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 Brechin City: 1906-1920, the Early Years


 CHAPTER 3             1908-09: the First Two Finals
As that glorious second season came to an end W Graham was the first of the Brechin squad to re-sign for the new season but the scouts from the south had spotted potential, and, in addition to Harry Brown and Steve McDonald who had already moved to Raith Rovers and Aston Villa respectively, R Clark was signed by Arsenal and David Smart, Brechin’s honorary treasurer moved to be assistant manager at Heart of Midlothian.[1]  As City prepared for the new season, Alan Nimmo, formerly of Dundee and Cowdenbeath was signed.[2]
In the middle of that season Brechin’s captain, the amateur, James Lyon, accepted an invitation to play for Queen’s Park against Third Lanark.[3]  By the following Saturday however, he was back in the Brechin squad.
Brechin unfurled the Northern League championship flag prior to the game against Forfar on 12 September 1908.[4]  Once again, one club, on this occasion Lochee United, had left the Northern League, reducing its numbers to twelve.   Despite the fact that the flag flew over Nursery Park, the new league season did not start well.  Not until the 24th of October, its seventh league game, did City achieve its first league victory of the season.  A 3-1 defeat at the hands of Lochgelly United was City’s worst result of the league season and the 4-1 victory over Montrose at Nursery Park the strongest victory.
The consistency of City’s home record however was illustrated by the fact that when Forfar defeated Brechin in a friendly in April 1909, it marked Brechin’s first defeat at Nursery Park since Aberdeen A’s two-one victory in November 1907.
Perhaps because of the pressures of cup football, Brechin’s 1908-09 Northern League programme started poorly.  By the middle of January, Cityhad played twelve league games, won two, drawn six and sat second bottom of the league with only ten points.  As the season progressed however Brechin improved and added the points to finish the season in a creditable fourth place out of twelve.[5]

  P W L D G f G a Pts
Dundee A 21 13 3 5 51 21 31
St Johnstone 21 12 5 4 37 24 28
Dunfermline Athletic 21 13 7 1 31 26 27
Brechin City 19 7 4 8 26 19 22
Kirkcaldy Utd 20 8 7 5 41 54 21
Lochgelly Utd 17 8 6 3 30 27 19
Aberdeen A 20 7 8 5 26 35 19
Arbroath 20 7 10 3 38 43 17
Wanderers 21 3 8 10 31 39 16
Forfar Athletic 21 5 11 5 25 42 15
East Fife 16 3 8 5 19 25 11
Montrose 20 5 14 1 19 40 11

As the season drew to a close however, rumblings of a crisis in the Northern League became audible.  A new Reserve League had been formed and the Fife clubs were threatening to leave the Northern League and form a Central League. Arbroath and St Johnstone refused to pledge their continuing adherence to the Northern League.[6]  These issues would have a significant impact on the organisational format for football in the following season.
This however, was to be the season where Brechin’s great successes were achieved in the knock-out competitions rather than in the league.
City reached the final of the Scottish Qualifying Cup after a stupendous run in which the third season club defeated Lochee United (2-0 away), Dundee Wanderers (1-0 home), Aberdeen University (4-0 home), Alloa Athletic (2-0 home), West Calder Swifts (2-0, after a 0-0 draw) and Ayr Parkhouse (2-1, after a 1-1) draw.  Both the draws were at NurseryParkand the replay victories were both won away from home.
What was described as “an unfortunate scene” occurred at the end of the first drawn semi-final against Parkhouse when hundreds of Brechin supporters mobbed the referee whom the home fans adjudged to have ended the game five minutes short of the regulation ninety minutes.  Brechin lodged a protest, based on the referee’s timekeeping, with the SFA against the result.  It was rejected on the technical grounds that Brechin had failed to deliver the protest to the captain of the opposing team as well as to the referee.  Brechin was then summoned to the SFA’s Rough Play Committee, charged with having permitted the “abuse” of the referee and the Parkhouse Secretary.  As a result NurseryParkwas closed for a month and Brechin was debarred for that period from playing within a radius of seven miles of the city.[7]
The final was scheduled for CathkinPark, Glasgow, home of Third Lanark. Brechin’s opponents were Vale of Leven, one of the SFA’s eight founding clubs of 1873, Scottish Cup Winners in consecutive years from 1877 to 1879 and one of the Scottish League’s eleven founding clubs of 1890.[8]  Vale had more recently won the Dunbartonshire Cup on every season from 1899-1900 to 1906-07.[9]
The final was played before a crowd of 6,000.  The Brechin team was Hampton, Shand, Lyon, Melvin, Ramsay, Skea, Easson, Henderson, Glen, Matthew and Petrie.  Vale won by two goals to nil, a result which however, was to be annulled by a Brechin protest.  “The Brechin captain lodged a protest at the finish on the ground of an alleged professional irregularity on the part of Findlay, the Vale right half, and the cup cannot be presented until this is considered.”[10]  (It is assumed that on this occasion Brechin lodged its protest by the rule-book, with both the referee and the opposing captain!)
The replayed final occurred on the next Saturday at Easter Road, Edinburgh.  The Brechin line-up was exactly as it had been for on the previous week.  On this occasion Vale of Leven won by five goals to two.  A gate of £96 suggests a crowd just short of 4,000.  This game also however was marked by legalistic drama.  “Shortly before half-time an expressed message reached Mr Clift, the City secretary, stating that Kidd, who had played as substitute for Findlay, had committed a professional irregularity by appearing in the same game as that in which Findlay took part and for which he in now under suspension.  During the interval the committee met and discussed the message, and resolved that another protest be lodged…. At the close of the game however, the Brechin players expressed a keen desire to have it withdrawn, and this the committee ultimately agreed to.  The cup was thereupon presented to Vale of Leven by President Liddell, of the Scottish Football Association.”[11]
As a result however of reaching the semi-finals of the Qualifying Cup, City appeared, for the first time since the re-establishment of the club, in the draw for the Scottish Cup proper.  The first round sent them back to CathkinParkon 23rd January 1909 to play Third Lanark.  Cathkin again transpired to be a less than happy venue, City losing by five goals to one to the Hi-Hi.[12]
One more knock-out competition remained for Brechin in 1908-09, the Forfarshire Cup.  In the first round Brechin received a bye and in the second defeated Montrose by the solitary goal of the game.  Brechin’s opponents in the third round, the semi-final, were Dundee Wanderers; Brechin triumphed by three goals to one.  The final was against Dundee but also happened to be scheduled forDensPark, giving the first division side the home advantage over the Northern League under-dogs.  A crowd of 5,000 watched Dundee win by two goals to nil, a victory partly explained by the local press as arising from the injury, and subsequent withdrawal from the pitch, of Melvin, Brechin’s right half.
The Brechin City AGM was held in the Temperance Hall on the 15th April 1909.  It was reported that at that stage in the season thirty four matches had been played – fifteen won, nine lost and ten drawn.  Forty seven goals had been scored and thirty eight lost.  (It should be stated that Brechin Advertiser match reports for the season show thirty five matches played – fifteen won, nine lost and eleven drawn with forty eight goals scored and thirty eight lost.)  Colin Hampton was the only player who had taken part in all the matches.  As well as declaring a surplus of £18 income over expenditure it was indicated that the sum of £55 18s and 4d had been paid on the grandstand which was now clear of debt.  The officials, George Cumming, the President, James Law, Vice-President, R N Clift, Secretary, and A Rankine, Treasurer, were all re-elected.  On the following evening occurred the annual supper of the club at which perhaps the highlight was the presentation of the Qualifying Cup and Forfarshire Cup badges to the players by Mr Jolly and the reply on the players’ behalf by James S Lyon.
BrechinCitywas again represented in the Forfarshire countyXI, selected to play against Perthshire.  Shand, Melvin and Petrie were all selected for the team and Matthew and Lyon as reserves.[13]  One Brechin player, Lyon, was also selected to play for the Northern League’s North Section in a game against its south section; Hampton and Melvin were also selected as reserves.[14]
Team sheets have been traced for thirty two of the thirty seven games played during the season.  Keeper, Colin Hampton, was the most regular Brechin player, appearing in all thirty two games.  Shand appeared thirty one times, Glen thirty times, Melvin twenty nine times, Lyon, the captain, twenty six times, Easson twenty two times, Chapman  twenty one times, Skea and Matthew twenty times, Henderson and Petrie eighteen times each, Graham seventeen times and Ramsay and Nimmo fifteen times.
Although the scorers have not been traced in all games, Matthew scored at least nine times, Glen eight, Petrie six and Easson and Matthew four times each.  In the second last game of the season, a friendly against Montrose, for which a team list has not been traced, the scorer was Forbes.
While there was a hard core of players who made up the back-bone of the team in 1908-09, there was some considerable competition for various of the positions.

Colin Hampton

Hampton played in goal in every game for which a team sheet has been traced.
Shand and Chapman shared the right back berth with twenty four and eight appearances respectively.  The left back position was normally occupied (twenty six times, in fact) by the team captain, James Lyon but Shand turned out five times and Chapman once at left back.
Melvin was the regular right half with twenty seven appearances. Richardsonturned out twice at right half and Campbell, Jones and a Junior trialist  each appeared once.  Ramsay had fifteen games at centre half, Campbell, the Edzell golf course green keeper, had ten, Skea four, Shand two and Wattie one.  Skea and Henderson hotly contested the left half berth, with sixteen and fourteen appearances respectively, Melvin appearing in the other two games with traced lists.
The competition for places was even more intense among the forwards.  Easson played outside right nineteen times, Chapman nine times and Clinton, Hamilton, Matthew and a Junior once each.  Nimmo wore the number eight jersey fifteen times, Burnett and Graham six times each, Henderson thrice and Glen and Harry Hampton once each.  The centre forward berth was Davie Glen’s, with Easson playing there on the three occasions that Glen did not.  Matthew played inside left on nineteen occasions and Graham on eleven: Henderson and Harry Hampton had one game each.  On the left wing the most regular player was Petrie with eighteen appearances while Douglas had five, Clinton four and Chapman three, and Laing and a Junior each had a solitary appearance.
One new name in the lists is that of Harry Hampton.  Harry Hampton, a second cousin of Colin Hampton, had played for Brechin Hibs as a juvenile and Brechin Rovers as a Junior.  He would play intermittently for City over the years up to the war.
As the season drew to a close Brechin’s secretary, R N Clift, was elected secretary of the Forfarshire Football Association.[15]
1909: Colin Hampton’s Transfer
 Success however had a price.  Colin Hampton had “proved so successful a custodian (that he had) been transferred to Motherwell”.  (In January of the new season Brechin played a holiday friendly at Motherwell, perhaps part of the transfer understanding.)
As the first Brechin footballer to achieve an international cap, Colin Hampton’s story requires telling.  Colin McKenzie Hampton, son of William Hampton, slater, and Jane Hampton (nee Donaldson) was born at 135 River Street, Brechin, on 1st September 1888.  The family was still at 135 River Street in 1901.  He was residing, aged 13, with his parents, sisters and brother in River Street, Brechin, in 1901 and was then noted as a ‘halftimer, flax’.  He was, in other words, attending school half-time and working half-time in the textile industry, a common introduction at that time to the world of work.  His father, William Hampton, had, in his youth, played football for Brechin Trades and been a keen local athlete.[16]  (And indeed, at the end of the season when Colin Hampton left BrechinCity, William Hampton was elected to the committee of the club as its vice-president.)
Colin Hampton is pictured in with the Brechin Arnot team of 1903-04[17] in which year Arnot is illustrated as the (Brechin?) Juvenile Cup holders.  He would then have been 15 years of age.  In January 1905 he was selected as goal keeper for the Brechin Juvenile League select to play the Montrose Juveniles.[18]  He played for Arnot in the deciding game of its 1904-05 Juvenile League campaign in March 1905.[19]  His obituary notes his first team as having been Brechin Rovers.[20]  It is unlikely that he played for Brechin Rovers before he played for Arnot.  He may have been the Hampton playing in goal for Montrose Waverley, a Junior team, in its game against Brechin Harp in September 1905[21]  but likely as a trialist, for he is noted as playing for Arnot against Brechin Hibs in a Second Class Junior game in March 1906.[22]
He played for Brechin Hearts in a friendly against Brechin Rovers on 31 March 1906and again against Montrose Rosevale a fortnight later.[23]  By the next season however, 1906-07, Colin Hampton was turning out regularly for Brechin Rovers.[24]  Towards the end of that season he played a trial game for Brechin City in a benefit match against a Forfarshire Junior XI.[25]  Colin was still with Rovers at the beginning of the next season, 1907-8, when he is noted in Rovers team against Forfar East End in late September and in various other games over the second half of 1907.[26]
He turned out for City however in a friendly on 28 December 1907against a University XI at NurseryPark.[27]  Thereafter he appears to have been the first choice City keeper for the remainder of the season.  His star was certainly in the ascendant on 29th February 1908 when he saved two penalties when playing against Aberdeen A in the Northern League.[28]  He was selected as reserve keeper for the Forfarshire Select’s game against Perthshire in April 1908.[29]  He also appeared between the sticks in all five of the clashes withEast Fife in the Consolation Cup.
Adams’s collection of Brechin photographs shows one of the Brechin Cityteam in 1907-08 in which the goal keeper is almost certainly Colin Hampton.  (Interestingly, another team photograph of City in that season shows a goal keeper who is NOT Colin Hampton.[30])  He had indeed moved to the senior ranks with Brechin City in that season.  He played with the Brechin City team which reached the Scottish Qualifying Cup final in 1908-09 against Vale of Leven.[31]
What can be amassed from these clues is that Colin Hampton was playing juvenile football  until about the age of 18, certainly for Brechin Arnot.  He appeared briefly for Brechin Hearts as a Junior and then had a season and a half with Brechin Rovers.  He then moved up to the senior ranks withBrechinCityin 1907-08.
Colin Hampton moved to Motherwell FC early in 1909-10 although he does NOT appear in the Motherwell club photograph of 1909-10.[32]   Colin Hampton became the first Motherwell player to win a cap for the Scottish Football League.  He was selected to play in goals against the Irish League in 1912 at Windsor Park in Belfast.  Reputedly he had a very good game, losing only a single goal in the game in which Scotland ran out 3-1 winners.  The Brechin Advertiser took due pride in the achievement of the native son: “Colin Hampton the old Brechin City player, acquitted himself well in the Scottish goal.”[33]  While with Motherwell he won a Lanarkshire Cup Winner’s Medal.[34]
He was twice rewarded with the Daily Mail Weekly Merit Award, one for the Motherwell v. Raith Rovers game of 13th September 1913, which Motherwell won 3-2, and one for the Motherwell v. Celtic game of 20th December 1913.  The prize on both occasions was an engraved cigarette case.[35]  (And that would be an unlikely prize for a sportsman in today’s health conscious world!)
While with Motherwell FC however, he had another claim to fame.  In 1912 the laws of football were changed to confine the goal keeper’s handling of the ball to the penalty area.  Prior to that, the keeper could handle the ball anywhere in his own half.  In a game between Third Lanark and Motherwell in 1910, both Jimmy Brownlie, the Third Lanark keeper, later manager of Dundee United, and Colin Hampton, scored goals for their respective teams from kick-outs.  It has been suggested that this coincidental pair of goals in the same game led to the 1912 change in the laws.[36]

Colin Hampton, while with Chelsea

Colin was transferred to Chelseaon 20 April 1914 for £600, a considerable fee in those days.[37]  His debut at Stamford Bridge in front of 30,000 against Everton on 25 April 1914, was Chelsea’s last game of the last peace-time season.  Chelsea won 2-0.  At that point Colin Hampton was noted as 5’ 11” tall, weighing 11 stone 4 pounds.[38]  His playing days were interrupted by the War.
The author of this article would be glad to hear any information which corrected, improved or enhanced any of the information given here and would be delighted to hear of any readers who have documents, photographs, articles or simply memories or knowledge of any of the names mentioned or of any other Brechin footballing connections with the 1914-18 War.  The author can be contacted at: .
Any such material will be used to supplement this article.
The major sources for this work were:
Adams, David G: The Kirn Poke o’ Brechin, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1986)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Bran Tub, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1987)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Rag-Bag, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1988)
Adams, David G: The Brechin Lucky Dip, Chanonry Press, Brechin (1989)
Alexander, Jack: McCrae’s Battalion, Mainstream,Edinburgh (2003)
 Carr, William: A Time to Leave the Ploughshares,London (1985)
 Cheshire, Scott: Chelsea, A Complete Record 1905-1991, Breedon Books (1991)
Crampsey, Bob: The Scottish Football League, the First 100 Years, SFL,Glasgow (1990)
 Cumming, George: Through the Years with Brechin City FC, Simmath Press,Dundee (1948)
Falls, Cyril: History of the Great War, France and Belgium, 1917
Gibbs, Philip: The War Dispatches, Tandem,London (1968)
Gourlay, David M.A.: A Brechin Eleven and A Printer’s Dozen
Hampton, W: Collection of Colin Hampton Memorabilia (including medals, press cuttings and photographs)
Lynch, Michael: Scotland, A New History, Pimlico,London (1992)
McArra, Kevin: Scottish Football, a Pictorial History,Edinburgh (1984)
McLeod, Rod: 100 Years of Scottish Football, STV,Glasgow (1973)
Price, Norrie: Up Wi’ The Bonnets, N Price,Aberdeen (1993)
Smailes, Gordon, Scottish Football Records,Derby (1995)
Smout, T.C.: A Century of the Scottish People, 1830-1950,Fontana,London (1997)
Swinburne, John: Motherwell Football Club, 1886-1999, Tempus, Stroud (1999)
Wilkie, Jim: Across the Great Divide, Mainstream (1984)
Wood, Alex.: Collection of Walter Fowler memorabilia (including medals, photographs and Brechin Hearts membership card)
The Brechin Almanac 1918
 The Brechin Almanac 1920
 Brechin and The Great War 1918 (Brechin Advertiser, February 1919)
The Brechin Advertiser
The Courier and Argus
 The London Gazette
D & R Duke, Denburn Works, Roll of Honour, Brechin (1919?)
Relichtie Arbroath FC fans’ website
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour web-site
 The County of Angus Roll of Honour
Corstorphine, James K: The East Fife Football Historian website
Dundee United FC website
Fulham FC website
Loons Mad, independent Forfar Athletic fans website
The National Archives, Documents on Line, for World War One medal lists
McColl, Brian: Scottish Football Encyclopaedia website
Parker, Jim: Machine Gun Corps Research website
Ross, James M: Scotland – List of Qualifying Cup Winners, website
Tangerine Dream, independent Dundee United fans website
WELLnet, Motherwell FC website
Birth Certificates were traced for most mentioned men and marriage certificates for several via Scotland’s People, the web site for the General Register Office forScotland, from which were also traced census entries
In addition the following individuals and institutions were of enormous assistance in compiling the material on which this article was based and their efforts and support is acknowledged with gratitude:
Chelsea Football Club (Claire Lait);
CrystalPalaceFootball Club (Rev Nigel Sands);
DundeeFootball Club (David Forbes);
DundeeUnited Football Club (Mike Watson and Steve Gracie);
Bill and Agnes Hampton, Brechin;
Jenny Hill, The Brechin Advertiser;
James Livie, Brechin;
Ken Macaskill, ofEdinburghand formerly of Brechin
Steve Mitchell, Editor,BrechinCityProgramme and Director, Brechin City FC;
Jack Souter, Luthermuir;
The Staff, Brechin Public Library;
The Staff, The National Library ofScotland.

[1] The Brechin Advertiser,28 April 1908
[2] The Brechin Advertiser,7 July 1908
[3] The Brechin Advertiser,5 January 1909
[4] The Brechin Advertiser,15 September 1908
[5] Corstorphine
[6] The Brechin Advertiser,16 March 1909
[7] The Brechin Advertiser, 17 November 1908 et seq
[8] Ross, p1
[9] McColl
[10] The Brechin Advertiser,1 December 1908
[11] The Brechin Advertiser,8 December 1908
[12] The Brechin Advertiser,26 January 1909
[13] The Brechin Advertiser,9 March 1909
[14] The Brechin Advertiser,16 March 1909
[15] The Brechin Advertiser, 18 May 1909
[16]Hampton (various undated articles, likely from the Brechin Advertiser, in the collection)
[17]Adams, 1989
[18] The Brechin Advertiser,31 January 1905
[19] The Brechin Advertiser,11 April 1905
[20] The Brechin Advertiser,25 January 1968
[21] The Brechin Advertiser,19 September 1905
[22] The Brechin Advertiser,6 March 1906
[23] The Brechin Advertiser, 3 and 17 April 1906
[24] The Brechin Advertiser,20 November 1906 and26 February 1907
[25] The Brechin Advertiser,19 March 1907
[26] The Brechin Advertiser, 1 October 1907 et seq
[27] The Brechin Advertiser,31 December 1907
[28] The Brechin Advertiser,3 March 1908
[29] The Brechin Advertiser,31 March 1908
[30]Hampton (photograph in collection)
[31] Hampton (Qualifying Cup Finalists medal with name engraved is in the collection)
[32] Swinburne, p13
[33] The Brechin Advertiser,12 November 1912
[34] Hampton (Lanarkshire Cup Winners medal with name engraved is in the collection)
[35]Hampton (both cases in the collection)
[36] McArra, p 34
[37] Swinburne, p15
[38]Hampton (letter from Chelsea FC dated13 June 1997 in collection)

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