Football in Tayport Through the Ages: Part 2

Season 1905-06

Tayport FC’s exploits this season in reaching last 16 of the Scottish Cup, [see Tayport in the Scottish Junior Cup: Part 2 – 1905/06 to 1906/07 ] had the town buzzing.

The club followed up their Scottish Cup run by again reaching the East of Fife (Montrave) Cup final. There was never a dull moment in football 1900s style, and once again there was controversy…

Leading up to the match the Press reported that ‘Violet will be unable to play Borthwick who is compelled to play in the inter-Association game at Innerleithen’.  Of course, it was maybe just a coincidence that the kit went astray en route to Bayview!

At a meeting of the East Fife Junior FA

‘The principal business was the fixing of the postponed final tie, which was the result of Wemyss Violet losing their hamper with the necessary uniform. The Tayport representative informed the meeting that his club could not again undertake to travel to Methil unless the players were guaranteed full railway fares…It was eventually agreed to grant Tayport half railway fare if the “gate” should realise £7 and full railway fares if the “gate” was £12’.  

It was subsequently reported that ‘the Tayport lads flatly declined to cross the county and no East Fife final is to be fought this year’.

Tayport weren’t playing any league football but given the club’s geographical position, were able to enter cup competitions on both sides of the river – there were plenty – and in 1905-06 Tayport were having an excellent season.

As well as their Scottish and East of Fife Cup exploits, Tayport were finalists in the previous season’s unfinished Armitage Cup and Davidson Cup and were also runners-up after extra time to Dundee West End in the Courier Cup, a match reported as “brilliantly contested all through, neither side sparing themselves, and ding-dong went the play all the time”. It was one of the matches of the season locally, drawing a ”good gate of £16” [£1,995 in 2021 money].

As a point of interest, the Davidson Cup semi-final victory v Cupar Rovers was the first game to be played on the Carthaugh [opposite Fluthers car park], courtesy of Cupar Town Council.

In press coverage of this season, Tayport were variously given the appendage, ‘United’ and ‘Athletic’ but the three were one and the same club.

It was a season in which Red Star FC (Tayport) competed with Dundee based clubs in 2nd Class Juniors games. There was also a different Armitage Cup in which an occasional Tayport team, Tayport Violet, competed. There is a record of this Violet team playing in this Armitage Cup final at Waterstone Crook, Newport against the Mars FC. No, not Peter and Jimmy’s team or a team from a factory which made chocolate bars but the boys from the Mars Ship* anchored off Newport. “A hard and fast game was witnessed and the Mars, by better combination, ran out winners by 3 goals to 1, thus taking the cup for the first time on board the ship”

*The Mars, a training ship for homeless and destitute boys berthed in the Tay from 1869-1929

Tayport’s players in demand

The scouts, no doubt attracted by Tayport’s high profile, had been circling, and at the end of season 1905-06, key players were on the move. Alex Rae went to East Fife 

Albert Oswald was in demand

Even the bright lights of London proved no attraction for Oswald who turned down a move to Spurs and ultimately signed for Dundee FC.

John Wilkie signed for East Fife but he wasn’t long at Bayview before Partick Thistle were in for his transfer. Described by East Fife FC as ‘the Junior capture of the season’, Wilkie moved to the Glasgow side at the end of August:

Season 1906-1907

Football close seasons in more modern times often featured 5-a-side competitions, the North End Fives, for example, but in 1895 as noted previously, the demand for football entertainment was significant and ten years later nothing had changed.

In June 1906 the Junior…and the Senior… 5-a side competition was an integral part of Dundee FC’s Annual Sports Day at Dens Park. Tayport had qualified for the quarter finals before a crowd of 2,000 at Dens on the Thursday night. On Saturday before a 3,000 crowd, Tayport reached the final only to finish runners-up, beaten 1-0 by Lochee Harp after extra time.

Two weeks later at Tayport’s Annual Athletic Gathering on the East Common, Tayport’s footballers dominated the track events as well as winning the 5-a-sides.

Last season’s unfinished Armitage Cup final (2-2) v St Andrews City was early on the 1906-1907 season’s agenda and was replayed at Leuchars, Saints turning a half-time deficit into a 3-1 win to claim the silverware. Tayport got their revenge a few weeks later in the final of the Davidson Cup (also unfinished from the 1905-06 season) beating City by 3-1, also at Leuchars.

Scottish Junior Cup Disappointment

The 1906/07 Scottish Junior Cup run ended at the first hurdle. After receiving a 1st round bye, Tayport went down 3-4 at home to Dundee Arnot in round 2.

It wasn’t a season to remember for Tayport clubs, Tayport FC,  Tayport Red Star or Tayport Violet FC, the latter who played occasional friendly matches.

Tayport FC’s usual line-up that season was Heggie; Campbell and George; N.Oswald, Cowie and Guthrie; Keddie, J.Rae, Gray, Campbell and Greig.

Full-back Campbell was selected to play for the Fife Juniors Select v  Glasgow Junior Select at Bayview Park, Methil

Tayport FC , the holders,  did reach the final of the Davidson Cup and they were fancied to retain the trophy but Anstruther Rangers had other ideas, upsetting the odds by winning 3-0 at Kinness Park in St Andrews. It was reported that ‘Rangers made a triumphal procession through Anstruther and Cellardyke in the brake [coach]’

In February 1907, two of the Tayport players who had gone Senior at the end of season 1905/06, Oswald and Wilkie,  were in opposite camps when Dundee FC faced Partick Thistle in a  replayed Scottish Cup 1st round tie at Dens Park, a tie which drew a cumulative attendance of 31,160, just a few more than the players were used to appearing in front of on the East Common!

…and haven’t things changed

Season 1907-1908

The summer of 1907 saw Tayport’s footballers again playing in the popular 5-a-side competitions.  In July, Tayport Violet was one of 17 teams entered in the 5s at Bonvil Park in Cupar, while the same day at Guardbridge, Tayport FC players were also in 5s action.

The well supported cricket team, Tayport United, was in action as usual on the East Common, the summer sport which had been enjoyed in the town since at least the early 1860s.

Football in the new century continued to be a thriving activity throughout the country and fans couldn’t wait for the new season to start as a newspaper article evinced in July.

“Strong longing for the commencement of football was evidenced by the extraordinary demand for season tickets at Dundee FC’s offices in Murraygate. Indeed, it constituted a record”

In the 1907/08 season Tayport Violet played in the Dundee Eastern League against such teams as St Paul’s, who played at Scott Street Park in Dundee, and Dundee Rosearthur when the Violet line-up was often J.Anderson; Henderson and D.Rae; C.Rae, F.Anderson and Kidd; Brown, Morgan, Riddell, H.Rae and Scott.

In 1907/08 Tayport FC, the 1st Class Juniors, would rekindle the Scottish Junior Cup excitement of 1905/06 [see ‘Tayport in the Scottish Junior Cup elsewhere in the Archive] but there was still no place for the club in the closed shop of the Dundee Junior League therefore friendlies and cup ties would be the order of the day. In December however, following the withdrawal of Victoria Athletic, Tayport accepted an invitation to join the Inter County League. Playing catch-up, they quickly made their mark, collecting both points from their first game against high flying Ardmere FC. But they were never going to complete the season and this was how the table looked at the end of May 1908

There was a whole host of local cups in which to compete on both sides of the Tay but there would be no silverware at the end of the season. Tayport were hot favourites in the Davidson Cup final v Cupar FC at Kinness Park in St Andrews but it wasn’t to be. Cupar, down to 10 men then nine men for a spell through injury, upset the odds to win 2-0. The Cupar press summed up the game as follows

Tayport’s regular squad during the season was Coss, Heggie; Lonie, Crawford, Balfour, E.Oswald, George, Connelly, Greig, Mills, Campbell, Rae, Guthrie, Henderson, F.Oswald.

James George had signed for North End in the close season and would become the subject of a transfer wrangle as Tayport sought to bring him back over the river.

Albert Lonie was selected to play for the Inter County League Select.

Match collections couldn’t sustain the club therefore fundraising was a necessary activity and a significant part of the town’s social calendar.


Martin Anderson referred to in this article is better known as Cynicus, the Scottish artist, political cartoonist, postcard illustrator whose business premises was in Tayport

As would also be the case towards the end of the century, the club’s fundraising efforts could be innovative (eg Fat man dash 1980s) and this report of Road Match as part of the club’s sports day is an example

Season 1908 -09

Tayport FC were again in the Dundee based Inter County League but before the season got underway, they were plundered by Dundee & District League clubs. West End FC signed Tayport’s Crawford, George and J Greig while Stobswell signed Connelly.

Regardless, Tayport would go on to have a good season, reaching the 6th round of the Scottish Junior Cup [see Scottish Junior Cup:Tayport’s History]. The side, sometimes referred to as Tayport United (the name of the Tayport cricket team) had a regular line-up of Heggie, Lonie and Berrie; J.Nicol, Irvine and N.J.Oswald; Greig, W.Campbell, E.Oswald, C.Campbell and R.Nicol

Tayport Violet were playing in the Tayside League and regulars in the line-up were J.Anderson; E.Morgan, D.Rae, C.Rae, T.Rae, B.Calvert, J.Melville, J.Kidd, Y.Rae, Briggs, A.Henderson, F.Anderson, S.Scott, T.Henderson.

Tayport Red Star FC, the youth team were still functioning but playing friendlies. A normal line-up was Taylor; Wilkie and W.Berrie; Gilmour, Brand and J.Berrie; Ness, Henderson, Anderson, Riddell and Beaton. Another team playing the occasional game was Rangers (Tayport) who in the Spring of 1909, played a game v Newport’s Kinbrae FC at Waterstone Crook

Season 1909-10

In what was now traditional fashion, the close season highlight was the Five-a-Side competition which formed part of a Sports Day at Dens Park. In 1909 it was the City Police Sports which attracted a magnificent attendance of 12,000 spectators. The Tayport FC Five reached the final but lost 2-1 to East Craigie.

It was a season in which football in the town, which had been so vibrant over the past decade, was now at something of a low ebb. A number of erstwhile Tayport players were now turning out in the colours of Guardbridge United and there were familiar faces, too, in a Newport FC team, based at Waterstone Crook, which was planning to join the Forfarshire Inter County League. Junicus in the Evening Telegraph (my, hasn’t he aged well!) commented on the Tayport FC situation in September when he said: ”What has come over our friends from across the water – Tayport to wit? I regret to learn that there is a likelihood of the Port going to the wall this season”.

Tayport hadn’t entered the Scottish Junior Cup and weren’t in league competition, so in October were appealing for “First class Juniors for friendlies”

The Juvenile Tayport Red Star FC were playing in the Dundee based Central League and a typical line-up was selected from – Simpson; Berrie, Rae, Brand, Balfour, Wilkie, Gilmour, Henderson, Anderson, Scott, Pryde, Smith and Findlay.

 Former Tayport FC centre forward, 23 yr old John Wilkie, who had signed for East Fife in 1906 before moving on to Partick Thistle, was on the move again this season when he made the move to Reading. 

Another of the 1905/06 Tayport team, Albert Oswald, had returned to the Dundee FC line-up in 1909 but over a year out through illness and injury had taken its toll and he was now with East Fife.