A series of articles on the history of Pollok FC were printed in ‘Pollok People’, a folded A3 news sheet about the Pollok Football and Social Club during late 1977 (issues 5-9). The articles are credited to W. Govan (Honorary President). An update to the below to take us to present day will hopefully follow.
“The main purpose of (these articles are) to let the supporters and friends know something of the history of Pollok FC, which was formed as the football section of the Pollokshaws Working Lads Club in 1908.
It was no easy task to form a Junior club from scratch, and tribute must be made to all those too numerous to mention who worked so hard to found the club.
The first problem was the essential one of getting a suitable park and through the generosity of the late Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Pollok were allowed the use of an area in Pollok Estate which was known as Haggs Park.
Haggs Park had a fine grass surface, and set in the woodlands of Pollok Estate was the envy of many.
The club paid tribute to Sir John Stirling Maxwell by adopting as the club colours, black and white, these being taken from the heraldic shield of Pollok House.
The hard-working members set about building a corrugated iron pavilion with changing rooms and washing facilities.
Pollok played a few years in the Scottish Junior League before going into the Glasgow Junior League. Pollok had very little luck in winning any of the major trophies, but had to settle for some minor trophies such as the North Eastern Cup, Kirkwood Shield and the Glasgow Consolation Cup.
In season 1926-27 the club suffered a severe blow when they were instructed to vacate Haggs Park. The Glasgow Education Authority required all the playing fields at Pollok Estate, and so the club lost its fine park despite having spent hundreds of pounds on ground improvements.
The club, with the help of local councillors and friends, put up a good fight to retain the ground but there was no redress.
Pollok were homeless, and remained so for more than a year, playing a number of games at Roseberry Park, the home of Shawfield Juniors, and the football park at the Queen Mary Tea Gardens, Speirsbridge.
In a district booming with new buildings, it was not easy for the club to find a suitable piece of ground to use as a park.
Messrs. Stevenson, McKellar Ltd., who ran Newlandsfield Works, had a large coup for the works on the site of the present-day park, and it was decided to approach them with a view to secure the use of the ground.
Ex-Provost McDougall and the club secretary, Wm Govan, had a meeting with Mr. D. McKellar, the managing director of the above company, and secured the lease of the ground at a rental of £10 per annum. Now the work to convert the coup into a football park had to begin.
The coup was free, and with so much building work going on in the district it was no problem getting the coup filled and level. Even so it took nearly a year to achieve this.
The next problem was to enclose the ground, and this was only possible through a local firm prepared to grant the club credit for erecting fencing, entrance gates and six pay boxes.
The ground was named Newlandsfield Park, and passed for football in 1928-29.
Pollok were playing Intermediate football between seasons 1927-28 to 1930-31, and large attendances were common at Newlandsfield.
Pollok had several Intermediate Cup successes in this period, and among their many personality players of the day, ‘Erry’ Armstrong at centre forward scored over 100 goals in one season.
On the settlement of the Intermediate dispute, Pollok transferred the following players to the Seniors, and the cash received was a record for a Junior club at the time:-
J. McBride, J. Robertson and R. Griffiths to Chelsea FC.
C. Thomson to Sunderland FC.
T. Armstrong to Airdrieonians FC.
Pollok found it difficult to revert to Junior football, and little success, other than the Kirkwood Shield, followed until 1941-42.
At the beginning of the Second World War Pollok lost their pavilion and equipment when it was destroyed by fire due to an electrical fault. The club could not get permission to build a new pavilion due to the war, and after playing many games away from home the club managed to obtain temporary changing accommodation. It should also be noted that Newlands Transport Depot provided the use of changing accommodation on occasions.
In season 1941-42 Pollok won the Central League Cup, beating Petershill in the Final 3-2 at Shawfield. They also won the Glasgow Challenge Cup that season, beating Rutherglen Glencairn 4-1.
Pollok continued to play football during the war years, and at the end of the war the existing brick pavilion was built (now the equipment store – J. Wire, 2007).
Season 1944-45 will be said by many to be the most successful by the club, going through to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, losing out by 0-1 to Burnbank Athletic at Shawfield before a crowd of 25,000, the gates being closed an hour before the kick-off.
In the quarter-final at Newlandsfield, Pollok lost 1-2 to Fauldhouse United, but after a protest beat them 3-1 in the replay. It is claimed that 15,000 people were allowed into Newlandsfield for this match, but many had to leave the ground, unable to see. They made their way to the nearby Pollokshaws East Station, and for the price of a platform ticket had a grandstand view of the match. It is certain that the size of the crowd will not be repeated at the present Newlandsfield Park.
Pollok won the West of Scotland Cup and the North Eastern Cup that season, and were beaten in the semi-finals of the Glasgow Charity Cup and Central League Cup. They lost also in the semi-final of the Central League championship decider to Clydebank at Firhill.
In season 1945-46 Pollok retained the North Eastern Cup and in 1946-47 won the Glasgow Charity Cup.
The 1947-48 season saw Pollok going down in the Central League championship Final 1-2 to Kilsyth Rangers at Shawfield. The loss of the League title was not the only blow the club suffered that season: they were told to purchase Newlandsfield Park or vacate it.
The owners of the ground, the Bleachers Association Ltd., Manchester, decided to sell it, and the price asked was £4,980. Despite the improvements made by the club, they were given six weeks to find the cash or get out.
The club had some money in the bank, but received a further set-back when its bankers refused to grant a loan.
The club found its saviour in the Pollokshaws Co-Operative Society Ltd., who granted them a loan at very favourable interest terms.
The ground now belonged to the club, and after many improvements which are continuing to this day is proving a fine investment.
In season 1948-49 Pollok won the Central League Cup, beating Strathclyde 3-1 in the Final at Shawfield.
(There was also a notable event not mentioned in these articles about Lok’s pavilion – which they did not own – being removed in July 1950 by Caledonia Amateurs).
Pollok won the Glasgow Challenge Cup in season 1953-54, beating St. Roch’s 3-2 in the Final at Parkhead, and added the Erskine Hospital Cup at the expense of Yoker Athletic.
Season 1957-58 brought the Glasgow Charity Cup to Newlandsfield, Pollok beating Maryhill Harp 6-4 at Shettleston in an evening match after winning the Erskine Hospital Cup in the afternoon, beating Clydebank 6-2 at Tinto.
The next season Pollok won the Pompey Cup, beating Duntocher Hibs 5-3 at Holm Park.
Season 1961-62 saw the Glasgow Challenge Cup and Pompey Cup at Newlandsfield, St. Roch’s being beaten 2-1 at Parkhead in the Final of the Glasgow Challenge Cup and Ashfield going down 1-0 in the Final of the Pompey Cup at Newlandsfield.
In season 1968-69 Pollok reached the Final of the Central League Championship, but went down 1-3 to Petershill at Saracen Park after two drawn games.
The Pollok F.C. Social Club opened on 14th September 1971, with a view to providing entertainment and social facilities for our supporters and to ensure the financial future of the club.
The undoubted success of the Social Club has been due to the patronage of the members and hard work of the committee, and the benefits to the football club can be seen in the improvements to the ground and the completion of a new pavilion in the near future.”
THE FORMAL OPENING OF HAGGS PARK
Pollokshaws News, 2/10/1908 (reproduced in Lok Talk, 20/8/94)
Though Pollok Football Club have played two home games on Haggs Park preivous to Saturday last, the formal opening of the ground did not take place ‘till the afternoon of that day when the First Round of the Scottish Junior Cup ties was played.
The combined event brought out a large number of spectators, about 1000 spectators being present. The Burgh Band was present and played a number of selections before the opening ceremony abd also at half-time.
Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Bart of Pollok who gifted the field to the Working Lads Club, of which the Pollok F.C. is a section, was invited to open the ground, but being at Corrour, was unable to be present and his place was taken by Provost MacDougall, the President.
Others present were ex-Provost Cameron, ex-Baillie Adam, Councillors Mathieson, McKenna and Mr R. B. Walker, Town Clerk, The Secretary of the Working Lads Club. The Provost at the outset, intimated apologies from Sir John, Mr Robert Laidlaw MP, Captain Gilmour, Mr William Hepburn, G. Crum and Baillie McLellan.
Sir John in his letter, expressed the hope that the opening of the park that afternoon, the Pollok club would be launched on a successful career (applause).
The Provost asked the company to allow him to explain the origin of the club. When he was appointed by his colleagues in the Town Council to the office of Provost, he considered in what way outside the ordinary work of the Council he could acknowledge the kindness he had received and the confidence which had been proposed in him.
He thought that the best thing to do would be to try and establish a Working Lads Club and through the kindness of Sir John Stirling Maxwell and other gentlemen that object was accomplished two years ago. Two hundred members were enroled but like all other institutions the club suffered some changes and the Provost expressed then his intention, if the club held together, of approaching Sir John with a view to getting a football pitch.
The members of the Pollok Thistle, to the number of about 80 had adhered to the club and they deserved credit for the support which they had given. Accordingly, in January of this year, the Provost approached Sir John on the subject and in June, Mr Campbell Murphy was able to inform him that Sir John had selected this field as the most suitable for the purpose and with his usual kindness had fenced it and handed it over to the club without any condition attached to the gift.
Mr Campbell Murray as is duty bound, however, pointed out one condition and that wasthe surrounding property would have to be respected. The Provost trusted that he and only to mention this condition to ensure that it would be observed (applause). The Provost concluded by calling for three hearty cheers to Sir John and asked the company to allow him to send a telegram to Sir John wishing him long life and prosperity. He then in the name of Sir John declared the ground open for all recreative purposs and added the hopes that the largest possible number would avail themselves of the opportunities which it presented.
Mr Milne, Vice-President of the Pollok FC, proposed a vote of thanks to the Provost for his services and cheers were also given for the Pollok FC on the call of the Maryhill Club who were their opponents in the cup tie. The Provost, in reply acknowledged the excellent work done by R.B. Walker and he also thanked the Burgh Band, through Mr Galbraith, Leader and Mr Noble, Secretary, for entertaining them that afternoon.
Mr Wilson afterword dispatched the following telegram to Sir John “Pollokshaws Working Lads Club, Maryhill FC and gathering at the opening of Haggs Park give three hearty cheers for you and yours on Provost MacDougall’s call and wish you long life and prosperity.”
At half-time, a collection was taken for the Provost’s Unemployed Fund and a sum of £1-120-8d raised. The Eastwood Ambulance was in attendance but their services were happily not required.
The Football Club has enjoyed it’s most successful spell from 1978 onwards, having been in the top flight in every season. The 1980s indeed was Pollok’s most trophy-laden decade with 14 top honours, including Central League Championship, West of Scotland Cup and National Dryburgh Cup successes, as well as two Scottish Junior Cup wins. Pollok’s first ever Junior Cup win came on Saturday 18th May 1981 with a 1-0 win over Arthurlie at Hampden Park in front of over 13,000 fans, Norrie Fulton scoring the decisive goal. Lok followed this up in 1985 as they triumphed 3-1 over Petershill, again at Hampden, this time after a 1-1 draw.
Despite a 2-3 defeat to Auchinleck Talbot in the Centenary Junior Cup Final of 1986, the 1980s will be fondly remembered by Lok fans. Players such as Sandy Stewart, Fraser Wishart, Chic Charnley and Stewart Auld went on to have successful senior careers while Dougie Arnott won the ‘big’ Scottish Cup with Motherwell in 1991.
Pollok’s success was continued into the 1990s under managers Tommy Reynolds, Jim George and latterly Jim O’Donnell. Lok won 11 trophies, 3 of them Central Premier Division titles, but it was 1997 before the ‘big one’ would return to Newlandsfield as Lok beat Tayport 3-1 at Fir Park, Motherwell in an entertaining match.
Disappointment followed however, with a 0-4 reverse to arch-rivals Arthurlie in the 1998 Final. Manager O’Donnell left along with many of the successful ’97 squad and major changes took place at Newlandsfield. Former player Andy Dailly was brought in as manager but he only lasted 37 matches before being replaced by long-serving goalkeeper Ronnie Lowrie. After 9 years between the sticks, Lowrie won 3 trophies, including the inaugural West of Scotland Superleague Premier Division title in 2003, formed after a merger of the old Central and Ayrshire leagues.
A new chapter in Pollok’s history was to begin with the appointment of former Shotts, Bellshill and Maryhill manager Rab Sneddon in 2004. Pollok went on to win 3 more Superleague titles along with numerous other trophies. In 2007, Pollok took to the field against St Cuthbert Wanderers of Kirkcudbright in the Club’s first foray into Senior football, as junior clubs were permitted into the Scottish FA Cup for the first time. Lok comfortably won 6-2 before drawing 2-2 away to then SFL Third Divison leaders Montrose. A crowd of almost 2,000 witnessed the replay at Newlandsfield Park as a brave Lok side went down by a solitary goal to nil. The following year Pollok played East of Scotland League side Spartans but the 2008 experience was not to be as enjoyable as Lok went out of the competition in a replay against the Edinburgh side.