Thursday September 30th is National Sporting Heritage Day when the whole country acknowledges and celebrates the rich and varied history of Sport. Falkirk Football Heritage Trust is playing a key part in ensuring that the story of the Falkirk Bairns is collected, carefully stored, preserved, and maintained for this and subsequent generations. 

It is hoped that the collections can be safely stored sometime soon and can be accessed by individuals and groups. Football was such an important part of the social and cultural life of Scotland and the Falkirk football collections provide an excellent commentary on all aspects of life in the area. Many individuals have donated collections of programmes, tickets, pictures, autograph books, cigarette and bubble-gum cards, as well as newspaper scrapbooks from the 50s onwards.

It’s not just about players and matches, but also about what people wore, how they travelled to games , what they ate and drank, as well as providing an insight into costs, prices of things. Programmes are a vital part of the collections and the adverts for products and shops that no longer exist are fascinating.

So far, the Falkirk Football Heritage Trust has been able to assist relatives of former players by providing pictures and career details of their footballing relative and there is a clear role for the Trust in aiding family historical research. Football is now a serious study, and the Trust hopes that one day soon, they will find premises for the storage of the collections and develop on-line and in-person access to pupils, students and the public in general.

There is often mention made of the hidden heritage of Football- the items that are in lofts, cupboards, garages and sheds. Much of it is rotting away, especially newsprint, and the Trust is only too happy to help preserve and take copies of material before returning it to the owners. Faded photographs can be restored and the aim is to build up a comprehensive archive of Football in Falkirk.

Another  Trust objective is to develop, in partnership with others, a Trail for football tourists and supporters which includes visits to former grounds, key graves and which would include an audio-visual presentation on the Story of the Falkirk Bairns.

Falkirk F.C. has played a big part in Scottish Football History and can claim certain “firsts” including the first live TV floodlight match against Newcastle United the then FA Cup holders. The Trust has managed to get a copy of the Radio Times for the week of the match including the notification of the game at Brockville Park Falkirk stating that Kenneth Wolstenholme would give the commentary. It’s items like this which can be of great significance in helping to tell the story of an amazing past.

There are stories of tours to Malta and Israel, proposed trips to Africa, Falkirk players representing their country- and not just Scotland, World Cup adventures, amazing scores- for and against- and a roller-coaster ride of promotions and relegations. The story deserves telling- and preserving. The Falkirk Football Heritage Trust intends to do just that.

 Michael White – Club Historian

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