After the First World War, the Scottish Football League decided to expand the leagues and created a Division Three for season 1923-24, however the harsh economic times of the 1920s meant that it only lasted for (almost) three seasons before being disbanded. This saw a number of new clubs brought into the league system, some of which went on to become better established and others which dropped out never to return. This is a look at the teams that unfortunately slipped away.
The first Scottish Football League Division Three ran from season 1923-24 to 1925-26, though the latter was brought to a slightly premature end due to increasing financial constraints on a lot of the teams. It saw the emergence of some teams that are still in the league today, but there were many more teams that shone brightly for 3 seasons, but never made it any further or higher as league clubs. I'm not looking at the Division Three that was established after the second world war, this was largely populated / dominated by the reserve teams of clubs that were already established in the league.
I'm going to look at the teams that came and went. Where did they play? Is the ground still there? Are they still going? I'm researching this in no particular order, I'll simply visit the grounds as and when the opportunity arises.
So the teams I'm going to try to track down and find out a bit more about are,
Promoted teams shown in green, number refers to final Division Three league position.
Scottish Combination 1909-1911
Western League 1922-23
Scottish League 1923-1927
Provincial League 1927-28
Scottish Alliance 1928-1930
Southern Counties League 1930-1933
Scottish Combination 1935-1937
Scottish Alliance 1939-40
South of Scotland League 1946-47 & 1948-1950
Nithsdale Wanderers originally formed in the late 1890s and enjoyed a measure of local success in their early years. Initially they played at Castleholm, but in the 1920s they moved to a new ground at Crawick Holm, approximately three quarters of a mile northwest of the town centre, on the south bank of Crawick Water immediately west of the A76. They were one of the clubs invited to join the Scottish League's new Third Division for the inaugural 1923–24 season.
In the first Division 3 season they finished 6th on 33 points (42 points would have seen promotion). In the 1924–25 season, they were promoted as champions by a 3 point margin, having scored 81 goals in 30 matches, winning the title with an 8–0 victory over Montrose in the final match of the season (3 of the 4 southwest clubs were in the top 3 that season, Queen of the South just edged out Solway Star for second spot). All this from a town with a population of around 2,000 people.
They played in Division Two for the 1925–26 season and came a respectable 12th. However, in the 1926–27 season, they ended at the foot of the table, 9 points adrift of the side that came second bottom. The Third Division had been dissolved towards the end of the 1925-26 season, with some clubs financially unable to fulfil all their fixtures. Nithsdale Wanderers were unable to win re-election to Division Two, so they played in local senior competitions, including the Southern Counties League and the South of Scotland League, and occasionally qualified for the Scottish Cup.
In 1951, the club dropped down to the junior grades, but continued to struggle, finally going out of existence in 1964.
Details of Nithsdale Wanderers kit through the years available here.
There seems to be very little information or evidence as to where this football ground may have been. From the name, you might assume that it was close to, or within view of, a castle, but there are 3 castles in or close to Sanquhar, see image.
Location A still has minor castle remains and is closest to the town centre, there are a number of fields in this area (numbered 1 to 5 on the image). Location B is really a rolling hill top, perhaps ideal for a castle, less useful for a football pitch, though not too far from the town. Location C is a little further away from the town, but the land around the former castle site is quite undulating and does not appear suited to pitch based competitive sport, seems unlikely that this was the location.
So, within site of the castle, good access via a long established track that runs down the south east field boundary. The track starts off as blacktop route, signed as a No Through Road, and is just south of the start of the 30mph speed limit as you enter Sanquhar on the A76.
Alternatively, you can park at the 180 degree bend where Forsyth Avenue becomes Nivison Avenue, make your way through the kissing gate site on the bend and turn right to follow the Southern Upland Way out of Sanquhar. This soon leads to an elevated view of both Fields 1 and 2 and you come across the 'modern' access road to the Waste Water Treatment Works, this access now runs alongside and separates both of these fields.
Field 1 is generally level and is certainly large enough for a pitch. Based on my research, this seems the most likely location to me.
Most of this field is not quite in site of the castle, although residential development in the 1970s / 80s may have made this situation worse. No really obvious easy access, though the Southern Upland Way path is perhaps based on a long established public right of way, which may have offered pedestrian access to the field.
out of Sanquhar. This soon leads to an elevated view of both Fields 1 and 2 and you come across the access road to the Waste Water Treatment Works that now runs alongside and separates both of these fields.
Field 2 is also generally level and certainly large enough for a pitch. I'd place this as the second most likely location, largely because it is slightly more remote from the castle.
The fields to the south of Field 1 are also possible Castleholm football ground locations. All can be accessed via the same track that can be used to get to Field 1, all are within sight of Sanquhar Castle and all are only slightly further away from the town centre than Fields 1 and 2.
I guess it would all depend on how willing the farmer / landowner was to see his land put to use for sporting purposes on a Saturday afternoon.
If you know more about the Castleholm ground location, use the Contact Me link at the foot of the page to point me in the right direction.
Map excerpt from OS Six Inch, 1888-1913, showing possible Castleholm ground sites
Map excerpt from OS Six Inch, 1888-1913, showing possible field locations for the Castleholm ground site, close to the remains of Sanquhar Castle, to the southeast of the town centre
Field 1 today, picture taken from western field corner looking East North East, castle remains just visible on skyline on LHS of fortified tower.
Field 2 today, picture taken from the top of the small bank that runs along the northern field boundary, looking South towards the modern Waste Water Treatment Works visible in the mid ground.
I first visited the former ground on a wet Monday afternoon in late August, it was heavily overcast, the grass and undergrowth on the site meant my feet and legs were wet very quickly. A light industrial unit - a carpet tile manufacturer, now owned by an American company - occupies about half of the former pitch (see merged photo), it appears to date from the 1980s.
I was able to park in their car park, reasonably good size, not many cars present, and walk onto the pitch, I was unchallenged throughout my visit. An alternative means of access is to walk alongside the A76 towards Crawick Water and take a stoned up track on the left hand side approximately 40 metres before the bridge, this then turns and broadly runs down what was the northwest side of the former ground.
The old centre spot is pretty close to some gas tanks (see 6 light green units) shown in the photo taken looking southeast. The pitch itself is quite overgrown with grass and light vegetation - no trees yet - and the surface is quite irregular.
Fascinating to consider that this was for a good number of years the most important spot in the Sanquhar area for local football fans and their regular destination on a Saturday afternoon. How times change.
View looking northwest from 'centre spot' towards Crawick Water (not visible in this photo)
View looking southeast towards 'centre spot' with light industrial unit in background
View of the 'pitch' from the side of the A76
Map excerpt from OS 1:25,000, 1937-61, showing Crawick Hoim ground outline
Contemporary aerial view at same scale
OS 1:25,000, 1937-61, merged with aerial photo
Panoramic view of the Crawick Holm 'pitch' today
I've stumbled across various artefacts, sites and similar in my travels and research, some of which don't strictly fit into my current lines of study, but which are nevertheless fascinating. Shared here …