Violet Football Club…since 1884

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

What is now clear is that Violet FC was formed in 1884 and not 1883. Violet are not the first Scottish football club, and they certainly won’t be the last, to discover that their founding date has had to be revised.

The following article was published in the Autumn 2017 edition of the Scottish Football Historian and was also included in a short-lived website which I ran at the time – ww.dundeeviolet.com

Violet Football Club was formed, initially as 2nd Eleven Hillbank, on Friday 8 February 1884.

The Dundee People’s Journal of Saturday 9 February 1884 included the following item: At a meeting on Friday night it was agreed to form a Club under the name 2d Eleven Hillbank. The following office-bearers were elected: Captain, J. Malone ; Lieutenant, J. Balfour; Treasurer, J. Scott; Secretary, G. Creegan, Lyon Place, Lyon Street; members of Committee, W. Sword, J. Mustard, H. Lewis.

The following brief match reports involving 2d Eleven Hillbank have been identified: Dundee Courier – Monday 18 February 1884 On Saturday (16 February 1884) a match was played between the 2d Eleven Peep o’ Day Boys and the 2d Eleven Hillbank, when the game ended with a draw. (Note: Violet’s first match – no score recorded!) Dundee Courier – Monday 25 February 1884 The Tayside and the 2d Hillbank met on Saturday (23 February 1884) at Clepington Park. The latter came off victorious by 4 goals to 0. Dundee Courier – Monday 17 March 1884 2d Hillbank v 2d Clepington Boys— Met on the ground of the former. The match ended in a draw, both sides failing to score. ​Dundee Courier – Monday 24 March 1884 2d Hillbank v. Strathearn.— Met at Clepington Park. The former came off the victors by 13 goals to 0. Dundee Courier – Tuesday 25 March 1884 Glenmore v. 2d Hillbank.—Met at Clepington Park. Both sides scored 1 goal each. Dundee Courier – Tuesday 01 April 1884 2d Hillbank v 2d Vale of Eden. — Met at Clepington Park on Saturday, when the former came off victorious by 1 goal to 0. Dundee Courier – Monday 07 April 1884 2d Hillbank v 2d Walton Rovers.—Played at Clepington Park, and resulted in a draw, both sides failing to score. Dundee Courier – Monday 28 April 1884 2d Hillbank v. Anchor Boys.—Played at Clepington Park on Saturday. The former won by 1 goal to 0. Dundee Courier – Monday 12 May 1884 2d Clepington Boys v. 2d Hillbank.— Played on Clepington Park, when the former won by 1 goal to 0.

Of the nine matches listed above, four were won, four were drawn and only one was lost. It’s a respectable record but the Hillbank FC connection was severed within four months. The Dundee Courier of Thursday 22 May 1884 carried the following account: At the first annual meeting of the 2d Hillbank it was agreed to change the name to the Violet. Secretary, David Wishart, No. 54 Jamaica Street.


​Nearly half a century later, in the run up to the club’s jubilee dinner, held (nine months prematurely as it turns out) on 12 May 1933, the Evening Telegraph reported that “exactly fifty years ago (sic) Violet Football Club set up for itself as a separate entity. Their founding was the result of a quarrel, they originally formed the second eleven of the Hillbank team. At the end of the 1882-83 season the second eleven boys were not at all pleased with the treatment their superiors of the ‘first’ were meting out to them. They decided, accordingly, to break away. At the “rebel” meeting the name ‘Violet’ was decided upon.” “At the end of the 1882-83 season the second eleven boysetc. is simply wrong because Hillbank Footbal Club (the first team) wasn’t formed until 20 October 1883 and there wasn’t a second team until Februry 1884. However this 1883 date could have led to a retrospective misunderstanding that both Hillbank sides were formed in 1883, whereas, in fact, the second team which became Violet wasn’t formed until 8 February 1884.

​There is no contemporary indication of the quarrel mentioned in the 1933 Evening Telegraph article and in the 1880s it was quite common for a group of players to switch to another club or to set themselves up as a separate body. However, the arrangement between the two Hillbank teams which lasted less than four months was clearly deficient in some regard. Dates apart, we have no reason to doubt the Telegraph’s “quarrel” explanation of the circumstances which led to the split.

​Violet’s first match under that title was played on Monday 19 May, listed by the Dundee Courier on Wednesday 21 May 1884 as “Anchor Boys v. Violet (Late 2d Hillbank)”. The report ran to two sentences: Played on Monday night at Stobsmuir. The game ended a draw, both clubs failing to score.”

​The question of how the Jubilee (and consequently the club’s 1983 centenary celebrations) were based on the wrong date remains a matter of speculation. As stated above, it could have been based on the founding date of the “wrong” Hillbank side but there is also the confusion caused by “annual meetings”. After less than 8 months of existence, the Courier reported on 20 October 1884 that Violet FC “have held their second annual meeting and have elected office-bearers. Secretary – Henry Gardner of 22 Court Street”. A second annual meeting in October 1884 may have been enough to mislead club officials in subsequent generations into thinking that the club had been formed twelve months prior to the 1884 second annual meeting.

​What is now clear is that Violet FC was formed in 1884 and not 1883. Violet are not the first Scottish football club, and they certainly won’t be the last, to discover that their founding date has had to be revised.

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