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Gala Fairydean Football Club


 

A Brief History

Gala Fairydean entered the Border League in 1907 when the rule requiring participating clubs to own their own pitches was rescinded. They played for a season in the public park before acquiring a pitch at Eastlands. They also played a season at Mossilee before the First World War, however they returned to Eastlands although they would return to Mossilee in the future.

During this period clubs played many friendly fixtures although leagues were run. However league fixtures, particularly to further flung locations, were often not fulfilled such that champions were sometimes declared on the basis of those matches which had been played.
Cup competitions were however numerous and keenly contested and Gala Fairydean's first honours came in the King Cup which they won on three successive occasions before the First World War. In 1914 Gala Fairydean finally progressed far enough in the Scottish Qualifying Cup to earn a place in the main draw for the Scottish Cup proper. However the onset of hostilities in the First World War brought about the end of competitive football for the duration and Gala had to wait a while longer for a tilt at the big clubs in the Scottish Cup.

 

Many players from Border clubs joined the colours during the war and Fairydean players were no exception. The blackest day for the Borders during the misnamed Great War was 12th July 1915 when 230 men from the Kings Own Scottish Borderers were posted missing following a disastrous attack on Turkish positions in Gallipoli. Many of these soldiers were subsequently declared as being presumed dead having been killed in the aforementioned action including former Fairydean players William Bennett and Charles Keddie.

A return to peacetime saw little in the way of honours come the way of Gala Fairydean although they did post one victory each in the King Cup and East of Scotland Qualifying Cup in the 1920's. Perhaps the Club's greatest day too date occurred in 1920 when Fairydean were drawn against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup. The game was drawn to be played at the Dean's windswept Mossilee home but the decision was made to sacrifice ground advantage for gate receipts and so the match took place at Pittordrie in front of 17,000 spectators. Despite losing their goalkeeper in the first minute (there were no substitutes in those days) Fairydean held Aberdeen to 0-0 at half-time and only finally succumbed by the narrow margin of 2-0.

On other occasions in their history Fairydean have defeated league opposition in the Scottish Cup in the form of Stenhousemuir and Cowdenbeath and held Kilmarnock to a 2-1 margin at Rugby Park - a remarkable achievement considering that Killie were Scottish League Champions the following season.

This last result happened during the Alfie Conn era of the sixties which was a golden period for the Club. The ex Hearts star injected a new sense of confidence into the Club and a long list of trophies was captured in the swinging sixties including five League Championships; three Scottish Qualifying Cups; four East of Scotland Qualifying Cups and the City Cup. The sixties also saw the construction of the grandstand and clubrooms at Netherdale to give the Club some of the best facilities in Scottish non-league football.

During this same period Fairydean played Celtic at Parkhead in the Scottish Cup and had the audacity to hit the Celtic post in the first minute. In 1965 the Club were pitted against Clydebank in the Scottish Qualifying Cup and trounced them by nine goals to one but still lost out to Clydebank when they gained admission to the Scottish League,to fill the vacancy left by the demise of Third Lanark, ahead of the Borders club. The following year saw Fairydean selected to play a practice match against the French national side before they took part in the World Cup being staged in England.

The seventies was a quieter period with only one cup being won but the eighties saw a return to former glories with one championship, six Scottish Qualifying Cups and three East of Scotland Qualifying Cups being won. It was also in the 1980's that the Club took the bold step of installing floodlights to further improve the available facilities at Netherdale with Glasgow Rangers playing a friendly match to officially switch on the lights before a capacity crowd.

The nineties continued to produce silverware but the Club was desperately disappointed not to achieve membership of the Scottish Football League when it was reorganised and enlarged in 1994. Gala Fairydean received the votes of more clubs than either Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Ross County but due to the variable weighting attached to the votes of clubs in different divisions they came third behind these two clubs when the votes were counted.

As we enter a new millennium Gala Fairydean remain ambitious and optimistic despite once again applying for membership of the Scottish Football League only to lose out to two Highland League clubs yet again. They did however gain promotion in 1999-2000 back to the ESL Premier League and have an ambitious programme of improvements to their current facilities so that they do not fall short when the next opportunity to join the SFL arises.

Gala Fairydean kick off next season (2000-01)with two prestige friendlies against Carlisle United on the 20th July (kick off 7pm) and against newly promoted Berwick Rangers on the 26th July (kick off 7.15pm).

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