Minerva - What's In A Name?
Minerva – What's In A Name?

by Jack Little

Here are today’s football results. Minerva Thistle three, Clyde nil.

Radio hadn’t been invented in the summer of 1892 but if it had, you might have heard this at 5 o’clock on a Saturday. Who were Minerva? Well, they just might have been part of our club’s history.

Formed in March 1887, Minerva quickly became a very successful club in their grade. “The Scottish Referee” described them as “Glasgow’s leading Junior club”. Faced with losing their ground – Temple Park in Anniesland – they considered their options. Ever-ambitious, they had designs on joining the Senior ranks but realised that they would find the step-up a difficult one, initially at least.

In February 1892, “The Scottish Referee” reported that amalgamation with Partick Thistle was in the air, but it is not clear which club made the first approach. That newspaper’s view was that it would be good for both clubs, especially Thistle who needed to strengthen their forward line. A 6-man committee (3 from either club) was set up to consider the practicalities.

Oh dear. A week later both clubs were blaming each other for “blabbing”. There is no contemporary evidence to say how often the committee met (if at all) but, in any case, in late March “The Scottish Referee” reported that at a quarterly meeting (presumably of club members) amalgamation with Minerva was rejected by a large majority.

In early April, they were still unsuccessful in finding a new ground and, in June, their Secretary announced they would not be issuing a fixture list until the problem was solved. It never was. After 5 years they folded at the end of season 1891/92. Their record that season speaks for itself: P36, W28, D6, L2, F154, A39. It was a season in which they won the Glasgow Junior Cup and the Maryhill Charity Cup but, most impressively of all, they won the Scottish Junior Cup, beating Benhar Violet (Harthill) 5-2 at Cathkin Park.

And so, Minerva faded in the annals of Victorian football as many of their contemporaries did, but many of their players were scooped up. Thistle signed eight of them for the new season, i.e. William Alder, Andrew Stewart, James Mulvey, Robert Currie, Jacky Robertson, John Harvey, Maurice White and Joe Leiper. Between them they made around 330 appearances and scored 50 goals. Other players joined later via other clubs.

Old Minervians
● Joe Leiper, Robert Currie & William Alder; just 3 of our 8 Minerva signings in 1892!

Robert Currie in particular was a valuable addition making 132 appearances and scoring 29 times. Joe Leiper made four appearances before opting to try his luck down south. He played for Derby County for eight seasons then Grimsby and Chesterfield before coming back to the fold at the start of the 1903/04 season playing three games then joining Motherwell shortly after.

In December 1907 “The Scottish Referee” reported that the club’s annual “Old Minervians” club dinner had been held. Guests took in Thistle’s match in the afternoon (we beat Clyde 3-1) then attended the dinner in the evening. Among the guests were ex-Thistle players William Ward, John Harvey and James Clelland.

Old Minervians
● Coverage of the event in “The Scottish Referee” (23-Dec-1907) with William Ward (top) & William Reid (bottom). Harmony was abounding. Just like Scottish football today!

Classical scholars amongst our readership will know that Minerva was the Roman goddess of (amongst other things) Justice, Victory and Strategy. Her divine intervention on these three fronts might have served us well down through the years!

● Statue of Minerva, in Rome. (PIN)

Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 13-Sep-2022.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 12-Sep-2022.

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