The Day The Scottish Cup Came Up To Maryhill

by William Sheridan



● Firhill, 1925 (NLS)

Thistle v Well (replay) preview

Having recently organised a switch to Ibrox for the forthcoming home League fixture with Celtic, the directors had not anticipated any more huge crowds at Firhill this season, and a massive £30,000 ground improvements programme was underway, so this unplanned midweek replay was a matter of some inconvenience. Likewise, many of the fans wishing to attend, once again, had to rely on the goodwill of workmates who might be willing to swap afternoon shifts. Pitch wise, the playing conditions were hardly ideal; all the heavy rain lately had left the ground soft and treacherous.

Alas, there wasn't enough time for Kenny Campbell and Bob McFarlane to recover from knocks picked up in the Fir Park bog three days earlier, a double blow accentuated by the fact that Bob had found the net on Saturday.

The experienced Rab Bernard took over between the sticks, while left-winger John Bowie, gingerly returning from a worrying cranium injury sustained in the 1-0 win over Hibs exactly three week earlier, became the seventh Jag to play at centre forward this season. The Steelmen, once again, were unchanged from Saturday.

Despite the aforementioned hindrances, a huge crowd of some 30,000 gathered, the big majority willing Thistle on to their first-ever Scottish Cup semi-final. With the fourth and final place in tomorrow night's draw on the line, the stakes were massive. Come on ye Jags!

competition-2.png Scottish Cup Quarter Final replay
ft.png Partick Thistle 0 Motherwell 0
date.png Tuesday, 8th March, 1921
crowd.png 30,000 @ Firhill
partick-thistle.png Rab Bernard, Tom Crichton, Willie Bulloch, Joe Harris, Willie Hamilton, Jimmy McMullan, John Blair, Jimmy Kinloch, John Bowie, Jimmy McMenemy, Willie Salisbury
motherwell.png John Rundell, John McDougall, Thomas McGregor, William Paterson, Craig Brown, Robert Stewart, Robert Lennie, Willie Rankin, Hugh Ferguson, John Reid, Bobby Ferrier
mh-referee.png William Bell (Hamilton)
Dundee Courier, 9th March, 1921

With McMenemy injured and of little assistance during the major part of the game at Firhill Park yesterday, Partick Thistle were hard pressed and did well to force another replay with Motherwell in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. The third meeting of the teams will take place at Ibrox on Tuesday. Fully thirty thousand people witnessed yesterday's match.

The ground was very sticky, and made accurate passing difficult. The players, however, kept the ball going well, and an interesting game developed. The Thistle's half-backs were very strong, and as a result the home forwards got plenty of chances to test the steady Motherwell defence.


Things were looking extremely well for the Thistle when they had the misfortune to lose McMenemy, who had to retire with his knee badly strained. The game at once swung round in favour of Motherwell, Rankin led the forwards with great skill, and with the Thistle backs showing hesitancy in tackling, Bernard's goal was for a time hotly assailed. McMenemy returned, but he was only on the field a few minutes when his leg gave way again, and he had to be assisted to the pavilion.


At this stage it seemed only a question of time when Motherwell would score. Their forwards played pretty football and shot at every opportunity. The Thistle defence stood the strain well, and no one did better than Crichton in foiling the Motherwell attack at critical times. A minute or two from the interval, McMenemy came out one more, and went to outside left. It was good performance for the Thistle to reach the interval without having surrendered a goal. Half-time:— Thistle, 0; Motherwell, 0.


In the opening minutes of the second half Salisbury missed badly for Thistle. Ferrier had a good try for Motherwell, who forced a corner, from which Bernard saved twice. Showing better combination, the visitors held the upper hand, and Thistle had to concede another corner. This they cleared, but found it hard to make ground, so sound was the visitors' defence. The home team, however, were handicapped as McMenemy, at outside left, was limping badly, and of little use in the attack.

● Thistle's seventh Scottish Cup Quarter Final, the first to be replayed.
● Thistle are on a run of 7 competitive home games without defeat; 15th Jan 1921 to date. There's only been one home defeat in 11 months of first class action.
● 11 consecutive competitive appearances for Tom Crichton, 22nd Jan 1921 to date, a new personal best. (Longest run since: John Blair - 25 games, 2nd Oct 1920 to 19th Feb 1921. Club-record: Jock McTavish - 61 games, 15th Nov 1913 to 6th Feb 1915.)

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… RAB BERNARD
Rab Bernard

Ah, 'Daft' Rab Bernard, the quintessentially Thistle eccentric, renowned for dashing from his goal as an extra sweeper, and for taking penalty kicks, although, whilst a Jag, these were mainly confined to reserve games. It is said he may have taken as many as 50 in his long career journey and, as you may recall, had done so in the Thistle first team in a 4-0 win against Morton just last month. That day he wrote himself into the Thistle history books as the only goalkeeper to have scored whilst serving between the sticks for the first team. Again, he was standing in for Kenny Campbell on that occasion, and, splendidly, played his part in keeping the club-record clean-sheet run going, that being the 6th of 7 defensively perfect games.

Undoubtedly, Rab was an excellent option as the reserve goalkeeper at this time. With Kenny Campbell out injured today, he played his one and only game in our '21 Cup campaign, and his proved to be as vital a contribution as any in the squad of 18 would make, as reported in the Glasgow Herald: “Towards the interval, Motherwell were the more aggressive lot, and only Bernard's fine goalkeeping kept them from taking the lead. A splendid struggle for the mastery ensued after the crossover. Motherwell during the first 15 minutes kept up a sustained attack, but all their efforts to score were met with a solid defence, in which Bernard again played a prominent part.

Rab, in his mid-30s, had joined Thistle from Airdrie in the close season of 1919. In competitive action, he played in 39 of our 50 games in his first season. His hopes of a longer stint as Thistle's #1 were all but dashed with the arrival of marquee signing, Kenny Campbell of Liverpool, for a club-record fee of £1,750 in April, 1920. Almost immediately, Rab was loaned out to Dumbarton (albeit for 1 game), and, at the beginning of season 1920-21 he was again loaned, this time to would-be Central Leage champions, Bo'ness, his hometown team. In all, he would make 6 competitive appearances as a Jag this term, and a further 8 next season, before returning to East Fife in September, 1922, where more regular first-team action was promised.

sc-1921-badge.png Meet the squad… JOHN BOWIE
John Bowie

Another of George Easton's junior success stories, this left winger was signed from St Anthony's in August, 1915, and was a big hit in his first season, finishing as second top scorer with 12. The 5' 7½ speedy wide man was a fine crosser of the ball, and had an eye for goal himself. A great consistency ensured that his place in the team was regularly assured, and his goal returns were in double figures for each of his first five seasons, two of which (1916-17 & 1918-19) featured John as top scorer. All of this was great going for a winger.

Alas, things started to go horribly wrong for the player in season 1920-21. A bruising Glasgow Cup encounter at Shawfield in September, resulted in a cartilage operation being required, so serious that it was feared he may never play again. In reality, he did recover to play again, although he never regained the consistent form which had made him such an integral part of the side in those first five seasons. That injury kept him out for 4 months, but he was back just in time for the commencement of our Cup campaign, news which was received as a great boost at the time; the Thistle fans were certainly missing his goals. John played in all three of the 2nd Round games against Hibernian, but, would you believe it, received a skull injury in the third of these, another bruising battle at Celtic Park, in which Thistle prevailed by one goal to nil.

In his return to action today, and in the next game at Dens Park, John's contributions were as a stand-in at centre forward and left half, but he couldn't find a way back into the full strength team, and it was now Willie Salisbury who was fully in control of that left wing berth. To go from 5 seasons in double figures to zero would have come as a major disappointment for everyone concerned, but there was a fair degree of sympathy in the mitigating circumstances, especially with regards to the head injury which had knocked his confidence. As a mark of affection, the directors sanctioned a benefit match for John, which came to be in April, 1922, when 2,000 turned out at Firhill to see him in action for the 202nd and final time as a Jag, a 2-2 draw against a Glasgow Select side. He had recently been loaned out to Dumbarton, and would seek out a fresh start at Luton Town in October, 1922.

Partick Thistle 0 Motherwell 0 (30,000)

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, 08-Mar-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 02-Apr-2021.

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