The Day The Scottish Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by William Sheridan



Merchiston Park
● Merchiston Park, 1910s (BEM)

Shire v Thistle preview

After Tuesday afternoon's win at Celtic Park, George Easton was straight in touch with the East Stirlingshire officials, offering £300, a hefty sum indeed, to switch from Merchiston Park to Firhill but, all credit to them, they rejected the money in favour of the sporting chance. Anticipating rejection, George was soon back with an alternative proposal that, perhaps, a switch to neutral Brockville would be financially beneficial for both parties, but the Shire officials were again adamant that they would stand or fall as balloted. Quite literally, Thistle couldn't buy a home draw at this time! A relief train was engaged to accommodate the Firhill faithfull, and the advice for the locals was to arrive nice and early as “there's likely to be a rush after the Partick Thistle special train arrives at Grahamston”.

The second Merchiston Park had been home to the Shire since the summer of 1906, but they would soon vacate in May, the land having been acquired by the expanding Burnbank Iron Foundry. The ground record was set on this day, reported as 8,000 (SC); 8,000 (FH); 8,000 (SP) and 10,000 (GH). With TTA average standards applied as normal, we go with the 8,500 figure. Anyway, suffice to say, the old place was packed to the gunnels, especially, I'd imagine, behind one of the goals, which had a solid wall running just a few yards behind the line.

East Stirlingshire had to make two last minute changes from their published eleven, Moneteith coming in at right half in place of Taylor and Wilson displacing Gow at outside right. For battle-scarred Thistle, there were two changes to Tuesday's eleven. At left back, Watty Borthwick deputised for Willie Bulloch (broken nose) and Willie Salisbury was in for John Bowie (damaged cranium) on the left wing.

competition-2.png Scottish Cup 3rd Round
ft.png East Stirlingshire 1 Partick Thistle 2
date.png Saturday, 19th February, 1921
crowd.png 8,500 @ Merchiston Park
goal.png Jimmy Kinloch (1-0, 25 mins); Jimmy Kinloch (2-0, 2nd half); Neil Wilson (2-1, 89 mins)
east-stirlingshire.png Archibald Buchanan, Adam Mitchell, David Hopewell, James Monteith, James Wilson, Alex Johnston, Neil Wilson, John Meaney, Robert Shearer, Donald McNeilage, Peter Currie
partick-thistle.png Kenny Campbell, Tom Crichton, Watty Borthwick, Joe Harris, Willie Hamilton, Jimmy McMullan, John Blair, Jimmy Kinloch, Bob McFarlane, Jimmy McMenemy, Willie Salisbury
mh-referee.png Andrew Allan (Glasgow)
Falkirk Herald, 26th February, 1921

In presence of a crowd officially given as numbering 8,000, Partick Thistle defeated East Stirlingshire at Merchiston Park last Saturday in the third round of the Scottish Cup ties. Partick Thistle earned their right to enter the fourth round by their victory. At the same time, however, the Bainsford club are distinctly deserving of commiseration in the fact that during the game they had three players carried off injured, and for 35 minutes the Central League club had only nine men to face eleven. Up to the point when Johnston and Meaney were assisted off simultaneously, Partick only led by a goal, and from the way the game was running on the change of ends, a keen second half was looked for. The nine E.S. men backed up well, but they could not prevent the Thistle from registering a second goal. In the closing minute, East Stirlingshire had the satisfaction of scoring.

What little advantage was to be had in the way of wind was held by the homesters, but straight from the kick-off Partick bore down on the home goal as Blair and Kinloch showed some fine play on the right, but just as an opening was presented to the latter a foul kick brought relief to the home defence. Shearer tried to force the pace for the homesters, and passed out nicely to Currie, who was dispossessed by Crichton at the critical moment. The defender stood out well in the more experienced Partick side.


It was from the Partick right wing that most of the danger seemed to come. At the other end, Shearer made good progress but Meaney just failed to reach the timely pass in front of goal, and Borthwick stepped in to clear. Just a minute later, the home goal had an almost miraculous escape, when McFarlane, after working his way through the defence, failed to score with only Buchanan to beat. East Stirlingshire were now warming to their work, and a business-like shot by Currie was somewhat luckily blocked by Crichton. Keeping up the pressure, the homesters forced a corner, but nothing resulted, and again Partick were busy, hammering the home defence. Salisbury got quickly away on the left, but his parting effort went over the bar. Next time, however, he centred the ball, and Kinloch, running in, opened the scoring for Partick with a fast oblique shot, which beat Buchanan all the way.

This reverse duly served to put mettle into the attack of the home team, who now hovered dangerously in the vicinity of the Partick citadel, until Crichton was pleased to get relief by kicking unceremoniously upfield, as the Scottish Leaguers quickly transferred play to the home end, Salisbury being unfortunate to have his splendid shot blocked in the goalmouth. The game was, by now, being evenly contested, although Partick were always the more dangerous at goal. This was emphasised when Salisbury, picking up a nice upfield pass from McMenemy, drove a shot with great force, just an inch over the crossbar. Shortly afterwards, and just before the whistle went for half-time, Buchanan distinguished himself by saving a rocket drive from the same player, and with McFarlane and Kinloch running in, he cleared effectively.


For a few minutes after the crossover, Partick Thistle were forced to act on the defensive, and the equalizer all but came the homesters' way when Meaney rattled the crossbar with a fine shot. East Stirlingshire were now playing with great spirit, but although the ball bobbed dangerously near him, Campbell had no need to handle. At this stage, misfortune befell the homesters, as Johnston received a nasty injury to his head, and was carried to the pavillion. While he was being attended to, Meaney was found staggering about in a mesmerised state, and he had to be carried from the field. With only nine men to battle against, Partick were not long in transferring play to Buchanan's end, but the home defence played in resolute fashion and averted disaster when it seemed most imminent.

A shot by McFarlane was fisted out by Buchanan, but before he could recover, Kinloch, who was unmarked, got the ball on the right, and netted a second goal for the Thistle. Johnston reappeared about 15 minutes from the finish, the cut on his head being plastered. Hardly had he resumed when McNeilage was injured well up in Partick territory and had to be assisted off. For some time, Shearer had been operating on the right wing, N. Wilson having gone into the centre. The latter was working hard to break the E.S. duck and in practically the last minute he found himself in possession of the ball in front of Campbell, but he beat the visiting custodian with a good shot. The ball had only been centred and kicked off when time was up.

Campbell was not much tested in the Thistle goal, and at times the backs were allowed a considerable amount of free-kicking. Harris was not much behind McMullan in the middle line. The scoring was performed by the Partick right wing, but it was really the left wing that made most ground, Salisbury, well fed by McMenemy in the second half, especially giving a splendid account of himself. In the home defence, Mitchell and Johnston, till he was hurt, stood out prominently. The E.S. right back was the best on the field. The Shire rear line was the strongest portion of the tram. Shearer was not a threat at centre; he slipped the ball nicely to the wings at times, but he failed to trouble Campbell. Meaney and McNeilage showed clever footwork, but both were inclined to lie too often among the half backs. Currie played a useful game, as also did N. Wilson.

● Thistle's last-ever visit to Merchiston Park is witnessed by a ground-record crowd of 8,500, which also stands today as the highest figure for any Partick Thistle vs. East Stirlingshire match.
● Thistle progress to their seventh Scottish Cup Quarter Final.
● It's now 8 competitive games without defeat, for the Jags, 15th Jan 1921 to date, two away from equalling the joint club-record.
● 25 consecutive competitive appearances for John Blair, 2nd Oct 1920 to date, a new personal best. (Longest run since: Joe Harris - 39 games, 17th Apr 1920 to 12th Feb 1921. Club-record: Jock McTavish - 61 games, 15th Nov 1913 to 6th Feb 1915.)

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… JIMMY KINLOCH
Jimmy Kinloch

And so, it was a brace from Jimmy Kinloch which settled today's tie in our favour. Along with Joe Harris and John Blair, Jimmy was an ever-present during our Scottish Cup odyssey of '21 and, crucially, it was another of his doubles which would settle the Semi Final, 2 months later. By season's end, he would sit atop our scorers chart, with 15 strikes in competitive action. In the pre-season, George Easton had been most keen on securing the services of the tricky inside right, a prolific scorer who was on great form with his club. The 22-year-old Queen's Parker was signing his first professional form, as were more than a few others, the poor old Spiders having being raided from all over Britain lately. Jimmy would have been pleased to reunite with his former team-mates Matt Wilson (midfielder) and Bob McFarlane (forward), both of whom had similarly made the move from Hampden to Firhill earlier in the year.

Jimmy was firmly positioned as an inside right specialist, although even he was coaxed into trying at centre for a handful of games in 20-21, famously bagging a hat-trick when doing so against his former club in December. This seemed only fair, as he had previously netted a hat-trick for Queen's against Thistle in 1919! He was never going to settle as centre though, not having the build to bustle in that role. However, he did score steadily for the Jags over the course of his 8 seasons at the club, and again finished as top scorer in season 1922-23. Such was his prowess as a wily craftsman, he soon joined the healthy Thistle contingent on the international stage, appearing along with Kenny Campbell in a 2-1 win over "Northern" Ireland in March, 1922.

An ailment which was affecting his match fitness forced him to retire early, aged 29, although the Kinloch-Thistle love affair was not yet ready to end. In 1928, as well as running his electrical engineering business, he joined the board of directors, where he would serve until the day he died, some 34 years later.


50% of the ties remained undecided after 3rd Round day, the major shock being non-League Alloa's excellent draw at Ibrox, something which every League side bar Celtic had been unable to do so far this season. “A result absolutely staggering to all students of form and one entirely irreconciliable with figures, records and reputation” (GH). This result offered some very welcome hope for all Cup contenders, although the S.F.A. were not long in dousing those flames of hope. At a special emergency meeting on the Monday, permission was granted for Rangers to withdraw Archibald and Cunningham from the Scotland team so that they would not be weakened for the Alloa replay on the same day. You couldn't make it up!

Armadale 2 Albion Rovers 2 (12,000)
Ayr United 1 Motherwell 1 (14,000)
Dumbarton 5 Nithsdale Wanderers 0 (4,500)
Dundee 0 Aberdeen 0 (27,000)
East Fife 1 Celtic 3 (11,000)
East Stirlingshire 1 Partick Thistle 2 (8,500)
Hamilton Academical 0 Heart of Midlothian 1 (20,890)
Rangers 0 Alloa Athletic 0 (54,000)


Clyde 2 Partick Thistle 1 (SFL - game 32)

There was so much chopping and changing of the Thistle eleven between Cup and League games that it was bound to start having an adverse effect on results, and it was perhaps no great surprise that Thistle's 8 game unbeaten run came to an end at Shawfield, where 6 changes were made to Saturday's side. It remained tight until close on the hour mark, but once Clyde got their noses in front it was always going to tough. Kinloch's goal on 75 minutes was merely a consolation, and the home side deserved the points.


More than one commentator was heard to complain about “fake draws” in the Scottish Cup lately, cynically opining that the lure of replay loot was a contributing factor. Makes you wonder. For Jags fans, it was all eyes on Fir Park, but we remained none-the-wiser as to the identity of our Quarter Final opponents.

Aberdeen 1 Dundee 1 (22,000)
Motherwell 1 Ayr United 1 (17,000)


Ireland 0 Scotland 2 (British Home Championship - game 2)

Our Kenny Campbell and Jimmy McMullan were called upon for caps no. 5 & 3 respectively and, while it looked like Joe Harris was going to miss out on a second cap, George Halley (Burnley) pulled out owing to injury (he never did win a full cap), and the selectors therefore had no hesitation on calling upon Harris as the first reserve. Thus, just two weeks on from the historic treble cap for Thistle players in Aberdeen, the feat was matched at Belfast.

The Scots outclassed the Irish in every department, the latter resorting to rough tactics in an attempt to try and level the playing field. “McMullan was injured when Ireland were pressing erratically, a method which had characterised their play all along” (SP). Pressing erratically? I've heard it all now! “If McMullan and Harris could hold the English forwards as well as they held the Irishmen, their places at Hampden would be secure. Campbell was never thoroughly tested, but he never wavered” (SP). Kenny's opposite number, Elisha Scott (Liverpool) was described as “Ireland's superman”, which tells its own story. With this victory, the Thistle contingent were now firmly in the hunt for two titles this season, both of which would be decided in April.

As a sign of the troubled times on the island, consider the tale of Louis Bookman (b. Lithuania) who played at outside left for Ireland. The Luton Town player had journeyed via Dublin where he was held up by Black and Tans. He didn't look like a local, but, thinking he was pretty well known, he treated the matter lightly until, suddenly, a revolver was pushed into his cheek. After some frantic explanations, he was “glad to get away”. Louis was one of the lucky ones.


Partick Thistle 1 Kilmarnock 1 (SFL - game 33)

With Bulloch still missing, and three star men representing the nation in Belfast, things were far from ideal for the League campaign, and Thistle paid the price with yet another point spilled. Killie's 10th minute opener came on the back of a bit of a tangle between Johnstone and Crichton, but that was cancelled out close on the hour mark, Blair's cross being turned home by Salisbury. Goalkeepers excelled here, although Thistle's somewhat mediocre League form continued, even if the second half was an improvement on the first. A share of the spoils was a fair outcome.

Elsewhere, a hugely impressive crowd gathered for the A89 derby, but their attendance was scarcely rewarded in a match devoid of good forward play, as the tie remained in deadlock. Meanwhile, plucky Rangers, albeit with a little help from the S.F.A., finally managed to overcome the mighty Alloa Athletic. Just to make doubly sure, the replay was also played at Ibrox. You really couldn't make it up!

Albion Rovers 0 Armadale 0 (22,000)
Rangers 4 Alloa Athletic 1 (50,000)


The Dark Blues, winners eleven years earlier, were shaping up as serious contenders.

Aberdeen 0 Dundee 2 (15,000 @ Ibrox)


300 minutes of football had now failed to separate the hardy clubs of Armadale and Coatbridge. Meanwhile, an aggressive Motherwell side deservedly won through, and the next chapter in our adventure was crystalized. It would be Motherwell versus Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup Quarter Finals in 3 days time. A tough nut to crack.

Armadale 0 Albion Rovers 0 (12,000 @ Hampden)
Motherwell 3 Ayr United 1 (18,000 @ Celtic Park)


Just two days ahead of Saturday's Cup card, the wee Rovers finally overcome the brave 'Dale after six and a half hours of play. Two first half goals settled it at a stormy Hampden, where the attendance was understandably poor.

Armadale 0 Albion Rovers 2 (7,000 @ Hampden)

Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 19-Feb-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 02-Apr-2021.

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