The fledgling ‘High School Football Club‘ was born into a very healthy Tayside rugby environment alongside teams now long consigned to history such as Abertay, Red Cross, Cliftonbank, Arbroath Fiery Cross, Forfar Rob Roy, Dundee Rangers and Dundee Swifts. The young FP’s secured a deal with local farmer, John Johnston (pictured) of Balgray Farm for the use of a field as the club’s home pitch, the arrangement hinging on the club’s agreement to move to another field whenever Mr Johnston needed to plough it up!
Located in what is now the Clepington Road, Dens Park, Old Glamis Road area and with no lines and guesstimated dimensions marked by jackets, the High School Football Club was ready for its first match.
The first president of DHSFPRFC was Col. P. G. Walker of local jute spinners Messrs P. G. Walker and who had made and donated the first set of rugby posts to the young players while they were still at school and playing on a piece of waste ground – the ‘Parky’ – in Maryfield.
Just when the original livery of navy shirts and socks with dark breeks was first donned has passed unrecorded into the mists of time, however it is known that games were as often as not un-refereed (not much different from today some might say), and sides had a relaxed attitude regarding the proper complement of a team. It appears that any number was acceptable as long as both sides were equal with the game being played as four, fifteen minute quarters.
Over the next 20 years or so, the club played on various grounds around the city until recently appointed rector of the High School, Dr G R Merry, managed to provide the club with a suitable playing field.
There was no shortage of opposition with at least 17 teams in the Dundee, Angus and North Fife area including of course Panmure who provided opposition on October 23, 1880 and found themselves on the receiving end of a six tries and a goal to nil defeat.
Dundee HSFP were stalwart supporters of the recently formed Midlands Rugby Union and along with Panmure, Perth and St Andrews University did much to keep rugby alive in the Midlands as many clubs folded after the 1890’s.
Picture: The first photograph, season 1884-85
Back (L to R) – Petrie, Martin, Laird, White, Wills, Gibson, Low, Clark
Middle – McGavin, Ferguson, Gibson, Livingstone
Front – Walker, Nairn