Scots football founded by ex ‘Eton of North’ pupils

The first official picture of Queens Park team from season 1873-74. Picture: Hemedia
The first official picture of Queens Park team from season 1873-74. Picture: Hemedia
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A Scottish football historian yesterday revealed new evidence that shows the game was founded by three men schooled at the “Eton of the North”.

Nearly 150 years ago, Queen’s Park FC became the first association football club in Scotland.

But its ties to an exclusive school in the tiny village of Fordyce in Aberdeenshire were lost in time until now.

Brothers Robert and James Smith and William Klingner attended the now defunct Fordyce Academy in the 1850s and after moving to Glasgow the three friends formed Queen’s Park FC in 1867.

The find was made by sports historian Andy Mitchell, who spent hours trawling through newspapers, village records and ancestry websites uncovering the information.

“This is a huge step forward in our understanding of how Scotland’s first association football club was formed and the start of Scottish football as we know it today,” he said.

“It wasn’t just a random collection of people in Glasgow that met in the summer of 1867, it was actually based on lifelong friendships of people who had moved to Glasgow from a specific area of northern Scotland.

“The three main people involved in the foundation of Queen’s Park were William Klingner, Robert Smith and his brother James.

“There were others involved too, but Robert was one of the original committee members, James was the club’s treasurer and Klingner was the club secretary. They were three of the most central people in Queen’s Park’s formation.”

Klingner, who also wrote the minutes of Queen’s Park’s first meeting, was from Portsoy, Aberdeenshire and worked as a merchant’s clerk. The Smiths, of Elgin, Moray, were both 
prominent figures in early Scottish football and were capped for Scotland against England in the first international of 1872.

But the extraordinary link between them is that they were all educated at Fordyce Academy –a boarding school where prospective pupils had to pass highly competitive entrance exams to be accepted.

Richard McBrearty, the curator at the Scottish Football 
Museum, said Mr Mitchell’s findings had plugged a gap in their knowledge of the birth of Scottish football.

He said: “What Andy has found is truly fascinating.

“We look at Glasgow as the birthplace of association football, but it was actually a city, not of just Glaswegians, but of people from all over Scotland. It was a real melting pot.

“We never knew exactly where these three important men were from, but it actually makes sense that they are from this tiny village called Fordyce near the Moray Firth.

“That’s because, before the name Queen’s Park was decided, ‘Morayshire’ was also regarded 
as a potential title, so it all adds up.

“Queen’s Park were the pioneers of the passing game,and these three men from a tiny village in Aberdeenshire have had such an imperative role in this.”