Reserve Football

Overview 1881-date

 

See also

Main index

Club directory

Combined Reserve League

Scottish Reserve League

Scottish (Reserve) League

Central League

Scottish Alliance

Inter County League

Eastern League

East of Scotland League

Edinburgh & District League

Highland League

Midland League

Northern League

Provincial League

Scottish Union

Scottish Combination

Southern Counties League

South of Scotland League

Western League

Premier Reserve League

Reserve Cup competitions

From the very earliest days, it has been the practice for most clubs to field more than one team. First team matches were usually supplemented by Second XI games while 3rd and even 4th XIs were not unheard of. These teams were generally used for the younger men and were possibly the origins of the Junior grade. Today these sides are given the tag reserves and have done so since the formation of the Scottish (Reserve) League in 1957.

 

Although this term was also used in the 19th century many clubs gave their minor teams names such as Swifts, Rovers or Strollers. For instance, the Ayr reserve side which won the Scottish 2nd XI Cup in 1888, was called Ayr Swifts, although they were also later known as Ayr A. On the other hand Queens Parks reserve sides have always been called Strollers, Victoria XI and Hampden XI.

 

Reserve competition were also organized at local levels with FAs such as the Edinburgh and the Linlithgowshire running 2nd XI cups parallel to the senior trophies.

 

From its formation in 1998, the Scottish Premier League ran an Under-21 league but this was dropped in favour of a reserve league in 2005. The reserve leagues were finally abolished by both the SPL and the Scottish League in 2007 when both bodies promoted under-21 leagues instead.

 

In the early days, it was also common for reserve sides to enter the various Senior leagues that were operating such as the Scottish Alliance and Scottish Union. And it wasnt until after the Second World War .that dedicated reserve leagues were formed.

 

Although there is a mention of a League Reserve Championship in 1896 involving, amongst others, Rangers and Heart of Midlothian, until the First World War, the A sides of Scottish Football League clubs mainly played their competitive football within the regular non-League set-up. Dundee also fielded an A side in the Forfarshire County League, a supplementary competition that existed around the turn of the century. They won this in 1902.

 

 

Central League

Dundee A

Falkirk A

Heart of Midlothian A

 

Highland League

Aberdeen A

 

Scottish Alliance

Clyde A

Third Lanark A

Heart of Midlothian A

Rangers A

St Mirren A

 

Scottish Union

Falkirk A

Heart of Midlothian A

Kilmarnock A

Queens Park Victoria XI

Rangers A

St Mirren A

 

1897-98, 1912-1915

1912-13

1910-11

 

1912-1915

 

1896-97

1896-97

1905-06

1905-06

1905-06

 

1907-1909

1906-07

1906-1909

1911-1915

1906-1908

1906-1909

Eastern League

Cowdenbeath A

Heart of Midlothian A

Raith Rovers A

 

Midland League

Falkirk A

 

Northern League

Aberdeen A

Dundee A

Dundee Hibernian A

 

 

 

Scottish Combination

Celtic A

Cowdenbeath A

Heart of Midlothian A

Morton A

Queens Park Strollers

Queens Park Victoria XI

Rangers A

St Mirren A

 

1905-06

1904-1906

1909-1915

 

1908-09

 

1904-1912, 1913-15

1900-1915

1910-1912, 1913-1915

 

 

 

1896-97

1906-07

1896-97, 1898-99

1903-1905

1896-1902, 1903-1909

1909-1911

1896-1899

1899-1904

 

 

The reserve sides that won these competitions were

1896-97 Scottish Alliance

1896-97 Scottish Combination

1897-98 Scottish Combination

1898-99 Scottish Combination

 

1900-01 Northern League

 

1902-03 Northern League

 

1904-05 Northern League

1905-06 Northern League

1905-06 Scottish Alliance

1906-07 Scottish Union

 

1908-09 Midland League

1908-09 Northern League

1908-09 Scottish Union

1909-10 Northern League

1910-11 Northern League

 

1912-13 Highland League

1913-14 Scottish Union

 

Third Lanark A

Heart of Midlothian A

Rangers A

Rangers A

 

Dundee A

 

Dundee A

 

Dundee A

Aberdeen A

Heart of Midlothian A

Rangers A

 

Falkirk A

Dundee A

Falkirk A

Dundee A

Aberdeen A

 

Aberdeen A

Queens Park Victoria XI

 

By 1909 a new Scottish Reserve League was established, although one aspect of it was having at least one non-reserve side in each of its seasons. It was generally regarded as a strong league and when Dumbarton Harp left the Scottish Union for it in 1912, it was regarded as a step up for them. Although the League disbanded in 1915, it was virtually re-established in 1919 as the Scottish Alliance. Like its immediate predecessor also contained a small number of a number of non-League sides within its membership. Celtic A actually gave up their place to let in Dundee United after their demotion from the Scottish League in 1923.

When the Third Division of the Scottish Football League disbanded in chaos in 1926, there was a huge influx of clubs. To cater for this, the Alliance split into Northern and Southern sections. This lasted for just one season though, after which the league reverted to a single, all reserve, division.

Non-reserve side soon re-entered but their involvement ended at the Alliances AGM in 1938. A motion by Hamilton Academical to remove the two remaining non-League sides Beith and Galston for financial reasons was approved by 15 votes to 5. The Alliance was then effectively reformed as the Scottish Reserve League, and was to be an exclusively First Division reserve body.

 

Because of geographical restrictions, as well as being limits to the Alliance membership, some clubs entered sides in other competitions. Aberdeen A won the 1924-25 Highland League and Ayr United A won the 1936-37 Scottish Combination, while Heart of Midlothian A lifted the Central League Cup in 1920. Aberdeen also fielded a reserve side in the Aberdeenshire & District League, winning it between 1925 and 1929 and in 1948.

 

Northern League

Aberdeen A

Dundee A

Dundee Hibernian A

 

Scottish Combination

Ayr United A

Edinburgh City A

Queens Park Victoria XI

Third Lanark A

 

Edinburgh & District League

Edinburgh City A

Raith Rovers A

 

Inter County League

Queens Park Strollers

 

Central League

Falkirk A

Heart of Midlothian A

 

1919-20

1919-20

1919-20

 

 

1935-1937

1935-1937

1935-1937

1935-36

 

 

1931-1934

1931-32

 

 

1916-17

 

 

1919-1921

1919-1921

Eastern League

Aberdeen A

Dundee A

Raith Rovers A

 

Western League

Clydebank A

Hamilton Academical A

Queens Park Strollers

Queens Park Victoria XI

 

Southern Counties League

Queen of the South A

Stranraer A

 

Highland League

Aberdeen A

 

Provincial League

Arthurlie A

Queens Park Victoria XI

 

1922-1923

1919-20, 1922-23

1919-20

 

 

1919-1921

1920-1921

1916-17, 1919-20

1921-23

 

 

1921-22, 1930-1933

1935-1937

 

 

1924-25

 

 

1926-27

1926-27

 

Following their relegation from the First Division in 1939, Queens Park Strollers helped to re-form the Scottish Alliance with several non-League clubs, but this competition was also curtailed by the War. Despite the hostilities, several clubs did manage to field two sides during the War. The North Eastern League was formed in 1941, but, due to its limited membership, invited a number of Southern League clubs to enter their 2nd XIs. Rangers second team were successful in the first season by winning the Autumn series. They also won both the League Cup competitions in 1943-44. A number of other clubs went on to form the Glasgow & District Reserve League in 1942. Kilmarnocks first team, when they resurfaced from their enforced hibernation, played in this competition during its last season.

 

When normality had returned to football in 1946, the Scottish League structure had altered from the pre-War set-up. Instead of two divisions of about 20 clubs, the First Division, now renamed A Division, held sixteen clubs, the B division fourteen (soon to increase by two) while a new third level was tagged on for the remaining member clubs. The Scottish Reserve League restarted, again it was a mirror of the sixteen club First, now renamed A, Division. Throughout its four year existence, the leagues membership changed to resemble the A Divisions so that although Rangers A finished bottom in 1947-48, they were saved by the fact that the 1st XI were runners-up in the Scottish League. This version of the Reserve League lasted for four seasons before it was merged with the C Division to create a two section third tier of the Scottish League.

As the C Division had initially only seven clubs in it, three reserve sides excluded from the Scottish Reserve League were invited to make the numbers up to ten, one was Dundee United A, while two of them, Dundee A and St Johnstone A had both played in the 1945-46 Eastern League. Additional reserve clubs saw the C Division increase to twelve clubs. In 1949, the section amalgamated with the Reserve League, and the influx of clubs necessitated two regional sections being implemented, named North & East, and South & West. From 1946 to 1949 no reserve side won the C Divison, but from 1949 to its abolition in 1955, they only failed to win it once. The C Division was formally abolished at a SGM of the Scottish League on 19 June 1955 after a number of prominent clubs pulled their sides out. They subsequently set up the Scottish (Reserve) League, the brackets distinguishing it from the 1938-1949 version. Again it was to be a mirror of the First Division although there were a number of seasons when not all of those clubs took part. As an exclusively First Division competition, Second Division clubs were denied a place so many of these clubs sought new pastures. Some formed a Scottish Alliance was during 1956-57 but it wasnt popular and disbanded after only one season while others formed the Combined Reserve League. And again other clubs found homes in one of the Senior non-League competitions.

 

Reserve sides in membership of other senior leagues since 1946

Annan Athletic reserves

Arbroath reserves

Ayr United A

Berwick Rangers reserves

Cowdenbeath reserves

Dalbeattie Star reserves

Dunfermline Athletic reserves

East Fife reserves

Gretna reserves

Heart of Midlothian B

Heart of Midlothian A

Hibernian B

Hibernian A

Kilmarnock A

Queen of the South reserves

 

Raith Rovers reserves

Stranraer reserves

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

1987-1991, 1992-

1969-1971

1946-1948

1951-1954, 1955-56, 1959-1968, 1977-1983

1969-70, 1971-72

2001-

1957-58

1958-59, 1966-67

2001-2003

1949-1952

1969-1972

1947-1953

1971-1974

1946-1948

1970-71

1972-73, 1992-93, 1996-97, 2003-04

1970-71

1949-1988, 1990-91, 2003-04

 

Reserve sides winning other senior leagues since 1946

Ayr United A

Cowdenbeath reserves

Heart of Midlothian B

Hibernian B

Queen of the South reserves

Stranraer reserves

South of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

East of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

South of Scotland League

1947, 1948

1970

1950

1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953

1997

1957, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1977

 

Reserve sides winning senior cup competitions since 1946

Alex Jack Trophy

Cree Lodge Cup

East of Scotland League Cup

Haig Gordon Memorial Trophy

King Cup

 

 

Potts Cup

 

South of Scotland League Cup

 

Tweedie Cup

Berwick Rangers reserves 1990

Stranraer reserves 1950, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1966, 1975

Berwick Rangers reserves 1990

Stranraer reserves 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975-1977, 1985

Berwick Rangers reserves 1981, 1990

Hibernian B 1948, 1949

Heart of Midlothian B 1950-1952

Queen of the South reserves 1960, 1961

Stranraer reserves 1959, 1964, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976-1978, 1984

Queen of the South reserves 1997

Stranraer reserves 1957, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1977

Stranraer reserves 1953, 1960, 1962, 1967, 1971

 

Reserve football in the Highlands

The North Caledonian League has been in existence since 1896 but for a time it was also called the North of Scotland Reserve League, while the North Caledonian was formed ten years earlier. Today the leagues membership consists of amateur teams, but reserve sides of Highland League clubs have won the competitions on a great number of occasions.

 

Competition wins by the reserve sides of Highland clubs

 

North Caledonian League

Brora Rangers 1967, 1968

Buckie Thistle 1955 (shared)

Clachnacuddin 1904, 1905, 1910, 1927, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1950, 1951, 1956-1958, 1964, 1992

Elgin City 1954

Inverness Caledonian 1923, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1970

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1995, 1998

Inverness Citadel 1898, 1902, 1903, 1911, 1922

Inverness Thistle 1901, 1929, 1931, 1935, 1948, 1959, 1960, 1963

Nairn County 1936, 1955 (shared)

Ross County 1966, 1997

 

Macnicol Trophy

Brora Rangers 1970

Clachnacuddin 1956, 1961, 1963

Elgin City 1954

Inverness Caledonian 1965

Inverness Thistle 1959

Nairn County 1955, 1957, 1960

Ross County 1950, 1958, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1972

 

Football Times Cup

Brora Rangers 1974

Clachnacuddin 1932, 1951, 1956, 1957, 1963, 1992, 1993, 1995

Inverness Caledonian 1930, 1936, 1939, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1964, 1970

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1999

Inverness Citadel 1924

Inverness Thistle 1925, 1926, 1935, 1953, 1960

Nairn County 1958

Ross County 1947, 1949, 1959, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1994, 1996, 1997

North Caledonian Cup

Brora Rangers 1965

Clachnacuddin 1909, 1920, 1923, 1930, 1937, 1950, 1956-1958, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1992, 1995

Crusaders 1888, 1889

Inverness Caledonian 1893, 1895, 1896, 1900, 1905-1907, 1922, 1948, 1949, 1955, 1960, 1966, 1971, 1989, 1991

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1999

Inverness Citadel 1897, 1898, 1921

Inverness Crown 1892*

Inverness Thistle 1891, 1894, 1901, 1910, 1926, 1931, 1932

Inverness Union 1890

Nairn County 1954

Ross County 1947, 1951, 1959, 1970, 1973, 1993

 

*this side was known as Crown Strollers

 

Chic Allan Memorial Cup

Clachnacuddin 1994

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1995, 1999

Inverness Thistle 1991

 

Ness Cup

Brora Rangers 1968

Clachnacuddin 1957

Inverness Caledonian 1956, 1965

Inverness Thistle 1960

Nairn County 1958

Ross County 1961, 1966

 

Morris Newton Cup

Clachnacuddin 1995

Ross County 1988, 1989