in 1995. These are the
only two post-war goalkeeper-captains I can find.