A Tale of Two Thistles

Updated: Sep 10


Twelve months after being formed, Queen’s Park played their first organized match against the Glasgow Green-based Thistle FC on 1 August 1868. Confusingly there were two Glasgow clubs called Thistle in the early 1870s, although not at the same time. Both clubs were based at Glasgow Green and perhaps understandably their separate histories have sometimes been conflated. It was a point Richard Robinson tried to clarify in his History of the Queen’s Park Football Club 1867-1917 when he referred to “an entry in the Queen’s Park minutes (which) states that the Thistle played in1868 (against the debuting QPFC) was defunct in 1873.” Not completely defunct. Later on in the same page, Robinson added that the QP minutes “also stated that (the first) Thistle merged in the Eastern.” That would tie in with most records which state that Eastern FC was founded in 1873 and played their first match, a 4-0 win over “Celtic”, on 25 January 1873 at the part of Glasgow Green then known as Flesher’s Haugh. Richard Robinson states that the second Thistle was formed in 1875. To underscore his contention that the two Thistle’s had no connection he mentioned in the QP book (published in 1920) that “old members of the second Thistle possess no knowledge of the first Thistle.” In Rejected FC of Scotland Volume 2, author Dave Twydell affirms that the second Thistle were formed in 1875 and initially played at a fairly low level, not entering the Scottish Cup before 1878. Confusingly, the second Thistle’s first ground was variously listed as “Springfield”, “The Green” and “Shawfield” but Thistle were certainly based at Shawfield in 1881 and at Dalmarnock Park from 1882 to1884. In 1884 the club moved to Beechwood Park in Dalmarnock, then in 1892 to Braehead Park, believed to be part of what is now Richmond Park. In 1893 Thistle, sometimes referred to as Glasgow Thistle, became members of the newly formed Scottish League Division Two. Completely out of their depth, both on and off the park, they folded at the end of what proved to be a disastrous season. They had lasted longer than the Thistle club who were Queen’s Park's first-ever opponents but in the crowded, competitive late nineteenth century Glasgow football scene they were just two of the many clubs which merged, imploded or slowly declined but who nonetheless deserve to be remembered.

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