Scottish Junior Football Association

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Scottish Junior Football Association
Association crest
Founded 1886
Headquarters Hampden Park, Glasgow
Secretary Tom Johnston

The Scottish Junior Football Association ("SJFA" for short) is an affiliated national association of the Scottish Football Association and is the governing body for the junior grade of football in Scotland. The term "junior" refers to the level of football played. The closest equivalent terminology would be non-League football in England, the difference being that non-league football in Scotland is not similarly integrated in the Scottish football league system. Founded in 1886, the SJFA is responsible for disciplinary matters within the grade, certain player registration procedures and organising the annual Scottish Junior Cup. Other league and cup competitions are organised by three regional committees. The association headquarters are at Hampden Park, Glasgow, which is Scotland's national stadium. There was an earlier Scottish Junior FA which was founded in Glasgow in October 1880. This body also ran a Scottish Junior Cup competition during 1880–81 season, but appears to have disbanded at the end of that season.


The first incarnation of the SJFA logo
The second incarnation of the SJFA logo

The SJFA was formed in Glasgow on 2 October 1886[1] and the first seasons Junior Cup saw thirty-nine clubs take part.[2] Junior football had existed since the early 1880s, initially as separate local associations across Scotland for clubs not in membership of the SFA. This new national association acted as an umbrella for these local junior associations, as well as establishing the Scottish Junior Cup, a national cup competition. The first three winners of the Scottish Junior Cup all joined the SFA and stepped up to Senior level.[3] Gradually, a number of junior leagues grew in strength, particularly in Glasgow where leading clubs drew large crowds. The Glasgow Junior FA having seen a number of its proposals rejected at SJFA meetings seceded from the SJFA in 1907 but returned a year later.[4] Further disputes occurred in 1922 over "poaching" clubs and in 1927, the GJFA was instrumental in the Intermediate dispute which split the SJFA for four seasons. The record number of clubs to enter the Junior Cup was 412 in 1922–23.[5]

The local associations continued to run their leagues until 1968, when the SJFA instituted major reforms. This first phase of regionalisation removed the need for the many local associations, replacing them instead with six regional committees. These six regions — Ayrshire, Central, East, Fife, Tayside and North — still exist to a certain extent, as divisions in the national league structure and as operators of certain cup competitions.

The last major league reform took place in 2002, with the six regions "merging" to create a three-pronged league setup (see "Organisation and regions").

A further reform took place in June 2007. The Scottish Cup, run by the Scottish Football Association for its full member clubs, welcomed four junior teams from the 2007–08 season onwards. All four join the competition in the First Round. The four teams are the three Superleague winners (West, East and North) and the Scottish Junior Cup winners, all from the previous season.[6] Should a club qualify on two counts by winning both its Superleague and the Junior Cup, only three clubs shall enter. From 2007, Girvan also enter the Scottish Cup automatically each season as a result of being full members of the SFA. Banks O' Dee and Linlithgow Rose also qualify via this method from 2014 onwards.


The term "junior" does not relate to the age of players. Football for youngsters is generally known as "Youth" (up to Under-19) or "Juvenile" (which is to Under-21 level) football. In the late 19th century, membership of the SFA conferred "senior" status on a club and the junior grade developed outwith the SFA framework. Today, the senior grade of football in Scotland is played in the Scottish Professional Football League (until 2013 divided into the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League), as well as the four Senior non-leagues, the Highland Football League, the Lowland Football League, the East of Scotland Football League and the South of Scotland Football League. Over time, as various local football associations and leagues, both junior and senior, have risen in strength or in some cases disappeared completely, Scottish football developed its current pattern with either junior or senior non-leagues taking precedence in various parts of the country with some occasional overlap. Nowadays, membership of the SJFA automatically confers on a club, registered membership of the SFA, however junior and senior non-league clubs still play in separate competitions.

Despite the lesser media coverage the juniors get, many of the club sides are fairly popular, and some of the bigger games between clubs (such as the local derbies between Arthurlie and Pollok, and Cumnock Juniors vs. Auchinleck Talbot) can attract attendances in the thousands, although crowds were far bigger in the past (76,000 for the Junior Cup Final in 1951, with nearly 90,000 watching the semi finals (including a replay)) compared to the level of support attracted now. Since gaining entry to the Scottish Cup in 2007, Junior clubs have enjoyed reasonable success with Irvine Meadow, Bo'ness United and Sunnybank all defeating Scottish Football League opposition.

Organisation and regions[edit]

The main league structure is organised on a geographical basis, with the 161 member clubs being split into three regions:

Each region contains several divisions, the East and West regions also being split into further geographical sections in the lower divisions. This is a remnant of the pre–2002 system in which there were six district committee setups that comprised the leagues. Pressure to create more competitive leagues and a higher number of "big games" caused the rationalisation to three main district leagues.

Pyramid set-up[edit]

Level Divisions
1 West Superleague Premier Division
12 clubs
East Superleague
16 clubs
North Superleague
14 clubs
2 West Superleague First Division
14 clubs
East Premier League
16 clubs
North First Division (West)
11 clubs
North First Division (East)
12 clubs
3 Central District First Division
14 clubs
Ayrshire District League
12 clubs
East Region South Division
14 clubs
East Region North Division
15 clubs
4 Central District Second Division
11 clubs

Cup competitions[edit]

As well as the local leagues, there are a number of local cup competitions competed for; however, the biggest competition is the Scottish Junior Cup, which every junior club competes for annually, with the final generally held each May. This cup was established in 1886. Highlights of the advanced stages of the competition are broadcast on national television, with the final match usually being broadcast live. The cup's sponsor for 18 years, until the start of the 2006–07 season, was the OVD Demerara Rum company, replaced at the semi final stage of the 2006–07 competition by Scottish coach operator Citylink. Emirates Airlines sponsored the tournament from 2009–2013.[7]

Scotland Junior international team[edit]

Scotland Juniors
Head coach Keith Burgess
Most caps Bert McNab (12)
Top scorer George Wilson (7)
Dennis Gray (7)
First colours
First international
Scotland Scotland 10–1 England England
(Hamilton, Scotland; 11 May 1889)
Biggest win
Scotland Scotland 11–0 Ireland Ireland
(Glasgow, Scotland; 15 February 1890)
Biggest defeat
England England 5–0 Scotland Scotland
(Wolverhampton, England; 9 April 1927)

Juniors also play internationally, with the best players being picked to play for the Scottish Junior international team against other countries' non-league select teams. The Umbro Quadrangular tournament takes place every two years, and is competed against teams from Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The tournament is hosted in turn by each country, with matches taking place at the larger junior grounds in the host country, such as Dunterlie Park, Pollok's Newlandsfield, and Petershill Park when the tournament was last held in Scotland, in 2005.[8] The team's most capped player is Bert McNab of Petershill who won 12 caps between 1951–55.[9]

Team history[edit]

After the formation of the Scottish Junior Football Association in 1886, officials began to explore opportunities for representative international matches. On receipt of a £17 guarantee, the Lancashire Junior League in England agreed to raise a team and on 11 May 1889, the first junior international was played at Douglas Park, Hamilton with Scotland winning by 10 goals to 1. A return fixture was unable to be arranged as the Lancashire league could not provide a sufficient guarantee.[10]

On 15 February 1890, Scotland played their first match against Ireland at Hibernian Park, Glasgow. The 11–0 scoreline in Scotland's favour remains a record victory for the Scottish Junior international team. This fixture did become an annual event and on 14 February 1891, the team travelled to Belfast for their first away match, a 1–1 draw at Ulsterville, the home of Linfield.[11]

In 1894, games against England resumed with a fixture against Birmingham & District Counties F.A. in Leamington. These games continued until World War II then were revived for a short period in the 1970s. Scotland suffered a record 5–0 defeat in the 1927 fixture at Molineux, Wolverhampton.[12] Games against Wales began in 1912 with a fixture against a representative side of the North Wales Coast F.A, the first game taking place in Bangor on April 13, Scotland winning 2–1.[13]

In 1920, the Scottish Junior international side created history by being the first representative football side from Scotland to undertake a foreign tour. In June, a party of thirteen players and three officials visited Norway and played three games each in Stavanger and Bergen.[14] The full Scottish national side did not play a match outwith the British Isles until 1929 when they also travelled to Norway.

A game against the Irish Free State was played on 9 March 1929 in Dublin with Scotland winning 2–1 but regular games against a Republic of Ireland side did not begin until 1947. The first game in this series was played at Dalymount Park, Dublin on 25 May, with Scotland winning 3–2.[15]

In September 1975, the team travelled to Osnabrück, West Germany to play three matches against a BAOR Select side, winning two of the games.[16]

The number of games against the different home nations has varied in regularity over the years. From 1958 until 1967, Northern Ireland were Scotlands only opponents, while in the 1970s there was an eight-year gap between the two sides meeting. Currently, games against England and Wales are in abeyance and the team contest the biannual Quadrangular Tournament with friendly and testimonial matches arranged intermittently in the intervening seasons.

Current squad[edit]

The following players were selected for the Junior International Quadrangular Tournament to be held in Limerick, Ireland from 2–6 October 2013.[17]

Position Name Club
GK Richie Barnard Camelon Juniors
GK Allan Fleming Kelty Hearts
DF Ross Archibald (withdrew) Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
DF Tam Courts Kelty Hearts
DF Colin Leiper Camelon Juniors
DF Chris Malone Kilbirnie Ladeside
DF Austin McCann (withdrew) Clydebank
DF Chris Robertson Cumnock Juniors
DF Will Snowdon Bo'ness United
DF Chris Wilson Clydebank
MF Blair Batchelor Camelon Juniors
MF Chris Donnelly Bo'ness United
MF Sean Jamieson Newtongrange Star
MF Steven Masterton Hurlford United
MF Ciaran McElroy Clydebank
MF Michael McKenna Musselburgh Athletic
MF Scott Pittman Broxburn Athletic
FW Richie Barr Pollok
FW Iain Diack Pollok
FW Steven Hislop Bo'ness United
FW Kris Renton Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic

Notable players[edit]

The following list notes players who all went on to gain full international honours for Scotland after winning junior international caps, the junior club with which they played at the time and the year of their junior cap.[18]

Name Club Year(s)
Foyers, BobBob Foyers Burnbank Swifts 1889
Smith, NicolNicol Smith Darvel 1893
Hugh MorganHugh Morgan Longriggend Wanderers 1896
Muir, WillieWillie Muir Glenbuck Athletic 1896
Low, ThomasThomas Low Parkhead 1896
Walker, BobbyBobby Walker Dalry Primrose 1896
Colman, DonaldDonald Colman Maryhill 1899–1903
Key, GeorgeGeorge Key Parkhead 1899
Alex BennettAlex Bennett Rutherglen Glencairn 1902–1903
Andy CunninghamAndy Cunningham Newmilns 1908
Nellies, PeterPeter Nellies Douglas Water Thistle 1908
Gray, DougieDougie Gray Mugiemoss 1925
Yorston, BennyBenny Yorston Mugiemoss 1925
Hogg, BobbyBobby Hogg Royal Albert 1931
Jock BrownJock Brown Prestwick Glenburn Rovers/Shawfield 1934–1935
Dave MackayDave Mackay Newtongrange Star 1953
Pat QuinnPat Quinn Bridgeton Waverley 1956
Crerand, PatPat Crerand Duntocher Hibernian 1958
Chalmers, StevieStevie Chalmers Ashfield 1959
Jim ScottJim Scott Bo'ness United 1959
Johnstone, JimmyJimmy Johnstone Blantyre Celtic 1962
Deans, John "Dixie"John "Dixie" Deans Neilston Juniors 1965
Jarvie, DrewDrew Jarvie Kilsyth Rangers 1967
Pettigrew, WillieWillie Pettigrew East Kilbride Thistle 1973
Ian WallaceIan Wallace Yoker Athletic 1974

Tournament records[edit]

Quadrangular Tournament[edit]

Year Host nation Round Position GP W D L GS GA
1993–94 Republic of Ireland Final 1st 2 2 0 0 3 1
1994–95 Scotland Final 2nd 2 1 0 1 7 4
1995–96 Isle of Man 3rd place play-off 3rd 2 1 0 1 4 1
1996–97 Northern Ireland Final 1st 2 2 0 0 6 3
1997–98 Republic of Ireland 3rd place play-off 3rd 2 1 0 1 4 2
1998–99 Scotland Final 2nd 2 1 1 0 5 1
1999–2000 Isle of Man Final 2nd 2 1 0 1 2 3
2000–011 Northern Ireland 2nd 3 2 0 1 5 2
2003–04 Republic of Ireland 1st 3 1 2 0 6 4
2004–05 Scotland 1st 3 2 0 1 4 1
2007–08 Isle of Man 1st 3 2 1 0 8 6
2009–10 Northern Ireland 1st 3 2 1 0 6 3
2013 Republic of Ireland 2nd 3 2 0 1 10 4
Total 32 20 5 7 70 35

1Round-robin tournament format used from 2000–01 onwards.[19]



  • McGlone, David; McLure, Bill (1987), The Juniors – 100 Years. A Centenary History of Scottish Junior Football, Mainstream, ISBN 1-85158-060-3 

External links[edit]