Formation of the Scottish Football League in 1890

A few days after losing the Cup Final replay to Queen’s Park on February 22nd 1890, the Vale and 12 other clubs (making 14 total invites) received a letter from Peter Fairly, the Secretary of Renton FC. It was an invitation to a meeting at Hilton’s Commercial Hotel, 28 Glassford Street in Glasgow, on the 28th March 1890. The Business: “to consider the question of organising League matches in Scotland”.

Renton FC was therefore the catalyst for the setting up of the Scottish League. The subject had obviously been under discussion for some time and the reasons behind the wish for a League were not hard to find. Football had proved to be a huge public attraction, the first great mass spectator sport. Clubs were spending money on keeping their public happy – on grounds, on expenses such as travel, but also on players, in spite of the game being supposedly amateur. On match days, gate receipts were something of a dripping roast. The trouble was that there was not a reliable, predictable supply of matches. Friendlies were usually arranged at quite short notice between each club’s Match Secretaries and were often difficult to fix up, not just because of dates, but also because of arguments about the split of gate money. Cup ties were in some ways worse, because half of the clubs had to exit in each round. However, in England, clubs from Birmingham north had introduced the English League in 1888 to great success, so the Scots had a proven model which they could copy to achieve a dependable, regular stream of games and revenues. Renton’s invite had been well signalled in advance.

Of the 14 who were invited, 12 actually showed up. The 12 attendees were:

Of the 2 invitees who did not show up, Clyde soon joined the League. Queen’s Park did not join and in fact resolutely opposed the League for many years claiming that a League would inevitably result in professionalism, and that it would eliminate many of the smaller and weaker clubs. The problems with these arguments were, firstly, that football was already professional in all but name and secondly that the smaller and weaker clubs were going to have problems anyway. It wasn’t the League which was to give the Vale problems, it was the steady loss of their best players to English professional clubs, not Scottish League ones.

All 12 clubs who actually attended that meeting in Hilton’s Commercial Hotel, signed up to join the new Scottish League. When the League was inaugurated on 30th April 1890, it did so with a set of rules which were at worst neutral to the Vale, at best helpful. Unlike England which had introduced professionalism in 1885, Scottish football, the League included, was to remain amateur (for most clubs this was in name only). The SFA was to retain its supremacy over football in Scotland and the Scottish and County Cup ties were to take precedence over League games. League games, however, were to take precedence over all other games except those mentioned. Thus the League became a closed shop, and at the outset it certainly seemed better to be inside it than out.

Two Seasons in the first Scottish League 1890 – 91 and 1891 - 92

The very first Scottish League program kicked off on August 16, 1890. Some of the results from that day were:

Celtic 1 Renton 4 before a crowd of 10,000, easily the biggest of the day

Cambuslang 8 Vale of Leven 2.

Not a very auspicious start for the Vale. They only won 5 games the whole season, but with 11 points managed to finish above St Mirren and Cowlairs. During the season the Vale used an astonishing 35 players in the 18 games played.

That first season threw up some problems for the League. St Bernard’s were suspended by the SFA for professionalism before a ball was kicked. Renton, who were already in hot water with the SFA for playing a benefit match, then compounded the felony by playing a friendly against a thinly disguised St Bernard’s. With a sense of righteousness and level of energy which had been conspicuously lacking in their dealings with Hibernian three years previously, the SFA promptly suspended Renton from membership of the SFA. This put Renton FC out of the Cup, the League and in fact football altogether. Renton being Renton, they promptly counter attacked the SFA through the courts. They sued the SFA for £5,000 damages for loss of income, damage to Renton’s reputation and loss of patrimonial rights in the SFA and its funds, amongst other things.

To begin with, few in Scottish football took Renton’s case seriously - to most people Renton were a laughing stock for even bringing the case. That changed abruptly when it became clear that the SFA had fallen at the first hurdle by suspending Renton without even giving them a hearing. Renton won hands down, had their costs paid and were reinstated to both the SFA and the League. However, that was too late to resume their League campaign and that first season Renton played only 5 games.

The other odd aspect of the first League season was that it immediately showed that the mechanism for deciding the outright winner in the event of two clubs ending with the same number of points needed a bit more thought. For the one and only time in the history of League football in Scotland, the top division was declared drawn between two clubs – Dumbarton and Rangers. Both had finished on 29 points and had drawn 2-2 in the only deciding procedure put in place, a single play-off game, so that was that for 1890 – 91.

If 1890 – 91 was a bad season for the Vale, then 1891-92 was even worse. After playing 22 games the Vale were all on their own at the bottom of the League with a pitiful 5 points. To make matters worse, Renton were in a respectable mid-League position with 21 points, while worst of all, Dumbarton were clear League winners on 37 points. At this time there was no Second Division – that came in season 1893 – 94 - and therefore no automatic relegation (in fact there was no automatic relegation until 1922; up until then promotion and relegation was by vote). However, the Vale clearly felt out of their depth in this new League and no doubt hanging their heads in shame they voluntarily withdrew from it at the end of season 1891-92.

Difficult Times: 1893 – 1905

The next season 1892-93, they played one solitary season in the Scottish Alliance, a League competition for the then lesser lights of Scottish football. The Club was obviously on its uppers, many of the players having left, and the first team had only 3 players from the previous season. On the park the Vale were barely more successful in the Alliance than they had been in the League, finishing 3rd bottom.

However, the story by this time had moved off the park. The debt which the Vale was still carrying from the opening of Millburn stood at £500 in 1893, which was actually up from the previous year. There had been an appeal from the Club in November 1892 for more prominent clubs to play friendlies against them to help reduce the debt, but by that stage in the season all free dates were taken. However, their old friends Blackburn Rovers came to the Vale’s assistance in December 1892 with a game against Queens Park which raised £120 for the Vale. Had it not been for a wish to repay that debt, the widespread speculation in the press that the Vale were about to fold at this time would probably have proved true.

In May 1893 the SFA at last admitted professionals to its ranks. That of itself did not in practice change much for the leading clubs, since they had been paying players by varied weird and wonderful means for years. It did, however, encourage more structure to football and club finances and for the first time some of the economics of the game became transparent which is a help in understanding the nature of some of the financial challenges facing the Vale at this, their lowest ebb.

The SFA created a register of professional players and insisted that every member club, no matter in which League they were playing, register their professional players on it. There was now no reason for deceit and by November 1893 the register showed that the Vale had 11 professionals playing for it. A few months later, in early 1894, the SFA reported that almost 800 professionals had been registered by the 83 member clubs, although obviously all clubs did not have professional players. This figure was probably boosted by the fact that in season 1893 – 94 a Second Division had been started by the Scottish League.

Arrangements for sharing gate money were also formalised by the Scottish League at the start of season 1893 – 94, and these were the same for both Divisions. Home clubs kept two-thirds of the gate receipts, which clearly favoured the big city clubs. Also a safety net of a guarantee for the visiting club was created and this was set at £5 per game. Only in subscriptions was there a difference between the two Divisions. The First Division subscription was £3, while that for the Second Division was £2-10/-. These were in addition to each club’s subscription to the SFA.

No cap was put on players’ wages and they did vary widely depending on the affluence of the club. Both Rangers and Celtic were paying their players £3 per week, which was double the wage of a skilled tradesman, while a club like Kilmarnock had a basic wage of 10/- per week plus 2/6 per point. At most smaller clubs, therefore, players were part-time. The majority of clubs did not pay their players any wages during the close season.

Typical admission charges at this time for a league game were still 6d per adult and 3d per boy (ladies and girls were admitted free, but there wasn’t much of a revenue loss from that). So it’s not difficult to calculate a very rough break-even point for a club like the Vale at this time. A gate of 200 adults generated only £5, which was the amount of the League guarantee to a visiting club and left no money over to meet any of the Vale’s costs such as players' wages. A gate of 500 adults generated £12 – 10 shillings which left £7 – 10 shillings, since the £5 guarantee was still greater than a two-thirds / one third split. Only when gates of over 700 adults were paying to get in, were the Vale comfortably exceeding that week’s expenses. Even at that, they would not have been making any serious inroads into their debt from the move to Millburn.

In the 1870’s and much of the 1880’s the Vale had been playing regularly in front of crowds of 1,500 – 2,000 at the old North Street Park, and it was crowds of that size which had encouraged the move to Millburn. If the Vale had attracted such crowd from 1890 onwards, then they would have been quite comfortably off with the prospect of clearing their debts in 2-3 years at most. Reality was a bit different. By late 1893 – early 1894 they were playing at Millburn in front of crowds as small as 200 people which brought in only £2 – 10/-. No wonder that in 1893 – 94 the Vale dropped out of the Alliance and played only friendlies, where the split of the gate money was negotiable and cup ties, where it was 50:50 with no guarantees, and that by 1894-95 they weren’t even doing that on a regular basis. Instead, by 1894 – 95 most of the Club’s efforts were going into sorting out the Club’s finances in a re-financing drive.

The re-financing saw the creation of a completely new entity - an Athletic Association which was formed by club supporters with the specific objective of taking on the assets and the debt guarantees of Vale of Leven FC. This new organisation now owned Millburn and rented it to the football club. While these financial arrangements were being made, there was a delay in starting to play games in the autumn of 1894, and into this gap moved a “replica” Vale team which was contacting clubs and representing itself as the Vale of Leven FC to arrange games and share the gate-money. The people who were trying to save the Vale, led by Chairman Hugh Currie and Secretary Andrew McKay were incensed. They wrote to the press in November 1894 to warn other clubs that “callow youths have been endeavouring to keep themselves in pocket at the expense of the Vale of Leven Club”. There was a brief exchange of letters in the press with the leader of the offending party but the “replica” team soon disappeared.

As of January 1895, Vale still had 7 registered professionals, but by February 1895 the talk was of amalgamating Renton, Vale and Dumbarton since all these clubs were struggling with finance. When season 1895 – 96 started Vale scratched from the Qualifying Cup and had no plans to play any games that season, which is apparently what happened. Millburn was rented out to a junior club and the Vale went into hibernation as a playing club for a number of years.

Why the demise is such a short space of time?

Why did the Vale’s playing demise arise so quickly and so unexpectedly? From the 1870’s the club had built up a local following of around 1,500 – 2,000, in 1888 the Vale was moving into a brand new ground which was up there with best new Scottish grounds, in 1890 they were playing in a Scottish Cup final in front of thousands, but by 1893 they were playing to a few hundred people and financially broke. It was the lack of paying customers which caused the Vale to have financial problems – it wasn’t the League or professionalism per se. Where had all the supporters gone and why?

The first thing to say is that they had not gone off to support the large Glasgow clubs. In the 1890’s that was just not an option on a regular basis for a whole variety of reasons including:

• People still worked on a Saturday morning so they would have found it difficult to get to get to Glasgow on time for kick-off on a regular basis.
• The train service was not greatly convenient for fitting in matches on a Saturday afternoon – there are various stories of Glasgow players missing the trains when coming to play the Vale and Renton, and an even better one of the whole Queen’s Park team getting caught up in post match fraternisation with the Vale team and supporters, missing the last train back to Glasgow, which was quite early in evening, and having to stay overnight.
• People just didn’t have the money to travel up to Glasgow every couple of weeks
• There was no tradition of supporting a club outside your own locality at that time

At the time, no one seems to have asked where the supporters had gone, or if they did, they certainly didn’t leave a documented answer, so we have to speculate. One thing is very clear. By the late 1880’s and early 1890’s the Vale supporters were increasingly watching a deteriorating product as players were attracted down south by money. This had been going on at a modest level for some years. Long before the Football Association officially permitted players to be paid in 1885, outstanding Vale players such as the great Sandy McLintock of the Old Vale Team were being paid to play in Lancashire. When they could openly negotiate professional deals in the late 1880’s many more followed, including the full back John Forbes who was already a Scottish internationalist before going on to legendary status at Blackburn Rovers as both a player and director. In his book Weir lists almost a full team of former Vale players who were plying their trade in England by the start of the Scottish League in 1890, and naturally these were the better Vale players, including a number of internationalists.

There was no transfer system and no compensation – this was all pre-pre Bosman. Had there been compensation, then the Vale would have done well financially, in exactly the same way as most Scottish clubs did quite well by selling their best players before the Bosman ruling changed everything. Instead, the Vale were left to plug gaps every year, and eventually it caught up with and overtook them. The crowds stopped coming because the team’s playing standards had fallen away in comparison with what the Vale supporters had become used to. As far as the Vale is concerned, it is very likely that if professionalism had been introduced in Scotland at the same time as it was in England, then the Vale would have been able to better defend itself from the mercenary raids of the English clubs. The status of the club would have declined, the size of the local population made that inevitable, but on a much gentler curve. But it was not to be.

The Dark Ages

Between 1895 and 1902-3 when they surfaced in the Scottish Football Combination, virtually nothing is known of the Vale, although the organisation was obviously kept going and some games were probably played. They must also have maintained a profile within the game because when two additional teams were being sought for the Scottish League’s Second Division, the Vale were one of the two teams invited to join.

1905 - 1915

The Vale duly accepted the invitation and in Season 1905 – 1906 they rejoined the Scottish League Second Division. In the early years they had some quite high finishes – in season 1906 – 07 they finished 2nd top, and 3rd top in season 1908 – 09. In season 1907 – 08 they also won the Scottish Cup. They had to replay the Final after a protest by their opponents, Brechin City was upheld by the SFA, but they comfortably won the replay. The Vale obviously had a pretty decent team around this time and did quite well in the Second Division for a few years. Promotion back into the First Division was, however, a very distant prospect. Until 1921-22 promotion did not automatically go to the 2 top clubs in the League. The First Division clubs voted on which club, if any, should be promoted, and there’s no reason to believe that the Vale would have been any more successful in being elected than many other similarly sized clubs who did well in the Second Division.

In any event, that question was academic from 1910 – 11 onwards as the Vale went on a run of poor League performances. In the five seasons before the Second Division’s suspension at the end of season 1914 – 15, their League finishing positions were: Bottom, 2nd Bottom, 3rd Bottom, 2nd Bottom and Bottom. They were probably quite relieved by the break in 1915, and went off to play in the Western League, like a number of other second Division Clubs.

1915 - 1921

In WW2 all League competitions in the main Scottish and English Leagues were suspended immediately on the outbreak of war in September 1939. Strange to say, that did not happen in 1914. The Scottish League season of 1914 -15, which did not start until after the outbreak of war in August 1914, at first continued as if everything was normal. Of course things were anything but normal. Gaps began to appear not just in the terraces as young men volunteered for the forces, but also in many clubs where most of the players volunteered en masse. Hearts are the best known example of this, but it also happened at a number of other clubs. There were other clubs again who lost very few players to the forces throughout the war.

At most grounds, the Army set up recruitment offices on match days and this was probably the main reason that the government and public opinion allowed football leagues to continue. However, by the end of 1914 – 15 season the lower attendances were causing major financial problems for many clubs. Many wanted to scale back and it was decided to discontinue the Second Division for the duration of hostilities. The First Division continued for the rest of the war, although it had to make accommodations with war-time conditions.

Glasgow Herald Article oon Vale of Leven FootballersThis image is of an article that was printed in the Glasgow Herald on December 1st 1914 about local footballers who had gone to war. Our thanks are due to Derek Robertson for sending this to us.

The text reads ...

Enlist

J. G. Rowan, centre forward of Dumbarton Football Club, has joined the Highland Light Infantry. Rowan, who is the ex-Glasgow Perthshire player, has been with the Dumbarton club for several seasons, and came into prominence as a prolific goal scorer when they were in the second league. He is the first of the Dumbarton players to join the colours. It is expected that he will be able to play for Dumbarton for the greater part of this season, so long as he is being trained in Scotland.

Vale of Leven Football Club have given no fewer than eight of their players for their country's service. These are Peter Arnott, their goalkeeper; Davie McLean, right back; Dick McGill, inside left; Wylie, inside right; Harry Lone, centre forward; Willlie Gallacher, inside left; Willie Clark, left back; J.Wilson, right half. Two of the eight had to return home owing to health reasons - Wylie and Lone. J. Wilson died from wounds in Paris. Dick McGill, who belongs to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, has been out with his regiment from the outbreak of hostilities, and the last letter home from a companion to a friend in the Vale shows that McGill has so far come out of the ordeal unscathed. McGill was a reservist.

No word has been received about Peter Arnott, who was attached to the Black Watch, and who has been away since the war commenced. He belonged to the Perth district originally, and was the ex-Perth St Leonard's goalkeeper. Renton have three players serving with the colours - Duncan Ritchie, the ex-Raith Rovers, Derby County forward; Dunn, forward; and Harry Kain (?) centre forward.

 

Dropping down to play in a more localised Western League no doubt suited the Vale very well in 1915. The club seemed quite happy there and there was little to report about them for a couple of years. In 1917, however, two apparently contradictory things happened. Firstly it was reported that the Vale was in arrears with its League subscription. That sounded ominous, were they in financial trouble again? Apparently no more so than most others, because later in the year they applied to be elected to the First Division.

The vacancy came about because by 1917 war-time travel restrictions had really begun to bite and three clubs – Aberdeen, Dundee and Raith Rovers – were asked to drop out of the First Division until the war was over to save on travel to these remoter outposts. They were suitably compensated and protected, but out they went, to be replaced by a club from a more convenient location in the central belt. Vale applied but failed in its application, the invite going instead to Clydebank who, it was felt, deserved it as a major centre of the war effort with its munitions manufacture and ship building. This was as near as the Vale was ever to get to returning to the top flight of Scottish football.

The war ended in November 1918, which on the face of it gave ample time for a resumption of both Scottish Leagues in the autumn of 1919. Amid much controversy that did not happen. Although the bigger clubs looked after themselves with a continuation of a 22 club First Division in season 1919 – 20, the Second Division Clubs had to wait another two seasons until season 1921 – 22 before the Second Division was resumed. As a sop to the second Division clubs during this unjustified delay, they were promised automatic promotion for the top two clubs when the Second Division did resume, and it duly featured for the first time from season 1921 – 22 onwards.

1921 – 1929

Vale were one of the 20 clubs in the Second Division when it kicked off in the autumn of 1921. Again they started off very creditably with a fourth place finish on 44 points. However, they soon got back into their bad old ways and slipped down the League. In season 1922 – 23 they finished 17th on 30 points.

Alarm bells were no doubt ringing at the start of season 1923 – 24 because in that season the League had started a Third Division and whoever finished in the last two positions in the Second Division in season 1923-24 would be automatically relegated to the Third Division. The Vale duly finished 19th (2nd bottom) on 31 points and were relegated to the Third Division. That total of 31 points was actually 1 more than they had achieved the previous season, but that didn’t matter because they were now in the basement department of the Scottish League.

Everything about the Third Division was wrong. Most of its member clubs were new to this level and had financially extended themselves to get there. Many were the second League team in an area and were just undermining existing League teams. The standard of player and play was pretty poor and could not attract sufficient crowds. A major feature of the new League was the geographic distribution of the clubs with 3 clubs in Angus and 5 in the extreme south-west of Scotland. Travelling expenses for the long journeys to away games stopped some clubs from being able to pay players the target wage.

But the greatest difficulty of all was caused by the general economic conditions in the country. The government cut-backs enshrined in the “Geddes Axe” of the early 1920’s were the main contributory factor in the first of two major inter-war recessions. The Football League was actually very quick to recognise the problem at this stage and in 1922 it allowed home clubs, without consulting the visiting club, to admit the unemployed at half price on production of proof of being unemployed. The evidence of how much trouble football was in could be seen on the empty terraces of even the biggest clubs. Rangers and Celtic regularly played to crowds of about 12,000, only drawing in the big crowds for cup ties and games against each other and one or two other clubs.

Unfortunately this economic realism seemed to have deserted the League by the time it came to establish the financial rules for the Third Division a couple of years later in 1924. Against the advice of the clubs involved and many observers inside and outside the game, it fixed the admission fee for Third Division games at 1/- for adults and 6d for boys, which was far too high for the standard of football on show. Guarantees to visiting clubs were set at £15, although if the gate exceeded £40 then a fifty-fifty split would apply. Although wages were set for the First Division players of £208 per season and £104 in the Second Division, most Second Division clubs couldn’t afford that. Fortunately the League did not impose a wage structure on the Third Division. The Vale players would have been lucky to get 7/6 per week.

The ill-conceived Third Division couldn’t and didn’t last. Vale played one complete season in it, season 1924 – 25 when they finished 4th. During the season the Vale and another club were censured for having an unemployed gate at half price. Even Celtic was similarly censured in 1925, but their robust reply was that this was common practice amongst the Glasgow clubs. No doubt it was similarly common in the Third Division, but other clubs covered their tracks, probably by letting the unemployed in through the Boys Gate.

Season 1925 -26 duly started but it finished in a shambles as clubs dropped out during the season. Helensburgh, of all clubs, finished top of the League and all things being equal they would have been promoted. However, all things were not equal: fewer than 14 clubs had finished the programme of games in the Third Division, therefore promotion was cancelled. Unsurprisingly so was the Third Division, being disbanded at the end of 1925 -26, only its second season.

The Vale was one of the clubs which failed to play out all of its fixtures, although it had managed to struggle on until the final weeks of the season. In April it could not fulfil its away fixture to Montrose. The reason was financial. In its last home game of the season at the beginning of April 1926 against Mid-Annandale, it did not take enough money at the gate to cover its opponent’s guarantee of £15. Covering that guarantee left the Vale with no money to pay the players wages, and some players refused to play until they had been paid. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that the Club also had a number of players out injured and suffering from influenza; so they couldn’t raise a team. Even if they could have cobbled a team together, however, they didn’t have enough money to pay the train fares to Montrose. The return fare was 10/6 so that meant that for even a minimum squad of 11 players, 1 Match Secretary and 1 Trainer the bill would have amounted to £6 16/6. The Vale just did not have that cash to hand.

This was coming at the end of a long period of financial strain exacerbated by far-flung opponents and the burden of servicing an £800 debt still outstanding from the building of the covered enclosure many years before. This was, of course, the second time in which the Club had found itself carrying a heavy debt from the costs of the ground, and you might have hoped that it would have avoided repeating that mistake. In the last week of April 1926 the Club President Mr Alexander Campbell announced that the Vale would be unable to complete their fixture against Brechin in a League match and Dumbarton in a Dunbartonshire Cup match.

The Third Division clubs’ suggestion that they join the Second Division and that it be split into two regional leagues was much too practical to be entertained by the Scottish League hierarchy. So the Vale was left without a place in the Scottish League and for a season, 1926 – 27 they played in the Scottish Alliance, but only for that one season.

By season 1927 – 28 the Vale were playing in the Scottish Junior League, Western Section or Division and they played there both that season and at least for the first part of season 1928 -29. “Junior” didn’t mean quite what it means to-day, and the Vale were still eligible to play in senior competitions such as the Dumbartonshire Cup and the Scottish Cup. A game against Dumbarton at Boghead in the Dumbartonshire Cup in February 1928 provides us with the last complete team list which we’ve been able to find of the first generation of the Vale of Leven FC. It was:

Gunn, Cowan and Chalmers; Smith McHay and Surgeoner; McAulay, Reid, Denny, Ramsay and Campbell.

Surgeoner, the left half, did not turn up for the game and Vale did not have a replacement with them (this was 40 years before substitutes were allowed) and so were forced to play the whole game with only 10 men. Not surprisingly, Dumbarton, who were in the Second Division of the Scottish League, won 7-2.

Vale were more successful in the Junior League where their opponents included such long-disappeared clubs as Bedley, Old Kilpatrick and Glenboig Cameronians and also some clubs such as Royal Albert which still survive in to-day’s Junior ranks. The Vale played all of these fore-mentioned clubs in the autumn of 1928. At the game against Glenboig Cameronians at Millburn, which the Vale won 2-0, the Jamestown and Vale of Leven Band played selections during the intervals, so there must have been some sort of crowd to make it worth the Band’s while to turn up. 9th March 1929 is the last game played by the original Vale of Leven FC for which a report can be found, but unfortunately no team is given.

The Vale was in the grip of the severest recession which modern Britain had ever experienced, although worse was to come a few years later in the Depression of the 1930’s. No doubt in 1927 / 28 there still some around Millburn who could remember the bad times of the 1890’s and were urging that the Vale must prepare for the worst if they were to survive as a club. The Vale had already shown a strong dose of realism, and tough times called for tough solutions. Certainly the preferred strategy which emerged was very tough – it was to stop playing games until economic conditions improved, but still keep the club structure in place, to be re-activated as soon as circumstances allowed. Draconian it may have been, but given the rate at which clubs were going to the wall in Scotland in the late 1920’s it was a sensible and timely approach. The decision to go into temporary hibernation was taken just a few weeks before the Great Wall Street Crash of October 1929.

Unfortunately, the Vale were overtaken by events before the officials had managed to take all necessary administrative steps. The Club stopped playing football, but did not withdraw from the Scottish Qualifying Cup in time and were held to be in default by not turning up to play Dykehead in the first round of the Qualifying Cup in the autumn of 1929. Ironically Dykehead, from Shotts, were in an almost identical financial position to the Vale, and barely outlasted them. For this withdrawal, the Vale were expelled from the SFA and were to remain officially in the wilderness for the next ten years. But as always with the Vale, that was not the whole story by any means.

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