1886/87

Although the season was an improvement on the farcical nature of the previous one, Saints status as top dogs in the town and county of Renfrewshire was no longer up for debate as they had slipped considerably behind Abercorn in the Burgh and the district ratings by the end of it.

In Renfrewshire things looked bleak for Saints as they were knocked out the cup in the second round, and had been overtaken on the park by Morton, Port Glasgow and Arthurlie, leaving the Buddies a distant fifth between the top clubs in the county.

Saints still had the advantage of the best facilities; however, their once considerably bigger support had slipped in line with everyone else as results had been average at best. Taking away matches played in the Sports Days of Saints and Abercorn which had different rules to association football, the Buddies faced Abercorn, Morton and Port Glasgow on 11 occasions during the season, winning just twice and on one of those occasions (against Port Glasgow) the opposition had only 9 players.

Professionalism was sneaking in through the back door in Scotland, with England giving into their big clubs in 1885 and discussion about a professional league were already under way south of the border. Scotland was sure to follow, Saints had to get back on track, quicky.

There was hope for Saints though. Andy Brown had rediscovered his best form with at least 21 goals (all goal scorers not known for the season) from 30 matches, the majority coming after a four-month injury absence. Fellow young forwards Langmuir, Bain and Wylie showed great promise as the career of Geordie Watt came to an end.

A young half back by the name of Eddie McBain also broke through, scoring on his debut, and in time would become one of Saints most important players of the 19th century.

July 1886

The seventh annual Saints Sports Event is held on the 24th and 31st July. For the first ever time, the football competition is expanded to an 11 a-side tournament and will include Saints, Abercorn, Arthurlie, Morton and Port Glasgow Athletic. Again, the attendance over the two weekends exceeds 10,000 despite very poor weather, and Saints win the football tournament after wins over Port Glasgow in the first match and Morton in the final.

August 1886

The season starts with 2 draws, at home to Hibs and against Morton at Cappielow. Former Saints captain John Paterson is reportedly considering ending his stay in Australia where he was appearing for Brisbane Rangers, with a return to St Mirren a possibility.

September 1886

The Scottish Cup draws Saints with Arthurlie on the 14th in Paisley, but after the Barrhead side turn up with just 9 men, they refuse to play anything other than a “friendly” which is agreed by match secretary John Orr. However, captain Geordie Watt dismisses this compromise and claimed the tie on behalf of the Paisley club as Arthurlie “refused” to play. The teams then play out a “friendly” won 3-0 by Saints.

The SFA decide that the match should be played again, and schedule it for the following week. Saints win this 4-3 and meet Port Glasgow Athletic in the next round.

October 1886

The team pick the worst time possible to lose their first match of the season when they are knocked out the Scottish Cup by Port Glasgow on the 2nd. The 8-2 defeat at Kilmarnock a fortnight later highlights the issue with Saints determination to honour their fixture list as three players are on county duty and a further three unavailable due to injury, leaving a reserve side to take on the Ayrshire Cup holders.

Saints easily progress in the Renfrewshire Cup with a 9-0 win over Dykebar in the first ever meeting between the clubs played at Thistle Park on the 30th.

November 1886

The return of an old problem comes back to trouble the side as several players are posted unavailable throughout the month leading to Saints being surprisingly knocked out the Renfrewshire Cup by unfancied Pollokshaws Athletic.

December 1886

Saints are unsuccessful with a protest to the Renfrewshire FA following the cup defeat to Pollokshaws and lose their 5s deposit as a result due to the RFA deeming the complaint trivial. Despite continuing player issues, Saints win back-to-back matches against the 1st RRV and Battlefield, despite starting the match with only 9 men against the the former. Eventually two local players helped the Buddies in Greenock as the Renfrewshire Rifles Volunteers were beaten.

The Paisley Express reported on the 27th that the long-anticipated return of John Paterson from Australia was no longer happening.

January 1887

The club arranged another Southern tour for the New Year break, so Saints travelled down to the now familiar route to the North of England to take on three clubs, the first of which was Church FC from Lancashire who beat the Paisley tourists 5-1, although Bob Fairlie was injured early in the match forcing Saints to play with 10 men for most of it.

Two days later, Saints had moved onto Stoke where they faced Port Vale, thrashing the hosts 5-1 in freezing conditions. The day after this, Saints battled out a 4-4 draw at Bury in a foot of snow in front of only 100 hardy souls. Saints trainer and groundsman Bob Hindle was forced to start up front due to a shortage of players!

During this tour, Saints captain Geordie Watt had changed the formation in the side to a 2-3-5, and this seemed to be working well as the team won three consecutive matches on their return to Scotland against Kilmarnock, Ayr and Neilston.

February 1887

Yet more selection issues for Saints as Watt, Harper and McCrae miss the short trip to Partick Thistle on the 11th forcing former winger J Imrie out of retirement to play his first match in three years. A young Jags forward called Moffatt also appears for Saints but the patchwork side is thrashed 8-0.

Andy Brown makes a welcome return to the first team after long term injury the following week and scores twice in the 3-2 defeat to Port Glasgow, who have risen to near the top of the tree in the county following a fine 18 months. On the 25th Saints are encouraged by a fine 4-1 win over Morton with Harper dropping from right wing to right half to accommodate young forward, ironically called Morton, who nets on his debut.

March 1887

The returning Andy Brown continues his fine form with seven goals in the month from four matches, three of which Saints win. There is uproar in the Paisley Charity Cup however when Dykebar reschedule a home tie to Blackstoun Park, home of Abercorn, with other member clubs insisting that this ground shouldn’t profit from the competition as the ‘Zulus’ refused four opportunities to play Saints in the final two years ago.

It is also suggested in the newspaper article that further tensions exist between St Mirren and Abercorn due to a switch of allegiances by a Saints office bearer from Westmarch to Abercorn, and this person has since held a grudge against the Buddies.

April 1887

A good month, with Brown sill in fine form with a further four goals, is spoiled by a 7-2 hammering at the hands of rivals Abercorn at their Blackstoun Park ground. It’s a great day for former Saints forward Tommy Johnstone who nets four times for the Zulus, a player dismissed by the Buddies for failing to turn up on multiple occasions. Ironically, Andy Brown and captain Geordie Watt both turn up late by which time 9-man Saints trailed 3-0 during the match.

On the final day of the month, Saints appear in the Greenock Charity Cup semi-final, but are soundly thrashed 6-1 by Morton

May 1887

Saints pack seven matches into the final month of the season, including 2 games on the same day during the Abercorn Sports Competition in the middle, but the season ends in high spirits as the team finally win the Paisley Charity Cup and there’s no dispute this time over the validity with comprehensive victories over Renfrew and Thornliebank in the space of four days.

DATECOMPOPPOSITIONVGROUNDSCOREOATTSCORERS
24/07/1886SMSFPort Glasgow HWestmarch2-1W4,500 
31/07/1886SMFMortonHWestmarch2-1W5,500 
21/08/1886CMHibernianHWestmarch2-2D4,500Bain, Brown
28/08/1886CMMortonACappielow3-3D3,500OG, 
04/09/1886CMLugar BoswellHWestmarch3-3D3,000 
14/09/1886SCArthurlieHWestmarch3-0W4,000Watt, Langmuir, Brown
21/09/1886SC/RMArthurlieHWestmarch5-3W4,500Bain, Brown, Langmuir, Watt, Wilson
28/09/1886CMDumbarton AthHWestmarch3-1W3,000Harper, Langmuir (2)
02/10/1886SC2Port Glasgow HWestmarch2-3L7,000 
09/10/1886CMAbercornHWestmarch0-2L6,500 
16/10/1886CMKilmarnockADundonald Rd2-8L  
23/10/1886CMMortonACappielow1-1D3,000Wylie
30/10/1886RC1DykebarAThistle Park9-0W3,000Brown
13/11/1886CMAyrABeresford Park4-4D  
20/11/1886RC2Pollokshaws AHWestmarch3-5L  
27/11/1886CMCowlairsAGourlay Park1-3L  
04/12/1886CM1st RRVAAcademy Park3-1W2,000Watt, Bain, Lindsay
11/12/1886CMBattlefieldHWestmarch3-1W Langmuir
25/12/1886CMPartick ThHWestmarch2-1W  
01/01/1887CMChurch ASpring Hill1-5L2,000McCrae
03/01/1887CMPort ValeABurslem5-1W  
04/01/1887CMBuryABury4-4D100 
15/01/1887CMKilmarnockHWestmarch5-3W Harper (2) Bain, Langmuir, Watt
22/01/1887CMAyrHWestmarch1-0W Langmuir
29/01/1887CMNeilstonHWestmarch3-0W Langmuir
11/02/1887CMPartick ThAInchview0-8L  
18/02/1887CMPort Glasgow AClune Park2-3L Brown (2)
25/02/1887CMMortonHWestmarch4-1W J Maxwell, Wilson, Langmuir, Morton
05/03/1887CMQueen’s PHWestmarch2-6L Brown (2)
12/03/1887CMPort Glasgow HWestmarch1-0W Brown
19/03/1887CMAyr ThistleHWestmarch8-1W Brown (3) Langmuir (4)
26/03/1887CMHurlfordHWestmarch5-2W Graham, Brown, Morton (2) Watt
02/04/1887CMThistleABeachwood Park3-2W Morton, McBain, Brown
09/04/1887CMThornliebankHWestmarch1-0W Brown (2), Harper, Graham, Wylie
16/04/1887CMRenfrewHWestmarch0-2L  
23/04/1887CMAbercornABlackstoun Park2-7L Brown, Watt
25/04/1887CMRenfrewAGlebe Park1-2L Brown
30/04/1887GC1MortonACappielow1-6L Morton
07/05/1887CMChurch HWestmarch4-1W Fraser, Langmuir (2), Morton
10/05/1887CMPort GlasgowHWestmarch0-3L  
14/05/1887AC1MortonNBlackstoun Park2-1W Brown, Bain
14/05/1887AC2AbercornABlackstoun Park0-1L  
21/05/1887CMCowlairsAGlasgow2-2D  
24/05/1887PCSFRenfrewHWestmarch4-2W Harper, Bain, Brown, Fairlie
28/05/1887PCFThornliebankHWestmarch5-1W3,500Fairlie (2), Morton (2), Brown
08/06/1887CMMortonHWestmarch3-4L  
11/06/1887CMAyr ThistleAAyr    

Key
CMChallenge Match
SCScottish Cup
RCRenfrewshire Cup
PCPaisley Charity Cup
GCGreenock Charity Cup
SMSt Mirren Sports Cup
ACAbercorn Sports Cup

NameCMGLPCGLRCGLSCGLOTGLAPPSGLS
Bain253212 1131336
Brandon, Tom10        1 
Brown, Andy2215221132313121
Cameron, J3202 2 3 3 42 
Cheyne, D3302 2 3 3 43 
Craig10        1 
Fairlie, Bob180232 3 2 273
Fraser11        11
Gordon10        1 
Graham1222     3 172
Harper, T274211 3 3 365
Hindle, Bob20        2 
Holmes10        1 
Hutchison, J2502 2 3 3 35 
Imrie, J10        1 
Kaye10        1 
Langmuir, J2713  2 321 3315
Lindsay11        11
Mair10        1 
Maxwell, James3212 2 3 3 421
McAuley10        1 
McBain, Andy31        31
McCrae141        141
McHardie, H2802 2 2 3 37 
McManus50    1   6 
McNair10        1 
Moffat10        1 
Morrison10        1 
Morton, Jimmy12522    31178
Watt, George154  2 22  196
Wilson, D161    31  192
Wylie122  2     142

PLAYERCMPCRCSCOTAPPS
Cheyne33223343
Cameron32223342
Maxwell32223342
McHardie28222337
Harper27213336
Hutchison25223335
Bain25221333
Langmuir27 23133
Brown22213331
Fairlie18223227
Watt15 22 19
Wilson16  3 19
Graham122  317
Morton122  317
McCrae14    14
Wylie12 2  14
McManus5  1 6
McBain3    3
Hindle2    2
Brandon1    1
Craig1    1
Fraser1    1
Gordon1    1
Holmes1    1
Imrie1    1
Kaye1    1
Lindsay1    1
Mair1    1
McAuley1    1
McNair1    1
Moffat1    1
Morrison1    1

PLAYERCMPCRCSCOTGOALS
Brown15212121
Langmuir13  2 15
Morton52  18
Bain31 116
Watt4  2 6
Harper41   5
Fairlie03   3
Wilson1  1 2
Graham2    2
Wylie2    2
Maxwell1    1
McCrae1    1
McBain1    1
Fraser1    1
Lindsay1    1

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