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Happy 125th birthday to Elgin City

By Robert Weir

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Elgin City formed 1893
Elgin City formed 1893

IT'S exactly 125 years today since Elgin City Football Club was formed, writes historian Robert Weir.

The amalgamation of two of the cathedral city's half-a-dozen football clubs came as a surprise to many.

The merger of Elgin Rovers (formed in 1887) and Vale of Lossie (established in 1888) came little more than three months after a somewhat acrimonious series of matches for custody of the Nicholson Cup in 1893.

The two clubs clashed on three occasions, with all matches played at Association Park off the New Elgin road, to the south of the old Highland railway station.

The first match played on April 22 ended in a 3-2 win for the Vale but the Rovers protested the result, so a replay was ordered much to the dismay of their opponents.

The second match took place a week later, the Rovers won 4-1 but this time it was Vale who protested. Among the reasons given for the match to be replayed was that one of the Rovers players was wearing a different coloured jersey from the rest of his team.

The replay was played on May 6, this time a decisive 4-0 win for the Rovers and the result stood.

So on the evening of Thursday, August 10, 1893, a joint-meeting of the Elgin Rovers and Vale of Lossie football clubs was held in the City Hotel on the High Street.

After some discussion, it was resolved to amalgamate, and that the new club be called "The Elgin City F.C.".

The following office-bearers were appointed; captain John A. Russell, a 22-year-old plumber who had played for and captained Elgin Rovers; vice-captain John Christie (20), an apprentice printer of the Vale of Lossie club – 'Wheelie' as he was known, later become City's first goal scorer.

The joint-secretaries of the new club were Thomas C. MacFarlane, a native of Motherwell, who had only lived in Elgin for a year, assisted by John Paul who had been the Elgin Rovers secretary from 1891 till 1893.

Other major players in the merger include George Russell, the younger brother of John, who had also played and captained the Elgin Rovers.

George Kidd, another former Rovers captain, was a Keith man who was stalwart of early Elgin football teams.

George MacKay (Rovers), Tom Munro (Rovers) and his brother Lewis Munro (Vale of Lossie), James Jenkins and James Walker, both of Vale of Lossie, were also part of the new Elgin City.

The first President was Lossiemouth-born, Elgin building contractor David Forsyth, though it my have been the following year before he took up that role.

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