Falkirk FC: Fists fly at the infamous 'Battle of Brockville' against Celtic

An early 1950s team picture with Ian Rae (third right, back row) and Bobby Morrison (second left, front row)An early 1950s team picture with Ian Rae (third right, back row) and Bobby Morrison (second left, front row)
An early 1950s team picture with Ian Rae (third right, back row) and Bobby Morrison (second left, front row)
These are hard times if you are a fan of the once mighty Falkirk bairns.

Today we find ourselves scrapping with teams like Cove Rangers and Peterhead and coming off second best when once we held our own with the Old Firm superstars.

The old Brockville Park still holds fond memories for those who filled the terraces in the 40s and 50s.

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The numbers were incredible compared to today’s all seater stadiums where a few thousand is considered a good gate.

Brockville Park.Brockville Park.
Brockville Park.

I can remember 15,000 and more standing at the Hope Street and Watson Street ends or the covered enclosure, shoulder to shoulder swaying back and forward as the fortunes of the boys in navy blue fluctuated on the field.

My first heroes were in the early 1950s: guys like Bobby Morrison, Angus Plumb, Jimmy Delaney, Alex McCrae and ‘Javo’ Davidson sliding about in the mud, crunching into tackles and heading a leather football that weighed about half a ton.

I saw many great matches in those days but one stands out from all the rest for sheer drama and excitement.

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On 3rd September 1955 the mighty Celtic were the visitors for a League Cup tie.

Around 17,000 fans were in attendance which disappointed the club who were expecting to sell the full allocation of 23,000 tickets.

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Falkirk historian Ian Scott recalls his hero in the dark blue of the Brockville ...

It was a brutal affair both on and off the pitch dubbed the ‘Battle of Brockville’ by the papers and with good reason.

After a relatively quiet start Falkirk went ahead through a scrambled goal from Bobby Morrison.

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Cue the first fist fights on the terracing and intervention by the local polis.

Then Falkirk goalie Hamilton was felled by a bottle thrown from the Celtic supporters and fans spilled on to the pitch stopping the game.

Worse was to follow when Falkirk’s Ian Rae clashed with Celtic’s brilliant but mischievous Irishman Charlie Tully.

As I remember it Tully made a theatrical bow to the angry Falkirk fans in the stand at which point Rae jumped up and kicked him on the backside.

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Rae was sent off and he was joined not long after by Falkirk’s goalscorer Bobby Morrison who was carried off after a heavy tackle.

The gallant Bairns reached half-time with nine men and a one goal advantage.

Things didn’t improve after half time.

Morrison hobbled on for a while – no subs in those days – but had to leave the field again.

The nine men held out until the 68th minute when Neil Mochan, a local lad of course, scored the equaliser.

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The Bairns rallied and there were more fights, many more bottles, another crowd invasion and a further stoppage.

We thought the worst was over when the police cleared the pitch but then Falkirk’s Jimmy McIntosh was hit by a flying tumbler behind the ear.

With blood flowing Falkirk Manager Bob Shankly called his players from the field.

Eventually play resumed and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The press slammed the guilty Celtic fans but they claimed they had all been condemned for the actions of a few.

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They called for a boycott of the team’s next game at Brockville which by chance was a league match the following week.

Falkirk won that game 3-1 but I was not allowed to go for fear of further trouble.

The Battle of Brockville was a ‘disgrace’ according to the football world but for a wide-eyed 12 year-old boy it was two hours of pure magic.

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