The Day The Scottish Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by William Sheridan



Sat–11–Dec–1920 to Sat-15-Jan-1921

Thistle had been very busy since the Cup draw was made, and had done well enough in the League to maintain that third place spot.

11.12.1920 Celtic [a] L0-1 (SFL - game 21)
18.12.1920 Dundee [h] W2-1 (SFL - game 22)
25.12.1920 Aberdeen [a] W3-0 (SFL - game 23)
01.01.1921 Third Lanark [h] W1-0 (SFL - game 24)
03.01.1921 Rangers [h] L0-2 (SFL - game 25)
04.01.1921 St Mirren [a] W2-0 (SFL - game 26)
08.01.1921 Heart of Midlothian [a] L0-1 (SFL - game 27)
15.01.1921 Airdrieonians [h] D0-0 (SFL - game 28)

Firhill really was a fortress at this time. The above defeat to League leaders Rangers in front of 42,000, was the only one in 33 League games at Firhill, a monster 19-month run which would stretch all the way from 10th April 1920 to 19th November 1921. 3 blanks in the last 4 was a bit of a worry, though. The Airdrie game was played on a heavily sanded surface, and was described as “a dour and determined struggle” (SC) in which “finishing was a lost art on both sides” (SP).


Partick Thistle 0 Heart of Midlothian 0 (SFL - game 29)

It was First Round day in the Cup, giving Thistle a chance to consolidate their lofty position in the Scottish League, but a nil nil Firhill stalemate for the second Saturday in a row kept our third place ambitions in check. In today's match, Alex Kane in goals for Hearts had three times as much to do as our Kenny Campbell, but ultimately we had to settle on the points being halved.

With regards to the Scottish Cup opening day, the editorial in Monday's Herald was none too enamoured with the fare on offer:


The popularity of Cup-tie football has been long established and was emphasised anew on Saturday when, notwithstanding adverse weather, large attendances were attracted to the games constituting the first round of the Scottish Cup competition. Critically considered, the fascination of Cup-tie football is surprising, as experience has proved that the class of play ordinarily witnessed in the League competition is superior.

Nor can it be said that the lure of the Cup is created in any sense by artful or artificial methods of making the competition attractive. On the contrary, the organisation of the contest, like the play invariably seen in the time, is faulty, antiquated and haphazard. It is unreasonable, for instance, that the first round of the national competition, an event keenly anticipated by devotees, should include only a bare majority of the reputed first-class clubs, and that the two great clubs of the year - Rangers and Celtic - should be amongst the absentees.

It is true that the luck of the ballot was responsible for this state of matters, but the time has arrived for the controlling authority to remodel the competition on lines that would altogether eliminate byes in the competition proper. There are difficulties in the way, no doubt, and the League will resent strongly the inclusion of the larger number of provincial qualifiers necessary for this purpose; but even at the cost of extending the season, to compensate the League the Scottish Football Association would be justified in taking a step that would decidedly improve and dignify the National Cup competition.

In England there are no byes in the main contest, and from the first round, with its 64 competitors, there is a sustained and engrossing competition in which every club of note takes part. Local conditions may be somewhat different and difficult to adjust in Scotland, but local prejudices and selfishness are probably the chief barriers in the way of the improvement of the Scottish Cup competition, and these can and should be swept aside.

It's debatable that this situation would be improved with the addition of 20 non-Leaguers on top of the 22 qualified, and the healthy turnouts suggest to this writer that things were just fine as they were, especially given that the draw was completely unseeded and could literally send any side anywhere. Folk have been mumpin' forever about the national game, and it's doubtful that'll ever change!

Caledonian had given up their potential home advantage and were duly thrashed in Dundee, likely of little consequence to the directors who returned back up the road to Inverness, swag bags of loot bulging at the seams. Having disposed of Clyde, Hibernian and Ayr United in their amazing run to last season's Quarter Finals, Armadale were at it again in the “giant” killing stakes, and were fully deserving of their energetic win at Love Street. For the Firhill faithful, it was all eyes on the scoreboard to find out the latest Cup news from Cathkin, where some 25,000 witnessed “the Hibernians gain a creditable draw” (EEN) in wretched conditions, windy and rainy. The sides crossed over at one all, and that's how it stayed. “The Hibernians were worthy sharers in a strenuous cup tie.” (SC). How good is it to read that your future opponents have been put through the mill? **laughs evilly**

Alloa Athletic 0 Falkirk 0 (10,000)
Arbroath 2 Kilmarnock 4 (5,000)
Ayr United 1 Queen's Park 0 (10,000)
Bo'ness 1 Galston 0 (3,000)
Clyde 1 Airdrieonians 1 (20,000)
Dundee 8 Caledonian 1 (18,000)
Hamilton Academical 3 Raith Rovers 1 (8,000)
Johnstone P Stevenston United P (waterlogged pitch)
Peterhead 0 Dykehead 3 (4,000)
Queen of the South 6 Blairgowrie Amateurs 0 (3,000)
St Mirren 2 Armadale 3 (10,000)
Third Lanark 1 Hibernian 1 (25,000)


At the very close of play on Saturday, the canny directors of the Hi-Hi and the Hibees had arranged this Wednesday afternoon replay to co-incide with the shopkeepers half-holiday in Edinburgh, and were rewarded with another healthy gate. Jags fans catching up via the Evening Times were still none the wiser as to their second round opponents. “After being well ahead in the first half, the Hibernians came close to losing in the second.” (SC).

Airdrieonians 0 Clyde 1 (10,000)
Hibernian 1 Third Lanark 1 (22,000)


Partick Thistle 0 Albion Rovers 0 (SFL - game 30)

On the day when former Jag Neil Harris dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup at St James' Park, Thistle fans could be forgiven for cursing the directors who'd sold him to Newcastle United for £3,300 back in May. Thistle failed to score for a fourth consecutive game, as a third consecutive nil nil was registered. Jags had the best of the first half and Willie Hamilton grazed the bar, but Rovers improved and we had Kenny Campbell to thank for keeping a point at least. Joe Harris cleared off the line, and Rovers were denied a stonewall pen.

Johnstone 0 Stevenston United 2 (3,000)
Falkirk 1 Alloa Athletic 1 (15,000)


Unless an agreement was stitched-up between the sides involved, the SFA would appoint neutral venues for second replays, hence why this tie was set for Ibrox, watched by the biggest crowd of the round. Twenty minutes into the second half, Halligan whipped the ball past ex-Jag Brownlie, and that settled it. Hibs were deserving of the win. At last, Thistle knew their fate; our Scottish Cup adventure of 1921 would begin in the east, and we were now just a few days away from a train trip through to Edinburgh.

Hibernian 1 Third Lanark 0 (32,000 @ Ibrox)


Thistle's cup campaign had not yet begun, but Firhill itself saw plenty of First Round action. Alloa Athletic were more used to playing Falkirk Reserves in the Central League, but they continued to fight all the way with the top-flight variant in this, the third match of the tie, where another two hours of football could not separate the sides.

Alloa Athletic 1 Falkirk 1 (20,000 @ Firhill)


Just 24 hours after slugging it out in a gruelling two hour contest, these two once again reconvened at Firhill. A 20th minute strike from Willie Crilley proved to be enough, as the Wasps held firm. Fans of football trivia will be interested to know that both of these sides saw more 1921 Scottish Cup action at Firhill than Thistle themselves. Despite playing a record 11 games in the tournament, Jags only featured in 3 hours of action at Firhill, whilst Alloa and Falkirk each clocked up 3½ hours!

Alloa Athletic 1 Falkirk 0 (16,000 @ Firhill)

sc-1921-badge.png Scottish Cup Winners 1921

back: Sandy Lister (trainer), Willie Hamilton, Tom Crichton, Kenny Campbell, Jimmy McMenemy, Matt Wilson, John Bowie, Watty Borthwick.
middle: David Johnstone, Jimmy Kinloch, Joe Harris, Willie Bulloch, Jimmy McMullan, Bob McFarlane.
front: John Blair, Willie Salisbury.


Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 22-Jan-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 02-Apr-2021.

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