Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

One Rule For One?

At six miles long the River Leven isn’t the longest in Scotland, but there was a time when it was the centre of the footballing world.

Anyone who knows a little history of Scottish football will, or should, be aware of the role played by the three teams from the Leven Valley.

Vale of Leven, Dumbarton and Renton were all formed in 1872, the same year as a club from Govan who we’ll talk a bit more of later.

Between them these three clubs won the Scottish Cup six times.

But that pales into insignificance.

If you meet anyone from the Renton they’ll proudly tell you about being the first world champions.

Of course, as football became increasingly popular, as well as professional, it became unsustainable for three teams from such a small area to survive and prosper.

Renton were first to run into trouble, and in the 1897-98 season, unable to meet their financial obligations, they withdrew from the league that they helped set up.

Their last hurrah proved to be a Scottish Cup run in 1906-07 when they defeated St. Bernard’s and Dundee before succumbing to Queens Park in the last sixteen.

They continued to play in minor leagues until 1922 before finally folding.

Vale of Leven dropped out of the professional league after only two seasons. In the second season they didn’t win any of their games and finished last so decided not to apply for re-election.

In 1905 they were allowed into an extended Second Division. Twice, in 1907 and 1909, they finished runners-up, but didn’t get promoted due to not getting enough votes from the other clubs.

They eventually dropped into the junior ranks and have stayed there ever since, winning the Scottish Junior Cup in 1953.

Dumbarton are the only team from the original Leven Valley trio that are still in the professional game.

In fact, it’s fair to say they’ve been doing the local area proud recently.

After a great campaign in the Scottish Second Division they beat Airdrie United in a two leg play-off final and secured promotion to the First Division for the first time in years.

Airdrie United were born after original Airdrie went to the wall through being liquidated. Although they had many financial problems it was the Rangers chairman David Murray who applied for a court order to seize funds from the struggling club. He said at the time, “"I feel very sorry for Airdrie and their supporters but we're running a business. We have given them repeated warnings and felt they were playing on our good nature."

Newco Airdrie United applied for membership to the league but the share was given to Gretna instead. Undeterred, they bought another struggling team’s membership (Clydebank), moved them to Airdrie and renamed them Airdrie United and took Clydebank's place in the Second Division. A precedent was set. If any newco, even if they've been rejected for membership of the league, doesn't want to start at the bottom tier then they can launch a takeover of another club.

Maybe this is why Craig Whyte's people were sniffing around St. Mirren's accounts last season.

Dumbarton’s return to the First Division is a great boost for both the young players in the team and the many hundreds who packed their stadium for the first leg of the play-off final.

It was the first time I’d been to a Dumbarton game for many years, having never even set foot inside their Strathclyde Homes Stadium.

My memories of Dumbarton were all at Boghead.

The great Scottish Cup run of 1976 with wins at home against Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock. Finally defeated 3-0 by Hearts in a semi-final replay at Hampden, helped, funnily enough, by Walter Smith scoring with a flying header…into his own net.

In 1984, needing a point to win promotion to the Premier League, they came back from 2-0 down against Clyde to earn the draw. Their second goal that day still lives with me as one of the greatest goals I’ve witnessed.

In a crowded box the ball was passed around several players without touching the ground before being volleyed home.

The locals went wild and fans flooded onto the pitch at the final whistle.

At the recent play-off a crowd of 1746 packed into the Strathclyde Homes Stadium.

The young supporters provided plenty of vocal support, taunting Airdrie United for being Clydebank in disguise, while the older ones sampled the pies and Bovril and reminisced about past glories.

It might not have been like watching Barcelona, but with a packed ground and something to play for it was a great game.

When the fixture list for next season came out I noticed Dumbarton will start the campaign away to Dundee.

Or will they?

Reports in the mainstream media are promoting the prospect of a Newco being parachuted straight into the First Division, which may mean Dundee moving up a league.

So Dumbarton may end up playing this Newco.

There is a certain amount of irony about this. Dumbarton and Oldco were formed in 1872 and were pioneers of the game in Scotland.

But is it right that a Newco team should not start at the bottom? Why should this Newco team be treated differently from say Renton, Vale of Leven or Airdrie United?

What is the game in this country, a sport or a business?

When Moses McNeill and his buddies formed the original Rangers Football Club they didn’t even have a ground to play on. They played for the love of the game, not to make a quick buck.

Both world champions Renton and Rangers couldn’t meet their financial obligations.

Both triple Scottish Cup winners Vale of Leven and Rangers didn’t get enough votes to play in the top league.

Newco Airdrie United, started  after Oldco Airdrie were liquidated were originally refused admission into any league and had to buy another club to get back in.

It remains to be seen where Newco Rangers will eventually end up, but as sure as the River Leven flows from Loch Lomond into the River Clyde, they will not be treated the same way as Renton or Vale of Leven.

And if they do get parachuted into Division One I hope Dumbarton give them a lesson in both football and dignity.


  1. Can't believe the crap you have written, says it all.

  2. Like I said previously, every opinion carries equal weight. I'll add your to the list of positive comments and retweets on Twitter. Once again, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this site. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.