Hawick is a town supremely blessed when it comes to great talents who excel at their chosen sport.
Jim Renwick, Stuart Hogg, Jimmie Guthrie, Steve Hislop, Sir Chay Blyth, Senga McCrone, Ivan Laing, Colin Hume – and these names barely scratch the surface of the town’s sporting excellence. But how many of you have heard of Archie Campbell?
Archibald ‘Archie’ Campbell was born in Hawick in 1824. In that year Myreslawgreen was given its current name, the town’s first modern education institution – the Hawick School of Arts – was established, Stobs House was saved from fire by the actions of servants, a new turnpike road was opened via Galalaw (paving the way for the modern A7) and the dye works opened in Slitrig Crescent. Little is known of Archie’s early life in Hawick, though we know he moved to Glasgow as a young man and went on to become a key figure in that city’s sporting heritage.
During the summer of 1848, Archie set about creating a cricket club in the Kinning Park district of Glasgow. He bought new stumps, a ball, and shared his knowledge of the game with locals, soon attracting twenty-seven members. He oversaw the merger of two established teams, Thistle and Wallacegrove, to form Clydesdale Cricket Club. Clydesdale is the third-oldest club in Scotland and also holds the distinction of being Glasgow’s oldest surviving team sports organisation. Among the treasures of the Mitchell Library is an extraordinary scrapbook kept by Archie, which contains an extensive collection of early Scottish cricket material, including scorecards, tickets and posters from the 1840s onwards. Pictured is a letter from his collection which highlights one of the challenges in setting up a cricket club. It is addressed ‘Dear Baldy’ from a friend in Edinburgh who was able to give him some sound advice on where to buy essential equipment:
“Edinburgh, 26th December, 1848
A happy new year to you old boy! How are you all? I have just returned from the Grange cricket ground and have succeeded at last in getting what I think you want. I found Old Sparks remarkably civil, and he takes a lively interest in the success of your club. He furnishes bats, wickets and balls of the best manufacture much cheaper than anyone in Scotland, and all the clubs here get their materials from him. The Grange club saved £2 last season by taking their balls alone from him. Write soon and say if the Rules I sent you were of any use, and give us all the news.
Yours very sincerely,
1848 Letter to Baldy Mitchell
Frank (1824-1896) was a young civil engineer in Edinburgh, and although his personal connection to Campbell is not clear his advice was certainly useful. John ‘Old Sparks’ (1778-1854) was Scotland’s first cricket professional and certainly a useful person to know during the formative years of the sport in Glasgow.
At the corner of Pollok Street and Scotland Street (to the north of Shields Road Subway Station, now covered by the M8 motorway), Campbell arranged for the club to rent some land from cow feeder Mr Tweedie, for the princely sum of £7 to £9 per annum (“I forget which” said Archie, some forty years later). Within three years an 8000 strong crowd was present at the new ground to witness Scotland vanquish England, in a contest which saw 20 wickets captured by John Wisden of Cricketers’ Almanac fame.
In just over a decade Archie became a highly influential figure in Scottish sport. In 1862, his protégé John McNeill registered the highest ever score against an All-England XI (thirty-six) and Archie himself took six England wickets. In the England team that day was Edgar Willsheer of Kent, whose bowling action in a match at The Oval later in the season led to the law being changed to allow overarm actions. Under Archie’s leadership, this year also marked Clydesdale’s rise to the top of Scottish Cricket, with victories over Grange and Perth, and frequent totals over two-hundred.
The club moved from their first ground in Kinning Park to their present ground at Titwood in 1873, the old ground being sold to a fledgling football club called Rangers FC, whom Clydesdale have maintained strong links with to the present day. Archie’s cricket achievements and his role in establishing the game in Glasgow should be enough to turn heads. But there’s more. In 1872 he helped to form Clydesdale FC in an attempt to maintain the cricketers’ fitness levels during the off-season. With Scottish international players Frederick Anderson, John McPherson, James J. Lang, and James Tassie Richmond in the forward line, David Wotherspoon in defence and Robert W. Gardner as captain and goalkeeper, Clydesdale FC broke Queen’s Park’s immaculate goal concession record in 1874. They also once trounced Notts County Football Club by a 6-0 margin.
Clydesdale Cricket Club Roll of Members 1848
By the turn of the century however, the football club was bankrupt, though the associated cricket and hockey teams continue to this day. Clydesdale is now one of Scotland’s leading clubs and a founder member of the Western District Cricket Union. Campbell’s interwoven roles in both sports led to an invite to an important meeting on March 13, 1873, at Dewar’s Hotel in Queen’s Park. At that meeting the @Scottish Football Association (SFA) was founded by representatives of Queen’s Park Football Club, Clydesdale, Dumbreck, Eastern Granville, Third Lanark and Vale of Leven F.C. Archibald Campbell (Clydesdale) was elected president and Archibald Rae (Queen’s Park) became the organisation’s first Secretary. Two other Clydesdale men, Ebenezer Hendry and William Gibb, were also appointed to the committee. During Archie’s spell at the helm of the SFA, the committee introduced the Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup (Scottish Cup), an inter-city match between Glasgow and Sheffield, and a second ever international fixture with England (which Scotland won 2-1).
Into his twilight years Archie maintained a link with his beloved cricket. In 1890, The Barrhead Railway Company decided to build a station (Crossmyloof) on the site of the original Titwood, whilst neighbouring lands were to be developed and feued for housing. Campbell was so admired that he obtained a personal assurance from Sir John Stirling Maxwell that the cricket ground at Titwood would be preserved. In 1898, Clydesdale’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in the now demolished Saint Enoch Hotel, with Archie present as one of the chief guests. Sadly, he died on April 30, 1904, just weeks before Clydesdale opened their second Titwood ground. It is surprising to note that there is little or no mention of Archibald Campbell outside of cricket circles, in spite of his prominent and influential role at the helm of the SFA. If you have any information to add to this story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit: Scottish Football Museum & Hampden Stadium Tour; Clydesdale Cricket Club; Scottish Sport History; The Mitchell Library