Auchinleck Talbot F.C.
|Full name||Auchinleck Talbot Football Club|
|Ground||Beechwood Park, Beechwood Avenue, Auchinleck|
|League||SJFA West Premiership|
|2017–18||SJFA West Premier Division, 2nd of 12|
Auchinleck Talbot Football Club is a Scottish football club based in Auchinleck, near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. Members of the Scottish Junior Football Association, they currently compete in the West of Scotland Super League Premier Division. The club have won the Scottish Junior Cup on a record twelve occasions. They play in a local derby against near neighbours and biggest rivals Cumnock Juniors.
Auchinleck Talbot was formed in 1909 and take their name from the 2nd Baron Talbot de Malahide, Richard Wogan Talbot, a landowner who donated the site of their Beechwood Park home.
Beechwood Park opened in 1909 with a charity match between The Old Players and The Merchants. Talbot made their team debut the same year when they defeat the juvenile side Highhouse Rangers 4–0. Weeks later they lost their first competitive game at Cronberry Eglinton in the league. Their first win came in September 1909 when they defeated Patna Doon Athletic in their first Scottish Junior Cup tie.
The early and middle history of the club is characterised by periods of fluctuating fortune, often related to the economic conditions in this coal mining district of rural Ayrshire. Talbot folded in 1916 due to financial problems and the First World War but made a comeback four years later, ushering in a relatively successful period for the club. The Ayrshire Cup was won in 1920 by defeating Irvine Meadow 3–0 at Rugby Park. That same year they set a club goalscoring record in the Scottish Junior Cup, defeating Craigbank 11–0 at home, a scoreline surpassed in 2008 when defeating Nairn St. Ninian, 13–1. The South Ayrshire League was won for the first time in 1921 and the following year, a terrace was raised at Beechwood Park to accommodate larger crowds ahead of a Junior Cup quarter-final tie against the eventual winners, a Jimmy McGrory inspired St Roch's. Talbot made their first foray to the semi-finals of this tournament in 1924, losing 1–0 to Baillieston at Love Street. In the 1928–29 season however, the club were forced into abeyance due to financial difficulties.
Restarting the next year, Talbot suffered a lean decade through the 1930s until a second Ayrshire Cup victory arrived in 1939. The club closed down for the duration of World War II but on resuming after hostilities, they enjoyed another successful spell, winning five trophies in 1947–48 including the first of twelve West of Scotland Cups before lifting the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time in 1949. The 3–2 victory over Petershill at Hampden Park was watched by a then record crowd of 68,837 and it remains the third highest attendance at a Junior Cup final. Talbot's first defence of the trophy drew a record crowd to Beechwood Park when 10,000 people saw Irvine Meadow knock the holders out in the 3rd round. The ground was expanded for the occasion with thousands of tons of mining spoil added to build up the terracing and the "bing" was a feature of the park for a number of years.
By the end of the 1950s, the clubs fortunes were again on the wane and the 60s was a down-at-heel decade of little success, with a constant battle being fought against vandalism at the ground. This culminated in the pavilion being burned down in 1972. Around this time, Talbot also suffered their record defeat, a humiliating 11–0 reverse at the hands of arch local rivals Cumnock Juniors. From the depths of despair however, a new resolve emerged. A public meeting on the future of the club infused Talbot with new blood. The clubhouse was rebuilt and onfield performances improved under a new manager, Jimsie Kirkland.
Willie Knox, a former Raith Rovers and Forfar wing half, was appointed as manager in 1977 and an unprecedented era of success for the club began. The Ayrshire League was won in Knox's first season and in 1979, Talbot's hegemony over the West of Scotland Cup began with the first of nine victories in eleven years. The Scottish Junior Cup proved initially elusive with two successive semi-final losses in 1983 and '84 before Talbot defeated Pollok 3–2 in the Junior Cup Centenary final of 1986, coming back from 2–0 down after fifteen minutes of the game. The club followed up with Junior Cup final victories against Kilbirnie Ladeside in 1987 (after a replay), and Petershill in 1988, becoming the first and so far, only club to win the tournament three times in a row. Talbot added a further two Junior Cup wins under Knox in 1991 and '92 and when he stepped down as manager in 1993, the number of trophies accumulated under his 16-year tenure stood at 43.
Talbot made their seventh Junior Cup final appearance in 2002 under the management of Tam McDonald, a player in the 1980s three-in-a-row side, but lost on the big day for the first time to Linlithgow Rose. Tommy Sloan had joined the club from Kilwinning Rangers as a player–coach under McDonald in 2003 and he stepped up to the managers role later that year, assisted firstly by Iain Jardine, then by Allan McLuckie. Sloan has led the club to a further seven Scottish finals, winning five times. His first victory in 2006 against Bathgate Thistle also comprised one half of a Super League and Junior Cup double, a feat to be repeated in 2015. After escaping relegation on the final day in his first season, Sloan has established Talbot as the preeminent force in the West Super League with the club winning four successive league titles from 2012–13 onwards, and five in total.
Off the field, Beechwood Park has also been improved in recent years. A building sub-committee formed in 1989 oversaw the purchase of the Main Stand extension from Hamilton Accies old Douglas Park ground for £30,000 in the 1990s and the 460 seat structure was finally opened around 10 years later. The building committee was subsumed into a larger Beechwood Regeneration Committee in 2013 who continue to upgrade facilities. The club have also been accredited with the Scottish Football Association "Standard" Quality Mark award since 2012.
Scottish Junior Cup finals record
Talbot's record in the Scottish Junior Cup is the best of any club by some considerable distance. The 2017–18 final was their 15th appearance at this stage of the competition, ahead of Cambuslang Rangers (11 final appearances) and Petershill (10 appearances). In terms of cup victories, the margin is more marked. Talbot's 12 Junior Cup wins is more than double the total of the next best clubs, Cambuslang Rangers, Parkhead and Petershill, who have all won the tournament five times.
|1986–87||Kilbirnie Ladeside||1–0 (after 1–1 draw)|
|2010–11||Musselburgh Athletic||2–1 (after extra time)|
|2011–12||Shotts Bon Accord||1–2|
Participation in the Scottish Cup
|2009–10||Third round||Stirling Albion (a)||1–2|
|2011–12||Fourth round||Heart of Midlothian (a)||0–1|
|2013–14||Third round||Stranraer (a), (h)||2–2, 2–3|
|2014–15||Second round||Edinburgh City (a)||1–2|
|2015–16||Second round||Cumbernauld Colts (a)||0–2|
|2016–17||Preliminary round 2||Beith Juniors (a), (h)||2–2, 0–3|
From the 2007–08 season, a Junior club which won the Scottish Junior Cup or one of the three regional Superleague competitions became eligible to compete in the following seasons Senior Scottish Cup. Talbot's victory over Clydebank in the 2008–09 Junior Cup final saw them enter the Senior tournament for the first time in 2009–10. The club was drawn at home to Highland League side Fort William in their first ever tie, winning the match 7–0. Talbot then defeated Huntly after a replay before eventually losing to Stirling Albion in the third round. In their first three years of qualification, Talbot went out to League opposition although they took Stranraer to a replay in 2013–14. Their greatest run had come two years before, when the club reached the fourth round and faced Scottish Premier League side Hearts at Tynecastle Stadium, losing narrowly 1–0. The club took over 2,000 supporters to Edinburgh for the occasion. In recent seasons, Talbot have exited the tournament to fellow non-league opposition.
Talbot have seen a number of players step up to Senior football over the years, although the club was not as prolific a nursery as some Junior sides. Two Auchinleck men who moved from their local club to the professional game are Hugh Robertson and Kris Doolan.
Winger Robertson was signed by Willie Thornton for Dundee from Talbot in 1957 at the age of 17 while working as a miner at Barony Colliery. He was a member of the Dark Blues League title winning side in 1961–62 managed by Bob Shankly and their subsequent European campaigns including an 8–1 rout of FC Cologne at Dens Park. Robertson was capped once for Scotland in a November 1961 World Cup qualification play-off against Czechoslovakia, setting up both Scotland goals for Ian St John in a 4–2 defeat. Shankly himself played for Talbot for a season in 1929 before joining his own local club, the famous Glenbuck Cherrypickers.
Kris Doolan was an established player with Kello Rovers when Tommy Sloan signed him for his hometown club aged 20 in 2007. His form at Beechwood earned him recognition at Junior international level for Scotland, winning three caps in the 2008 Junior International Quadrangular Tournament held in the Isle of Man. After a season and a half at Talbot, Doolan signed for Partick Thistle in January 2009 after a successful trial and has gone on to be the club’s sixth highest goal scorer of all time.
Players and staff
- As of 25 September 2017
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.