Glasgow Academicals RFC

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Glasgow Academical
Glasgow Academicals.jpg
Full name The Glasgow Academical Football Club
Union Scottish Rugby Union
Nickname(s) Glasgow Accies, Accies
Founded 1866
Location Glasgow, Scotland
Region Glasgow
Ground(s) New Anniesland
formerly Old Anniesland
President Scotland John Beattie
Coach(es) Scotland Andy Jackson
Captain(s) Scotland Craig Wright
League(s) West Regional League Division One
2014/15 3rd
Official website

The Glasgow Academical Football Club is one of the oldest rugby football clubs in Scotland. This history is notable for a number of reasons, including the clubs longevity, its early foundation in the timeline of rugby, and the fact that the club produced many internationals. The club was also a founder member of the Scottish Football Union (the future SRU) in 1873.


Early years – 19th century[edit]

The Glasgow Academical Football Section was founded in 1866 when a number of former pupils of Glasgow Academy, under the chairmanship of the Rector, Mr Morrison, adopted a resolution that an Academical Club should be formed.[1] At a time when the rules of rugby were far from formalised, the new club elected to play on the lines of the Edinburgh Academical Club. The club played their first match in the season 1867–68 but despite formalising their own rule set, disputed matches based on rule interpretation still abounded. The Glasgow Academicals in their history record that in "a match against West of Scotland in 1869 the ball was kicked over the West's goal-line, but over a fence into the adjoining field, whereupon a West of Scotland player went to the fence, but Arthur, for the Academical, got over and touched down. It was taken to be a try, but West of Scotland disputing the touch, a goal was not attempted. As the History of Glasgow Academy so rightly observes, 'The dead ball line now fortunately renders it unnecessary for the players to indulge in obstacle races'."[1]

By 1871 the Club had a membership of almost 200 and by 1889 it was well over 500.[1] The team had established itself as one of the best in Scotland with a record from 1867 to 1882 showing that of 145 matches in sixteen seasons it lost only 11 of them. In eight of these seasons it was undefeated. The Club became the first to send a team across the border into England and in December 1870 the Academical played Liverpool and Manchester on their home grounds drawing both matches. The club was also the first Scottish Club to play in London when it defeated Blackheath FC in March 1878. Ireland had also been visited in 1872 when the North of Ireland FC was defeated in Belfast.

After the third international match against England, played at Partick in Glasgow in March 1873, a number of clubs decided to form what would become the Scottish Rugby Union. Representatives from a number of clubs met at Glasgow Academy and formed the union, the Academical being one of the original clubs. The first rules of the Union were drawn up by a committee in which, two Academical, J.W. Arthur and A.Harvey served.[1] Many internationals emanated from the club in the 1870s and early 1880s, however the club's prominence declined from 1883 until the start of the twentieth century and in this time the Club played a less-important part in Scottish rugby.

The early 20th century and the Golden Era[edit]

It was not until 1905, under the captaincy of Louis Greig, that the Club regained its high status with only one match was lost in 1904-1905. The team won the championship in 1912-1913 having been runners up on four occasions. The First World War saw the full 1913-1914 season's team engaged on active service and tragically eight members were killed. Only one of the fifteen returned unwounded and a completely new side had to be developed in 1919. Thus, a great team was extinguished, but very soon the Academy produced a side that by 1921-1922 had won the Scottish Club Championship again, dropping to second place the following year, but remaining at the top until 1925-1926. In these five seasons they played 123 matches, losing 10, (two to Oxford University, two to Cambridge University and only six to Scottish opposition). In 1925-1926 season it was not defeated by any Scottish Club. Great players of this era included Herbert Waddell, J.B. Nelson, J.C. Dykes, J.M. Simmers, R.C. Warren, M.A. Allan and J.B.White who was the successful captain. The four outstanding backs, Nelson, Waddell, Simmers and Dykes, were all outstanding Scottish international, and the Waddell-Nelson half back pairing was the fear of all Scottish club and international opponents. Herbert Waddell went on to be a highly respected President of the Barbarians and on his death the Barbarians honoured him with a match at New Anniesland when they fielded a strong team of international players.

From 1926 to 1997 – vacillating performance and the National Leagues[edit]

Although the club failed to win the Championship from 1926 to 1932 they were never lower than fourth. A decline in the 1930s was halted by World War II and a process of rebuilding was set in motion in 1945 with the Academicals in 1954–55, under the captaincy of Jimmy Thomson, joint champions. They were third position the following season but a gradual decline in standards saw 1959–60 season being the poorest in the Club's history to that date. Ten years later saw sixteen wins from twenty three matches in 1968-1969 and nineteen from twenty four the following year and three more successful seasons followed in the early 1970s. This was a well timed renaissance because in 1973 the National leagues were established and Accies were awarded with a place in the first division. Unfortunately, this coincided with the retirement of a number of key players and decline in the number of young players coming from the Academy. Academy boys had begun to go to Universities outside Glasgow and the club delayed in becoming open (i.e. admitting players who had not attended Glasgow Academy). By 1977 Accies were relegated to the third division and only avoided a further drop in 1979 on points difference. By 1984–85 Accies were back in the top flight and saw their team represented on the international stage by John Beattie. The remainder of the '80s saw the team yo-yo between the first and second divisions. A consistent mid table position was maintained in the second division in the early 1990s. When in 1995 the leagues were reconstructed from divisions of fourteen to ten and eight Accies shifted into the third division which they won immediately.

Glasgow Hawks[edit]

Main article: Glasgow Hawks

In 1997 the decision was made to combine the first XV's of Glasgow Academicals and close rivals Glasgow High Kelvinside (themselves a very new club having been formed when the struggling Glasgow High FP and Kelvinside Academicals combined in 1982), something that was predicted would happen only after "hell freezes over".[2] The combined team was named the Glasgow Hawks. The Hawks won the second division championship and the Scottish Cup in their first year and have continued in the first division and have since been beaten finalists on two further occasions. In their first year they were regarded as one of the best club sides to have played in Scotland. Glenn Metcalfe, Derek Stark, Gordon McIlwham and Murray Wallace were Scottish Internationalists and Tommy Hayes and Mike Beckham had played for the Cook Islands.

Glasgow Academicals – 1998 to today[edit]

With the advent of the Hawks, the Glasgow Academicals lost many of their first XV but made the decision to continue as a league side the following year - which meant that they had to start at the bottom of Scottish rugby in Glasgow District division 3. The club raced back up through the leagues being promoted five years in a row. The club is currently playing in the regional league West Regional League Division One. Glasgow Academicals have been close to the top of West Regional League Division One for the past few seasons, and they aim to be champions in 2016 so the Academicals are promoted on their 150th anniversary.

International players[edit]

Glasgow Accies have provided over seventy caps to the Scotland side.[3]

External links[edit]