History of the Vics
Being established in 1890, the Vics have a very rich history. From our humble beginnings as a pub team to becoming one of the most recognisable names in the junior game.
Blantyre Victoria are one of the only junior clubs in the country to hold the impressive record of winning every competition they have entered on at least one occasion, as well as winning over 40 major honours in the junior ranks.
The Humble Beginnings
The exact year that the Vics was founded is still debated among supporters to this day. The badge states that the club was formed in 1890, although many believe the club actually started a year previously. Some also argue that due to the club folding and reforming in 1900, that this is their true formation date.
The Vics started as essentially a pub team under the leadership of the man who is regarded as the founder - Sam Dawson - playing their fixtures in some rough fields adjacent to Forest Street. The squad used a local pub to get changed for many years as they won two league titles in a row.
In 1894 they turned senior, but it was very unsuccessful as the club did not win a single honour and were heavily beaten by teams such as Heart of Midlothian and Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup on many occasions. As a result, the club folded in 1897. In 1900 Sam Dawson and Hugh McKerrell brought the club back out of the shadows and entered them into the Junior ranks. In their first year back in the juniors they won the Lanarkshire Juvenile Cup. This was followed by a Lanarkshire League title and Lanarkshire Junior Cup in the years that followed.
The club's most successful decade. Winning seven major honours in the Junior ranks and reaching their first Scottish Junior Cup final in 1944.
In the '44 final the Vics were beaten by Glasgow Perthshire, preventing the club from winning a treble that year.
During and after the war the Vics won an incredible, four Lanarkshire Junior Cup. They also won the 'Prisoner of War Cup' and the 'Salute the Soldier Cup' in 1943 and 1944 respectively.
During the 1950's the junior game was truly at its peak with thousands descending on matches across the country week in, week out. This was the era when 'Blantyre's greatest team' shone.
After a successful few years during and following the Second World War, the Vics were still hungry for the greatest prize in the juniors - the Scottish Junior Cup.
In 1950, Blantyre Victoria's moment came. Tens of thousands watched on as the Vics thrashed Cumnock 3 - 0 at Hamden - in what was the clubs greatest ever moment. Alec Young (highly regarded as the Vics greatest ever captain and Aberdeen Hall of Famer) led a side filled with stars such as John Allan, Bobby Herbert and Jacky Gill who all went onto have decorated senior careers as well.
After the victory in 1950, the Vics suffered from losing the majority of the side amidst the cup glory. As a result the club went 15 years without winning any silverware (the longest wait for a trophy in the history of the club)
Thomas Rennick scoring Blantyre's first at Hamden in 1950
Thomas Rennick scoring Blantyre's first at Hamden in 1950
A time when the Vics shone and truly affirmed our status as one of the most successful junior clubs in the country.
The decade began with a bang as 44,000 spectators packed into Hampden Park to watch Blantyre and Penicuik 1 - 1 in the Scottish Junior Cup Final. In the replay, a week later, it was the Vics who came out triumphant as Jim Lynn's strike was enough to settle the tie.
For the years that followed the victory, the club suffered due to most of the squad leaving the club for the senior ranks and they suffered a drought until 1978 when they were finally victorious in the Central League Cup.
As the Vics entered the 80’s, junior football was entering a new era, the television was now beginning to have an effect on support for the game in Scotland and the crowds at junior fixtures declined dramatically. With this so did the appeal of playing in the junior ranks.
Nevertheless, the club (along with the rest of the junior clubs) ploughed on. In 1982 John Young compiled a very high quality group of players in Blantyre including the likes of Tommy Coggill, Willie McVey and John McGurk. This side made history by blitzing their way to Ibrox, then beating Ballieston 1 - 0 in the first ever televised Scottish Junior Cup Final - thanks to a John McGurk chipped shot.
The Vics suffered in the early 90's due to lack of finances and the loss of the Blantyre Derby after Blantyre Celtic folded in 1992, which resulted in many Rangers and Celtic fans in Blantyre choosing to head into Glasgow on a Saturday.
Nevertheless, the Vics had many successes during this decade, winning their only ever treble in 1996, of the Central League One title, the Central League Cup and the Sectional League Cup. In a team filled with Vics legends such as John Paul Darcey, John Brown and former Northern Ireland Captain Stephen Craig.
In 1990, to help fundraise for the clubs new pavilion, former Vics player and Celtic manager offered to bring his side along to Castle Park for a friendly match. The event was detrimental in raising the necessary funds to build the pavilion that the Vics still use today. The match ended in a 6 - 2 victory for Billy McNeil's side which included the likes of Steve Fulton, Gerry Creaney and Peter Grant.
In 1993, another exhibition took place to help the Vics open their new pavilion (which happened later that year). Tommy McLean brought his Motherwell side to Castle Park which including the likes of Davie Cooper and John Philiben. The North Lanarkshire giants thumped the Vics 7 - 0, but with thousands in attendance on the day, this pushed the fundraising over the line for the club.
After the treble win in '96 and the Scottish junior Cup run of '97, the club could not replicate their success after the turn of the century. Aside from one promotion, the Vics had no success until 2009 when the club lifted the Central League Division 2 (the bottom tier of the west region). This league win under Willie Harvey was a huge success for the Vics as they had been held in the bottom division for many years. Although, just two years later they found themselves relegated back to Division 2.
In 2012, Davie Greig was appointed as manager with one objective - to bring Blantyre Victoria out of the division and bring back some glory to Castle Park. In his second season as manager he won the league with Blantyre - but he wasn't going to stop there. The following season he strengthened his squad and won a remarkable Central League Division 1 title. In two years the Vics had won back-to-back promotions, while also taking the top spot on both occasions.
After the departure of Greig, Murdie MacKinnon took over for less than a season at Castle Park before leaving for the assistant manager position at Pollok. This resignation paved the way for the appointment of John Gibson as manager who suffered relegation in his first season - due to starting the year with no signed players. Despite set-backs, he has managed to lead two fantastic Scottish Junior Cup runs and has took the Vics to a Central League Cup semi-final, in 2018. The club continued to backed the gaffer and in the 2019/20 season he won promotion to the Championship, clinching third place at his former club Shotts Bon Accord.