Vale of Leven F.C.
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Vale of Leven Football Club are a Scottish football club based in the town of Alexandria, in the Vale of Leven area of West Dunbartonshire. Nicknamed the Vale and formed in 1939, they play at Millburn Park. They play in the West of Scotland League Conference C, the seventh tier of Scottish football and wear blue and white strips.
|Full name||Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club|
|Founded||1872 (original club)|
1939 (current club)
|Ground||Millburn Park, Alexandria|
|League||West of Scotland League Conference C|
|2020–21||West of Scotland League Conference B (season abandoned)|
In the early days of Scottish football, Vale of Leven (based in Alexandria) and their neighbours Renton were real powers in the land. Vale won the Scottish Cup three times in succession (1877, 1878 and 1879). In 1878 they travelled down to England and beat the FA Cup winners, The Wanderers, 3–1 at Kennington Oval. The Wanderers had the advantage that the game was played under the English throw-in rule, but the Vale's Scottish passing game proved superior to the English game of individual dribbling. The club also won the Celtic Society Cup in shinty in 1879.
Vale of Leven was a founder member of the Scottish Football League when it was formed in 1890. By this time, the club was being eclipsed by the rising stars of well-supported clubs based in Glasgow, and local rivals Dumbarton. In their second season they failed to win a single game and finished last. They were the last senior Scottish club to suffer this ignominy until Brechin in 2018. Rather than face re-election for the second time, the club withdrew and joined the rival Scottish Alliance where they played for a single season.
Between 1893 and 1902 the Vale played only friendly matches and in cup competition before joining the Scottish Football Combination. In 1905 they applied successfully for readmission to the Scottish League when Division Two was extended with two additional places. They finished as runners-up in 1907 and in 1909, but did not receive the votes they needed to be elected to Division One. As the following decade wore on, Vale of Leven struggled and regularly finished near the foot of the table. When Division Two was suspended in 1915, Vale joined the Western League.
After World War I ended Vale of Leven returned to the Scottish League for the third time as members of the reformed Division Two. After a decent fourth-place finish in their first season, the club was relegated to the new Division Three in 1924. This ill-fated competition was abandoned in 1926 when it became clear that the cost of meeting match guarantees and additional travel expenses were beyond the means of its members.
After a season playing in the Scottish Alliance, financial constraints forced the club into a local district league before being discontinued in 1929: victims of the Great Depression which had proven so disastrous for many small Scottish football clubs at professional and amateur level. There was every intention of reviving the club once local economics made it viable; however, unlike previous occasions they were struck off the SFA club roll after withdrawing from their Scottish Qualifying Cup match against Dykehead
In the meantime Millburn Park continued to be used by a new amateur side, Vale of Leven Old Church Old Boys Association (usually known as "Vale Ocoba"), who took part in the Scottish Cup from 1931 until 1938, and who enjoyed success in first the West of Scotland Amateur League and then the Scottish Combinations: ironically, they also won the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) in 1937. Despite the church team name, Vale Ocoba appeared to be a flag of convenience for the Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club struck off the SFA's roll, as events proved.
Original club colours: Dark blue shirts, dark blue shorts, red socks.
Vale Of Leven OCOBA were invited to be part of a reconstituted Scottish Football Alliance, along with Babcock & Wilcox (a works team), fellow former Scottish League and Alliance member Galston, Girvan Athletic, another former Scottish League member Nithsdale Wanderers, Queen's Park Strollers (Queen's Park third team), and Stranraer, which they duly did, but as Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club - "Vale Ocoba" promptly vanishing from the face of the earth.
Disaster struck however when the start of World War II obliged the league to be suspended due to restrictions on travel by December 1939. In order to survive, Vale Of Leven promptly joined the ranks of the Scottish Junior Football Association - suffering an abrupt vacancy in their Central League due to the bankruptcy of Springfield Athletic - and thus bringing to a final end 67 years of membership of the Scottish Football Association they'd helped to create.
Technically, the current club is unattached to the former senior club, but in reality it is the continuation of it. Scottish Junior football has a number of clubs (e.g. Arthurlie, Beith, Royal Albert, Port Glasgow Athletic) that were forced to fold as Senior sides due to financial reasons or as a result of the collapse of the old Scottish Division Three in the late 1920s. (Some initially found a home in the Scottish Alliance, until this too was discontinued at the behest of the Senior sides.) This is more prevalent on the West Coast where no non-amateur Senior league exists any longer. The most recent example of this trend has been the former Junior turned Senior turned Junior again side Clydebank.
Vale of Leven should not be confused (but frequently are by non-Scots) with the slightly differently named East of Scotland League club Vale of Leithen. Most Scottish teams with the name "Vale of" had their name inspired by the Alexandria side, who along with Queen's Park and Third Lanark toured throughout Scotland in their early years playing exhibition matches to increase interest in football.
Notable former playersEdit
Former professionals that played for the modern club include:
- Scottish Cup
- Scottish Qualifying Cup
- Winners 1909, 1937
- Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup
- Winners 1882
- Dumbartonshire Cup
- Winners 11 times
- Celtic Society Cup (shinty)
- Winners 1879
- Scottish Junior Cup
- Winners 1953
- Central Junior Football League
- A Division winners 1946–47
- B Division winners / overall champions 1969–70
- C Division winners 1978–79
- Central District Third Division Winners 2007-08
- Evening Times Cup Winners Cup
- Winners 1947, 1970
- Kirkwood Shield
- Winners 1951, 1954, 1958, 1965
- Dunbartonshire Junior Cup
- Winners 1940, 1965
- Dunbartonshire Junior Charity Cup
- Winners 1943, 1946, 1947, 1953, 1954
- Erskine Hospital Charity Cup
- Winners 1970
- "Brian Brown". Vale of Leven Football Club. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
- The Old Vale and its Memories
- Dumbarton Herald 18 April 1878
- "Vale accepted into new West of Scotland Football League - Latest news - Vale of Leven Football & Athletic Club". www.valeoflevenfc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- "Vale of Leven [Scotland international players by club]". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 18 July 2021.