William Lawson
William Lawson
A. Player

probably born in Scotland

William Lawson was probably born in Scotland, although his place and date of birth remain unknown to us. *

The forward signed for Thistle circa January, 1896.

He made his first known appearance on Saturday, 11th January, 1896, in a 3-3 draw away to Motherwell in the SFL Second Division, whilst a Park Thistle player.

William scored his first two known goals for Thistle on Saturday, 1st February, 1896, in a 4-2 win at home to Abercorn in the SFL Second Division.

He scored the last of his 22 known goals on Thursday, 6th May, 1897, in a 2-0 friendly win at home to St Bernard's.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 23rd October, 1897, in a 5-0 defeat away to Dundee in the SFL First Division, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 57 occasions.

William's club-list included Park Thistle, Partick Thistle and Motherwell.

We don't know where or when William died. *

* If you can help us to improve any of these marked points on The Thistle Archive, then please do get in touch →

Bio Extra

William, an outside right, was playing with Park Thistle when he came firmly to the attention of the Inchview executive. On a visit to Whiteinch in early 1896, the Govan outfit came away with a stunning victory; Partick Thistle Swifts 1 Park Thistle 8! William was on the scoresheet that day and within days he was signed as a Partick Thistle player! Within a few weeks of signing, William had his first goals on the scoreboard, netting a brace in a 4-2 league win at home to Abercorn. 6 goals in 18 matches was his end-of-season return in all games, and his performances set himself up as a mainstay for the big push for the title the following season.

William had a terrific full season (his only full season) in 1896-97, appearing in all but two of the 26 competitive fixtures. He had one particularly hot goalscoring streak in February and March 1897, scoring in 6 consecutive matches, adding 9 goals to his account:

goal.png 13.02.1897 Motherwell [a] W6-0 (SFL Second Division - game 12)
goal.pnggoal.png 20.02.1897 Motherwell [h] W6-2 (SFL Second Division - game 13)
goal.png 27.02.1897 Linthouse [a] W5-3 (SFL Second Division - game 14)
goal.pnggoal.pnggoal.png 06.03.1897 Airdrieonians [h] W6-2 (Friendly)
goal.png 13.03.1897 Renton [h] W3-0 (Friendly)
goal.png 20.03.1897 Leith Athletic [h] W5-0 (SFL Second Division - game 15)

With regards to the latter match, Leith Athletic had led the championship since day one, but Thistle were hunting them down. 4,000 were at Inchview for the de-facto title decider on 20th March 1897. William scored the third as the Edinburgh side were routed. Over 1,000 Thistle fans travelled to Kilmarnock the following week to see them edge to within a point of the title after a 3-1 win. This was a phenomenal away support for such an away trip in those days. The first title was secured at home to the same opponents a few weeks later; Partick Thistle 2 Kilmarnock 0. 5,000 were at Inchview for that one, and excitement was sky-high. Although no “election zone” was pre-determined, this really made it a formality that Thistle would at least make it onto the ballot paper. Promotion was comfirmed via election at the League AGM on 1st June, 1897.

These were exciting times indeed and William would now play with Thistle in their very first season as a top-flight outfit in the Scottish game. He also made some history by playing in the first-ever game at Thistle's new home at Meadowside. 7,000 were there to see it - on a Wednesday night too - but the 1-5 friendly defeat to Rangers was a reminder of the high demands that would now be placed on the team. 4 days later however, William was at the heart of one of the most monumental days in Partick Thistle history. Scottish champions Hearts provided the first league challenge. Thistle were able to field their strongest eleven but it was still an enormous task. However, Thistle had also won their division in style, so champion faced champion.

Thistle, up against a strong wind, played an early form of route one football with backs and halfs sending the ball quickly to their forwards. Robert Gray scored the first Thistle goal. However, it was the third goal that drew a huge ovation from the crowd of 7,000. Captain Willie Paul, the oldest man and the only amateur on the pitch, took a shot from long range that beat the keeper. Thistle held on after a late rally from Hearts to take both points. It was an amazing win brought about more by hard work than by skill and ability, but amazing all the same. The reaction in Patrick to the victory was unbelievable. Residents who had hung out of tenement windows watching the large crowd throng the streets before the game now watched them leave Meadowside singing and dancing. The newspapers were full of the story of a well-known Thistle follower who announced he was going to start at the nearest close and insisted he was going to visit every tenant in entire burgh to shake their hands. There were rumours that the Thistle committee had commissioned a statue of Willie Paul to commemorate his goal. And so it came to be that Thistle prevailed in a famous battle of the Champions. Top Flight Victory # 1 was secured. With no goal average system in place Thistle went straight to the joint top place in Scottish Football on their first day in the Top 10.

Thistle started well in the top-flight, but late December saw a drop in the form of the stalwart defenders and a dispute over money from a number of the club’s players, resulting in a run of heavy defeats and the loss of 29 goals in six games. David Pearson (joined Linthouse), William Lawson (Motherwell), James Lamb (Falkirk) and William McDonald were released from their contracts. Thistle were sliding towards the bottom of the table. Stepping back to the Second Division would have been disappointing for William, and that feeling was surely compounded by the poor performance of the Motherwell team that season. William scored 3 goals in his 6 competitive appearances, but the club finished rock bottom of the 10 team league. William was re-signed for the 1898-99, but barely featured at first-team level and the trail on his playing career goes cold from there.

We're fairly certain (due to the gap of 7/8 years) that this William Lawson is not to be confused with the William Lawson who played with Irvine Meadow XI, Reading and Motherwell from the late 1900s into the 1910s. If anyone knows differently, please do get in touch...

(WS/NK)



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