ABERCORN'S INTERNATIONALISTS
by Jim Stewart
 
Within living memory Glasgow had six league clubs (Celtic, Clyde, Partick Thistle, Queen's Park, Rangers and Third Lanark), prior to the Second World War Edinburgh had five (Edinburgh City, Hearts, Hibs, Leith Athletic and St Bernards).   Dundee has two and until recently Falkirk was also home to two.   It is not surprising that Paisley also used to boast two league clubs, Abercorn and St Mirren.

Founded in 1877, Abercorn played at EastPark from 1877 to 1879 and Blackstoun Park from 1879 to 1889.   They then moved to Underwood Park which they transformed into one of the best arenas in Scotland at that time.   Such was the excellent state of its facilities, the ground hosted the international between Scotland and Wales in March 1890, the Scots winning 5-0.
 
Later in 1890 the Scottish League came into existence.  Both Abercorn and St Mirren were founder members, the former finishing seventh in the league's first season.  They were ninth the following campaign.  Worse was to follow in 1892-93 when they again finished ninth and were relegated to the newly founded Second Division.
 
They annexed the Second Division championship in 1895-96 and were promoted to the First Division only to finish at the foot of the table at the end of their first season back.  Relegated again, they did win the Second Division title again in 1908-09 but promotion was still not automatic then.
 
In 1899 the local council requisitioned Underwood Park on which they wanted to construct stables and premises on which to destruct refuse.   Abercorn remained in Paisley where they built new facuilities on land they had acquired.  It became known as Old Ralston Park.   They remained there for some ten years despite the ground suffering from drainage problems.
 
As previously mentioned Abercorn won the Second Division championship in 1908-09 but failed in their bid to be re-elected to the First Division.  More disturbing was that they again had to move headquarters albeit only to adjoining premises which they called New Ralston Park.  They obtained a ten years' lease for it.    League form was unpredictable, Abercorn finishing runners-up in 1911-12 having finished eleventh in 1910-11.  
 
There was no place for Abercorn in the single division which functioned from 1915-16 during the First World War.  Abercorn joined the Western League.   Not long after peace returned, the club's lease on New Ralston Park ran out.   They did not play in any league in 1920-21 but they did play in the first round of the Qualifying Cup, losing 8-2 to Vale of Leven in September 1920.  
 
That was the last match which they ever played.   Ironically Abercorn had won the Qualifying Cup for the only time in 1912-13 defeating Arbroath 4-1 in the second replay at Cathkin having previously drawn 1-1 at the Royal Gymnasium and 2-2 at Cowdenbeath.
 
A total of six Abercorn players were selected to represent Scotland, five of them before the formation of the Scottish League and the sixth in the first year of the League's existence.   The starting point in which Abercorn players are found in a Scotland jersey was in the match against Ireland at Ballynafeigh Park in Belfast on 26th January 1884.  Both William Fulton and John Goudie participated in the 5-0 victory.
 
Fulton was best known as a left half for Abercorn but he was at centre half for Scotland.   He had the distinction of being a founder member of Abercorn.  That he played left half for his club was probably due to the fact that their regular centre half was James Johnstone who was also to play for Scotland four years later, ironically at right half (see below).   Fulton was reputed to be 'a model of consistency' and 'a first-rate team man.'   His career ended in the mid 1890s when he suffered a serious leg injury.   Outside football he was the proprietor of a newsagent's and tobacconist's shop in Paisley for some 45 years.   He died in 1941.
 
Goudie was also a founder member of Abercorn.   Against Ireland in the 1884 match he was centre forward for Scotland.   That was his club position.   He scored Scotland's third goal.   Speed was his principal asset but he was often criticised for a tendency to hold on to the ball for too long on occasion.    Goudie also played for Rangers and Kilmarnock Athletic.   Away from football he was employed by a firm involved in plumbing and electrical engineering.   Additionally he played both bowls and golf.  He died suddenly in April 1921 having just returned home from a game of golf.
 
Abercorn's third internationalist was Robert McCormick who was at outside right against Wales at the first Hampden Park on 10th April 1886.    He opened the scoring in Scotland's 4-1 win.   A regular member of the Abercorn team during the 1880s, he was described as 'a clever winger'.    He left to join Stoke City before the start of 1889-90.   After having played in their first twelve league matches he was never heard of again.
 
James Johnstone's Scotland appearance was at right half against Wales at Easter Road in the 5-1 victory on 10th March 1888.  As observed above he was principally a centre half.   The press regularly referred to his football skills and credited him with having 'a major influence' in Abercorn's development.  English clubs were believed to have been keen to recruit his services but he could not be persuaded to journey south of the border.   His career continued into the mid-1890s after which he emigrated to the USA.
 
Also in that Scotland team against Wales at Easter Road was Neil Munro at outside left.   He netted Scotland's second goal on the half-hour park in the 5-1 win.   Amongst the Abercorn players to be capped he was the only one to play a second time for Scotland.   His second match was against England at The Oval on 13th April 1889.   The home team were 2-0 up at the interval but left winger Munro opened Scotland's account in the 55th minute, the visitors going on to win 3-2.   Munro was the only Abercorn player to be capped against England.
 
Nicknamed 'Kitey' he began his Abercorn career as a youngster in their reserve team.   He was promoted to the first eleven in the 1880s and departed for the USA in May 1890.   Prior to his exit from the club he was presented with a purseful of sovereigns as a gesture of thanks for his services.
 
Munro was acclaimed for his dribbling powers and his scoring prowess.   Like team-mate Johnstone he was a regular magnet for English scouts but he too resisted all temptations to move south.   On his return to Paisley from the USA he obtained employment with a firm which manufactured starch and later worked for the local authority.   He died in September 1948.
 
Abercorn made their Scottish League debut in its inaugural season 1890-91.   On 21st March 1891 Robert Buchanan became the last of the Paisley club's players to represented Scotland.   He was at inside right against Wales in Wrexham.   Scotland were 2-1 down at the interval but Buchanan netted the equaliser as the visitors went on to win 4-3.
 
Buchanan was signed by Abercorn from Johnstone in 1887 but only came to prominence in 1888-89.   He retired midway through the next decade.   Like some of the others mentioned above he too was reputed to have been an influential player in the club's early league days.   His attacking bent and scoring abilities were widely admired.
 
Jim Stewart, 3 Comely Bank Terrace, Edinburgh, EH4 1AT
 
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THE LEGAL BIT.   This site and its contents are the Copyright of John Litster 2015.   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John Litster is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that the following attribution is displayed: Taken from Scottish Football Historian magazine Issue No. [as appropriate, plus date of issue]
 
 
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and how to buy.
You can also click on the Book Cover illustrations below

HISTORY BOOKS

 

50 YEARS OF SCOTTISH FOOTBALL

 

THIRD LANARK HISTORY

 

VALE OF LEVEN HISTORY

 

FOOTBALL' S WHITE FEATHERS (World War 1 & Scottish Football)

 

SCOTTISH CUP FINALS

 

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A RECORD OF PRE-WAR
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SCOTTISH LEAGUE TABLES 

 

PRE-WAR SCOTTISH LEAGUE RESULTS, SCORERS, ATTENDANCES

 

We are also publishers of
Football History Books
If you "have a book in you" and wish to have it published,
contact John Litster by
 Telephone : 01603-449237
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SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HISTORIAN
e-zine Winter 2015/16   Issue 136
 
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