The rise of East Stirlingshire Football Club from its beginnings until the end of the 19th Century can only be described as meteoric.
What started life as a group of friends and work colleagues forming their own football team had, in less than a decade, become a powerful force in the Scottish game.
They could count Scottish and Welsh internationals in their ranks, were capable of reaching the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, of winning the
Scottish Qualifying Cup and sweeping all before them in their own county, winning the Stirlingshire Cup four years running.
Not so long later the likes of Everton, Sheffield United, Arsenal, Liverpool and the famous amateur gentlemen, Corinthians, were flocking to Bainsford for a game.
And it had such humble origins. All the club’s founders were working men, all involved in town’s major industry, iron foundries. They were pattern makers and moulders, and they mostly were neighbours.
Some had played sport together before as part of a cricket team called the Bainsford Blue Bonnets. And at a meeting held on 1st October 1880 they decided to form a football team and called it Britannia, a common name for clubs at the time.
Their first known game took place on 2nd December 1880 and ended in a 7-0 defeat against Falkirk 2nd XI.
By the end of the first season the club had found a new home at Randyford.
At the suggestion of club secretary Alex Cockburn the team decided tochange its name to East Stirlingshire, because, according to Cockburn, the ground had last been used by the now-defunct East Stirlingshire Cricket Club. The change was accepted.
In 1882 there is the first recorded mention of the club colours; black-and- white. But on the field success would take longer.
When it came, anyone who knew anything about football in Scotland would be aware of the club’s name. In the late 1880’s the Scottish Cup quarter-finals were reached twice, and the Stirlingshire Cup was in a vice-like grip. The highpoint was surely the 9-0 win
over Falkirk in the Stirlingshire Cup final of 1888/89 season.
With such success came the first great Shire players; Lawrence “Laurie” McLachlan, who is still the club’s all-time top scorer with 135 known goals. Humphrey Jones, a master at Polmont’s Blair Lodge school, which at the time was Scotland’s Eton, won five Wales caps while at the club. Davie Alexander, who won a solitary Scotland cap with Shire was also an ace striker of the day.
And such a great success was also built on the talents of young players whose greater achievements came elsewhere.
Dan Doyle is perhaps the most famous of them all. He made 34 Shire appearances but is better known as a league winner with Everton and Celtic.
Danny Kirkwood won the English League with Everton, Archie Richie was an FA Cup winner with Nottingham Forest while Tom Dunn was an FA Cup runner-up with Wolverhampton Wanderers and later became a founding member of Thames Ironworks FC, now known as West Ham United.