Glasgow Academicals RFC

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Glasgow Academicals
Glasgow Academicals.jpg
Full name The Glasgow Academical Football Club
Union Scottish Rugby Union
Nickname(s) Glasgow Accies, Accies
Founded 1866
Location Glasgow, Scotland
Region Glasgow
Ground(s) New Anniesland
formerly Old Anniesland
Coach(es) Scotland Andy Jackson (Head Coach), Scotland Ross Chassels, New Zealand Tony Smith
Captain(s) Scotland Stewart Gray
League(s) Scottish National League Division Three
2016–17 3rd
Official website

The Glasgow Academical Football Club is the third oldest rugby football club in Scotland. Its history is notable for a number of reasons - including the clubs longevity, its early foundation in the timeline of rugby, and the fact that the club has produced so many internationals, both for Scotland and for the British Lions. Significantly, the club was also a founder member of the Scottish Football Union (the future SRU) in 1873.


Glasgow Academicals - Foundation and the Early Years – 19th century[edit]

The Glasgow Academical Football Section was founded in 1866 when a number of former pupils of Glasgow Academy, under the chairmanship of the Rector, Mr Morrison, adopted a resolution that an Academical Club should be formed.[1] At a time when the rules of rugby were far from formalised, the new club elected to play on the lines of the Edinburgh Academical Club. The club played their first match in the season 1867–68 but despite formalising their own rule set, disputed matches based on rule interpretation still abounded. The Glasgow Academicals in their history record that in "a match against West of Scotland in 1869 the ball was kicked over the West's goal-line, but over a fence into the adjoining field, whereupon a West of Scotland player went to the fence, but Arthur, for the Academical, got over and touched down. It was taken to be a try, but West of Scotland disputing the touch, a goal was not attempted. As the History of Glasgow Academy so rightly observes, 'The dead ball line now fortunately renders it unnecessary for the players to indulge in obstacle races'."[1]

By 1871 the Club had a membership of almost 200 and by 1889 it was well over 500.[1] The team had established itself as one of the best in Scotland with a record from 1867 to 1882 showing that of 145 matches in sixteen seasons it lost only 11 of them. In eight of these seasons it was undefeated. The Club became the first to send a team across the border into England and in December 1870 the Academicals played Liverpool and Manchester on their home grounds drawing both matches. The club was also the first Scottish Club to play in London when it defeated Blackheath FC in March 1878. Ireland had also been visited in 1872 when the North of Ireland FC was defeated in Belfast.

After the third international match against England, played at Partick in Glasgow in March 1873, a number of clubs decided to form what would become the Scottish Rugby Union. Representatives from a number of clubs met at Glasgow Academy and formed the union, the Academicals being one of the original clubs. The first rules of the Union were drawn up by a committee in which two Academicals, J.W. Arthur and A.Harvey served.[1] Many internationals emanated from the club in the 1870s and early 1880s, however the club's prominence declined from 1883 until the start of the twentieth century and in this time the Club played a less-important part in Scottish rugby.

Glasgow Academicals - early 20th century and the Golden Era[edit]

It was not until 1905, under the captaincy of Louis Greig, that the Club regained its high status with only one match was lost in 1904–05. The team won the championship in 1912–13 having been runners up on four occasions. The First World War saw the full 1913–14 season's team engaged on active service and tragically eight members were killed. Only one of the fifteen returned unwounded and a completely new side had to be developed in 1919. Thus, a great team was extinguished, but very soon the Academy produced a side that by 1921–22 had won the Scottish Club Championship again, dropping to second place the following year, but remaining at the top until 1925-1926. Throughout the 1920s Accies received crowds of 10,000 people at New Anniesland, and on one occasion, special trains ran from Edinburgh to Glasgow for the Accies-Heriots match. In these five seasons they played 123 matches, losing 10, (two to Oxford University, two to Cambridge University and only six to Scottish opposition). In 1925–26 season it was not defeated by any Scottish Club. Great players of this era included Herbert Waddell, J.B. Nelson, J.C. Dykes, J.M. Simmers, R.C. Warren, M.A. Allan and J.B.White who was the successful captain. The four outstanding backs, Nelson, Waddell, Simmers and Dykes, were all outstanding Scottish international, and the Waddell-Nelson half back pairing was the fear of all Scottish club and international opponents. Herbert Waddell went on to be a highly respected President of the Barbarians and on his death the Barbarians honoured him with a match at New Anniesland when they fielded a strong team of international players.

Glasgow Academicals - 1926 to 1997 – vacillating performance and National Leagues[edit]

Although the club failed to win the Championship from 1926 to 1932 they were never lower than fourth. A decline in the 1930s was halted by World War II and a process of rebuilding was set in motion in 1945 with the Academicals in 1954–55, under the captaincy of Jimmy Thomson, joint champions. They were third position the following season but a gradual decline in standards saw 1959–60 season being the poorest in the Club's history to that date. Ten years later saw sixteen wins from twenty three matches in 1968-1969 and nineteen from twenty four the following year and three more successful seasons followed in the early 1970s. This was a well timed renaissance because in 1973 the National leagues were established and Accies were rewarded with a place in the inaugural first division. Unfortunately, this coincided with the retirement of a number of key players and a decline in the number of young players coming to the club from the Academy. Academy boys had begun to go to Universities outside Glasgow and the club delayed in becoming open (i.e. admitting players who had not attended Glasgow Academy). By 1977 Accies were relegated to the third division and only avoided a further drop in 1979 on points difference. By 1984–85, however, a resurgence saw Accies back in the top flight and represented on the international stage by John Beattie. The remainder of the '80s saw the team yo-yo between the first and second divisions. A consistent mid table position was maintained in the second division through the early 1990s. When in 1995 the leagues were reconstructed from divisions of fourteen to ten and eight Accies shifted into the third division which they won immediately, returning to a steady upper position in League 2 for 1996-97.

Glasgow Hawks[edit]

In 1997 the decision was made to combine the first XV's of Glasgow Academicals and close rivals Glasgow High Kelvinside (themselves a very new club having been formed when the struggling Glasgow High FP and Kelvinside Academicals clubs combined in 1982), something that was predicted would happen only after "hell freezes over".[2] The combined team was named the Glasgow Hawks. The Hawks won the second division championship and the Scottish Cup in their first year and have since continued in the first division - winning the league in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the Cup again in 2004 and 2007. In their first year they were regarded as one of the best club sides to have played in Scotland. Accies' stalwart from 1996/97 Glenn Metcalfe together with others such as Derek Stark and Gordon McIlwham were Scottish Internationalists while Mike Beckham and Tommy Hayes played for the Cook Islands.

Glasgow Accies – 1998 to the present, including the Club's historic 150th year in 2016[edit]

With the advent of the Hawks, the Glasgow Academicals lost many of their strong first XV but made the decision to continue as a league side for the following year - which under SRU rules meant that they had to rejoin the lowest league of Scottish rugby in Glasgow District division 3. The club raced back up through the leagues - being promoted as league champions five years in succession.

After the 5 straight promotions, Accies challenged for 12 seasons (2004/05 - 2015/16) close to the top and regularly near success in West Regional League Division One before eventually, and long overdue(!), winning the league in their 150th year - 2016 - and giving them promotion to Scottish National League Division Three for 2016/17, after only losing one league game all season. Of the 157 clubs in the National and Regional leagues in 2015-16, only three had a winning % record which bettered Accies. Success came on the 9th April 2016 with a 26-7 win over Allan Glens at the Bearyards.

Promotion was recognised through the Club's Facebook profile with the release of a specially commissioned song by noted X-Factor contestant Wagner.

Only days after the league-winning success and celebrations, the 150th year of the Club was celebrated in style in April 2016, with a 1st XV match against a team mainly principally from West of Scotland F.C. but including representatives from the other six clubs who, along with Accies and West, had founded the SRU in 1873. The Club were delighted that the match was refereed by their good friend, the 2014-16 President of the SRU - Ed Crozier - truly a unique event. Before this game, the large crowd were entertained by the stalwarts of previous seasons taking the field, as Accies o-35s took on West o-35s in a classic Golden Oldies encounter! All players then joined with supporters past and present in a celebratory dinner at Glasgow Academy attended by over 250, with entertainment including Scotland caps John Rutherford and Alastair Kellock.

In recent years, the club has enjoyed many successful tours overseas, including Zimbabwe (defeating leading province Matabeleland), United States (Carolina), Poland, in the 150th year Luxembourg, and most recently Budapest in 2017.

In 2016/17, the club were pleased to announce a unique sponsorship arrangement - with Marie Curie Cancer Care featuring as the principal logo on the team shirts. Accies are understood to be the first senior British club to be in such a position with regard to charitable promotion on shirts, and are delighted to be supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care in this way. The club were strong challengers for a second consecutive elevation until a last minute penalty for Lasswade at Highland in their final league game won them second place in the league to join Dumfries in a move to National 2. In finishing 3rd, Accies had recovered well from a slow, injury-hit start to have a tremendous unbeaten run of thirteen league games, including what is considered a Scottish league record 163-10 defeat of Livingston, followed up by 95-0 against Greenock Wanderers the following week! The final “points for” tally in the league was 930 from 22 games – the highest in the national leagues – with an excellent points difference of 600. In May 2017, it was announced that the sponsorship arrangement of last season is continuing into season 2017/18 - fantastic news for the club and for Marie Curie Cancer Care.


Scottish Club Champions - 1871-72; 1872–73; 1873–74; 1875–76; 1876–77; 1882–83; 1903–04; 1904–05; 1912–13; 1921–22; 1923–24; 1924–25; 1925–26; 1929–30 - 14 times (4th highest in Scottish rugby history after Hawick (24), Edinburgh Academicals (21) and Watsonians (16))

1979-80 - SRU League 3 - Champions

1983-84 - SRU League 2 - Champions

1985-86 - SRU League 2 - Champions

1995-96 - SRU League 3 - Champions

1998-99 - Glasgow District 3 - Champions

1999-2000 - Glasgow District 2 - Champions

2000-01 - Glasgow District 1 - Champions

2001-02 - SRU National League 5 - Champions

2002-03 - SRU National League 4 - Champions

2003-04 - SRU National League 3 - Champions; BT Shield - Runners-up

2015-16 - SRU West League Division 1 - Champions

Throughout the 144-year history of the Scottish Rugby Union, 15 Glasgow Academicals have been President -

International players[edit]

Glasgow Accies are extremely proud to have provided a fantastic total of eighty-four players to the Scotland side,[3] including one "sevens" cap - five of whom have played tests for the British Lions. We have also provided internationalists for New Zealand and, more recently, Sweden.

No other Scottish club has contributed as many Scotland international players, and only London Scottish have had more (122) in the history of Scottish rugby since the first international in 1871 - which included 6 Glasgow Academicals.

The club has also provided 5 players who have won test caps for the British Lions - Louis Greig, Herbert Waddell, Edward Taylor, Laurie Duff and John Beattie. In the history of the Lions since 1891, 87 Scottish players from 43 clubs have represented them in tests - with only two other clubs having provided more internationalists - London Scottish with 9 and Heriots FP with 6.

All six of these players played in the first ever rugby international - on 27 March 1871 - when Scotland beat England by 1 goal (2 tries) to nil (1 try).

External links[edit]


  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)