|Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club
Millburn Park, Leven Street, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire
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The Senior Junior Alliance
Originally founded as a senior club in 1872 the club had, within the short space of only seven years, won the Scottish Cup 3 times - in 1877, 78 and 79. In 1877 (on Friday, 13th April) the 'Dark Blues' as they were then known, beat Rangers 3-2 in the Scottish Cup Final under team captain Johnnie Ferguson.
The following year the Vale again beat Rangers, this time in the 4th round, by 5 goals to 0. They then went on to win the final against the Third L.R.V. on 30th March, 1878 by 1 goal to 0. Season 1878-79 again proved a success for the Vale F.C. On their way to the final they defeated Renton Thistle 11-0, Jameston 16-0, Dumbarton 2-1, and Helensburgh 3-0. The Vale scored 56 goals in the cup that season, and conceded 4. The final against Rangers was drawn 1-1 and the tie was awarded to the Vale when their opponents refused to appear for a replay.
Despite being founder members of the Scottish League in 1890 the fortunes of the Vale F.C. began to slide, especially as players were lost to England by the lure of high wages (a drain on Scottish Football which continues to the present day). In the 1920's the Vale dropped from the 2nd Division into the Alliance League and eventually in December 1939 they sought and obtained membership of the Central League, thus entering Junior Football.
On Saturday 23rd September 1939 Vale beat Babcox & Wilcox 6-2 at Millburn with goals from Hamilton (2), Yuille (2), Kennedy and Costello.
On Saturday 11th November Rangers Reserves win by four goals to two at Millburn with Taylor and Laverty getting the Vale goals.
In December 1939 Vale gain admission to the Central League in place of Springfield Athletic who had become defunct.
On Saturday 13th January 1940 Vale play their first match in the Central League when Vale of Clyde visit Millburn. Alick Galbraith has taken over as Match Secretary in place of Mr. Forrest who has joined the Army. In front of a crowd of 1500, Clarkson, Quinn and McClure gave Vale of Leven a three goal half time lead. With only 15 mins remaining the scores were level at 3-3 when Johnstone (pen), Beattie and Collins netted for the visitors, but the locals regained control and further goals from Clarkson and Quinn made it 5-3. Football enthusiasts in the district were quite impressed with the performance of Vale's new combination, the team being local with two exceptions.
Names from that first season were: Robert Barrie and Berteloni, Willie Findlay, Dan Clancey, John Maule, Jim Murray, J. Curley, Archie Taylor and his goalscoring partner I. McCrae, John Blair, McClure.
A Brief History of the Vale of Leven Football Club
On 23rd May, 1953 Vale of Leven F.C. reached a historic moment in their history when a Willie Cassidy goal defeated Annbank Utd by 1 goal to nil in the final of the Scottish Junior Cup in front of a crowd of 53,000 at Hampden Park. It was a proud moment in the history of the Vale of Leven Football Club, but this was by no means their only achievement.
Vale won the Evening Times Central League Championship in Season 1946-47. A hat trick from Boyle helped Vale beat Renfrew 4-1 in the play off and in the final at Saracen Park on Saturday 28th May in front of 10,000 spectators Vale beat the mighty Petershill 2-0 with goals from McDonald and Boyle.
More recently the club has also been successful; Season 69-70 was a memorable one, in which they won the Central League 'B' Division championship, and went on to victory in the Evening Times Trophy, beating Renfrew 4-1 in the final, again at Saracen. This match featured a hat-trick from John McCourt, the Vale half-back; all three of his goals were scored from the penalty spot. A fine finish to the season occurred when, within days of winning the Evening Times Trophy, the Vale Juniors went on to win the Erskine Cup by beating Port Glasgow 3-1. Drew Busby scored 55 goals for the Vale that season.
During the 70's the fortunes of the club were mixed. In seasons 70-71 and 71-72 the club remained in the 'A' Division of the Central League, but they slide into 'B' Division at the end of season 72-73 and further into 'C' in 73-74 where they remained until gaining promotion as league winners in 78-79 under the management of ex-Celtic goalkeeper Evan Williams. This promotion was short-lived, however, and the following season found them back in 'C' Division. The loss of goalkeeper Tom Carson to Dumbarton F.C. had much to do with the slump in the fortunes of the club.
After two seasons of narrowly missing promotion Vale, under the guidance of John Filshie, earned a well deserved place back in 'B' Division by finishing season 82-83 as runners up to Stonehouse Violet. The following year Vale narrowly missed promotion to the top division but it was a different story for the 1984-85 season, a lack of club funds combined with the waygoing of key players Beattie and Gardiner and the retiral of player boss Filshie saw the club languishing at the foot of the table around the New Year period. At this point John Filshie stepped down and the club appointed ex Dumbarton player James Brown as Match Secretary and with a dozen games left Vale gathered five wins and five draws to avoid the drop. After a couple of mid-table placings Vale eventually regained their Premier Division place by winning promotion at the end of season 87-88 thanks to 33 goals from Paul McGrogan.
Snippets from the Lennox Herald
VALE OF LEVEN
FOR VALE OF LEVEN
Jubilee Celebrations August 1939-1989
This month marks a milestone in the history of Vale Leven Football & Athletic Club, as it is our fiftieth year as a Junior club. To mark the occasion we have organised a wide variety of events, which we hope you enjoy watching or taking part in.
Our major football events involve teams from both Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers visiting Millburn and bearing in mind the great historic connections with the old Senior Vale when all three were founder members of the Scottish League we are pleased to welcome the players, officials and supporters of both sides. Celtic are no strangers to Millburn as it was only six years ago they took part in a challenge match to commemorate the opening of our new pavilion.
Our opening match sees Jim George's Dumbarton side provide the opposition in our annual fixture. Last year's match was part of Tom Robertson's testimonial and a last minute goal gave the Sons a draw, lucky as usual, sorry Jim. This is the game we get most pleasure winning, however that is a rare occurrence these days. Perhaps it will be our turn this time. Probably appearing in a Dumbarton strip will be Paul McGrogan.
The opposition for our Junior match is provided by Ayrshire side Dalry Thistle. Obviously we must have forgiven Jim McQueen's men for knocking us out of the Scottish Cup two years ago. If the Jubilee match is good as our 3 cup games then the fans will be in for a treat.
Still on football we have lined up something special in the way of a film show - Colin Liddell's "Beautiful Vale" features extracts from our 1953 Scottish Cup win. Spectators will also be able to meet the players who won the cup that wonderful day, however, captain Chummy Gilmour is back in Canada but he did pass on his regards when he met Vale President Jim Campbell last month.
Various local teams have entered our Sports Quiz and spectators are welcome at St. Mary's school on all nights. Our Pool and Darts competitions are being organised by the Ladyton Lounge and Bunny's Bar and they have certainly put a lot of work into the events. For those seeking a more energetic pursuit then Greensome Stableford Pairs Golf competition organised by Vale Golf Club or the 3 Mile Fun Run organised by Millburn Harriers may be for you.
The youths' football takes place on two days and we hope the grown ups turn up to lend their support.
League Record from 1990:
2001-02: 10th Central Division 1, 26pts from 26 games