Renton F.C.


Renton F.C.

infobox Football club
clubname = Renton


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fullname = Renton Football Club
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founded = 1872
dissolved = 1921
ground = Tontine Park, Renton
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Renton Football Club was a prominent team in the early history of Scottish football. The club was based in the village of Renton, West Dunbartonshire. They are remembered as one of the first clubs to have laid claim to the title "Champions of the World" when in 1888, as Scottish Cup holders, they challenged and beat the FA Cup holders West Bromwich Albion.

History

Dumbartonshire was a hotbed of the game in the early years of organised football in Scotland, with the county's three leading clubs of the era, Dumbarton, Renton and Vale of Leven all forming in 1872. Although not one of the founder members of the Scottish Football Association in 1873, Renton joined the body in time to enter the inaugural (1873-74) Scottish Cup tournament, and on 18 October 1873 were one of the clubs involved in the first day of competition for the new trophy. Renton faced Kilmarnock on neutral territory at Crosshill, Glasgow, winning 2–0. Although full details of the matches played are difficult to ascertain, it is generally believed that this was the first of the three games played that day to kick off, and therefore the first official competitive football match to take place in Scotland. Renton went on to reach the semi final, losing to eventual winners Queen's Park. The following season they went one step further, reaching the final, but again lost to Queen's Park, by 3–0.

During the 1880s Renton were amongst the most powerful clubs in the country. They lifted the Scottish Cup for the first time in 1885, beating local rivals Vale of Leven in the final. The 1886 final once again ended in defeat against Queen's Park, but Renton lifted the trophy for a second time in 1888 with an emphatic 6–1 win over Cambuslang, a winning margin that has never been exceeded in a Scottish Cup final. [The 6–1 scoreline was repeated in the 1972 final, when Celtic defeated Hibernian.] During this period, Renton also lifted another prestigious trophy of the era, the Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup, four years in succession.

Three months after their second Scottish Cup triumph, Renton returned to the scene, the second Hampden Park in Glasgow, to face FA Cup holders West Bromwich Albion in a challenge match billed as being for the "Championship of the United Kingdom and the World". The fixture was really no more than a glorified friendly organised between the clubs, without any direct sanction from the respective national associations. [A similar clash between the respective cup winners the previous year, when Hibernian beat Preston North End, was actually promoted as a World Championship match by the FA and SFA.] Given there were no league competitions as yet, a meeting between the English and Scottish Cup winners could reasonably lay some claim to deciding the leading club in the UK (albeit without any opportunity for the Welsh or Irish equivalents to compete). The "World Champions" title might be considered somewhat more fanciful as although the game was perhaps not as developed overseas, it was by this stage being played in a number of countries around the world. Whatever the merits of the label, it was Renton who laid claim to it by defeating West Brom 4–1 in foul weather.

Two years later they were one of the eleven founder members of the Scottish Football League, the meeting which led to the establishment of the new competition having been instigated by Renton club secretary Peter Fairly. The club's first experience of League competition was to be cut short a month into the 1890-91 season, however, when they were suspended from all football by the SFA for playing a friendly against a team billed as "Edinburgh Saints". This was in reality St Bernard's, who had themselves been suspended following allegations of professionalism, in thin disguise. Renton successfully sued the SFA to have their suspension lifted and subsequently resumed their place in the Scottish League for 1891-92.

The St Bernard's case illustrated the growing creep of illegal professionalism in Scottish football, a trend no doubt encouraged by the introduction of regular league competition, and one which was to lead to the decline of small town or village clubs, who could never hope to match the financial muscle of the big city clubs. At the end of the 1893-94 season — the first following the legalisation of professionalism — Renton were relegated to the League's Division Two, never to return to the top level. They continued to run into trouble with the authorities, failing to turn up for their away fixture against Dundee Wanderers in 1894-95, in favour of playing a more lucrative friendly against Queen's Park. The points were therefore awarded to the Wanderers. The club were more rigorous in their attention to that season's Scottish Cup, however, reaching the final for the fifth (and as it turned out, last) time. Once more pitted against the opposition that had embroiled them in their earlier brush with officialdom — St Bernard's — Renton lost out by a 2–1 scoreline.

Despite this appearance back in the national spotlight, Renton's time in the Scottish League was drawing to a close. Financial hardship began to hit deeply for a club only capable of drawing a few hundred spectators to home matches; at one point, the club had even considered relocating to Glasgow as a solution to their problems. Their League career ended four games into the 1897-98 season when, unable to meet their financial guarantees, they tendered their resignation. This was accepted, with Hamilton Academical taking on Renton's remaining fixtures — an undistinguished ending less than a decade after Renton's "world championship". The club continued to play in a variety of minor senior leagues before finally folding in 1921.

The 'New' Renton FC

In 2008 the club reformed and now play in the Glasgow Sunday Amateur Football League. They have already eschewed shirt sponsorship offers and wear the name of alternating charities on their shirts.

Colours and stadium

The Renton team normally wore dark blue jerseys. Throughout the club's history, their home ground was Tontine Park. After the club's demise, the ground was built over for housing, with the former location of the centre circle being commemorated in one of the gardens.

Colours: Dark blue shirts, dark blue shorts, white socks.

World Cup winners

When Renton F.C. won the World Cup, the footballing world was in its infancy in 1888, almost exclusively played by Scottish and English clubs. It was a World Cup Championship by default – nevertheless Renton’s claim is undisputed. They won the Scottish Cup with a 6-1 thrashing of Cambuslang F.C. Then they humbled English Cup holders West Bromwich Albion, who had prepared in Scotland for two weeks. The score was 4-1 in front of a record 10,000 fans at Hampden Park. Renton endorsed their title with an away win against “The Invincibles” of Preston North End. A “Champion of the World” sign was proudly displayed on the pavilion at Tontine Park. They were ahead of their time in training for stamina and strength. Their weapon was Renton’s own famous “chicken bree”, the ingredients never disclosed but it was probably port wine switched with a couple of eggs administered daily.

Noted players

Thirteen Renton players were chosen to represent Scotland between 1885 and 1896. The club's international players were as follows:

* Alex Barbour
* Henry Campbell
* Robert Glen
* Andrew Hannah
* Leitch Keir
* James Kelly
* Bob Kelso
* John Lindsay
* Archie McCall
* James McCall
* Neil McCallum
* William McColl
* John Murray

Honours

*Scottish Cup:
**Winners (2): 1884-85, 1887-88
**Runners-up (3): 1874-75, 1885-86, 1894-95

Other Honours

*Dumbartonshire Cup (4): 1886-87, 1895-96, 1907-08, 1913-14
*Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup (4): 1885-86, 1886-87, 1887-88, 1888-89

Footnotes

Sources

*cite book
last = Crampsey
first = Bob
title = The First 100 Years
year = 1990
publisher = Scottish Football League
location = Glasgow
language =
id = ISBN 0-9516433-0-4

*cite book
last = Smailes
first = Gordon
title = The Breedon Book of Scottish Football Records
publisher = Breedon Books
date = 1995
location = Derby
id = ISBN 1-85983-020-X

*cite web
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/sportscotland/asportingnation/article/0008/index.shtml
title = Renton Crowned World Champions
accessdate = 2006-10-22
author = Currie, David
work = A Sporting Nation
publisher = BBC Sport Scotland


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