Click HERE for all the final tables from 1895 to 1927.
The following account of the league is taken from a variety of sources. The main part is an abridged version of Jackie Heaney’s excellent history which appeared in issues 16, 17 and 18 (July to December 1984) of the Scottish Football Historian magazine and from Miscellany
Volume 3 (June 2006) - Scottish Junior Football Cup and League Competitions. Jackie also researched a large number of final tables, which have been supplied by Stewart Davidson, as has Martin Bain and Alistair Hay of the St Anthony’s history site. The Second Division tables were taken from Scottish Non League Histories
Volume 5 (June 1997). Both the latter publications are available from Stewart Davidson’s Scottish Non League Review.
The Glasgow Junior League (GJL) can justifiably claim to have been the most successful Junior League of its time, both financially and from a playing point of view. Gates compared favourably with those of many senior teams and in competitions its clubs dominated the Scottish Junior Cup and had an almost total monopoly on the Glasgow Junior Cup.
The top Glasgow clubs were relatively slow in taking to League football. In the early 1890s local Leagues had been established in Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Ayr and Perth but the only organisations based in Glasgow - the Scottish Junior League and the Scottish Junior Alliance - had both failed primarily because the top city clubs had not become involved. By 1895, however, the obvious benefits of a regular competitive programme against top-class opposition persuaded the Glasgow clubs to take the plunge, and in July of that year eight clubs were invited to a meeting to form a League. The original eight were Ashfield, Benburb, Jordanhill, Maryhill, Parkhead, Glasgow Perthshire, Strathclyde and Vale of Clyde. In the event Perthshire declined to attend but the 'Glasgow Junior League' was nevertheless formally established with eight clubs, St. Mungo (Springburn) making up the numbers. The GJL followed the example of other Leagues whereby the bottom two clubs would retire but be eligible for re-election which was increased to three clubs from 1900-01. As a mark of displeasure against their attitude, was that League clubs refused to play against Glasgow Perthshire except in cup-ties. At this time friendlies still formed an important element in the football calendar so that the boycott was a heavy punishment. Shortly afterwards, Ashfield also withdrew and had a similar boycott imposed upon them. They were replaced by Cambuslang Hibernian a Lanarkshire club who had recently joined the GJFA. August brought the news that Benburb had amalgamated with another Junior club, Crown Athletic. The new organisation took the name of Oatlands Juniors and kicked off in the GJL under that name. However a group of Benburb supporters, unhappy with the merger, got together and reformed the club. At this Oatlands Juniors reverted back to Crown Athletic whilst retaining their place in the GJL. In spite of this inauspicious beginning, the competition was a great success, the first championship going to Cambuslang Hibernian who also won the Scottish Junior Cup. Beaten finalists in the latter were Parkhead and the example set by these two clubs at the outset was often to be repeated thereafter.
The 1896-97 championship went to Strathclyde who were, strictly speaking, the first club to win the 'Evening Times' Trophy. This award was only presented to the League at the end of 1896-97 but Cambuslang Hibernian had their name inscribed on the trophy in recognition of their achievement the year before. The season also saw a record of a different kind being set by St. Mungo, who failed to register a single point and at the season's close, they became defunct. St. Mungo would never re-emerge but their ground became the home of a new club who would be rather more successful - Petershill. At the same time, Crown Athletic also went to the wall and resigned from the League, thus creating two vacancies. Among the aspirants were the rehabilitated Glasgow Perthshire and Ashfield and the former, together with Rutherglen Glencairn were successful.
One year later came the final twist in the Benburb / Crown Athletic saga when Benburb themselves became defunct. A further two vacancies were created by the decision to increase the League to ten clubs and the three clubs admitted were Ashfield, Maryhill and Petershill. After only one season the League reverted to eight clubs again with the axe falling on Jordanhill and Petershill. Jordanhill's exclusion could hardly be counted as a great loss since they had finished in the re-election zone for the third successive year and were another declining club whose reputation had been won in the days before the GJL. There was also speculation that a Second Division or a district league would be formed. Nothing came of the former, but a Glasgow District League was formed by Clyde Juniors, who were barred from the GJL due to a rule which prohibited Junior clubs that were affiliated with Senior ones. Petershill, on the other hand, were a little unfortunate but their period of exile lasted only one year before another change of heart saw the League once again increased to ten clubs, with three clubs having to retire each season. The other club admitted for the 1900-01 season was Co-operative United, the first club from Govan to be included. Indeed geography may have played a greater part in their selection than ability since there were other clubs around who, arguably, had a better claim. 1900-01 saw the first occasion in which two clubs finished level on points at the top of the table and, according to the rules, a play-off was necessary for the title. Maryhill and Parkhead fought out a 2-2 draw and, for the first and only time, were declared joint champions. This meant that after six years Parkhead had become the first club to win the title twice and, for good measure, they also lifted the Glasgow Cup. For Maryhill - also Junior Cup Finalists - their performance justified the League's faith in them, for in the previous two seasons they had been forced to seek re-election.
In 1902 Co-operative United failed to gain re-election and their place in the League was taken by Renfrew Victoria, the first time a club outside the Glasgow Association had been admitted.
1904-05 was a time of radical change in the League, when the decision was taken to introduce a Second Division of ten clubs, primarily of the Glasgow District League. The new Division 1 had twelve clubs, and, in addition, goal average was to come into operation. Although there were strong objections from Maryhill, Perthshire and Petershill, the changes agreed were widely applauded in the sporting press, and it was felt that Glasgow Junior football was in the dawn of a new era. Automatic promotion and relegation, first adopted by the Lanarkshire League was also sanctioned.
The voting to decide on the make-up of the new Division 1 was done in two separate ballots. The first ballot was in accordance with normal procedure whereby the bottom three clubs retired and were considered for re-election along with any other applicants. Ashfield and Vale of Clyde were unanimously re-elected but Cambuslang Hibernian lost out by a single vote to Clydebank Juniors. A second ballot was then taken to choose the clubs who would fill the two vacancies created by the expansion of the Division and once again the Hibernian were passed over, this time by Shettleston and, significantly, Cambuslang Rangers, who had been attempting to gain entry to the League for some years and who would undoubtedly have succeeded had not Cambuslang already have been represented in the shape of Hibernian. Instead Hibs found themselves places in Division 2.
The Second Division included many of the top district teams outside the Lanarkshire League. Apart from Cambuslang Hibernian there were two other names from the GJL's past in Co-operative United and the resuscitated Benburb. Other Glasgow clubs were 3rd LRV, one of the many military Junior sides of the time; Parkhead Athletic, another example of a promising young team forced to live in the shadows of a more illustrious neighbours; and Port Juniors, a young club from Dennistoun (and not to be confused with Port Glasgow Athletic Juniors, often referred to at that time as 'Port Juniors'). From outside Glasgow there were Baillieston Thistle, Neilston Victoria, KirkintillochRob Roy and Yoker Athletic. However shortly after the start of the season Port Juniors lost their ground and were forced to resign, being replaced by Levern Victoria. In due course, however, the first rumblings of discontent began to appear from the old guard as the harsh realities of relegation began to dawn on them.
After that it was no surprise when the League reverted to a single Division. The justification put forward for this was that automatic promotion meant that clubs were unable to control the quality of those admitted to the top Division. The League honoured its promise on promotion and the top two clubs from the lower Division - Benburb and Baillieston Thistle - were admitted to a new fourteen club GJL. The other Division 2 clubs were cast adrift to fend for themselves, all of them except Parkhead Athletic forming a new Glasgow & District Junior League. The championship itself was, for the first time, decided on goal average, Maryhill edging out Strathclyde.
In 1907-08 came the notorious episode which came to be known as the 'Great Betrayal'. The origins of this stretched back a number of years and stemmed from a growing feeling of frustration on the part of the Glasgow Junior Association (GJA), which was of course dominated by the GJL clubs. The GJA played a leading role in the formation of the Scottish Junior Association (SJFA) in 1886 but the representation on the SJFA was such that, together, outside districts could wield a degree of influence which was out of all proportion to the contribution that they node. This meant that any GJA proposals which didn't suit the other clubs for example an earlier proposal by Maryhill to introduce a Qualifying Cup were liable to be thrown out as a matter of course. It is sufficient to say that the same thing happened in 1907 and the upshot was that the GJA decided to split from the SJFA and opened up its membership, and that of the GJL, to any club within 16 miles of the city. Again the Glasgow & District league lost most of its clubs, there was also an application from Dunoon. Three Lanarkshire Junior League clubs – Bellshill Athletic, Blantyre Victoria and Burnbank Athletic – plus Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, were admitted to an expanded First Division while 16 clubs created the new Second Division. Again though the dispute was soon resolved, and again the GJL began dismantling the new set-up. However, this time they went one step further and actually expelled the four new Division 1 clubs despite only Burnbank Athletic finishing in the bottom four. The top two Second Division went as far as taking legal advice, but in the end the GJL reverted to its 1906-07 membership. The clubs cast adrift created two new leagues – the Second Glasgow Junior League, which had nothing to do with the GLJ and disbanded after a year, and the Scottish Junior League (SJL), which was more successful and would expand to two divisions and last until after WWII.
Unlike most other leagues, the GJL wasn’t adversely affected by the Great War and after 1918 expanded to 18 clubs. In 1921 it ‘poached’ Shawfield and Shettleston from the SJL, which had lost a number of clubs before to the GJL. This time they demanded the return of the two clubs, but as they hadn’t yet confirmed their membership, there was nothing the SFJA could have done. In 1922, a similar thing happened and when SJL champions and Scottish Junior Cup holders St Roch’s and Glasgow Junior Cup winners St Anthony’s joined the GJL, the SJL again protested to the SJFA. When the smoke had cleared the GJFA had again split from the SJFA, opened its doors to ‘outsiders’ and another Second Division was formed. Stung by the events of 1907-08, top candidates for a place, Post Glasgow Athletic, Duntocher Hibernian etc, resisted, but there were enough other clubs, many of which were new to the Juniors, that were willing to join. Seven SJL members did defect, but the new division had a decidedly makeshift look about it. Again the set-up was dismantled at the end of the season and again another Second GJL was formed, which petered out after a couple of years.
The GJL continued for another five years when another dispute erupted. This time it affected most of the clubs in the West of Scotland and would be known as the Intermediate Dispute. The GJL disbanded and was reformed as the Scottish Intemediate League. Because of the high quality of the defectors, First and Second Divisions were ruled out and an East/West Divisional set-up was used instead. When this dispute was over four years later, the SIL was renamed the Central Junior League although the spirit of the GJL lived on. Its champion club were awarded the Evening Times Trophy, and the Central League’s first gathering in 1932 was described as the 32nd AGM.