Season 1960/61 was again one of a work in progress for the Shire. More young players were introduced into the team but League results continued to disappoint. We only recorded 9 wins in our 36 Division Two League matches and as result our 16th place in the end of the season table was not unexpected. There were some highs and lows during the League season; a home 0-0 draw was gained against Falkirk (who would be promoted in 2nd place), but then we lost to the same team 0-6 away; a 1-0 away win was achieved against Stenhousemuir (who ended up in 3rd place) but we lost the reverse home fixture 1-2. There were also big wins and defeats, we had a great 4-1 away win at Queen of the South and a home win by the same scoreline against Greenock Morton which were balanced by heavy defeats at Montrose, 1-6, and East Fife, 1-8. In Group 9 Of the League Cup, played at the start of the season, we failed to qualify from our Group, recording only 1 win and 1 draw from our 4 games. The Scottish Cup 1st Round Tie against Alloa Athletic, at Recreation Park, was a case of so near yet so far as after leading 3-2 at the interval we went out 4-5. The Stirlingshire Cup 1st Round was a disaster as was crashed out 0-7 away to Falkirk.
Finally, after a number of seasons of little signs of improvement, Shire turned the corner in 1961/62. The League campaign didn’t get off to the best of starts with 2 wins and 4 defeats in our 1st 6 games. However, after this wins became more regular though these were balanced with a number of defeats. Shire’s biggest win of the season was an easy 8-2 home win against bottom club, Brechin City. As the season ended Shire secured a mid-placed 11th in the 19 team League with 15 wins, scoring a healthy 70 goals. The early season League Cup was the usual Section 9 Group failure although this time we won 2 and lost 2 of our games. After receiving a bye in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup Shire were drawn away to Caledonian in the next Round but went out 0-3 in front of a 3220 crowd. We also competed in the Penman Cup in 1961/62 and met Falkirk in the 1st Round at home, drawing 2-2. In the Replay at Brockville Park Shire recorded a great 5-3 win. In the Semi Final Tie we travelled to Stirling Albion but lost 1-3. After years of no success Shire won the Stirlingshire Cup for the 1st time since 1935/36, beating Stenhousemuir 3-1 in the Brockville Final. On the way to the Final we had beaten Falkirk at Firs Park 3-2 in the 1st Round and then Dumbarton 4-2 in the Semi Final again at home.
1962/63 was the year that all the Steedmans rebuilding of the team finally clicked. After an indifferent start in the League, winning 1 and losing 2 of our 1st 3 games, we then went on an 11 game unbeaten run which included 8 wins. This took us to 2nd place in the League table behind St. Johnstone. We then lost the next 2 games but bounced back to thump Stranraer 6-0 straight after, at home, on 15th December. Then one of the worst winters on record started in earnest and resulted in the Shire not playing another League game until 9th March. The force hiatus did wonders for us and when the League campaign finally restarted on 9th March Shire went on an 8 game unbeaten run which included 6 wins. After a rare defeat Shire rattled off another 3 wins and 2 draws by the end of April. The season had been extended due to the severe winter and Shire had now 5 games left to play to secure promotion. On 1st May Shire travelled to Albion Rovers but suffered a 2-0 reverse which left the top of the Division as follows: St. Johnstone Played 31 Points 46, Shire Played 32 Points 45 and Greenock Morton Played 33 Points 44. The next game for us, on the 4th May, was the hugely important home game against Greenock Morton and a incredible 9,000 fans turned up to cheer the Shire onto a 2-0 victory, both goals coming in the 2nd half. This left Shire needing 2 points from our last 3 games for promotion and next up was Title favourites St. Johnstone at Firs Park 2 days later. A massive crowd reported as both 7,000 and 9,000 turned up for the midweek encounter but both teams failed to score and the 0-0 result meant that St. Johnstone were promoted and Shire still needed 1 point from our remaining 2 fixtures to join them. The result also meant that Shire had remained undefeated in the League at home for the full season. On the Saturday 11th May Shire travelled to Alloa Athletic seeking the required point and the 2368 crowd saw the Shire do just that, drawing 0-0, and thus gaining promotion to Division One for the 1st time in 30 years and for only the 2nd time in our history. St. Johnstone went on to win the Title but Shire were more than happy with the promotion place. It wasn’t just about the League in 1962/63, Shire also had a great run to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup beating Stirling Albion at home in the 1st Round 2-0 and then having a fantastic 1-0 home win against Division One Motherwell in the next Round. The prize was an away 3rd Round Tie against Rangers, who would go onto win the Division One and Scottish Cup double that season. The result of the game was harsh on Shire as we went out of the Cup 2-7 in front of a 35,000 crowd. Shire also competed in Group 5 of the League Cup at the start of the season though our record of 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats meant we ended up in 3rd place in the 4 team group. After the high of winning the Stirlingshire Cup the previous season Shire went out in the 1st Round 3-0 away to Stirling Albion after the original game had been drawn 2-2.
|Shire team photo taken before one of the following home League games:
6/4/1963 v Cowdenbeath, 24/4/1963 v Queen’s Park or 27/4/1963 v Stirling Albion
Back Row: Frank Sandeman, Tommy Craig, Ronnie Swan, Jackie McQueen, Tommy McNab, Jimmy Kilgannon
Front Row: Arthur Hamill, Jackie Coburn, Ernie Collumbine, Willie McIntosh, Jimmy Kemp
After seasons of misery and being in the footballing wilderness the Shire were finally back at the top table of Scottish football in 1963/64. Shire 1st game in Division One for 30 years took place on 21st August at Firs Park against Kilmarnock and although the game was tied 0-0 at the interval we lost out 0-2 by the time the final whistle was blown. Next up was the much anticipated derby against Falkirk at Brockville Park but Shire went down to a narrow 0-1 defeat. Shire did record our 1st League win of the season 1 week later when a good 4-0 result was achieved at Firs Park against Queen of the South. After that the reality of how tough the top Division was began to hit and although Shire did record the odd win here and there it was mainly defeats that the Shire fans witnessed. In November 1963 the Shire decided to go full time but it came too late for the slide to be halted. In the end we only recorded 5 wins in the 34 games campaign and finished up in last place in the League, therefore being relegated. Shire reached the last 16 of the Scottish Cup for the 2nd season in a row before losing heavily 1-6 at home to follow Division One team Dunfermline Athletic in front of a 6,000 crowd. We had received a bye in the 1st Round and defeated East Fife 1-0 away in the next Round. The early season League Cup saw Shire very nearly qualify out of the Group 7, winning 5 games and losing 1. However, St. Johnstone had the better goal average and it was the Perth team who progressed. The Stirlingshire Cup saw us drawn against Falkirk in the Semi Final and after a 1-1 draw at Firs Park we went out in the replay at Brockville Park in a high scoring 3-5 defeat. Shire also played a glamour friendly on 29th October at Firs Park against English Division One Chelsea and we achieved a credible 2-2 draw. The game had come about after the London club had previously signed 3 Shire players, Eddie McCreadie, Tommy Knox and Jimmy Mulholland. At the end of the season the whole of the Shire team was put up for sale by the Shire board run by the Steedmans.
In March 1964 the Steedmans decided to approach Clydebank Juniors to discuss the possibility of moving the Shire to Clydebank and in early April, as result of these discussions the Shire board (including Jack and Charles Steedman) agreed that East Stirlingshire would merge with Clydebank Juniors. This was also agreed to by Clydebank Juniors at their AGM. The merger was immediately contested on the grounds of the terms of the East Stirlingshire FC voting rights by the East Stirlingshire FC shareholders but by May the merger was completed. The club’s company name did not change from East Stirlingshire Football and Athletic Club Ltd but the team changed its’ name. Even the enclosure at Firs Park was moved to Kilbowie.
After the traumatic events over the summer of 1964 Shire moved from Falkirk and Firs Park to play as a new merged team (with Clydebank Juniors) at Kilbowie Park, Clydebank over 30 miles away. The newly merged club chose the name of ES Clydebank for the team. As this happened the process of legally challenging this decision through the courts was commenced when Glasgow lawyer, Robin Turpie, joined forces with the East Stirlingshire FC shareholders to plan their action. On the playing front the club was back in Division Two and the newly merged team had a good season, finishing 5th in the 19 team League. The largest wins recorded during the League season were 5-0 and 6-1 home wins against Montrose and Brechin City respectively. In the Scottish Cup ES Clydebank took Division One Hibernian to a Replay in the 1st Round after a draw 1-1 at Easter Road. However, a huge crowd at Kilbowie of 11,500 saw the home team go out in the Replay, 0-2. The Club had started the season with 6 League Cup Group 6 matches but failed to qualify, winning 1, drawing 4 and losing 1 of the games. ES Clydebank did not compete in the Stirlingshire Cup that season. Two home friendlies were also played in February when Sunderland won 5 -1 and Ipswich Town were beaten 2-1.
The court case ended up in the Court of Session where on the 7th May 1965 Lord Hunter found in favour of East Stirlingshire FC and subsequently ES Clydebank we de-merged with East Stirlingshire FC and the Shire returning to play at Firs Park for season 1965/66. The Steedmans remained with Clydebank Juniors and 1 season later, in 1966/67, that club became a senior club and were elected to Division Two.
What can’t be underestimated was the cost that the “Clydebank” year had on the club. In the club accounts for the AGM in December 1965 the Report to the Directors included the following;
“After the upheaval of 1964-65 it is difficult to assess just how much damage has been done to the prestige and appeal of the club in the estimation of the football public of Falkirk & District, but it must be obvious that the task of reinstatement and reconstruction will be a difficult one and require the wholehearted support of all concerned.”
Also in the same accounts the true cost of the Steedman’s ES Clydebank folly had cost the Shire was laid bare and it included amongst other items;
Expenditure in connections with Kilbowie Park, Clydebank
Floodlight System at Cost £7,140
Sum advance to Agents of Trustees for Clydebank £1,500
Given all the turmoil over the previous 12 months it wasn’t a surprise that the results on the pitch weren’t great during the 1965/66 season. The Shire team and the Shire fans were just happy that the club was back playing at Firs Park as East Stirlingshire FC. We found it a struggle in Division Two and it wasn’t until our 7th game that we won our 1st League game, at home to Cowdenbeath, 5-4. Results did improve slightly thereafter and we eventually won 9 games in total although only 1 was away from home, that being our 2-0 win at Third Lanark in March. All this meant that Shire ended the season in 17th place in the 19 team League. Shire were drawn against Division One Motherwell at home in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup and put in a good performance to draw 0-0. The Replay was a different story, losing the match 1-4. Shire played in Group 8 of the League Cup as the season opened, winning all our home matches but losing our 3 away games which meant we failed to qualify only finishing 3rd place in the 4 team group. The 1st game we played back at Firs Park in 1965/66 have been our League Cup match against Alloa Athletic on 18th August when a large 3000 crowd turned up to welcome the team home. In the Stirlingshire Cup we lost out 0-1 in the 1st Round at home to Stirling Albion.
The following season Division Two increased to 20 teams with the inclusion of Clydebank. For the Shire and for the Steedman’s Clydebank it was to be a very poor season both ended up only 1 point of the bottom of the League with Shire being placed in 19th due to an inferior goal average. Shire only had 7 wins in the whole season. We had had a terrible start to the season, failing to win any of our 1st 12 League games with only 3 of these games being drawn. We finally won on 5th November, 3-1 at home to Brechin City, but it proved to be a false dawn as it would be another 10 games before our 2nd win was achieved. It wasn’t until right at the end of the season that we started to perform on the pitch with 4 wins in our last 6 games, 3 of these in our last 3 games, but it was too little too late. The Scottish Cup also was a disappointment when we went out in the 1st Round 0-1 away to fellow Division two team Forfar Athletic. Results from the early season League Cup was also poor with Shire failing to win any of our 5 Group 9 matches and only managing 2 draws. In the Stirlingshire Cup we lost out at home in the 1st Round to Falkirk 1-2.
With the demise of Third Lanark at the end of 1966/67 the 1967/68 Division Two was back down to 19 teams. After a couple of very bad seasons Shire results started to improve, although only marginally, and we won 9 League games during the season to take us to an end of season 15th spot. The League campaign had started with a very promising 5-0 home win against Stenhousemuir and although other good wins were gained throughout the season there was wasn’t enough consistency. Right at the end of the season, in our last away game, we played out a remarkable 5-5 draw against Clydebank where we came back from a 3-4 deficit at half time. Shire had a better time of it in the Scottish Cup with 2 wins away to Highland League opposition in the 1st two Preliminary Rounds, 4-1 at Fraserburgh in the 1st and 3-1 at Keith in the next Round. This set up a home 1st Round tie against Division One Hibernian where we competed well but lost out 3-5 in front of a near 4000 crowd. At the start of the season Shire performed badly in our Group 9 League Cup Section ended up bottom with only 1 point from our 4 games. In the local Stirlingshire Cup, after a credible 0-0 draw away to Falkirk, Shire elected to scratch from the competition.
In 1968/69 Shire managed to rid ourselves of the lingering shadow of the fallout from the dark ES Clydebank period and competed well throughout the season. In the League Shire raced off to a great start with an unbeaten run in our 1st 7 games. This included 6 wins in a row and 2 incredible back to back results, a 7-3 home win against Berwick Rangers on 7th September and 4 days later, again at Firs Park, a fantastic 6-0 win against Stenhousemuir. Although there were dips during the season as we were unable to maintain our early season promise, a healthy end of season mid table 9th place was achieved with 17 League games being won along the way. Shire had another run in the Scottish Cup in 1968/69 which started with us winning our 2nd Preliminary Round Replay against Alloa Athletic 2-1 after the 1st game had been drawn 0-0. The 1st Round saw us win 2-0 at home to fellow Division Two team Stirling Albion 2-0 before meeting St. Johnstone in the 2nd Round (last 16). In front of a large 6532 crowd the tie was drawn 1-1 at Firs Park but St. Johnstone won through at Muirton Park 3 nil in the Replay. As a contrast to our league start our Group 9 League Cup games results in August were not great, only winning 1 and drawing 1 of our 4 games and avoiding bottom place in the group from Alloa Athletic on goal average. In the Stirlingshire Cup we won our 1st Round tie against Dumbarton 3-1 before recording a memorable Semi Final 3-1 win away at Falkirk. There was not enough time to play the Final before the season end so it was held over until the next season. Shire also played a number of friendlies during the season including a 2-0 away win at Hibernian and a 1-2 home defeat against Celtic.
|Shire team photo taken before our Scottish Cup 1st Preliminary Round away to Stranraer 6/12/1969
The shire team that day was: Bert Archibald, Ian McQueen, John McGuiness, John Mitchell, Gordon Simpson, Arthur Hamill, Tommy Martin, Jim Kinsella, Frank Harper, John Donachie, Willie McCallum
Further progression was made in 1969/70 both on and of the pitch. At the club’s AGM in December it was announced that the club had bought Firs Park from British Railways with the deal being completed on 27th November. This was the 1st time in our history that we had owned our own ground. At the same meeting the club also announced record profits of £12,727 which had been helped by the sale of the players totalling £15,000. The club had purchased the car park at Victoria Road for £1000 and erected new toilets at the Firs Park entrance of the ground. The club had also made a bid to purchase land behind the stand with a view to increasing the capacity of the ground. On the pitch despite the sale of some of our best players a mid table 12th place was achieved, with 14 wins during the season. After a sluggish 1st half of the League campaign Shire finished the season well with 8 wins in our last 12 games. Shire had a disappointment in the Scottish Cup 1st Preliminary Round when we went out of the Cup 1-3 at Stranraer. In Group 6 of the League Cup in August Shire failed to progress, winning 1 and drawing 2 of our 6 games. However, there was triumph for the Shire in the held over 1968/69 Final of the Stirlingshire Cup when we won a close 3-2 game against Alloa Athletic. The 1969/70 Stirlingshire Cup wasn’t as successful for the Shire as we went out at home to Falkirk 2-0 in the Semi Final. Shire played a number of friendlies during the season, the highlight being the pre-season match at Firs Park against English Third Division Oldham Athletic, which we lost 1-3.
|Shire team and officials photographed after winning the 1968/69 Stirlingshire Cup Final against Alloa Athletic 3-2. The match was played at Brockville Park on 7th October, 1969|