Dykebar FC & the other clubs of Paisley

Dykebar FC are the third oldest of all the clubs founded in Paisley, with a definitive year of 1879 assigned to their origin.  Their assumed sixteen-year existence is also longer than any of the five other clubs in the town who unlike St Mirren and Abercorn played in the professional leagues, and information about them is relatively easy to find in relation to other short-lived clubs, such was their popularity and longevity.

It can only be assumed that their origins were in the Dykebar area of Paisley, however the only known ground used by the club nicknamed the “Wee Dykies” was Thistle Park in Greenhill Road in the west of the town, which belonged to Paisley Thistle Cricket Club, and was also used at various times by St Mirren, Abercorn and Olympic FC, which is of course several miles west from the Dykebar area of Paisley.

These were different times for football as it was a new sport and rapidly evolving, however before the creation of the professional leagues in 1890, Dykebar FC enjoyed a similar status to that of St Mirren, Abercorn or Morton as shown here in this fixture list for the 1888/89 season printed in the local press; which includes matches against Hearts, Kilmarnock, Clyde and Airdrie among other less known clubs such as Glasgow based Northern. Note the start date of the season being late October to ensure a break between the cricket and football seasons, as many players appeared in both.

Dykebar FC fixture list 1888/89

As all players were amateur back then, and football nothing more than an extremely well-publicised hobby, the local press would often carry stories about other activities of football stars and one peculiar tale is that of a twenty two member choir that toured the area entirely made up of Dykebar FC players performing, leading to some excitement in the Greenock Telegraph from the 2nd of December 1892:

There was particular interest in this story about band leader and Dykebar player John McCallum, and in this article from the Glasgow Evening News back in September 1891, the talented musician/footballer is profiled in detail, where it is revealed that not only did he play for Paisley Olympic FC, the Glasgow University graduate also started the ‘Dykebar FC glee club’, which during Victorian times in Scotland was a popular type of singing derived from the English equivalent and typically short bursts of songs unaccompanied by instruments.

To further highlight the huge difference between these times and now, in 1891 Dykebar FC also arranged a ‘Smoking Concert’ in the Globe Hotel located at 76-77 George Street within the town, a male only event where guests listened to various musical performances and talked politics as they enjoyed the finer tobaccos of the day.

February 23rd 1889 – snippet from the Paisley Gazette.

Events like this were common, and an annual club ‘conversazione’ which was popular during Victorian times where people gathered to talk about the arts, hence the use of the Town Hall picture room as a venue, was also held annually by the club. Although this was a fairly common practice by football clubs at the time, it is fair to say that in general Dykebar FC were quite far removed from their modern day equivalent.

So, what happened to them? Looking at the history of the number of grounds used and shared for football between 1877 and the demise of Abercorn in 1920 within the town of Paisley, it is clear that sport clubs (cricket, rugby, football, curling etc.) struggled to find areas within a bustling industrial town to have permanent homes, and many may have just folded due to this issue.

What we do know is by the mid-1890’s as professionalism took hold in Scotland, St Mirren and Abercorn probably attracted most of the football support in the area and the clubs left playing in the amateur ranks floundered. In 1891, the sporting publication ‘The Scottish Referee’ suggested that the demise of Dykebar was imminent as they had not been included in the 1890 Scottish League Formation (three Paisley clubs was probably unrealistic) nor the “Alliance” meaning they never were likely to be either. Sadly, the prediction turned out correct and the club folded within four years.

Comments from The Scottish Referee, Monday July 27th 1891

One of the last traces of Dykebar FC is that we know on Monday December 3rd 1894 the club hosted a concert in the Good Templar Halls in Dyers Wind (where the Glen Cinema building is) to raise funds in order to keep going due to the large amount of debt they had accumulated (possibly by requiring to rent the use of a cricket ground), and this event was advertised in the media, an early example of a benefits concert:

Advert from the 1st of December 1894 issue of The Paisley Gazette promoting the fund raising concert

It was reported the following week that the night was a great success, and enough money had been raised to keep the club going and apparently clear their debt, however there is very little trace of their existence in the aftermath of this report, and 1895 is assumed as the final year of the club.

Article from the 8th of December 1894 issue of the Paisley Gazette suggesting the fund raising concert was a success
First ever listing of Dykebar FC in the Paisley and Renfrewshire General Advertiser, the Victorian equivalent of the Yellow Pages.

An article on Robert Sproull, president of Dykebar FC and former key player of Paisley Olympian, from the Glasgow Evening News on September 12th 1891

………the other Football Clubs of Paisley

Paisley Olympic Football Club 1880 – 1885

By 1880 football was really beginning to catch on in Scotland, and a third Paisley team was established when Olympic Football Club formed that year.

Very little is really known about them, however in the true Corinthian spirit of the game before it was professional, Paisley Olympic FC were made up exclusively of academics who were also competitive athletes and are likely to have been involved with other sports such as tennis, boxing and rugby.

The Olympians were registered at Thistle Park in Greenhill Rd, which they shared with Paisley Thistle Cricket Club and Dykebar FC, with St Mirren having just moved to Westmarch from this ground also at that point in our history, as well as Abercorn who also took residence after the demise of Olympic FC in 1885.  

Paisley Hibernian Football Club 1884-1886

Formed in 1884, like other ‘Hibernian’ clubs in Scotland (most notably Edinburgh and Dundee) the formation of Paisley Hibs was probably aimed at the many Irish residents living in the Paisley or Renfrewshire area.

The club are registered as playing matches at Caledonia Park in Paisley, which after a bit of digging I found located at the corner of MacKean Street and Murray Street, where a large number of football and cricket grounds appear to have been located around that time including all five played in by St Mirren.

Very little else is known of this club who appear to have lasted between one and two years before disappearing from records.

Paisley Athletic Football Club 1883-1888

Other than being listed in the 1888 version of the Paisley & Renfrewshire District General Advertiser, meaning they were probably formed the previous year, very little is known of this football club and it is suspected their existence was extremely short.

Based on the assumption of other Athletic Football Clubs at the time, they may have been formed after the collapse of Paisley Olympic FC in an attempt at providing a past-time for keen sports minded academics, however this cannot be confirmed for definite, although there is evidence to support that the Athletic played at Caledonia Park and most definitely East Park, former home of Abercorn.

Paisley Academical Football Club 1891 – 1901

Formed in 1891, exclusively for current or ex-pupils of the Paisley Grammar school and academy which of course is still based in Glasgow Road of the town, the Paisley Accies appear to have had a slightly longer history than the other education based football clubs in the town and survived into the twentieth century and eventually folded around 1901.

The played their matches at Greenlaw Park in the town, immediately opposite the Grammar school on the other side of the road in Greenlaw Avenue, with the exact location unknown.

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