Ian MacIntosh tells the story of the Camelon Juniors and how his grandfather used to play with this local team.
Forming the Club
The history of a football club usually begins on, or just before, the accepted date of their formation and Camelon Juniors FC are no different. The accepted date of their formation is 1920 - after all, that’s the date on the sign at Carmuirs Park. However, there was a Camelon Juniors in existence between 1907-10. Their existence was short lived and, but for a team photograph and match reports which appeared in the Falkirk Herald and Falkirk Mail from 1907-1910, it would be easy to dismiss their existence.
Their only shared heritage is the name, “Camelon Juniors FC.” As a Camelon supporter however, there is a family connection between both teams because my grandfather William Hardie Cram (1888-1942) played for Camelon Juniors in their first season 1907-08. This article is about that first season and his contribution to Camelon Juniors FC.
In 1905 Camelon FC disbanded, and for the next two years the only football on offer to the Camelon football public was provided by Juvenile teams Camelon Rovers and Camelon Hearts. Willie Cram played Outside-left for Camelon Rovers and in 1906 he was selected to play for Stirlingshire Juvenile FA, receiving a cap for this honour, before joining Grange Rovers for the 1906-07 season. The following season, he joined the newly formed Camelon Juniors.
In 1907 Camelon Juniors FC were accepted as members of the Stirlingshire Junior Football Association. In 1907-08 they were members of the Clackmannanshire Junior League. As well as league fixtures, Camelon competed in the following cup competitions: Scottish Junior Cup, Stirlingshire Cup, Clackmannanshire Cup, Consolation Cup, Denny Cottage Hospital Cup, Falkirk & District Cup, and Falkirk & District Cottage Hospital Cup.
From these fixtures, the first match reports of Camelon Juniors FC began to appear in the Falkirk Herald and Falkirk Mail. Willie Cram was often mentioned either as a goal scorer or in the build up for a goal – the full team line-up was listed as: Wilson, Speirs, Kemp, Miller, Marshall, J. Allan, W. Allan, Wilson, Robertson, Scott & Cram.
On Saturday 14/09/07, Camelon played in the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time against Denny Athletic. The match was played at Camelon Public Park. Camelon lost 3-1, but Willie had the distinction of scoring Camelon Juniors’ first goal in the Scottish Cup.
Below are quotes about the match:
“Denny Athletic again did the journey to Camelon and there ousted the young “Mariners” from further participation in the Scottish ties. A strong relationship exists among the players of both these clubs, and beforehand speculation ran high on what was to happen. From the initial kick it was evident that the pace was to be a cracker, and as Cramb scored early for the homesters it put them in a good mood.
The visiting front rank were playing a pretty passing game, but Wilson, Scott, and Kemp were ever on the alert, but they allowed the young Kyle’s to get in good position and he neatly made things even with a beauty. Half-time 1 Goal each.
On resuming the Denny team put on the screw, but for a time they were well held by Robertson, Marshall and J. Allan. The pressure was bound to tell however, and when Morrison clapped on a second goal for Denny.
The home lot never regained their early form and were sorely pressed until the finish, but through great defence staved off further disaster, the game ending – Denny Athletic 3 Goals; Camelon, 1.” (Falkirk Mail 21/09/07).
Over the course of the season they picked up some notable wins including a 4-1 win over Grange Rovers in the Falkirk and District Junior Cup at Camelon Public Park on 27/12/07. The Falkirk Herald (4/1/08) noted that the win was more attributed to Grange Rovers being poor rather than Camelon being good. In the Clackmannanshire League, Camelon beat Alloa Athletic “A” 2-1 at the Public Park. The poor form against Denny sides continued with a 2-1 defeat by Denny Hibs in the Clackmannanshire Cup. An interesting note was that they drew 2-2 with Stenhousemuir Hearts in the Stirlingshire Consolation Cup and the replay took place in St Ninians despite all the local teams playing away from home.
The Falkirk Cottage Hospital Cup
Junior football has a reputation for uncompromising play on the pitch and zealous behaviour by fans. The Falkirk Cottage Hospital Cup, semi-final 2nd leg against Forth Rangers in Grangemouth provides ample evidence of this. The reports from the Falkirk Herald and Falkirk Mail described the game as:
“a contemptuous affair which became rowdy towards the end when Forth Rangers players and supporters’ tempers began to fray.”
Camelon won the 2nd leg 2-1, for a 6-4 aggregate win. The papers also reported that the Camelon Players and supporters were attacked at the end of the match and that the Camelon players had to remain in the pavilion and were only able to leave the ground after the crowd dispersed. Below is the match report of the final from the Falkirk Herald (6/6/08):
“Falkirk Infirmary Cup Final, Wednesday 3/6/08.
Camelon Juniors v Vale of Carron
Venue: Brockville Park, Falkirk, Gate Receipts; 5 Guinea. (No contribution to Hospital Funds as expenses had to be paid)
Play was evenly contested at the start and after 20 minutes Cram opened the scoring for Camelon. Gibson was not long in equalising for Vale. Towards the interval Camelon once more assumed the lead, a cross from the left wing(er) (Cram) was converted by Robertson. Just before the Half-Time whistle, Vale secured a corner and Grieg once more equalised for Vale.
Half-Time Camelon Juniors 2 Vale of Carron 2
Camelon Juniors did most of the attacking in the second half, but it was with 5 minutes remaining that they got the winning goal. Marshall driving the ball amidst a lot of players into the net. Vale made a strong effort to equalise and had a couple of unfruitful corners.
Result: Camelon Juniors 3 Vale of Carron 2.”
The Stirlingshire Junior League
Camelon featured three times in the sports round up of the Falkirk Herald (6/6/08): the match report, a paragraph about the club winning their first trophy, and in the Stirlingshire Juniors FA roll of winners. It was an encouraging first season, winning the Falkirk and District Cottage Hospital Cup and finishing Runners-up in the Clackmannanshire Junior League. With the future looking good, they moved to the Stirlingshire Junior League in 1908-09 season where they remained until the club disbanded in 1910.
As for Willie Cram, he moved to East Plean United the following season, but he wasn’t there long. During the pre-season friendlies, he played in a Benefit match for William Morris of East Stirlingshire and in September he signed for East Stirlingshire, remaining at the club until 1910. From 1910-16, he played for Broxburn, Kirkcaldy United and Montrose (2nd/7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders).
In 1926 Camelon Juniors FC won the Stirlingshire Junior League and Falkirk & District Junior Cup and to celebrate this achievement, a photograph was commissioned with local photographer J.R. Miller. An invitation was extended to the surviving members of the 1908 Cup winning team. William Cram is present in this photo sitting in the front row on the far right.
Camelon Juniors FC 1925-26 with the surviving members of Camelon Juniors FC 1907-08.
By Ian MacIntosh, Great Place volunteer 2020.